Why is there no humanization function?!

• Dec 8, 2019 - 01:00

Is it possible to humanize a midi in MuseScore? Can I add little 64th notes or something to the beggining of the notes and chords to make the score a little more "natural"?


First of all, MuseScore is not a midi editor, any more than a composer is an MP3 generator. Whether MuseScore should have a "humanize" function (I have heard of other music editors that do have this, and apparently do a convincing job) is a fair question. Keep in mind credible phrasing is now possible, and scores so treated sound quite remarkable (see my "Meticulously-phrased performances" set), but I assume you are talking about functionality similar to those I mentioned, which "randomize" slight irregularities, apparently to the liking of many sophisticated listeners. It's a reasonable request, but a big job involving real research as to how this is rightly done.

BSG is spot on. But let's go a bit further. Notation software is just that. It creates notation.
Professional musicians who rehearse and perform together, and not paid nearly enough, do not make timing mistakes. Recently MuseScore has introduced ways to make playback more musical. I would use the term musical instead of human. Besides, humanizing would be based on what? Someone else's algorithm. Not mine.

In reply to by bobjp

I wouldn't go that far. I'm not a professional musician, and to me performance by MS is important, especially of my own music that has no concert performances (and some of the amateur performances I've participated in are second to MS in quality). And professional musicians, including conductors, are not clockwork-accurate, and that's not considered a flaw. It's about very small subtle variations, not 'mistakes'. This is not an unreasonable ask.

In reply to by BSG

I mostly write for small orchestra. I find it highly unlikely that the entire viola section is going to be a smidgen off on an entrance. Then there's the idea of random.
Rather it's things like:
1. Ever so slight retard at the end of a phrase.
2. Perhaps a diminuendo also.
3. Phrasing and articulation
4. General ebb and flow of the music.
These things, and much more, that breath life into music are not random.

In reply to by bobjp

These things are far more important than the "slight variation" being discussed, and are all doable in MuseScore now. In fact, simulation of a section where the instruments are human-varied by barely-perceptible fractions is not within the MIDI model.

In reply to by BSG

I would like to introduce a note on this discussion focusing on the phrase "I am not a professional musician and for me the performance by MS is important"

I agree with what has been written, I also use MS with this philosophy in writing scores already.

For some time I have been asking for the possibility of "portamento" to be added (see real instruments such as the trombone or the Hawaiian guitar or the beginning of the Rhapsody in Blue) but no one "finds the time" to implement this characteristic which, for a notation softare seems to me to be essential.

In reply to by bobjp

"...Professional musicians who rehearse and perform together, and not paid nearly enough, do not make timing mistakes. ...."

I must disagree. Human variance in timing is not a mistake. Humans are not machines, and it is neither possible nor desirable for humans to perform with machine-like precision.

"...I find it highly unlikely that the entire viola section is going to be a smidgen off on an entrance...."

I find it highly unlikely that an entire viola section is likely to hit or release a note at exactly the same MIDI "tick", and given the physical differences between instruments, that an entire orchestra is even remotely capable of such precision.

In reply to by toffle

I agree that humans are not machines. And machines are not human. I'm not against AI. My goal would be to make playback be more musical. To me, that doesn't automatically mean more human.
My comment about the viola section means that right now if I want to introduce a slight timing variation at a particular place in playback, I have to apply it to the entire section of instruments. In real life, one or two players might be slightly off. But even that is not the goal of real players.
The goal of real players is to produce a musical performance. That is my goal also. Maybe there is a fine line between "human" and "musical". Maybe it's just semantics. Certainly, humans make music. So I get the the argument that the way to make playback more musical is to make it more human. But for me, that approach limits playback. I prefer to approach it from the aspect of what musicians are trying to do. They are trying to make music. MuseScore has the opportunity to do that, also.
I've played in a wide variety of groups all my life. I remember the first time I heard professional notation software playback. I was blown away. It wasn't perfect by a long shot. But it was magical. Composers write for human (for the most part) playback. They envision a musical rendering of their score. A human rendering of what I write is pretty much out of the question. I have to rely on software. So it is fun for me to try to make music with software. I don't have a problem with some aspects of playback being annoyingly precise. Real players can do that, even if only sometimes. More importantly, they can do the things I listed above.

In reply to by bobjp

I meant this question for the piano as many professional DAW programs like Logic Pro X have a simple function of offsetting the notes by several midi ticks. This almost adds life to the performance instead of having an almost robotic precision that doesn't sound right. Thank you for the replies!

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