FAQs - Frequently-asked questions

Rather surprisingly there haven't been that many questions, but a few I have tried to deal with are given below, with their "answers".

  1. What is a Midi File?
  2. How do I download your Midi Files?
  3. Can I download more than one Midi File at a time?
  4. Why can't my Browser find the Midi File I've clicked on?
  5. Why do some of the Midi Files play so quickly - or so slowly?
  6. Why is there too much/not enough emphasis of the chosen voice?
  7. Why is one or more voice/instrument not there at all?
  8. Why do your Files sometimes play with odd or jerky tempos?
  9. Why are there some wrong notes?
  10. Why aren't there any lyrics in your Midi Files?
  11. Why can't I burn a Midi File to disk to get an Audio CD?
  12. So, can I use the Midi Files to make an Audio CD?
  13. And, can I use the Midi Files to make MP3 Files?
  14. Can I use your Midi Files in my own Choir's Website?
  15. Are there any "Terms of use" for your Midi Files?
  16. Do you provide your Files in Noteworthy format?
  17. Are there any problems installing/using Session?
  18. What Score versions do you use?
  19. Do you accept Commissions?
  20. Do you accept donations?
  21. What about Copyright?

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What is a Midi File?

MIDI is an acronym; it stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface (and though I should always write "MIDI" I fear I've fallen into the bad habit of writing "Midi" instead). A Midi File is a set of instructions that tell a device - such as a computer's soundcard - that knows about the MIDI protocol (that is thus Midi compatible) what to do to provide a representation of a sound, typically a piece of music. The relationship of a Midi File to the music it can be used to generate is much the same as that of a musical score to the music it represents; each is not the sound itself, but is simply information/data that tells a "player" what to do to make the sound.

Most Computer Operating System software, such as the various flavours of Windows, and the succession of Mac OS versions, includes a Player that can accept Midi instructions; the Windows one is called "Media Player" (it will usually be found in Start|Programs|Accessories|Entertainment), and it can do all sorts of other exciting things as well as play Midi Files. In addition, there are many other dedicated Midi Players around, some free, some not, and most of these give much more flexibility and choice over what they can do than does Media Player. Several that can be downloaded are:-

For download information on these Players, see Playing Midi Files

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How do I download your Midi Files?

Each Work, selectable from the Composer List links, has one or more pages on which I have provided a "clickable" Table of all the available Files for the various Pieces/Sections of that work.

There is no Download option per se; you just have to click on the File(s) you want, and rely on Windows - or whatever your Operating System is - doing it for you. You have basically two choices:- If you left-click then, depending on how Windows (or other OS) is set up on your machine, either you get a standard dialogue asking whether you want to open the File where it is or instead you want to download it, or - which is more likely - the File is automatically downloaded (usually into a "Temp" directory somewhere on your Root [C] drive, and often under a name that is not recognisable as the File name). If you get the "open-or-save" dialogue then, if you choose "Save" (and deal suitably with where it is to go, and what it is to be named), the File is appropriately downloaded and stored, and can later be retrieved and played by your chosen Player (such as Windows Media Player - though I recommend some other Players, and mention a few in Playing Midi Files). If you choose "Open" the File is automatically downloaded (as above) and supplied, equally automatically, to whatever piece of software is "associated" on your machine with Midi Files - typically Windows Media Player - which will pop up on your desktop and play the File. Once the File is in Media Player it can usually be saved for subsequent retrieval using Media Player's pull-down standard "File|Save As ..." routine.

If you right-click on the Name or icon then you get the standard "open-or-save" dialogue, and can proceed as noted above.

All of this is Windows-driven, so it works whatever Browser - Internet Explorer, say, or Firefox - you may be using.

If you've got a Mac ... I don't know about Macs; it's up to you!

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Can I download more than one Midi File at a time?

If you're lucky, yes! On some pages, for some Works, there are indeed rather a lot of Files, and downloading them one by one will take some time. So, on some - but not all - such pages the clickable Tables I've provided include, as the first item in each column/set, zipped collections of the relevant Files ... all the Unemphasised Files zipped up together, all the Soprano Files zipped together, and so on (though where there are lots of "Voice 1" Files but only a few "Voice 2" ones I have not zipped up the latter; you'll have to download those separately). You should, therefore, be able to download all the Files in each set in one fell swoop.

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Why can't my Browser find the Midi File I've clicked on?

