A Touch of Monopoly®

Another month, another little update to Giocoso.

This time, the version number is bumped to 1.09 because I've found that picking appropriate colours for the album art caption bar is harder than it should be! That is to say, when Giocoso starts playing a new piece of music, if album art is being displayed, it will try to display the composer and composition name in a coloured bar underneath the actual album art embedded in the FLAC file being played. [...] 

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Emby Episode 4

To recap the story so far: I organise my music on disk in a Composer/Genre/Composition hierarchy. I sometimes play music via the Emby Media Server. Emby does not, however, really support a Composer/Genre/Composition hierarchy, tending to go directly from Composer to Composition. Fortunately, if you use Folders view, Emby will mirror your physical layout of files and folders on disk exactly. But -and this is the point we reached in the last post- Composer artwork you may have applied to Emby's Artist View doesn't display in the Folders view... but, if you arrange for JPGs of each composer to be present in each composer folder, named precisely the same as the folder, it will display composer artwork in Folders view automatically.

This gets us 90% of the way to a usable Emby interface -but, unfortunately, it leaves us with some fairly ugly display screens to wade through on the way to finding a particular piece of music to play. [...] 

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Fixing Emby

To begin with, a bit of a recap of the past two blog pieces.

I began this mini-series by reiterating the way I catalogue my music. Fundamentally, it's just organised in Composer/Genre/Composition order. Then, in the second episode, I explained how I used Emby Media Server to share my music around the house, to the car and to overseas hotel rooms... but that Emby didn't honour the cataloguing hierarchy I'd adopted, but instead simply displayed things in Composer/Composition order, missing out the Genre. This was a failing I could live with, though, since Emby isn't the main way I listen to music. [...] 

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A word about Emby

Sometimes, it takes someone asking a question to make you realise you've been doing something dumb for quite a long time! This post will tell the story of one such question, realisation and (most importantly) the fix! So, my thanks to Jeff in advance for having asked the question that made me realise I've been doing Emby wrong all these years!

But first, of course, I have to explain what 'Emby' is! Well, it's a mostly-free, but not open source, media server. You install it on a spare computer and it catalogues whatever media files you point it at. They can be music, photographs or videos -so Emby can manage a collection of movies or photo albums as well as a large classical music collection. By the power of networking, this Emby server makes the assorted media it knows about available to any other device that you can point at it. These Emby clients can be nothing more complex than a web browser, but they can also be dedicated apps, available for all sorts of operating systems and devices. To put it as simply as I can, then, Emby lets my carefully-curated music collection be accessed from a phone in a car; or from a laptop in a Polish hotel when I'm on holiday; or from a new Android tablet I might be using when score-reading in the garden. [...] 

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Putting it simply...

A reader recently got in touch to ask about my Axioms of Classical Tagging article, giving me the strong impression that my article makes it all sound too hard to tag things correctly... and I think he may have been right on that score! So I thought I'd simplify that article here, reducing its long, discursive justification of things to a few simple principles. If you want to understand why things should be as I'm about to spell it out, read the full article. For a short-cut guide to tagging correctly, however... read on!

There are just three basic principles to grasp from the outset, namely: [...] 

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Giocoso Update - 1.08

A small announcement that I've just released a new version of Giocoso: the current version number is accordingly bumped to 1.08.

The changes made in this version are really quite minor and inconsequential. Principally, they consist of a better tidying up of temporary files when the Giocoso player is interrupted (by a Ctrl+C) or has finished playing something. In earlier versions, if a 'cuesheet' had been produced for a play, that cuesheet would be left lying in the $HOME/.local/share/giocoso folder when the play had finished (or been terminated early). Now, the program deletes such cuesheets as soon as the play terminates for whatever reason. [...] 

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Autopilot Scores

An autopilot, says Wikipedia, is a system used to control the path of an aircraft, car, marine craft or spacecraft without requiring constant manual control by a human operator. Autopilots do not replace human operators. Instead, the autopilot assists the operator's control of the vehicle, allowing the operator to focus on broader aspects of operations (for example, monitoring the trajectory, weather and on-board systems).

In that spirit, I've long wanted to produce 'autopilot full scores': that is, full scores of orchestral or choral works which have controls that allow swift and accurate navigation by the reader through the score, without requiring constant manual (and maniacal) page-turning whenever a repeat or a jump is called for. They won't replace the reader's intervention completely, but they should be able to let the reader focus on more important things than mere score navigation -like, the spectacular nature of the orchestration being employed by the composer or the economy with which the composer achieves a particular effect or other. [...] 

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"Automated" Music Score Navigation

In a mad fit of recent birthday spending, I decided to shell out rather more than I'd intended on a new Android tablet -the one you can see at the left. It's a "Chuwi HiPad Plus", which isn't a name you're likely to find tripping off the lips of many any time soon, I think! It is, however, readily available from Amazon UK.

The reason for the purchase? Well: I like listening to my music whilst following along with a full score. I have a bookcase full of such orchestral and operatic scores, and I find that seeing the music as you listen to it very helpful for drawing your attention to this or that nuance of orchestration. Trouble is, orchestral scores are fiendishly expensive to buy new... which is why I've long made a habit of trying to buy them second-hand when possible! Even el-cheapo second-hand scores, however, have a tendency to be very big and very heavy, and not something that's trivially easy to hold whilst listening to music in your favourite comfy chair! [...] 

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Target Achieved!

Back on 5th November, I wrote about how I was steadily listening to more and more of my previously-unplayed (in Giocoso, at least!) recordings. With some graphing and a line or two of best-fit, I predicted I might get to the 50%-unplayed mark by about "December 3rd or 4th" -though with some uncertainties around Benjamin Britten Day and the ever-constant acquisition of new recordings, maybe causing that date to blow out a bit.

Well, the graph at the left tells you the original prediction was fairly accurate after all: the 50% unplayed/50% played mark was finally achieved late on November 30th. [...] 

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Happy Benjamin Britten Day!

The thumbnail at the left will tell those in the know where I have spent the past day: it's the beach at Aldeburgh, in Suffolk. It was the home of Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears for about 20 years from the late 1950s on.

The reason for the visit now? Well, today is 22nd November, which is St. Cecilia's Day (Cecilia being the Patron Saint of Music). It also happens to be Benjamin Britten's birthday! Coincidence? I think not!! [...] 

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Minisforum UM250 Thermals

Stock picture of a Minisforum UM250 small form factor PC

About a month ago, as I wrote at the time, I stopped using my 2012-vintage PC and once again started using the Minisforum UM250 small form factor PC you see at the left as my main PC. I had tried once before (back in May), but had been put off by the tendency of the Minisforum to crash or have strange graphical glitches. Second time was mostly a charm, however: the use of Kubuntu, rather than Arch or Manjaro, seems to have calmed the beast down to the point where it didn't crash and didn't do weird things with screen drawing.

I've accordingly been using the Minisforum UM250 very happily for a month or so. It doesn't have the memory heft of my old PC (that had 96GB of ECC RAM; this only has 16GB of ordinary stuff!) and its CPU, though a shiny (but not-so-new) AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U, doesn't seem to have the raw power of my former Intel Xeon CPU E5-2680 v2: despite dating from 2013, its 20 threads seem to easily outpace the Minisforum's mere 8. [...] 

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