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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Thursday February 14, 2002
06:39 PM


[ #2878 ]
Finally, something that's not me whining about my books or my family ;-) Musicians in the audience might appreciate this ...

A fellow banjoman has been bitten by the bug. The "write your own tablature layout software" bug. This is basically software that knows how to arrange music for your instrument--which finger movements can be made, choosing which strings to play the notes on so that it's easiest for the player.

Here's what I wrote:

I've thought a few times about how best to do this. I think it's like building a game tree--instead of considering the next move, you're considering where to play the next note. You prune the tree based on heuristics (big jumps bad, thumb on downbeat good, an option to weight single string against melodic). Keep a few choices at each step, then repeat for seven more steps, and then prune down to one choice based on the notes that are to come.

The art is obviously in the heuristics. Not only what can't be done by the hand, but also knowledge of common shapes and positions ("sure, it might be easier like that, but everyone still plays it like this"), and the tricky stuff that everyone struggles with (when to play it with your nose like Steve Martin).


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  • If you haven't heard or heard of 16 Horsepower, get thee hence to a good record store. Preferable Wax Trax in Denver. 16HP is a locally-rooted band (originally from Denver) that has been getting more exposure around the rest of the country. Best way to describe them that I can come up with is "gothic bluegrass". I have more MP3s of their material (taken from my personal CDs, of course) on my XMMS playlist than another other 2-3 artists combined.




    • I did not know that band but they are really excellent, and they have a couple of songs with Noir Désir [], one of my favorite French Bands! They actually sound a lot like them (South Pensylvania Waltz for example).

  • When I was young I played the violin enough to get to the point where I would be reading ahead in the score and planning.

    For the violin, most of the playing is straight-forward with a small number of more or less equally good alternatives, but there is an occassional sequence that is a potential trap; where you have to use the right fingering/bowing or else you have real difficulty. I would propagate backward from that point, planning how to arrive at that required configuration, eventually (and generall