Regrettably there are a zillion possible reasons for this, and most of them are because I made a mistake somewhere - I used the wrong File Name; I spelled the Name wrong; I used the wrong case for the Name; I forgot to make the File; I forgot to upload the File; I uploaded the wrong File; I got the link address wrong; ... - and the mistake could have been almost anywhere between the relevant Composer List and the actual data File. I'm truly sorry about this - I offer you my sincere apologies - and I suggest you E-mail me - see Introduction/Comments and tell me where I seem to have failed you ... and I'll do my best to put things right.

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Why do some of the Midi Files play so quickly - or so slowly?

I usually - but not always - try to match the tempo of the UNemphasized Midi Files to those of some real recording. Depending on what I find, this may well mean these Files seem faster - or slower - than you expect. However, if the tempo is particularly high then I may well make the relevant emphasized Files slower, so that they're easier to learn. You can, of course, always adjust them any way you choose if you use the sort of Player that allows tempo modification (see Playing Midi Files).

Occasionally Files play at the wrong tempo because I failed to allow for Session's confusion about some time signatures. That is an actual error on my part, so please let me know (see Introduction/Comments), and I'll try to put things right.

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Why is there too much/not enough emphasis of the chosen voice?

Sometimes I made a mistake, and uploaded the wrong File version! At other times it may be simply that you like more (or less) emphasis than I do. You can, of course, always adjust this any way you choose if you use the sort of Player that allows track/channel volume modification (see Playing Midi Files).

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Why is one or more voice/instrument not there at all?

Midi - in its "General" incarnation - can use 16 separate and independent sound channels (of which No 10 is usually reserved for a wide collection of percussion instruments). Unfortunately, while Session, the Player I always use to make the voice-emphasized versions, can read and play all 16, it throws a wobbly when asked to "Save" a File, and seems unable to save in the standard format anything on Channels 11-16. As a result, such a "Saved" File doesn't play properly with any Player - typified by Windows Media Player - that expects things to be in the standard format. I do not know how to deal with this except by not using Media Player!

I suspect that, if you're trying to play an emphasized File, and are getting no sound at all from one Voice or Instrument, then you're using Media Player ... and the problem will go away if instead you use some other Player (Session itself works fine!).

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Why do your Files sometimes play with odd or jerky tempos?

This seems to be another Session-derived problem. As I said above, Session manages to do odd things to the data whenever a Midi File is saved from within it, outputting what appears to be a non-standard Midi File. And annoyingly such a "Saved" File may not play properly with any Player - typified by Windows Media Player - that expects things to be in the standard format. If, then, you're having tempo-based problems then I suspect that you're trying to play an emphasized File using Media Player ... and the problem will go away if instead you use some other Player (Session itself works fine!).

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Why are there some wrong notes?

Well, usually because I made a mistake keying in the notes - though sometimes I "borrowed" someone else's File and re-worked it into my preferred format, and failed to see that they'd got the notes wrong.

Tell me (see Introduction/Comments) what notes are wrong - and in which Work/section/voice/instrument/bar, so I can identify the right place in the Master File - and I'll do my best to put them right.

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Why aren't there any lyrics in your Midi Files?

With Noteworthy Composer (the Software I use to enter each Work into my computer), as with most Notation software, it is possible to enter lyrics into the on-screen representation of the score, and to arrange that the lyrics fit the notes, and "play along with" the notes (and it is normal for the lyrics to be included in the corresponding Midi File, so that they can be seen when using an appropriate Player). However, I do not do avail myself of this possibility, for when I listen to the Work - and particularly when I use the computer's output to help me rehearse and learn the Work - I always read my printed score whilst listening to the computer play the File. Though not everyone agrees, I think this is best, because not only is it a lot easier to read a printed score than the screen but in addition it's on the score that there are all the scribbled notes in pencil reminding me how my Choir Leader wants me to sing the piece!

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Why can't I burn a Midi File to disk to get an Audio CD?

It is important to remember that a Midi File is not the actual sound - in either analogue or digital form - but merely instructions for making the sound. In this respect a Midi File for a musical Work is like a printed musical score, which is instructions to the human player regarding the Work it represents. So, writing a music Midi File to a disk copies the instructions, not the music itself - and thus you cannot make an Audio CD this way because the data you're trying to copy is not Audio data.

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So, can I use the Midi Files to make an Audio CD?

Yes, you can, but you have to add an extra step.

