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1st Binary Release of Java Music Composer

Today marks the availability of the first binary release of the open source JFugue Music NotePad. The core basic functionality of the tool is available and ready to be tried out.

After downloading and unzipping the archive, you need to specify the location of the JDK (JDK 5 or above, so Mac users are welcome too), in etc/mnotepad.conf, which is in the unzipped archive's main directory.

The binary can be downloaded here: mnotepad_9April2008.zip

Once you have done so, you can launch it, which should result in the following main window at start up:

Here it is on the Mac:

Then choose File | New, to define a new composition:

Click Finish and you can begin composing music. To do so, choose notes from the toolbar and point/click to add them to the composition. Currently you can't add notes between existing notes. However, select one/more notes with your mouse, the notes turn red to show they are selected, and then use up/down to move notes up the scale and left/right to decrease/increase their length. While doing this part of the work, compositions typically look something like this:

You can change instruments by right-clicking one in the Instruments window and choosing "Select". Finally, click Play to play the music or Save to save it. Compositions are saved to disk in midi format, the status bar shows where they are saved to, in the installation directory.

Architecture. Instead of dealing directly with the Midi API, the JFugue API is used instead. The JFugue API provides an extremely transparent, simple, yet surprisngly powerful layer of functionality on top of the complexities of typical Midi programming. The user interface is pure Swing on top of the NetBeans Platform, therefore the application has a very mature window system (max/minimize, dock/undock) and is pluggable out of the box, among other features.

User Comments. One of the user comments thus far: "It's definitely very cool! And as promised, you already got a whole bunch of subtle features for free from the NetBeans Platform (windowing, favorites, etc). :-D It already looks more stable and trustworthy than any other app with the same amount of work invested, just because of the solid and consistent windowing system."

Known Issues. Amongst others, the following: several usability issues, such as that it isn't easy to know/see from the ui that notes can be changed by selecting them and moving up/down/left/right. Should be able to specify where saved midi file should be saved to. Some users report not being able to change instruments. Keyboard window currently unused. Playing of tune blocks the ui.

Feedback Welcome. The JFugue Music NotePad is an open source project at https://nbjfuguesupport.dev.java.net/. You are welcome to join, especially if you are able to offer time/insight to add missing features. Especially programmers who are also musicians are welcome. For example, this application could do with a metronome, which could be provided by a separate plugin...

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