Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Recommendations concerning notation and publishing software in a non-partisan environment.
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OCTO
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Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by OCTO » 07 Nov 2018, 14:25

I just wanted to continue sharing my thoughts (from another thread) about an idea of beauty versus idea of artificial intelligence.
If we don't want to let the software take some or even the most of engraving decisions, but we use a software as an empty canvas to be manually filled in, there will be necessary for us to take human decisions, supported by knowledge, in order to not merely copy music, but indeed to engrave music.

With manual adjustments we will never get equal-to-all fixed positioning which in its turn adds a kind of human beauty. I just wonder if the total control of notation softwares' magnetic layout makes scores not looking beautiful but looking — plain.

In my opinion the problem with the notation software is not in its perfection, but in a repetitive perfection.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by John Ruggero » 07 Nov 2018, 16:10

OCTO, the same thought keeps occurring to me for a quite a while now and has been one of my concerns about Dorico. If every decision is made by machine intelligence, the result will look machine-like and unappealing. We see something analogous in architecture. The machine-like plainness of the international style was refreshing after years of decorative architecture, but has not worn well for many (most?) people, who prefer the warmth of traditional homes, because the decorative detail reminds us of the great variety of shapes and forms that we see in nature.
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David Ward
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by David Ward » 07 Nov 2018, 21:38

I agree with you both, but then most of my composing career has been with manuscript fair copies (my drafts are still MS).

I too often commit annoying computer engraving solecisms that embarrass me when I discover them after distribution of the printed copies. Dorico style automation might save me from that, but…

I wonder where it's all leading, and does it affect the music that's actually being written or is it only visual?

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OCTO
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by OCTO » 08 Nov 2018, 08:18

I think that one thing is clear: musicians and experienced engravers do need a human-like intervention in engraving. This is so obvious when Dorico implemented a font that looks "punched" (so to speak: without perfect shapes) and numerous font designers, starting with November a long time ago, indeed wanted to create a human-like-non-perfect appearance of musical scores. That is, unfortunately, overwritten by the software itself, with Sibelius as a first that has implemented more advanced automation, and now Dorico as well.

The future AI engines in engraving applications should be somehow more flexible, I believe, and there should be a lot of "if"s in their code. Let us take example in Dorico's implementation of shortened ledger lines within accidentals. That is perhaps a good idea to have, but only in special cases. I get somehow disturbed that such setting is turned on when there is really no need to use shortened ledger lines for accidentals (for instance in a very loose spacing). I don't have Dorico, but I guess having {"if spacing is tight by%} should be implemented, not just turning on/off that setting.

I find Finale's output—in general—more appealing only because there is a lot of human intervention, yet Finale's creation of collisions is absolutely unacceptable. There is a plenty of copyists today that create plain, non-appealing scores with "default" as a common denominator of all of them. It is much harder to find Finale copyist only because of that it is harder to create "by default" score in Finale, and Sibelius-copyists are really dominating the market. But there are to many defaults in the most of their examples. When a copyist send me a score that is done "by default" I need to return it back for further editing.

Many believe that the speed is the main factor in deciding what software should be used; I just wonder how SCORE is designed to be a good software yet speed is not taken in account — I just guess. The music notation is too complex to have the speed as a main factor.
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RMK
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by RMK » 08 Nov 2018, 14:59

Copyists proficient in SCORE claim that it is faster than any of its competitors.

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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by benwiggy » 08 Nov 2018, 19:47

If we have "Human Playback" with randomised adjustments for a more 'imperfect' and less robotic ensemble, might we not have "Human Engraving", where random alterations are made?

My family comes from a long line of draftsmen, and I recently found some early practice-books of Copperplate handwriting that my great-great-great-grandfather (or similar) had produced. The human qualities of the letterforms are never to be matched by metal type or digital fonts. Technology shapes our world as we shape the tools we need.

I certainly don't want my scores to look 'generic', but I can get more attractive out more quickly if I don't have to check for collisions and manually move everything.

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OCTO
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by OCTO » 09 Nov 2018, 05:27

RMK wrote:
08 Nov 2018, 14:59
Copyists proficient in SCORE claim that it is faster than any of its competitors.
They may claim that, but also all others, yet no competition in music engraving "quickness" has ever been done. SCORE has been in use when no other software was on the market, so that type of comparison has not been in mind. Of all information about SCORE, there is none about the "input speed".
benwiggy wrote:
08 Nov 2018, 19:47
My family comes from a long line of draftsmen, and I recently found some early practice-books of Copperplate handwriting that my great-great-great-grandfather (or similar) had produced.
Wonderful! Now I understand your minutiös approach to notation, it must be in your genes. :)
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by John Ruggero » 10 Nov 2018, 13:47

Philosophical musings:

1. The actual rules used by humans are so much more complex with a lot of ifs as OCTO puts it, than those that are programmed into even the most sophisticated software. For this reason, computer output tends to look cartoonish and over-simplified. For example: compare the look of the characters in the animated movies of the past that were hand drawn to the current crop, that look like extruded plastic.

2. Humans are erratic, make errors, and are living in a reality that changes from moment by moment, never to repeat. Machine intelligence is stuck in time; it doesn't change unless there is human intervention, and we sense that. One suspects that even programmed random variation as suggested by benwiggy would also have a perceptible lack of personality. One doesn’t go to a concert to hear Finale’s Human Playback perform.

3. Humans are so creative that they can even make perfection human. For example, much of the music of Mozart is flawless from every point of view. Yet it remains supremely human, because its creator transcended even the limitation of perfection
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David Ward
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by David Ward » 11 Nov 2018, 20:46

John Ruggero wrote:
10 Nov 2018, 13:47
… … … For example, much of the music of Mozart is flawless from every point of view… … …
This statement makes me uncomfortable, although I can't disprove it. I don't think it's perfection that makes great art, but rather the inclusion and effective dealing with inherent flaws (since we are being philosophical).

I'm tempted to go so far as to say that the greatest art is of necessity flawed.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beauty in a digitalised world of music copying

Post by John Ruggero » 12 Nov 2018, 16:12

David Ward wrote:
11 Nov 2018, 20:46
I don't think it's perfection that makes great art
David, I agree. Perfection doesn't make a work of art great, and there are a lot of flawed masterpieces. My very point was that perfection in itself could even be a negative, but in the case of Mozart isn't, because there is so much else going on. For me, Mozart's music is the most human music of all because its constant subtle shifts of mood are so close to the way we think.
David Ward wrote:
11 Nov 2018, 20:46
but rather the inclusion and effective dealing with inherent flaws
I agree with this as well. Some composers do a great job of covering up lapses in logic in their music, and all is forgiven because of the overall impact of the work.
David Ward wrote:
11 Nov 2018, 20:46
I'm tempted to go so far as to say that the greatest art is of necessity flawed.
As you suggest, this is controversial. I do think that the greatest works of art are often the most perfect and don't understand how flaws would be desirable. Even if the work were to portray the flawed nature of man or reality or whatever, I think that it would best be done in a completely convincing way.

But we haven't even defined "perfect" or "flaws"...
Last edited by John Ruggero on 13 Nov 2018, 11:59, edited 2 times in total.
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