First, you have to play the Midi File so that your computer's Sound System actually generates the sound according to the Midi File instructions. And second, while the File is being thus played you have to capture the sound output and save it as a digital Audio File (usually as a WAV File). Once you've got this latter (WAV) File, then that can be burned to CD.

If, like me, you're past the first flush of youth, and so find computers a bit of a challenge, then I strongly recommend you find yourself a 10-year-old boy - a grandson, perhaps? - who will fix things for you ... my son used to do this for me when he was 10; he's now pushing 33 but is still able, mainly because computers are his job!

You will need extra software to do all this (Windows Recorder used to do it, but XP and Vista won't play!). I recommend a program called Synthfont - you can get a free download from here ; that 10-year old will help you download and install it. When Synthfont's running, you simply drag and drop into it each midi file you want to hear, and then you select the "Save/Play to File" option - making sure you know where it's going to dump the saved WAV file. And once you have the WAV file, you can burn it to CD using your usually software. This may seem a bit complicated but I assure you that once you get the hang of it it's a piece of cake.

If, incidentally, you wish to make a lot of CDs and then distribute them to your Choir, that's fine - but see the "Terms of use" below.

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And, can I use the Midi Files to make MP3 Files?

Yes, you can, but just like making a CD - above - you have to add the extra step: you need first to play the Midi File so that your computer's Sound System actually generates the sound according to the Midi File instructions; and while the File is being thus played you have to capture the sound output and save it as ... an MP3 File.

As before, you will need extra software to do all this, and again I recommend a program called Synthfont - you can get a free download from here . When Synthfont's running, you simply drag and drop into it each midi file you want to hear, and then you select the "Save/Play to File as MP3" option - making sure you know where it's going to dump the saved MP3 File. And once you have the MP3 File, you can do with it as you wish - including burning it to CD using your usually software. This may seem a bit complicated but I assure you that once you get the hang of it it's a piece of cake.

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Can I use your Midi Files in my own Choir's Website?

Yes, you can - but see the "Terms of use" below.

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Are there any "Terms of use" for your Midi Files?

Not really, no - they are there to be freely used by anyone for anything ... though I rather hope that if that use is other than personal - if, say, you're making CDs or copying the Files to your own (Choir's) website - then you'll give me and my Site a good plug, identifying the latter by its Home Page address -

http://www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk

And if you manage to make money out of your use of my Files, congratulations (if you make a lot of money then my cut's 20%)!

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Do you provide your Files in Noteworthy format?

All the music was originally keyed in using the Noteworthy Composer notation software, and then converted into Midi form (and emphasized with MidiSoft's "Session"). Most of the basic Noteworthy Files have been published on the Noteworthy Scriptorium Website, and can be freely downloaded from there. I will usually be happy to send you by E-mail one or two of those that haven't.

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Are there any problems installing/using Session?

Yes, and No ... that is, the Program works well, but:-

Installation
On the assumption that you've downloaded the relevant zipped File - SESSION.ZIP - from this Site, and put it where you'll eventually want it, then simply double-click on the File, and Windows/WinZip should open it up and extract and uncompress the set of Files in there (keep the original zipped File, just in case!). One of these Files is the Executable Session File, SESSION.EXE (make a Shortcut to that, and stick it where you need it); it doesn't need "installing": it just sits there, complete and ready to go, apart from . . .

. . . When it's up and running, and BEFORE you load any Midi File, you need to go to Setup/Midi Drivers and select GENERAL Midi, otherwise you won't get all 16 possible channels. And don't forget: Session is a DOS/3.1, 16-bit, piece of software. Though it should also run under anything from 95 to 2000 - and maybe even XP and Vista (Session is a Windows 3.1 16-bit piece of software, and so you have to use "compatibility" mode for XP and the like)! - it will probably NOT allow you to SAVE this set-up unless either you actually located the Program in C:\SESSION or at least you have a Folder named "SESSION" in Drive C (the root Drive), and if it doesn't permit saving then every time you start Session running you must go to Setup/Midi Drivers and select GENERAL Midi anew.

I do not believe it is possible to use Session under Win7. On my Win7 machine I have installed a Virtual copy of XP (see above), under which I can run Session, but this is not really terribly satisfactory.

