Archive for September 2019

Braille Music Notator Update

I’m very happy to announce an update to Braille Music Notator that brings some exciting new features to the program. Braille Music Notator is still in beta (meaning there are still some bugs!) but I feel like it’s become a very usable program, and in fact I’ve heard from many folks out there who are using it pretty often.

Before I get to the good stuff, I should mention that Braille Music Notator is now available over a secured connection, so I encourage you to update your bookmarks to this new link.

Today’s update brings the following improvements:

  • More musical symbols. Additional repeat structures, accidentals for microtonal music (thanks to Dr. Sevan Nart for her collaboration here!), and a few other additions here and there.
  • An expanded text keyboard. The text keyboard has been changed and now makes use of the numeric keypad.
  • A new control system under the hood. I’ve completely overhauled the way the control area’s engine. There isn’t much of an outward change here, but the new system makes changing the control surface, as well as switching between multiple control surfaces, quite a bit easier. This will also allow for future localization into other languages!
  • Improved speed for larger scores. Previously, Braille Music Notator slowed considerably when working with large scores; now, large scores are as sprightly as short ones.
  • Spacebar now… adds a space! Tab and Shift-Tab is now the keyboard shortcut for moving between different keyboards.
  • Automatic end-of-line word wrap. When you get to the right margin, whether you are entering music or text, the word or measure will automatically be moved to the next line. If you’re entering music, an octave symbol will be added to the beginning of the measure automatically!
  • Improvements in parsing BRF files. This is always going to be tricky, as parsing the context of plain vanilla BRF files is a very complicated affair, but it’s getting better and better.
  • Braille Music Notator is now open-source. The main site will always be the most stable, current version, but if you are a coder you can see the latest development builds, and even contribute to the program, by visiting Braille Music Notator on GitHub.
  • Lots of bug fixes. Did I get them all? Of course not. But I’m trying!

I’m pretty proud of all this, but wait… there’s more. In fact, I’ve saved the best for last:

  • MIDI Note Entry. Available in Chrome and Firefox, you can now use a connected MIDI Keyboard to enter notes into Braille Music Notator! The program automatically adds octave indications when necessary, and even tracks key signatures to add accidentals intelligently!
  • MusicXML importing. If you have any experience in the online braille music community, you are likely familiar with BrailleMUSE, the amazing online braille music translator designed and maintained by Dr. Toshiyuki Gotoh. Thanks to Dr. Gotoh’s incredible generosity, the power of BrailleMUSE is now available in Braille Music Notator! Simply open a MusicXML file by clicking on “Open File” in the File tab, or just drag a MusicXML file to the notation area. Braille Music Notator will detect the file type and send it to BrailleMUSE for translation automatically, then display it in the notation area. The translation is not perfect — I’ll continue to work on improving it — but what this means is that you can create a score in Finale or MuseScore, save to MusicXML, then open and edit the score in Braille Music Notator!

I’ve created some videos for these last two items, as well as one that shows the basics of Braille Music Notator, on the new Videos page in the guide.

As always, I hope that you find Braille Music Notator helpful, and that you’ll let me know if you have any problems or suggestions for improvements. I already have some plans for some new features… in fact, I’ve been wanting to push this update out so I can get started on them. In the meantime, enjoy the update, and let me know what you think!