Tunesage

TuneSage progress update 3

A few more things checked off the list. Added a couple “measure editing” tasks. Quite a few tasks I think can probably be skipped for now, as I’d like to get back to working on the back-end so I can then work on integrating the back-end with the front-end. Most of the skipped items should not be overly difficult anyway (though difficulty is always easy to underestimate). Excluding the skipped items leaves the items in bold: measure editing, save / load / export stuff, and an “undo” system, which I guess will be better to tackle earlier than later.

I still need to have a good think about what features the back-end should include at launch; that is, what specific music-generating features would be most useful. I’ll do that in another post a bit later, I suppose.

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position 
    • Play or loop a selection (skip!)
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds (skip!)
    • Pause play (saves play position) 
    • Show / hide measure numbers 
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?) (skip!)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Edit note velocities (skip!)
  • Measure editing
    • Delete / create / edit measures
    • Delete / create / edit sections (measure groups)
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file 
    • Edit track instrument 
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions (skip!)
    • Auto-color tracks differently (skip!)
  • Load / display / edit key signatures (skip!)
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI 
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file (skip!)
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3 (skip!)
  • Bookmark sections of a piece (skip!)
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally) 
  • Undo / redo support (Ctrl+Z)
  • Import soundfonts from computer (low priority) (skip!)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary) (skip!)
    • Log in / out / reset password (skip!)
    • Edit optional personal info (skip!)
    • Usage stats (skip!)
  • Final design pass (make everything look good) (skip!)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Tunesage

TuneSage progress update 2

It’s been five days and, judging by the to-do list, it doesn’t look like I’ve done much. I actually spent a bunch of time fixing various bugs.

Also I added a few new things to the to-do list; “auto-color tracks differently” will be easy; that’s just a matter of cycling through hues when a MIDI is loaded, the same sort of thing I did in the Java-based MIDI animator.

I also want to allow the user to import their own soundfont from their computer. (Although honestly that’s probably a feature that can wait until after launch, so that one’s iffy.)

Finally, we’ll need an “undo / redo” feature so that when the user presses Ctrl+Z, it will undo the last change. Not really sure of the best way to implement that, but we’ll figure it out.

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position 
    • Play or loop a selection
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds
    • Pause play (saves play position) 
    • Show / hide measure numbers 
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups
    • Edit note velocities
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file 
    • Edit track instrument
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions
    • Auto-color tracks differently
  • Load / display / edit key signatures
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3
  • Bookmark sections of a piece
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally)
  • Undo / redo support (Ctrl+Z)
  • Import soundfonts from computer (low priority)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary)
    • Log in / out / reset password
    • Edit optional personal info
    • Usage stats
  • Final design pass (make everything look good)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Programming

TuneSage progress update 1

There’s still lots of work to do on TuneSage. I’m hoping if I regularly blog some short progress updates, it may encourage productivity, as it did last year with Trovedex.1

Right now I’m working on the front-end. As always, it’s a bit of a balancing act deciding what features need to be included and what features can wait to be added after launch. So far, the completed features include:

  • Load a MIDI from file
  • Mute / solo tracks
  • Change track colors
  • Show / hide tempo marks (from MIDI)
  • Edit / delete tempos
  • Show / hide measure lines
  • Show / hide pitch lines
  • Play MIDI

Features on the to-do list:

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position
    • Play or loop a selection
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds
    • Pause play (saves play position)
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups
    • Edit note velocities
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file
    • Edit track instrument
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions
  • Load / display / edit key signatures
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3
  • Bookmark sections of a piece
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary)
    • Log in / out / reset password
    • Edit optional personal info
    • Usage stats
  • Final design pass (make everything look good)

That’s not counting the further work of integrating the back-end with the front-end.

Anyway, my goal is to finish all the above before the end of this month (April 2021), and then I can move on to integrating the back-end (which still needs a good bit of work itself).

Feel free to suggest any features you’d like; though, like I said, I’m only trying to do the minimum needed to launch.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Biden’s impossible microphones

Hahaha! I’m not advocating for any elaborate conspiracy theories here, I just thought this was funny. This short video has appeared on a couple professional news feeds (The Hill, Bloomberg) and it features some blatantly obvious horrible CGI microphones:

With his hand miraculously overlapping the microphones at the 8 second mark, something is definitely fake. Who edited and released this, and why?