Use - Tempo control
Session has a number of irritating habits. One - though this mainly concerns me, using it to produce my emphasised Midi Files, rather than you using it to play them back - is that it is easily confused by any Time Signatures that are not measured in crotchet time (so 3/4 or 4/4 or 5/4 is fine, but 2/2 or 5/8 halves or doubles the assigned Tempo), and I have to fudge it when I'm preparing the basic Noteworthy Files - which can be done quite easily, but it's still irritating!

Use - Clef depiction
Another slightly irritating feature is Session's ability to stick the wrong clef at the beginning of a track, so that the subsequent notes end up far up or down from where you expect them to be. A typical example of this is in the Brahms "German Requiem", where in the opening number the Alto line has been depicted as though written in the Bass clef, so that all the notes appear up in the air! There must be rules for the conversion (from mere note, which is what Midi is, to note-on-staff, which is how Session displays it), and I suspect it depends on the range of the notes, top to bottom, in the staff. But, there is something you can do about it ... as follows:-

Load in the music (for example, for the "German Requiem", the Alto version of the file A-BLESSED.MID; at the moment the clef assigned to the Alto track is the Bass clef). Then, go to the Session pull-down menus (up at the top of the window) and pull down "Music". Select "Clef ...", and a box opens. In the box, use the little down arrow to find all the tracks, and choose the correct one (in my example, it's No 2, Alto). Then choose the correct type of clef - i.e. Treble - and the bar/measure number where you want this to take effect - Measure No 1. Click "OK", and it will miraculously be done! THEN SAVE THE REVISED FILE SO THAT NEXT TIME YOU OPEN IT IT WILL STILL LOOK OK!!

Use - Odd playback
As I intimate elsewhere, there is a problem with Midi Files produced by Session. Although the Midi Files output (exported) by Noteworthy Composer play perfectly properly with Windows [3.1, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista ...] Media Player (and all other Players I have tried), nevertheless once they been loaded into and then saved out from Session they may no longer play properly in other Players - though they still play OK in Session itself - if they use more than Midi Channels 1-10 (in some other Players, such as Windows Media Player, they may not play all the channels, and there may from time to time be strange changes in tempo). That is to say, I can't work out why, or what to do to correct the situation. But worry not: maybe they'll work for whatever Player you use ... and if they don't then they DO play properly using Noteworthy's own Player (see elsewhere).

Problem-ridden though Session may be, even so I use it - and I recommend it. Once installed it is simple and easy to use, and will do all you need to make the Midi Files most useful.

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What Score versions do you use?

There is a large number of Publishers of commercially-available Vocal Scores, including Novello, Peters, Oxford, Barenreiter, Breitkopf, Ricordi, Carus, Boosey & Hawkes, Schott and Belwin. Scores can also be downloaded for free from CPDL - the Choral Public Domain Library, which you'll find here. It is common, though not always the case, that Vocal Scores mainly differ only in the way the Ochestral parts have been "compressed" into the piano reduction (just occasionally the vocal parts are slightly different between Scores, but the differences are usually trivial).

In preparing the basic Noteworthy Files I generally use the more frequently utilised Scores, and I normally identify the chosen Score; this information is buried in the Midi File, though not readily available. Otherwise, I choose not to identify the Score Version.

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Do you accept Commissions?

Up to now I have - for the most part - only made Midi Files of Works which I myself have sung, or am going to sing, or which my friends and colleagues in local Choirs and Choral Societies have sung or are going to sing. However, on a small (so far) number of occasions I have been asked to provide Files for other Works, and on a couple of those - where I have been provided with copies of the relevant Scores - I have graciously acceded to the requests.

Since it is becoming clear that I am running out of Works of the sort that my small, local Groups are likely to perform, even though there are still many, many Works out there that are regularly essayed and with which the relevant Singers may well need the sort of help that Midi Files can supply, and since I will perhaps soon need something to work on so as to keep me getting bored with retirement, I now tentatively offer my services to those who think that Files such as I make could be of assistance, and so might request me to prepare them.

There, however, are a few conditions to which the Requestor - who may be asking for help either as an individual or as a representative of his or her Singing Group - must agree!

If you think I might be able to help you, contact me via the E-mail address on my Home Page.

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Do you accept donations?

