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Harmonia and Music Notation Editing

By: David Psenicka

I'm a composer and one of the developers of Harmonia. For the past fifteen years I've taught classes in music theory and technology and have given private music lessons. One of the most tedious aspects of it is having to notate scores, often on the fly and requiring a lot of detail. Many of the decisions involved in score editing (especially for assignments) are repetitive, and popular score editing programs like Sibelius or Finale require a good deal of time and patience to coerce the score into an acceptable state. I realized this was a common issue for other composers so I wrote an open source application called FOMUS that simplifies the process of notating music by automating many of the mechanical decisions involved. Although the software was written for algorithmic composition, the work I did on it altered my approach to composing and teaching as I was able to reduce a lot of the repetitiveness involved and devote my time and energy to more important tasks. It was also a fascinating project as it involved solving many difficult technical problems that arise from modeling a complex system of symbols and concepts in computer code.

In my experience teaching I've always felt the need to customize my teaching materials for my students and felt that there should be a more efficient way of doing this. This is what motivates much of the work I'm doing on Harmonia. I'm currently developing many of the editing capabilities of Harmonia, which includes the notation engine and text editor. The interface along with the notation generators is designed to be easy and intuitive to use so that an assignment or test can be put together quickly. Less time and effort spent on creating custom materials means content better tailored to students and more time devoted to higher aspects of teaching. From my own experiences as a user of the software I'm helping to develop I'm certain it will change the way teachers approach their craft and will improve the quality of music education for both educators and students.