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MMD > Archives > August 2002 > 2002.08.31 > 03Prev  Next

Audio-to-MIDI Conversion
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  In a vein similar to what Robbie mentioned yesterday, there
are many times when I cannot remember exactly how I played a song that
I composed 25-30 years ago.  It's extremely frustrating.  Fortunately,
for me, I've recorded most of, if not every, song I ever composed.  So
somewhere in my vast collection of 7" open reel tapes and cassettes I
have a recording of the tune.  Finding the particular tape or cassette
that contains a particular tune sometimes requires many hours, but once
I do find it, it still takes a number of hours to 're-learn' the song.

Regarding the creation of a MIDI file of that tune, I've found that the
easiest way to create the file is to 'mouse-in' the notes in a program
like Cakewalk.  It's a laborious process but the results are always
quite pleasing in terms of the time spent entering the notes.

Having tried a number of WAV-to-MIDI programs, which require that I
first use the audio recording to create a Wave file, the end result of
the conversion process still requires that I edit the MIDI file.  And
since the notes never fall on the measure lines, that editing process
actually takes much longer than entering the notes one-by-one with a

Naturally, my methodology requires that you know the tune fairly well,
but it's surprising how much less time it takes to create a new file
than it does to edit an existing file that is 'all over the map' with
regards to timing, note durations and extraneous notes created by the
conversion program (due to harmonics, etc.).

Music is not a perfect science, and therefore no one will ever be able
to produce a program that can accurately interpret an audio recording
to the point where a piece of sheet music can be produced.  In my
opinion, that will never happen.  So 'bite the bullet', start with
a fresh screen, and enter the notes one at a time.

I've watched as George Bogatko created a MIDI file in a very short
period of time.  It was the speed with which he was able to create a
file that taught me how much easier it was to start fresh rather than
wasting countless hours trying to convert from one medium to another.
Craig Brougher has also created many dozens of very complex files for
SOFI, his orchestrion.  Naturally, both of these men have a firm grasp
of music theory, and they are both gifted.  But when the desired result
is a simple piece of sheet music for a single instrument like the
piano, it's my opinion that the quickest way to produce that sheet is
to 'write' it yourself.


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Sat 31 Aug 2002, 15:21:40 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Audio-to-MIDI, Conversion

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