Several of my happy customers have been so pleased with the Rehearsal Files downloaded from the Site that they have asked whether I would accept a donation for my efforts. To most of these I have said that their expressed gratitude is enough (!), but more recently I have suggested that a little something, perhaps in the form of a proper, printed, published and commercially-available, Score of a Work I don't yet have on the Site, would be appreciated. So, if you feel that I am due some recompense for the thousands of hours spent preparing the Files, and for the assistance they have given you, then by all means send me the Score for a Work you think should rightly be available on the Site (but bear in mind that a Work you want me to do because you're going to sing it falls into the "Commissions)" category!). Drop me a line by E-mail (see the E-mail address on my Home Page) telling me what you propose, and if I agree I'll give you an address to which you can post the Score.

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What about Copyright?

What indeed!

Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property Right (IPR: others are Patents [for inventions], Registered (and unregistered) Designs (and Design Copyright) [for the visual appearance of articles], and Registered (and unregistered) Trademarks [for Trade Names and the like]). Copyright is the main form of IPR that applies to musical Works, and relates both to the actual music itself - Handel's "Messiah", for example - and to any expression of that music - as an EMI recording or as a Novello printed score, for instance.

Copyright, which in some but not all countries needs registering by some state organisation such as the relevant Patent Office, lasts a long, long time (though recently some composers have complained that it's not long enough!). Different countries have different rules, but a convenient rule of thumb that will fit more or less everywhere is that the Copyright in a piece of music - in the music itself - will last until 75 years after the death of the composer (so there's no longer any such Right in Handel's music!). On the other hand, the Copyright in a recording of a Work, or in a printed score of the Work, lasts for 75 years after the first Publication of that Work - so while some of the earliest scores for "Messiah" are now out of Copyright, nevertheless the later, more recent, ones could still be subject to it (though how far-reaching that Right is depends on how different the later scores are from the earlier ones).

In general Copyright is infringed by the act of actually copying - so where there still is Copyright then pirating a CD or tape, or photocopying a printed score, is an infringement of that Right.

And ... "translating" a Work into a different format - a literary Work from English into French, say, or a musical Work from one set of instruments into another, or from one recording format (CD) into another (tape), or from one score notation type into another - is also an infringement. And turning - translating - the score notation into sound (as into Midi Files) is also an infringement. So: do I feel guilty about using, say, a modern Novello score for a Haydn Mass as the basis for my Midi Files, and thereby infringing someone's Right? Well, slightly, yes (though not much; there are old, out-of-Copyright scores I could have used, but a new one was to hand!), but mostly no.

And the main reason for the "no"? Each country has its own form of Copyright Law, and while the Law in different countries is often different nevertheless they all have special provision for what is called "fair use" and/or for what is called "private study". "Fair use", also known as free use, fair dealing, or fair practice, relates to certain actions that may be carried out and that would normally be regarded as an infringement of the work, but because of the nature of the associated circumstances are instead allowed. The idea behind this is that if Copyright Laws are too restrictive, it may stifle things such as free speech or news reporting, or it might result in disproportionate penalties for inconsequential or accidental inclusion. The concept of fair use makes it possible, for example, to use quotations or excerpts, where the work has been made available to the public (i.e. published), provided that the use is deemed acceptable under the terms of fair dealing, the quoted material is justified, and no more than is necessary is included, and the source of the quoted material is mentioned, along with the name of the author. Typical such free uses of work are inclusion for the purpose of news reporting, incidental inclusion, and limited private and educational use. It is clear to me that the Midi Files I make and upload, and which can be downloaded freely and without charge, are for the private and educational use of those Choral singers who are learning, and rehearsing, a Choral Work; this is fair dealing, and a fair use, of the Work, and so is allowable.

I would add I am reasonably confident that that what I do does not in any significant way harm the Copyright owner - no one who wants to listen to a Work will choose to listen to a Midi version rather than to a recording of the real thing, and no one will prefer to "read" a Midi File rather than an actual printed score; I am not robbing the Right owner of a sale (of recording or score) he/she/they would otherwise have ... and indeed I rather suspect that, having heard the Midi rendition, someone who liked the Work would then go out and buy the real thing, so perhaps, just perhaps, I might be doing the Copyright owner a favour. So that slightly soothes my conscience.

And finally on this subject ... Copyright subsists in practically every Work (provided it's not too old), with a separate Copyright in every version of the Work (provided the changes from the previous version are not merely trivial). So it's possible that there is Copyright - belonging to me - in my Midi Files, alongside any extant Copyright in the original Works themselves and whatever scores I may have used to generate them. But don't worry about that; I will not try to enforce whatever extremely limited Right I may have!

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Last updated by John on 21/Oct/12