Monthly Archives: December 2012

MuseScore Example Manager for LibreOffice

As a music educator and writer, I am constantly faced with the need to incorporate notated examples into text documents.

Most notation programs include some limited text capabilities, and I have used this for creating simple scale sheets and the like.  But the text facilities built into notation programs are nothing you would want to use to write anything more than a page or so, much less an entire book.  So instead, the usual solution is to export your musical examples as graphics and then import the latter into a word processor document.  But for a work of any length, managing the dozens or hundreds of files that result is quite a chore, and going back and editing an example is a tedious process of finding the original score for the example, editing it, regenerating the graphic, and reinserting it into your word processor document.

screenshot

As the former software engineer I am, I decided there should be tools to help automate this process, and since no one else was writing them, I would.  The result is my MuseScore Extension Manager for LibreOffice.  You can download it here:

http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center/musescore-example-manager

MuseScore should be familiar to readers of this site – it is the free and open source notation program that provides 99% of the power of Finale or SIbelius for 0% of the price.  LibreOffice, for those for don’t know, is a free open source word processor that similarly does virtually everything you might otherwise use Word for.  It is a “fork” of the OpenOffice.org project, created when it appeared the latter was dead (although this turned out to be premature).  As far as I know, my extension should work with OpenOffice.org as well as with LibreOffice.  And since both MuseScore and LibreOffice are free and open source, so is my extension.

I used this extension to produce the document shown above.  The basic operation is very simple.  The extension adds a “MuseScore” button to the LibreOffice toolbar (which can see toward the top right).  Position your cursor where you want an example to appear, press the MuseScore button, and a dialog appears in which you can select a regular MuseScore file – no need to manually export a graphic file.  A graphic file will automatically be generated and inserted in your document at the cursor position.  The graphic is inserted as a link to the original score, so editing the example later is very simple.  Ctrl-click on the graphic automatically opens the corresponding score in MuseScore.  After saving the edited example in MuseScore, simply return to LibreOffice, hit the MuseScore button again, and the example is automatically updated in your document.

I’ve already used this to create well over a hundred pages worth of a jazz theory textbook I am working on, and I can’t tell you how much time it has saved.  Maybe even almost as much time as it took develop the extension :-)

My extension also provides the ability to create examples directly within the text as ABC source for those familiar with that notation language, and to automate the conversion of examples created with MuseScore into ABC.  You might wonder why you would care about this.  I became interested in ABC because, as text-based notation language, it provided a way of communicating with a blind student in my jazz theory & aural skills class.  I think the possibilities opened up by this are incredible, and I hope to follow up on this in the near future with more tools for allowing educators to make their work accessible to the blind.

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One nice thing about painting on iPad – easy to see what you’re doing at night. That was always frustrating with oils or other traditional media.

David Torn & Sun of Goldfinger @ Walnut Room

David Torn & Sun of Goldfinger

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This show at the Walnut Room was sponsored by Creative Music Works, an organization I have been working with in some fashion for around 20 years now. The group featured David Torn on guitar, Tim Berne on saxophone, and Ches Smith on drums, performing mostly ambient free improvisations. Tim Berne is a musician I have long admired, so I was especially appreciative of the opportunity to see him in person.

Welcome!

Welcome to the latest version of my web site! It seems hard to believe, but I have had a web presence of some sort for over 20 years now. It started in 1992 as a few educational pages on a server run by WNUR radio (with whom I had no affiliation, but they were one of the first private organizations to realize the power of the web). I knew nothing of HTML, but someone I “met” online offered to do that for me. Then in 1996 I created my own outsideshore.com site. This grew and was re-organized several times over the years, and was eventually joined by marcsabatella.com. As I saw it, outsideshore.com was the site for my educational materials, and marcsabatella was the site for information about me and my music.

My relationship with social media goes back even farther. I was one of those guys hanging out on BBS systems in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, dialing up with my 300 baud modem (look it up). Plato was big for me in the mid-1980’s, then Usenet newsgroups in the 1990’s. Myspace never really did it for me, but I dutifully created a page that I guess is probably still up there. I’ve been pretty active in a number of email and web forums dealing with music, art, and photography (justjazz, wetcanvas, dpreview, pentaxforums, musescore, etc). When Facebook started to get big, I created personal and then business pages there. I also started a not-very-well-maintained Blogger site, an almost completely ignored Twitter account. More recently I’ve been posting paintings created on my iPad to Tumblr, videos to YouTube, and recordings to SoindCloud.

At times over the past 20 years, my own web sites have been pushing the forefront of internet technologies, but at other times they have been hopelessly dated, and my social media presence has become hopelessly scattered and unfocused. In an effort to keep up with the changing face of the web a bit better and have a better chance of integrating my own sites with whatever social media presence I manage to maintain, I have now migrated my own sites (outsideshore.com and marcsabatella.comto WordPress. This should make it easier to maintain, easier to incorporate new web technologies, easier to integrate with social media, and generally improve things all around. You are reading my first post to this new combined incarnation of my site.

BTW, this is the first time I have relied on a third party content management system for any of my sites, although I developed and used my own CMS back in late 1990’s, which was unfortunately lost in a disk crash. Since then I had been back to hand-coded HTML and CSS. I turned to WordPress when I finally faced the fact that it’s just too hard for me to stay current with web technology while trying to have careers in music, art, and photography as well. So bear with me if things seem a bit awkward at first while I find my way around. And if you have any site suggestions, please feel free to let me know.

Now, if I can just find a spare floppy disk, I’ll save this blog entry and dial up the modem to post it!