Main Blog Research Music Software About / Contact

MEAWS

MEAWS (Musician Evaluation and AWdition for Strings) is an open-source program to help amateur musicians and music students. There are currently two practice modes: rhythms (for all musicians) and violin intonation.

Google code project (including SVN repository)

Rhythm Mode

screenshot of MEAWS rhythm mode

MEAWS rhythm mode. The lower red lines show when the user clapped; the upper black lines show where the user should have clapped.

Violin Intonation mode

screenshot of MEAWS
intonation mode

MEAWS violin intonation mode. The color and direction of the bars indicates jhe type of error: a lower blue box means that the user played too flat, an upper magenta box means that the user played too high, while a green box in both directions means that the user was inconsistent (both too high and too low). The size of the box indicates the amount of error.

Quick start

  1. Once you have opened the application, create a new user with ctrl-n (on Apple MacOS X, press apple instead of ctrl). You may also find these commands in the menus (User | New User).
  2. Open a new game with ctrl-g (or menu Exercise | Open Game). Choose Rhythm or Intonation.
  3. Hit space to start recording. The first exercise is very simple; this is so that you can test your recording ability. You may need to turn the microphone input volume up or down.
  4. When you have finished clapping the rhythm -- be careful not to clap any extra times! -- press space again to stop recording.
  5. To accept your current score (shown in the bottom-right corner), press enter. A new exercise will be displayed, unless you failed to pass level 0 (passing grade is 80%), in which case the same exercise will be shown.
    To delete your current recorded attempt, press d (or select menu Try | Delete Try).
    To investigate your score (especially if the background changes color), see something went wrong.
  6. Go back to step 3.

Summary of the above commands:

ctrl-nCreate new user
ctrl-gOpen new game (choose rhythm or intonation)
spaceStart/stop recording
dDelete current attempt
enterAccept score and move on to new exercise

Other potentially useful commands

No detailed explanation here; the best advice I can give is to just try stuff. You won't break anything! :)

space (when an existing Try is selected) Play recorded audio from that Try
ctrl-uModify user info (personal data, metronome options, audio analysis settings)
ctrl-eOpen single exercise (choose rhythm or intonation, then choose exercise file)
Exercise | Set tempoModify metronome tempo
aCreate new attempt, keeping the current one (so you can compare different versions)
Open TryOpen a pre-recorded audio file to analyze

Explanation of User Info settings

Many of these options are currently useless, and are aimed at a future version/study of MEAWS (where we do things like tracking user info). Only the options which affect program usage will be discussed here.

Recording Metro [Audio and Visual, Visual, intro, none]
How should MEAWS indicate the beats while the user is recording audio? Default is to play a sound and flash.
A trained classical musician should have no difficulty performing levels 0-9 with only Visual metronome, but beginners should use Audio and Visual until they feel confident.
Intro mode just shows four beats and then stops. It was just included so that I could show off. :)
Playback Metro [Audio and Visual, Visual, intro, none]:
How should MEAWS indicate the beats while the user is playing back a Try?
Clap Volume [0.01 - 1.0]:
What is the minimum clap volume (the dotted blue line in the Rhythm popup display). Default value is 0.05; most users will want a number between 0.02 and 0.15.
Align First Beat [on/off]:
Instead of finding the best alignment between detected claps and expected claps, assume that the first clap lined up perfectly with the first expected clap.
Shortest Note [0.1 - 1.0]:
How many seconds long was the shortest note? MEAWS is optimized for relatively long notes; the default value of this is 0.4 seconds. Setting this value shorter (e.g. to play sixteenth notes) may result in poor audio analysis.
Just intonation [on/off]:
String players alternate between equal temperament and just intonation, depending on what other types of instruments they are playing with. Ask your teacher whether you should use just intonation or not.

Something went wrong

If the background color is white,
then MEAWS thinks that the audio analysis was correct. If you think the score was too low, try listening to your performance -- press space. If you still think that your score was too low, fill out the feedback form. :)
(if you're curious about how the grading is done, please see my draft thesis on the download page.)
If the background color is yellow,
then MEAWS is giving you a warning that the audio analysis might be wrong. However, the problem could simply be you -- perhaps you clapped one time too many, or misread the accidental on a note. You are still given a grade.
If the background color is red,
then MEAWS is giving you an error. The audio analysis was so different from the expected answer that there was no point trying to calculate a grade.

To investigate more, double-click on the main display. A new window will pop up, which should look similar to one of these two displays:

Pop-up display for Rhythms

The black lines indicate the volume, and time moves from left to right. MEAWS looks for peaks that are above the dotted blue line (the minimum clap volume) and which are a certain distance away from a previously-detected clap. Detected claps are indicated with red lines.

Pop-up display for Intonation

The red somewhat-wavy lines indicate the detected pitches. Blue vertical lines indicate the detected boundaries between notes (i.e. grouping pitches into notes), and blue horizontal lines indicate the expected pitch for that note.

MEAWS Frequently Asked Questions

Whenever I try an exercise, I get a red screen!
Double-click on the red part, and you'll see more details about the audio. See something went wrong for what to do next.
It's detecting my claps correctly, but I still get red and yellow screens!
How many times are you clapping? The first exercise contains 8 notes. So clap 8 times. No, don't add an extra clap at the end. I know it's tempting to finish on a down-beat, but that's not what the exercise is asking.
I don't like some of your design decisions.
That's to be expected; even I don't think MEAWS is perfect yet. Please leave detailed feedback about what you wish was different.
I really love this software! But I really wish it did A, B, C, and also ran on Windows! If I give you grant money, will you make these changes so I can use it for my students?

Nobody's actually asked this, but I can hope. :)

From Jan 2009 - May 2009 I'll be doing research at NUS. In Sep 2009 I'll be starting a PhD, quite possibly on MEAWS (adding new exercise types, tracking user improvement, redesigning exercises, doing psych experiments to show that my grading scheme is valid (or not!), etc... it really depends on where I am, who I'm studying with, etc).

This leaves 3 months in the Summer during which I could be adding your features or fixing bugs in MEAWS. Since MEAWS is open-source, there's nothing stopping you from making these modifications yourself, or hiring somebody else to make them for you... but since I'm already familiar with the system, I can probably do it cheaper.