Someone is trolling someone with this video!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

That stupid equality vs equity picture

You may have seen this sort of graphic succinctly illustrating the difference between “equality” and “equity”:

It’s actually completely unhelpful in the context of the discussions it’s usually utilized in, as it takes completely for granted the main issues with setting any sort of policy based on such a distinction, namely:

  1. Who precisely gets to determine for what disparities “equity” is needed?
  2. Who precisely gets to determine by what metrics “equity” will be measured?
  3. Who precisely gets to determine by what means “equity” will be determined, produced, and distributed?
  4. Who precisely must pay for production and distribution of these means of “equity”?

Each question is so easily corruptible that the entire distinction is, in general, of little practical value. Unless the context is defined as narrowly as illustrated, the difference between “equality” and “equity” is a frivolous point.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Dreams

Weird thoughts from weird dreams

I took a nap this afternoon for two reasons. Firstly, my internal clock has been completely out of whack for about the last week and my body seems to think that 2 PM is bed time, and secondly because I had a headache that made doing just about anything else painful. (And I still have it; it’s diminished, but won’t go away.)

During this nap I had some weird dreams. It begins with me walking through a huge crowded city with enormous skyscrapers lining the streets. I’m trying to get somewhere, back to a hotel or something. And as I’m walking down a sidewalk, a huge storm of comes barrelling out of nowhere, tearing apart buildings and obliterating everything in its path, and voosh, it kills me.

I wake up, still tired with a headache, so I roll over and go back to sleep.

I return to the city. Same place. Same thing happens. Storm comes out of nowhere, wrecks the city and kills me.

Then I restart the dream in a different place, and the dream becomes semi-lucid, I’m aware that I’m in a dream and that a storm is going to come out of nowhere and kill me, so it becomes sort of like a game. I try running into a building before the storm hits me, but it still kills me. I try getting on a train, but the storm still kills me. I try talking to other people, warning them that a storm is coming, but that doesn’t help.

Then I start moving toward the storm to find out where it’s coming from, and I find that it’s being created at the top of a tall skyscraper where people are partying and a rock band is playing; it’s like they’re summoning it, stirring up the clouds above them with their noises.

Having discovered the source of the storm, I am somehow able to evade its path of destruction, but something else ends up killing me anyway. I fall out of a window or a building topples on me.

And now for the finale of the dream, which makes no sense.

Finally, after having been killed many times in this city, I find myself in a large white room with two others (who took on the bodily forms of two old dead actors, whom I won’t name because it seems ridiculous in waking life). We were looking at a slide presented on a projection screen which displayed a little squiggle at the center of a large circle.

“We did it!” one of the old guys said, smiling and giving me a hug. I had a vision that the city was now completely devoid of all life and motion; it was empty and still. Somehow this was a victory.

Looking at the slide, I understood that the squiggle in the center represented the storm, while the large circle around it represented… our soul’s understanding and experience of it, or something. So we had gained victory over the storm not by destroying the storm, but by growing the circle around it large enough that it diminished in its relative significance. And we had grown the metaphorical circle by continually trying to escape the storm, even though the storm always won.

At this moment I had a few insights, which seemed profound in the dream:

One insight was that the soul “solves” problems (at least certain sorts of problems) by growing around them, not by annihilating them (which it does not have the power to do by itself).

“Aha,” I said, trying to put this realization into words, “The bridge one must cross becomes the cross one must bear.” I thought that was very profound.

The old guy laughed and replied, “Yes, but don’t say that; it won’t make sense to anyone.”

In the dream, I thought, but I must share it, it’s so profound! Upon waking, I realize that “bearing your cross” is already filled with enough varied meaning for people that adding the metaphor of crossing a bridge is only likely to obfuscate it. (Although I thought the double meaning of the word “cross” was interesting.)

Another insight was that life experiences are like movies on a screen. The soul, or the consciousness, or whatever, is like the movie screen, while the movie is the experience of life. The screen is necessary for the movie to exist, it remains existing even after the movie’s over, and the movie can never hurt or damage the screen. The sufferings of life are like the conflicts in the movie; they’re real from the point of view of the movie, but they’re illusory from the point of view of the screen. The screen remains pure and untouched. (How to actually separate what is the movie and what is the screen is perhaps very difficult while the movie is still playing; it’s hard to really see the screen “behind” the movie, they seem like one thing while the movie is playing.)

The final insight is the most difficult to express in words, but I will try. The soul does not solve its problems with logic, but rather with experience and Free Will. Actually everyone probably intuitively understands this when it comes to something like love. Where does love for someone come from? It’s not the result of some kind of logical deduction. But the insight is more than that; it’s that everything the soul grows or becomes is “beyond” logic. This is not to say that logic is “wrong” or unimportant; it is useful, important, and an undeniable part of worldly existence. The soul still “contains” logic. But soul growth comes from the use of Free Will in response to experiences, from decisions of the heart, on which logic itself is founded in first place.

