Friday, August 31, 2007


Many years ago, sometime in the ancient 1990s, I had the idea to produce sheet music for the beautiful and sad song Evacuee by Enya. I had the software to do it, a basic understanding of music notation, and a jonesin' to do a "music project" of some sort. So that's what I did—I decided to print sheet music for piano and organ. I cheated a little and got the melody and the basics from a MIDI file, but there was still quite a lot of hand editing and tuning to be done.

Any of you who know more about playing an instrument than I do may already see the problem here: I don't know how to play any instruments (well, I understand how to play a piano; I just can't do it). The sheet music I produced was hilariously unusable. Were it not so depressing to see my work fail, I would have greatly enjoyed the perplexed look on my piano-playing accomplice's face when she saw the first draft. She just stared for a second and then replied, "My hands aren't nearly big enough to play this. Nobody's are."

I got so caught up in the notation and my little project that I didn't stop to think that I had created some musical constructs that were too great in range to be played by human hands. Luckily, with a few tips, I was able to adjust and simplify the music so that it sounded roughly the same, but didn't rely on so many impossible chords. I learned a valuable lesson with that project: think about who's going to use the output you're producing before it's too late and you've designed something that isn't useful to anyone.

I don't have the sheet music or the Windows 3.1 software I used to create it anymore. But, at least you can listen to what the original song sounds like.


No comments: