Hi all, sorry for bumping this topic. It's been a while since I was on this forum! But something sparked me to come back to the forums, I don't know what. Hopefully I won't disappear again. Sorry for the long post! I used to use MML quite a lot so this topic peaked my interest.
I used PPMCK often but lately I have been drawn to AddmusicK
. The main reason for this is that I love primitively sampled sound and I also love the SPC700's qwirks. Don't get me wrong, I aspire to do awesome things with the Famicom and its expansions, but unfortunately I feel a lot is setting me back at the moment. Mainly, the fact that I can't really get to grips with trackers for multiple reasons, yet so many awesome things have been done with Famitracker that I really wish I could do.
The main reason I can't get into trackers is that I am totally blind, which I feel puts me at a real disadvantage. To use a computer, I have to use a piece of software often called a screen reader (the one I use is NVDA
). Trackers obviously can't convey the grid information in ways that screen readers can interpret. While it is certainly possible to get stuff down as a blind person given the extensive keyboard navigation in a lot of trackers, the tracking process itself is... difficult.
Once you're in the tracking grid, you're pretty much on your own. Going through rows with keystrokes and aural feedback is pretty much all I can do, which is doable if I personally put everything down and I remember what I did, but that only takes me so far. I know that with enough determination I'm sure I could do a lot more than I believe I can now, but I sadly don't possess the patience required and it would still leave me dealing with almost impossible problems like quickly knowing what's already in a module. What is most tormenting is that I can set the instruments up the way I want. It's just getting the sequence down that's painful.
In an already niche area, accessibility for needs like mine is a topic that's addressed rarely if at all. I've heard of very little discussion on this regarding Famitracker but I haven't dug too deeply either. If there's any interest that I'm not aware of, I would love to participate!
With MML the concentration goes the other way. I'm in a common text editor which screen readers feel right at home in, so I have to focus on making the sound I want, and then when I want to try something, I compile and play. My MML chops aren't scary by any means but I am getting better, and I know that at least some of the pain I feel at the arduous process is shared among MML enthusiasts. I really need to talk to more of them, because I could use a few tips for making the workflow easier.
In MML I am still disadvantaged mainly because visual devices are less effective on me so I find it easier to get lost or that my MMLs are hard to read. While screen readers can announce formatting information, it is only for an informational purpose and doesn't serve a visual/spacial benefit. It's just more words to me so I turn the announcements off. I'm better off with just comments and line breaks.
While I don't format my MMLs very well, I am fairly pedantic about using spaces to separate things I feel are important. Notes often have spaces between them as sort of event separators so I can use keystrokes like control+left and control+right in my text editor to move by word. I don't often put spaces in modifiers like brackets/braces, octave commands, sharps and flats, and some effect commands, because I don't consider them as separate events. Different text editors do use different word separators so it doesn't completely do what I want, but spacing stuff out the way I do helps me read in any case. I'm a very aural musical learner so it takes me a while to translate language to notes. I have a really hard time reading MML, even my own. I can write it considerably better than I can read it. So if I could remove the note names from my reading and hear the notes instead along with whatever effects I've put on them, I would probably die of gratitude lol. If not that, then the ability to instantly play my sequence from a certain point and seek and mute and solo channels would be just as useful to me.
For complex projects, I've made midi files and used separate tracks for the sound chip's channels. FYI The sequencer I use is QWS
which was made by a blind programmer and musician, and fortunately the developer and I seem to think similarly when it comes to midi editing so I feel at home in it. When I'm sequencing I spend time making painful decisions about channel allocation, voicings etc. with realtime feedback, which means I' can actually finish an arrangement. When doing the MML, it's just a matter of either converting the midi with tools and manually adjusting, or more often than not I'll just transcribe it by hand, and surprisingly that's easy. I guess it helps that I go out of my way to make the midi sound authentic so I pretty much just transcribe, check, and tweak until they are close enough. Only problem with that approach is I essentially have to write the thing down twice which is a turn-off for me, so I really don't do a lot of the big projects I want to take on.
I saw a number of really good suggestions in this thread about how to make MML easier to work with. What would rock my world is if Famitracker had an alternative text editor mode. You'd set your instruments up the way you normally would, since that's screen reader friendly, but for the rest you could use the text editor. Of course doing instruments in the MML is certainly plausible too but I wouldn't need that as much. I know Famitracker already has txt export, but that's not very writeable.
It would be awesome if good 'ol MML was used, where you can do whatever you want without caring about rows, but even if it were still a tracker, I could work well with that if notes and effects and the like were commands. Perhaps some way to convert a Famitracker text file or ftm module to and from an MML syntax would be the best shot at that?
Again, sorry for the long post. IF you're still reading, then congratulations you've made it through lol