Another example may be: why do you enjoy a piece of music? You don’t follow logical arguments for or against it; it is simply in the nature of the music to emotionally move you. There may be some logical basis for the music, the mathematical structures behind the harmonies of the sound, the physical nature of the neurons firing in your brain as the sounds vibrate through your ear’s cochlea. But the emotional experience of the music is beyond all that, even if it depends on it for its physical manifestation.

Reading back over all that, I’m not sure if any of it is interesting or makes much sense, but I thought it worth writing about for at least my own interest.

I still often think back to that strangely vivid dream I had in 2018, Two weeks in another world, in which I thought the dream lasted for an entire two weeks. Obviously I was not in a coma for two weeks; the dream really only lasted a few hours or perhaps even a few minutes. But what exactly does “really” even mean? In waking life, we perceive a world through our senses and derive meaning out of it, but just how “real” is that meaning? We could say it is not real at all, because it is entirely open to interpretation; different interpretations of the same set of perceptions create different meanings. On the other hand, we could say those meanings are the ultimate reality, because it is with and through those meanings that we experience the world and exercise our Free Will, our very being. So if defining the nature of reality is difficult enough with waking life, what about dreams?

The experience of speaking with others in dreams is what mystifies me the most. In a dream, I am not consciously thinking or deciding what another being says, so just where the heck do his words come from?! I suppose it could be something like GPT-3, just a bunch of connections in the language part of the brain firing randomly? And perhaps when it says something seemingly profound, it’s just a matter of survivorship bias; it outputs mostly nonsense, but when it outputs something that the conscious mind responds well to, it gets remembered and seems more mystifying than it actually is. That might be it.

Dreaming is fun! More dreams please!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music

A bit of new Mozart!

A short but previously lost piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was recently performed just last week on January 27th, Mozart’s 265th birthday. The brief allegro can be heard below:

A bit more about the piece from the Mozarteum Foundation:

The present Allegro in D major for piano was hitherto known only from 20th-century sales and auction catalogues, where it had been described as a “sketch for a composition for orchestra or chamber ensemble”. On the basis of this vague information, musicologist Alfred Einstein assigned the piece the number App. 109g/16 in the third edition of the so-called Koechel catalogue, which finally became K. 626b/16 in the sixth edition. A music-loving engineer bought the autograph manuscript in an antiquarian bookstore in Paris in the late 1920s; his descendants kept it in the  Netherlands for 90 years. When the manuscript was offered to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation it became immediately evident that it was not merely a sketch, but a complete work for piano in Mozart’s own handwriting, a piece unrelated to all known compositions. Finds of this kind have become extremely rare; the last comparable case was the rediscovery of the Allegro in F major for piano, K. 33B in 1937.

Although short, I think the work is ingenius. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it’ll be perfect.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

There are no silent saints

This video was posted back in October, but I just came across it yesterday and thought it worth sharing. Former child actor Bug Hall (best known for playing Alfalfa in 1994’s The Little Rascals) talks about living the Catholic faith with integrity vs working in Hollywood. He also discusses being a victim of abuse, so it is emotionally weighty:

Listening to the video, I could not help but think of our devoutly Catholic president1 and his support for objectively anti-Catholic policies. It is hard not to wonder at what point the “Catholic” label ceases to be meaningful. Regardless of what’s in his heart, you know the press will take the opportunity to further propagandize the notion that Catholics need not adhere at all to fundamental Catholic teachings in word or deed.2

(ETA: Oh look, right on schedule, about 4 hours after I posted this, some propaganda from NYT: In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity. It’s so utterly blatant and predictable. Give me a break.)

Some institutions have it worse than others (academia, Hollywood), but there is immense social (and financial) pressure to conform by keeping such controversial Catholic views to the self; sharing such controversial views is “divisive” and you will quickly be villified as prejudiced, sexist, racist, etc. Even other Catholics will encourage you to keep “confrontational” beliefs on the down low until more “unification” has occurred, as though an acceptance of the Church’s teaching on abortion (or some other controversial issue) will somehow slip in through a friendly backdoor. As Bishop Robert McElroy states: “It is a pathway of reconciliation that places the healing of our society ahead of any specific policy issue, in the recognition that repairing the soul of our country is the pre-requisite for any sustainable effort to advance the common good.”

