Serial Composer is a simple application that searches series that fulfill certain criteria. It might be useful for a composer of modern classical music (or "serial" music) who wants to find a new fancy series.
A PPC with appearance extension is required. Also a monitor capable of at least 800*600 is recommended, since the properties dialog won't fit in a smaller monitor.
Serial Composer displays search results in a window. You can open a new window by selecting "New" in the File menu. If you have multiple windows open, the results will be shown always in the front window. Serial Composer shows only maximum of 256 found series. If you feel that's not enough, please let me know, but remember, that showing all found series could lead to instant need of about 2 Gigs of free memory! If your criteria yielded 256 series you should try to make the search criteria more strict.
In addition to the using the scrollbar and zooming the window you can navigate in document windows with up and down arrow keys, Page Up and Page Down keys and Home and End keys.
You can save the search results in a file and open it up later. If you have already found something (and the results are shown in a window) and you perform a new search with new criteria, the new search results will be written on top of the old search results. To avoid loosing old search results open a new window.
If Serial Composer has found some series and shown them in a window, which you want to close, Serial Composer will ask whether you want to save the search results.
Serial Composer performs a search when you select "Find series" in the Series menu. By selecting "Count number of series" in Series menu you can also ask Serial Composer just to count the number of series that fulfill current search criteria. Remember that Serial Composer will show at most 256 series in a window, although there might exist much more series that fulfill the criteria. You can abort a search by pressing the stop button in progressbar or typing command-period.
You can define the search criteria by selecting "Properties..." in the Series menu. A dialog box will open. There are seven categories of search criteria and you can move between them by clicking the tabs or by pressing cmd-1, cmd-2 etc. Checking a checkbox for the properties you want the series to have. Clicking defaults button (or pressing cmd-d) will reset all tests (in all categories) to no test state.
Warning: Serial Composer isn't very smart! Be wise when selecting search criteria. If you click "Avoid minor thirds" and then click "Avoid major triads" Serial Composer will be performing a duplicate search - and completely in vain.
Intervals: these options will discard series with particular
intervals of interval sequences in them.
Chords: in case you want to avoid for example triads or other tonal interval sequences.
Components: Serial Composer will now search for series with 2, 3, or 4 components.
Self-similarity: taking every fifth note yields a new series, which may have a connection with the original series.
Augmentation: taking every second note yields a hexachord which may have a connection with the original series.
Other: Miscellaneous search criteria.
Looping: A series and its transposition make a 24 tone sequence, and this option looks for series, in which the same note does not occur too soon again. If the elliptic checkbox is checked, Serial Composer will make a 23 tone sequence, in which the last note of the first series is also the first note of the second series.
Diatonic: Serial Composer will check that the series has/has not a diatonic or a whole tone field with specified length.
You can adjust the search seed by selecting "Seed..." in the Options menu. This is useful for example, if you want the series to begin in a certain way.
You can adjust search depth by selecting "Search depth" in the Series menu. Technically, this option controls the depth of the recursion algorith in Serial Composer. In practise, if 7 is selected, Serial Composer will keep the 5 first notes of the seed fixed and alter only the remaining 7. Selecting 11 means that all 39916800 possible series will be tested (except their transpositions). You can also move the slider with left and right arrow keys.
This is a little bit different tool: it does not really search for any series but shows all the transpositions, inversions, retroversions and retroinversions of a specified series. This might be handy when composing - especially as you can export these transformations as MIDI or text file (see below).
Note that Serial Composer uses two different seeds: one for searches and one for transformations. Search seed is the basis for searches. It is useful if you want to find series with certain criteria and certain beginning. The use of transformation seed in much more straightforward: Serial Composer will show (or export) the transformations of this seed. These could of course combined into one seed, but I myself thought it would be better to separate them.
There a few options in the preferences (in Edit menu). You can define the behaviour of the application when you start it. In addition you can you can turn the progressbar on/off. Why? Because drawing progressbar takes some time. If progressbar is turned off Serial Composer will show a spining cursor to ensure you it hasn't crashed. You can always abort a search typing command-period (or by pressing the stop button in progressbar if you haven't turned it off).
Serial Composer saves its preferences in file named "Serial Composer 1.x Prefs" (where 1.x is the version of the Serial Composer that created the file) in Preferences folder inside System folder. Note, that each new version has new preferences file format and Serial Composer cannot read/import preferences of older versions, so you might want to trash the old preferences file when switching to newer version. In any case, do not try to cheat Serial Composer by renaming preferences file - you have been warned!
Just for interest Serial Composer keeps some statistics available in Series menu. Selecting statistic will show you statistics concerning the last search: how many series were tested and how much time was consumed. Note that if you have no criteria selected, no tests will be made. On the other hand, if you have for example 2 criteria and the first one fails, the other test will not be done. Therefore statistics will show the actual number of tests that Serial Composer has made. Of course, some tests take more time than others.
You can choose whether to view series with flats of sharps and whether to show naturals.
Serial Composer can play series using QuickTime - provided that QuickTime and QuickTime Musical Instruments are installed. If Serial Composer cannot initialize playback on launch it disables the Play menu. Playing series is straightforward: select series and choose play series in the Play menu.
There are few options for playback: you can adjust the speed and volume of playback. In addition you can choose playback "mode", that is, how many notes are played at a time. If 1 is selected, notes of the series will be played consecutively. If 2 is selected, 2 consecutive notes will be played simultaneously (that is 1st and 2nd, 2nd and 3rd, 3rd and 4th etc.) and so on. This might be useful if you want check what kind of chords the series contains.
Serial Composer is not very smart when it is printing. It is smart enough to offer all usual printing services - provided that you have big enough paper! The series are 507 pixels wide so the printing area will be at least 507 pixels (at 72 dpi). Serial Composer can't do any scaling if you try to print on a narrower paper, but simply drops the last notes. If you think this is major problem, please let me know. Anyway, there should be no problem printing to standard letter or A4 size paper.
You can export contents of a window to a MIDI file, in which the time signature is 12/4 and each measure contains one series. Any notation or MIDI sequencing program with the ability to import
standard MIDI files can open or import these files. Additionally, Serial Composer allows you to save MIDI files for several specific notation programs, so you can simply double click on the files you create to open them directly in your notation software or sequencer. If you export transformations as MIDI, the result will be a MIDI file in which all series will be on first track (actually, the second as the first track contains just MIDI info), inversions on second track, retroversions on third track and retroinversions on fourth track. If importing the file to Finale, you'll get a nicely organised charh of all series forms.
Certainly there are many left. Again, feedback is welcome.
Contacting the author:
The installer for this product was created using Installer VISE from
MindVision Software. For more information on Installer VISE, contact:
7201 North 7th Street
Lincoln, NE 68521-8913
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE SOFTWARE MAY NOT SATISFY YOUR REQUIREMENTS OR BE FREE FROM DEFECTS. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, AND THE AUTHOR EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
THE AUTHOR WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT OR SPECIAL DAMAGES, WHETHER ARISING IN TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), CONTRACT OR OTHERWISE, THAT STEM FROM ANY USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE SOFTWARE.
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