Philosophy of a drum tab editor

Why did I set out to write a drum tab editor?

After a number of years of being frustrated in one way or another by the software I could find – not just the free stuff, but things I was willing to pay for – I finally snapped. I realised that the only person that cares about exactly what I want in a drum tab editor is me. Now, maybe this means that DrumBurp won’t be for everyone, but I can live with that. I’m not looking for fame and fortune here, I just want a piece of software that I can use. If anyone else gets any use of it too, then that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, but it’s not why I’m doing it.

So, before I got started, I had a think about what I was trying to create, and I decided I needed to have an overall vision to help with the difficult decisions. I came up with this.

DrumBurp is a simple GUI for creating and editing music notation for drum kit.

DrumBurp’s aim is to make the user-experience of writing drum music as quick and intuitive as possible. The generality of many existing music notation software packages means that there is an abundance of unnecessary complexity involved in writing drum notation. While these packages can produce beautiful output, and cope with everything you could ever possibly want to notate, they can be slow and ponderous to use. By being very clear that the objective ofDrumBurp is restricted to writing only drum music, I hope to remove the difficulties such generality can impose.

DrumBurp will never have a Bagpipes mode.

The fundamental philosophy of DrumBurp is as follows: when faced with a choice between additional functionality/complexity in a specific case, or speed, simplicity and intuitive user interaction in the general case, the general case always wins. Simple, quick and stupid is better than complex, slow and clever.

DrumBurp is focussed around using a simple representation of drum music. For each note you play it essentially cares about:

  • WHICH drum you hit,
  • WHEN you hit it,
  • and HOW you strike it.

These three pieces of information together are sufficient to write drum music in tablature notation. DrumBurp aims to allow the drummer to get this information into the computer as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

DrumBurp stores this information in it’s own format in its saved score files. However, it can export tablature as ASCII text files easily enough. A long-term goal of DrumBurp is to be able to output “real” drum notation as aesthetically pleasing and easy to read as that produced by Lilypond or Nted.

DrumBurp’s fundamental data structures should rarely, if ever, change. The most important part of DrumBurp is its interface with the user. Its goal for the user is less time writing, more time drumming.


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