It’s true that we don’t want to miss the forest for the trees; the Church’s teaching on abortion is not a stand-alone issue, but part of a broader logically and spiritually consistent understanding. But how can you do any “healing” or “soul repairing” when purposefully silent about such fundamental issues? Again, what’s the thought process? That someone will say, “You know, you’ve been really nice to me for a long time, I think I’ll go ahead and listen to your thoughts on contentious issues now.” Being up front and honest about such contentious foundational issues are part of healing.3

As Hall says at the end of the video:

There are no silent saints. No one was canonized because they snuck around and were secretive about their beliefs. … I’m not talking about secretly going to Mass, I’m talking about speaking the truth when the opportunity presented itself.

¡Viva, Cristo Rey!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Propped Up Corpse

In the 2018 horror film The Nun, a young woman meets a kindly old abbess in a convent who keeps her shadowy face veiled in black. Later in the film, when the heroine returns and finds the old woman sitting eerily still, she is shocked to discover why the old lady’s face is kept veiled: the abbess is dead. The heroine’s been talking to the shriveled rotting flesh of a blackened corpse all along.

Maybe that’s not the best metaphor, but the 2020 presidential election does kind of remind me of it. Why is nobody allowed to examine the machines or audit the ballots? Why are profoundly important court cases rejected on trivial technicalities? Because not only was the last election full of fraud, but national elections have been that way for a while. The mask just slipped a bit too far this time. We’ve been living in the shadow of a propped up corpse.

As someone tweeted:

Prob the longest-lasting effect of Trump’s presidency will be that ppl saw the degree to which heretofore kinda hidden power had to reeeeally flex to oppose him. This is true whether one liked/supported Trump or not.

To which someone else replied:

We saw the sausages being made and it’s full of pig a******s and bugs.

Thanks for that lovely image. I’m reminded of the end of Sweeney Todd when Toby discovers what’s in the meat grinder.

So what now? Unfortunately I still have no idea.

Two things seem clear to me, though:

  1. You can’t vote your way to a fair election. There are a lot of politicians who seem to want to have their cake and eat it too; they want Trump out, but they want us to keep faith in elections. They suggest that we’ve just got to let the questionable results of this election slide and prepare for the next one, which will totally be more secure, for sure. Of course, if this election has taught us that it is impossible to investigate apparent election fraud and futile to try, why should the next election be any different? (This also means it’s pointless to listen to political pundits telling you what to be mad about next. What are you gonna do about it, vote?)
  2. The courts will not uphold election laws. So filing and arguing about lawsuits in regards to elections is also a waste of time and energy.

If the puppet masters care about the illusion of fair elections, perhaps investigations will continue and they’ll say, “aha, yep, there definitely was some fraud here, but not enough to change the outcome, and now we fixed it!” Perhaps there will be some “Republican” victories in the 2022 midterms. Perhaps they’ll even grant us another “Republican” president in 2024, after Biden and Harris finish whatever evil plots they’re being installed for.

And I do think they’re being installed for a reason. Four more years of Trump doesn’t seem like it should be too harsh of a price to pay for reinforcing the illusion of a fair election while sliding the slow knife further in, so something must’ve made the allowance of obvious fraud worth the risk. Maybe Trump’s anti-China policies were causing too much strife for the economic overlords. Maybe they want to get the Middle East war machine up and roaring again. Maybe they’re genuinely afraid for our national security for some secret reason.

Regardless, I don’t see the point in voting anymore. The mask slipped too far. You can’t just reposition it and make me think it’s your real face again.

I can’t blame other voters. I can’t say: “Well, you voted for this!” As I wrote in an earlier post, if an election is fraudulent, nobody’s vote counts. Voting differently would not have changed much.

The whole “storming the Capitol” stunt was a sad and evil exploitation of useful idiots1 to serve as news cycle fodder and distraction propaganda so we’d all gawk and share impassioned opinions about that instead and use it to justify preplanned political ends. Do you really think the Capitol of the most powerful nation in the world couldn’t keep out a couple hundred hooligans with flag poles if it thought it absolutely had to? I’m not saying police were in on it or that it was staged, just that there were bad actors who intentionally put the pieces in place for that to happen. The resulting propaganda is reaching North Korean levels of blatant ridiculousness. It should be glaringly obvious to everyone.

Speaking of stupid pills, I think you can abandon the preposterous “QAnon” hopium conspiracy theories, which promise shocking revelations and surprise victories just around the corner and encourage you to just keep holding your breath until you pass out.

As the execution of all power ultimately depends on the strength of the iron hand, those who are granted legal authority to use physical force to enforce the law (military, police) will have to decide from where that authority comes if not from fairly elected officials according to the US Constitution.

As for the rest of us, I’m not sure we peasants can do much at the moment. (Other than keep a level head.)

Although this election fraud is a serious issue, it is also a temporary and worldly one; our souls were made for a different world, so keep any spiritual distress in check by keeping things in perspective. The goal here is to grow in love of God and neighbor; let’s keep that our spiritual focus.

For further reading, here are a few other articles. I do not claim to agree or disagree with all their points, I just thought they were interesting:

By S P Hannifin, ago
Television

Random thoughts on Netlfix’s The Queen’s Gambit

I finished watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix recently. Here are some random thoughts:

Competent protrayal of chess

While the show’s story centers around competition chess, it’s not really about chess at all, it’s about characters, and in that regard it does a good job of capturing the drama of the game by focusing on characters’ emtional reactions to chess moves instead of the games themselves. This is the same sort of thing they did in Searching for Bobby Fischer. At the same time, it doesn’t try to dummy down chess concepts so the audience can understand them, like the stupid gravity assist scene in The Martian, where a character over-explains a relatively simple science concept to colleagues who should not be that stupid for the sake of the audience. Or this ridiculously stupid scene from Hidden Figures in which a NASA scientist is skeptical of Euler’s method because “it’s ancient”; trying to show the brilliance of a character by having others be over-the-top stupid.

I also appreciated that no one hit the clock with the wrong hand, a pet peeve of mine when chess master characters show up on TV.

Obsession as comfort

The “tortured genius” character is certainly cliché (Good Will Hunting, bleh!), and there is a bit of that, but chess does not really come easily or naturally to Beth Harmon. She is shown constantly studying the game. What is rare is not her innate “genius” but rather her ability to become entirely obsessed with it, to be able to focus on it for long periods of time, even without a physical board. This is likely a coping mechanism for dealing with personal trauma. As she says, “It was the board I noticed first. It’s an entire world of just 64 squares. I feel safe in it. I can control it. I can dominate it. And it’s predictable. So if I get hurt, I have only myself to blame.” Quite self-aware! Some have wondered if Bobby Fischer’s obsession with chess during childhood provided a similar escape or sense of comfort; he was raised by a single mother who was an outspoken political activist. Perhaps, but in the real world such an overpowering obsession at a young age is still rare, so whatever is going on in an obsessor’s brain is probably more complicated than that.

Pills!

The green pills Beth takes throughout the show appear to be fictional (unfotunately, because I want some) but they remind me of ADHD meds. They’ve been used to calm children down, they help people focus, people can abuse them, and they might improve your chess game. From this article:

According to a new study in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, two prescription drugs can help chess players compete: modafinil and methylphenidate. The former is sold as Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil, and the other is best known as Ritalin. Participants in the study were dosed with these drugs, and then their chess playing abilities were observed. While the drugs resulted in test subjects playing more slowly, they also increased their performance. Using modafinil improved player’s results by 15 percent, while methylphenidate improved results by 13 percent.

… International chess tournaments began incorporating drug testing in 2001

So Harmon is lucky that she got obsessed with chess at just the right time in American history when she could earn money and fame from the game and at a time when they didn’t do any drug testing! (She could even get a benzodiazepine over the counter in Germany!)

Overall

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the show. It was well-made and well-scripted, but the emotional journey wasn’t all that engaging to me, a lot of supporting characters were a bit cliché and two-dimensional, and of course chess tournaments are portrayed as very fancy and dramatic, very “Hollywood”. But then, like any movie or show about “geniuses”, the audience is never really asked to relate to all the boring studying that makes the rest possible; we are only asked to empathize with the fun parts: the attention, the applause, the success, the failures, the opportunities, the traveling, etc. It can give a very false day-dreamy impression of “genius”, which is really 99 percent perspiration. But that’s almost always the case in any fictional portrayal of someone successful. The grunt work is boring.

The real trick to being a genius is, as Harmon shows us: childhood trauma! No, not that, but rather love / obsession, not for the sake of fame and money that would make a biographical show interesting, but the willingness to work hard at something you’re interested in when there’s no guarantee of any reward beyond your self-satisfaction.

(On a side note, the word “genius” is really just an opinion of someone’s work. In fiction, you can create empathy for a character by having other characters admire their “genius”. But in fiction you have the advantage of being able to empathize with a character while also being able to consider them from the outside, to see them as other characters might see them. It’s a sort of strange dichotomy you can’t really experience in the real world.)

By S P Hannifin, ago