MEWER 0.7The next version MEWER is online. This adds a main menu, Tutorial, Tips, and (for flash) Input select functions. Try it here: MEWER 0.7.
I'm not certain what this leaves. I have mixed feelings about changing to a non-sequential series of levels... I mean, yes, it's a good idea. But I think it would involve more work than I have time for at the moment. It certainly isn't something necessary for version 1.0. Right now I want to check for anything important missing (like typos in the tutorial explanation, or missing info) before declaring it 1.0 and advertizing it to more people.
Update 2008-11-28 6:52: changed URL to match new site layout.
MEWER 0.6The sixth public test of MEWER (MEWsician's Exercises for Rhythms) is online. This one has two difficulty levels, warns users if they didn't indicate the correct number of notes, and has misc bug fixes. Try it here: MEWER 0.6.
MEWER has also been added as a Google Code project; you can get the source code or add Issues (bugs or planned features) at http://code.google.com/p/mewer.
- Fix any bugs reported in this version.
- Calibrate the grading.
- Let users choose which level to do next. Maybe with a full graphical tree view. Or maybe just as a "warp to level X" thing.
- Release source code and add it to Google Code. This will also let me add Issues (ie bugs or feature requests) to a tracker, as opposed to looking through my old blog posts to see what I was supposed to be doing next. :)
- Figure out what the name stands for.
MEWER 0.4The fourth public test of MEWER is online. It contains levels 0-9 and the player can only advance levels after passing exercises. This is the first real "game" version of MEWER. Try it here: MEWER 0.4.
The 0.4 test is dedicated to the string quintet I played with on Monday night. They were missing a first violinist, so I joined them and we sight-read some Mozart and Beethoven quintets. I had a blast -- we had some ensemble problems, so I started sight-reading from the score (first time I've done that! -- previously I'd only played chamber music from scores when I already knew my part) and yelling out corrections as we went along. That evening was the perfect example of the kind of musician I wanted to be when I started learning viola 5 or 6 six years ago. I can jump in and play any part in string chamber music, and if anybody has trouble, I can grab their instrument and give them a mini-lesson.
Sure, there are many great chamber music coaches that are fantastic, regardless of their original instrument(s). But I've heard "well, I'm not a cellist, but what if you tried..." or "I only play violin, but you could try this on your viola..." too many times. My special niche is that I do know how to play the instruments, and I have played that type of role. Few violinists really understand what it's like to play cello in a quartet, and few cellists really understand the violinsts' point of view.
Ok, I must admit that I still occasionally fake stuff as first violin, even in Mozart. And I won't even attempt to sight-read Shostakovich quartets. So I should really wait another year or two before proclaiming myself the specialist in general string quartet playing. But I'm still on a high from the quintets. :)
Anyway, back to MEWER. It's still missing a few features that I plan on adding. Near-future:
- Not crash when you complete level 9. (so far, only members of the Percival family have gotten that far. :)
- Let users choose between "align to first clap" and "use best alignment" (currently it only does the latter).
- Nicer status messages
- Calibrate the grading. Right now I've leaned on the side of leniency (in calculating the percentage), and set the "pass" rate to 70%. I might increase the difficulty and then reduce the passing grade to 50%.
- Let users choose which level to do next. Maybe you want to do triplets after sixteenth notes instead of rests. Or maybe you think you should practice dotted quarters and half notes before doing sixteen notes.
- Figure out what the name stands for. :) Musician's E*** Workshop for Evaluating Rhythms? Hmm... Excellent, Exciting? Or maybe Musicians and Extras (ie singers, or maybe even dancers) Worskshop for Evaluating Rhythm? I'm sure that my brother would approve of the latter one, but I'm not as stuck-up about string players as he is. At least, not in public. :)
Not possible in flash (but these features are present in MEAWS):
- Audible metronome. Flash audio has unpredictable latency, so it's worse than useless as a metronome.
Play back audio. This is IMO one of the most important parts of
MEAWS -- if you think MEAWS has given you a poor score, you can
listen to your clapping to verify how poorly you did. I mean, we
all think that we always have great rhythm, but often
when you listen to a recording of what you actually did, you
discover that you weren't as hot as you thought.
Unfortunately this cannot be done in flash. At least, not without setting up a $5000 "flash media server". :(
I've also made it a bit harder, although it still doesn't check to see if you've passed the first exercise before giving you the second one. That'll happen in the next major version... as long as the timing works better for people in this version.
Flash timing code is failYesterday's test was a great success -- in that the test discovered a huge flaw in the program. Or rather, it found a huge flaw in the platform: the
Timerobject in Flash is horribly inaccurate.
I'm not a
However, I didn't test that flash could make a light blink to within 5 ms. In retrospect, I should have. But it never occurred to me that it would be a problem.
(and yes, it took almost all my willpower to avoid using "flash" as a verb in the previous paragraph)
You can test it for yourself on your own computer: Metronome test
On my system, a modest dual-2.0 Ghz macbook running OSX 10.4.11,
half the time I get a maximum delay of about 40ms, and half the
time it spikes up to over 200ms. That's totally unacceptable for
a metronome -- especially when I'm going to be grading students on
their clapping ability. The whole point of this program, and my
Master's thesis in general, is that computers can provide
objective, accurate, and above all, trust-worth grading. If
students can't trust that the computer grades are accurate (at
least to 5%), the program will be a pathetic toy rather than an
educational aid. And we have
Note that the above test is only timing the
Timer class. I'm not doing anything else here --
adding other stuff (like listening to claps + key presses, drawing
flashing lights, etc) can only make it worse.
Yeah, that's quite a bit of duct tape, even for me. But what's the alternative? Abandon 90% of potential MEAWS users by ignoring Windows? Spending a week setting up a development environment on windows so that I can compile it? Neither of those options are particularly appealing. :(
MEWERThe rhythm game looks like it'll work in flash. It's tentatively called MEWER, although I haven't figured out what this will be an acronym for.
Right now I'd like to check that it works on a wide range of computers. I, of course, don't have a wide range of computers myself, so I therefore turn to the internets for help. If you wouldn't mind spending two minutes, please test the rhythm test.
Just go there, enable microphone and clap, or disable microphone
and hit the space bar. It only has 2 exercises at the moment, and
it doesn't even check that you passed the first exercise before
giving you the second, but that's plenty for me to know whether
it's worth programming the rest of it.
Score: I'm a cellist, so I consistently get above 95%. If you're a singer, you're probably lucky to get above 50%. :P Other instruments will fall somewhere in between those. (singers: go ahead and try to prove me wrong by posting your scores on my blog. It will be good practice for when I put the real exercises on MEWER. These two exercises are from levels 1 and 3 out of 10.)
Update: MEWER for flash 7.