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music tools for linux jazzers

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Joined: 22 Jul 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Hattiesburg, MS USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:18 pm    Post subject: music tools for linux jazzers Reply with quote

This is quite possibly the wrong sort of forum to pose this question in, but several users refer to using Band in a Box or GuitarPro or other types of software to enhance their practice routines.

I have just moved to a new city and find myself all alone in the world of jazz guitar, and I would also like to employ these methods in my own practice sessions. However, I'm considerably poor, so that I can't buy these programs. Furthermore, even if I could buy them it is very unlikely that they will run properly on a linux machine.

So....the question: What sorts of computer gear do you linux heads incorporate into your guitar playing?
"act decisively by actively
being still and appearing
to do no thing" -- Tao te Ching
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Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What kind of stuff are you looking for? Linux offers "Rosegarden",
and look into the Agnula Project.
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Joined: 05 Jan 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Norway

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:39 am    Post subject: Re: music tools for linux jazzers Reply with quote


Impro-Visor might be it!

Just came across this great! and very interesting free software package named Impro-Visor (or Jazz Improvisation Advisor). It works
on Linux as well as on Windows XP, and MacOSX (in order to use external midi devices on a Mac, one needs to install Plumstone). I
run it on Windows XP myself. It's a music notation program designed to help jazz musicians compose and hear solos similar to
ones that might be improvised...

It is developed by a group at Harvey Mudd College headed by professor Robert M. Keller (see his "Bob Keller's Jazz Page"): The
objective is to improve understanding of solo construction and tune chord changes. ... [It's] made for jazz musicians and song-writers
who wish to create tunes, improvised solos, transcriptions, or bass lines in the form of lead sheets (chord symbols with melody).

Screen Shot of Impro-Visor with a transcription of Giant Steps

I'v just tried it for a couple of days, and is a beginner jazz guitarist, so this is just scratching the surface of its features. But, like
with Band-in-a-Box you can easily input (or load ready made) chord progressions and melodies, reharmonize chords, and
generates solos or melodies. You can use it to transcribe or write your own solos, do exercises, use it for backing, and more. The
latest version comes with "The Imaginary Book" a chords-only fakebook of jazz and standard tunes with chord changes to over
2100 tunes. The tunes are found as files in the /leadsheets/chords subdirectory in the folder you install Impro-Visor too.

But Impro-Visor it's not a Band-in-a-Box clone. To see the greatness and uniqueness of this program, check out the Advice window
that opens up when you leftclick on a chord or melody in the program working window. The Advice dialog box then opens up a
world of information on chords tones, color tones, tones apporoaching target in current and next chord, scale tones, chord subs,
chord extensions, cells and idioms. Impro-Visor is free software!

Screen Shot of Impro-Visor with the chords for Authumn Leaves in Em written into the textual Entry field. A random lick is
generated over the Am7 chord (by selecting the bar and hitting the Generate button), and the "Advice for" dialog box is opened
for that chord.

Random lick generation over chords.
Another great feature is that you can select a bar or a half or two and click the generate button, to get a randomly created lick.
Everytime you hit the button again you'll get a new lick.

Pencil Tool
The Draw (pencil) tool allows you to input notes quickly by dragging the mouse continuously over the stave. This makes it easy to
sketch out the 'melody contour' of your solo fluidly, without having to click at each individual space. The program automagically
adds notes in harmony with the chords.

Lick Generator
The lick generator and triage tool is a powerful and customizable utility that will create original licks over a given series of chord
changes. The lick generator creates things in two steps; first, it generates a rhythm using a context-free grammar. Then, it fills in
this rhythm probabilistically. This allows for a large variety of different melodys.

Other Features:
- export midi from lead sheets
- Step note-entry from a MIDI device.
- Auto-generated bass lines, drum track, and style patterns (user-modifiable).
- Real-time control of volume and playback speed.
- Real-time MIDI in and out.
- Drawing mode for note entry.
- Powerful lick generator (will even generate full choruses).
- Chord voicings user-specifiable.
- Chord voicing audit utility.
- Multiple chorus tabs can be loaded.
- Tracking pointer during playback.
- Textual editor for styles.

The interface is a bit uintuitive.
To select a part of the score, you must move your mouse over a bar, then a line shows up under the bar (don't know whats it's
called) that looks like this:


To select something you must click on that line. If you click anywhere else a note is added to the score. When you click on it, a
bounding box shows up around your selection. You can drag that bounding box to lengthen the selection, by moving the mouse
over it, and click and drag when your cursor changes to a line with an arrow head in both ends.

Hot Keys
Another thing you need to get used to is that the hot key to undo your edits is z, and for redoing your edits, it's y. For more hot
keys, see the inline help dialog box, under the Keys tab.

A third thing is that there's no continuous loop function. But instead there's a button with a + on it (besides the freeze button), to
instantly ad new chorus tab. You can add as many choruses you need.

External links:
- Impro-Visor Home Page
- Sample Impro-Visor Solos - a few sample solos composed with the aid of Impro-Visor.
- Java 1.5. Impro-Visor is a java application and you need Java 1.5 to be able to use it.
- Yahoo! Impro-Visor - Discussion Group
- Impro-Visor Tutorial (PDF download) - A brief tutorial on some of the basic editing features and options provided by Impro-Visor.
- How to Improvise Jazz Melodies - a write-up on improvisation that Bob Keller provides for his improvisation class at Harvey Mudd
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Joined: 05 Jan 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Norway

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:27 am    Post subject: Re: music tools for linux jazzers Reply with quote

For an updated and extended help section for Impro-Visor, see The Impro-Visor Tutorial

By the way, a good alternative to point-and-click for entering pitches, you can enter the simple syntax of the Impro-Visor is proprietry "Impro-Visor Leadsheet Notation" for the 2-3000 ly-files distributed with Impo-Visor

The .ly files is not LilyPond. The Impro-Visor Leadsheet Notation is created by Bob Keller to have a simple syntax for easily writing changes and notation into Impro-Visor. I think it's pretty self explanatory and easy to read and write, for those fluent than me in reading music.

- For pitches enter a, b, c, d, and so on.
- For pitches octaves over or below middle C, add pluss or minus signs next to pitch: c-.
- For note values add numbers 2,4,8,16,32 next to pitch: c8
- For extending note values there are several possibilities
-|--- add "/3" to that for triplet: c8/3
-|--- add dot (c8.) or double dot: c8..
-|--- or extend note values by addition: c8+4
- Ad "directives" in brackets for title, composer, key signature, tempo
and so on.
The syntax is documented here:

Has anybody has tried it? I may have made the impression that this is for Linux users. That's not the case. It can be used one Windows and Mac too? The distributed lead sheets with exercises, scales and son changes for 2500 tunes is a gold mine. You should not mis out on that.
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Joined: 25 Oct 2011
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm, I'm a Microsofter…
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