Squash the Digital Rodent....?

The Open Octave Project: Squash The Digital Rodent!

 When writing for orchestra in a computer, there are several conditions for creating a close to ideal working environment. Workflow is king, as the volume of editing involved in creating music of an orchestral nature, is considerable, and beyond what many users and developers alike, may have been aware of.

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In a 32 bar project (for example) involving a reasonably heavily orchestrated score, the composer may add hundreds of bank and programme changes, miles of volume and other cc data messages, and work with a template involving many tracks, sometimes numbering over 100 or so. (in the past I have had 600 tracks running, when commercial applications had limitations within their track construction that involved a track for every instrument, and each articualtion required.)

The number of ports, audio and midi, is also crucial in our case, and we're well catered for with the JACK sound server, a professional application for composers that gives us as many ports as our hardware can handle, and does so with sample accurate timing. Currently in Linux Audio, most applications are able to communicate directly with the JACK server for audio, and some have jackmidi capabilities.

With a decent setup, suitable applications in place, and ready to roll, the orchestral composer will seek the most important element of all.

The ability to navigate around the applications, and across them, in an efficient and easy to use manner.

With such large track counts, multiple applications, and the sheer volume of midi data required to turn a mechanically inputted project into a musical one, efficient navigational management is crucial, and (some will say arguably) the computer keyboard, or some sort of control surface serves the best for this. Using the numbers in the first paragraph as a guide, and making a non-empirical comparison with an equivalent number of mouse strokes, the user could quite easily perform 3 or 4 thousand "actions" in our  32 bar example. More than enough sustained use potential for RSI or some other injury or debilitation directly related to using a mouse for such a large volume of required actions, and a strong case for considering a alternative when building or modifying applications.

We started this process at the Open Octave Project with the modification and development of OpenOctave Midi, examing each workflow element in the application and making changes where required, to raise the workflow efficiency to a professional level, in a day in day out usage case. This isn't rocket science, many will say, and they're right. But I'm continually surprised how many applications in the commercial, and linux audio world, don't see this as important for each element in the workflow chain. So we've taken the first step, with more to come.

We're changing things where required, with the intent of improving the complete A to B timeline of creation, edit, and finish, put together in an as efficient stream as possible.

There's more than one way of working, and many will say using a mouse, or combination keyboard and mouse, is sufficient. That may be so for smaller projects, but it's far short of the mark when composing, editing, and recording large scores, and using large and complex bank and patch driven sample libraries.

More to come, in this journey of ours....

 


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