Note-eater : A music notation program

What is note-eater?
Noteeater is a program that captures the logical content of a music piece. The internal format should be convertible to musictex format or to MIDI-files. It is not intended as a WYSIWYG music notation program, but may serve as such reasonably well.

Note-eater is a potential Forth killer application.
Because it redefines the way a mouse is used, in the fashion Chuck Moore redefines the problems before they are solved.
And because all music notation programs are lousy and cumbersome.

Principle of operation

Music is written on a canvas consisting of score beams. The score beams have sensitive areas, shown by a slight colour. Clicking on the sensitive areas results in a context dependant and configurable menu. Note creation is the bread and butter. That is done by just a click, no coloration.
Apart from the above horizontal, vertical and oblique strokes are given a sensible, context-dependant meaning.
The top menu consists of categories that can have different shape. Examples of categories are:
  • numerator of measure
  • notes (quaver, whole, sixteenth)
  • tone sort ("key" in which the piece is written)
  • keys (the sign at the left of a score beam)
  • punctuation (legato, portato, staccato)
  • Accidental signs.

    Example sequence:

  • Click in the score beam. At that place a default note appears, say a quaver F.
  • Click on the end of the stroke two times. Now it is sixteenth.
  • Click to the right a terts high, a sixteenth A appears.
  • Create B and C.
  • Sweep over the notes horizontally. Select the connection icon. The notes are now connected.
  • Lasso around the figure with left button.
  • Copy the figure with the middle button at G. This is a second higher.
  • Copy the figure with the middle button at A. Another second higher.
  • Sweep horizontally across the 12 notes. Select the legato icons.

    Note: of course all icons are the same as the musical notation.

    Each category has associated the drawings of what you will see on the screen. Only items that are ticked in the top menu will be present in the context dependant drop down menu's.

    Top menu's

    Top menu's are configured by the user by ticking and rearranged by drag and drop. Graying the whole notes will have the result that they never show up. Quite appropriate for an 3/8 measure.

    Layout of the top menu

  • File
  • Key signs
  • measure
  • tone sort
  • quaver whole half quaver 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64 1/128
  • legato
  • accidental signs
  • accenters trillers and sforzando's
  • texts
  • check


    The File option is conventional.
    You can exit with and without storing your results in a file. You can copy the current work to a file.

    Key signs

    The key signs are F and G. Other less conventional ones are present but greyed out.
    The corresponding position sensitive pop up is attached to a thin area vertical at the extreme left of a score beam.
  • key signs at other positions must be copied.
  • a user defined drawing can be added


    The measure menu is subdivided into possibilities for
  • numerator of measure: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. 5 and 7 are grayed out.
  • denominator of measure: 1 2 4 8 16 32. 16 and 32 are grayed out.
  • wholesale notation: C and C-bar.
    The corresponding position sensitive pop up is attached to a thin vertical area second to the right of a key sign. It consists of the wholesales, plus a default consisting of the default numerator and denominator. If the default is chosen, numerator and denominator can be changed separately. Specialties:
  • a user defined number can be added to bot the numerator and denominator.
  • a user defined drawing can be added to the wholesale signs. Notes:
  • Once a key sign is copied you have an option to change the measure too.

    tone sort

    The tone sorts are the usual combinations of 0 to 6 sharp signs, or 1 to 6 moll signs.
    The corresponding position sensitive pop up is attached to a second thin vertical area second to the right of a key sign. It consists of the icons. Notes:
  • Once a key sign is copied you have an option to set the tone sort once again.

    quaver whole half quaver 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64 1/128


    accidental signs

    accenters trillers and sforzando's



    Default duration

    A note or rest is created with a default duration. This is the duration of the previous note, unless dotted. In that case it is the balance to fill up to the double duration. Without previous note it is a denominator of the measure.

    Mouse actions.

    Single clicking of any item pops up, after waiting, the area sensitive menu that was used to create the item. In particular clicking on a note or rest allows to change the duration. The menu doesn't appear immediately. A short click selects a default action, mostly minimizing. So: once an object is drawn you can click on it to diminish it ( a quaver becomes an eight note) or click long to get the menu, that defaults to a prolongation (a quaver becomes a half note). This is the same notion as undo redo.

    A vertical movement to the left of the score beams connects them by curly braces.

    A vertical movement amounting to the width of a score beam creates a note-bar, including optional connected score beams.

    A small vertical movement in the middle of a score beam creates a rest of default duration. Think of it as creation a note, where by moving you indicate there is no defined tone pitch. The duration can be changed similarly to a quaver note.

    Any combination of items can be lassoed by outlining it with the left button.

    Double clicking any item is equivalent to lassoing it.

    An oblique stroke selects a square area, which is easier than lassoing. If the stroke starts and ends on a note, a pop up appears to choose from area selection or a natural or chromatic scale.

    A lassoed item can be copied by the middle button. The earliest and lowest note is the lead note. The lead note appears at the position where the middle button is clicked. Legato-category items can be copied too, in combination with the notes they are attached to.

    A lassoed item can be dragged by the right button, in the usual fashion.

    The sensitive area to the right of any note or rest can be used to dot the note or rest, i.e. increase the duration by half. A new sensitive area is created.

    Small notes are just written, and later on made smaller.

    Top menu items can be grayed, and they will not be appear in the pop up menu's. Top menu items can be reordered by drag and drop of the left button, and they will appear in the pop up menu's in that order. A very long menu can be split ( think of all musical tempi) by drawing it to the right and once it has submenu's created in this way menu items can be drawn to submenu's and vice versa. Emptying a submenu, will make it disappear.

    A mouse pointer hoovering above a sensitive area long enough results in a help display consisting of the menu, but non-selectable.

    In general the right button selects a tool. Default the tool is undo. Short button press is undo, long button press is redo. The animation of undo is a clock with an anti clock wise arrow, going back from 7 o'clock to a quarter to seven. Redo goes the other way. Other tool may be delete. Sort button press is delete (yank) , long button press is undelete. Sensitive areas are marked with vague colored pictures of what results when you click there. E.g. the score is littered with quavers. They are either light red, such as quavers, or light green, or the dot behind a not, or the sharp sign before a note. Or they are green for objects drawn by a clear vertical or horizontal mouse movement, such as the vertical measure separation, or the extension bars above the bars. The left button does the position dependant drawing, the right does some context sensitive drawing, i.e. it depends on which tools is chosen.

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