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OVER 2 YOU 238 (05/07/05)




People who work with language need a phonetic script: something which gives, not the spelling, but the actual sound of the word, for example, to distinguish between the long ‘a’ of ‘bath’, in Dorset, and the short, snappy, ‘a’ in the same word in Lancashire. Or how to pronounce a foreign word, with vowel sounds not used in English, as well as defective pronunciations, such as speech therapists need to correct, and record. The International Phonetic Alphabet does just this. Snag is – I haven’t got it on my computer: or, if I have, I cannot find it. Can anybody help? 

Colin R. Evans, via email



As far as I know the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) font is not installed as standard on either Windows or Mac.  However, the SIL Encore IPA Fonts can be downloaded free of charge from: http://tinyurl.com/afd86. The SIL download page says "Installing and using these fonts is not a trivial matter."  However, as a reasonably experienced PC user, I found I

was able to do it.

Tim Lodge, Bray, Berkshire



All basic sounds are to be found in the IPA (www.linotype.com), including e.g. the difference between the short northern 'a' and the log southern 'a' (they have different phonetic symbols). Also included are 'diacritics' which render broad phonetics into a narrow or close (more accurate) phonetic description. Your correspondent would be advised to buy a basic textbook to familiarise himself with all the symbols for all languages before he uses the software.

David Billington, via email   




Your correspondent can find this (and related links) at www.omniglot.com/writing/ipa.htm

Wilson Philips, via email



I have two options. The first link (www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/index.html) goes to the home page of the International Phonetic Association. The second link (www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/ipa-unicode.htm gives details of the required Unicode fonts to use the alphabet in applications such as browsers, but should work in any Unicode compliant application.

Andy Graham Cumming, via email






For private use, I wish (cheaply) to be able to scan a piece of sheet music and then, at the touch of a computer key, change the music key so that it is suitable for another pitched instrument.For example, scan piano sheet music and change the key to B Flat for a trumpet. Can anyone help?

Dudley Wheeler, via email



This can easily be done using musical OCR (optical character recognition) software such as SharpEye together with musical notation software such as Mozart.  No OCR software gives perfect results so some editing will be required.  SharpEye has limited editing facilities.  Mozart has very good editing facilities and will handle the transposition.


The steps are: scan the original, then use SharpEye to convert the scanned image into musical notation. Correct any errors (or at least make the output musically consistent) using the SharpEye editor. Output to a NIFF file and import the NIFF file into Mozart. Finally, make any corrections, transpose and print. See: www.visiv.co.uk for SharpEye and www.mozart.co.uk for Mozart.

F. H. Bridges, Fareham




Music Publisher 5 plus its scanning module does this beautifully.  The program is by Braeburn Software and can be downloaded in a trial version.  The scanning module is not available for trial use but a demo scan is on the website. The scanned score is transposed with a few clicks of the mouse. Go to: www.muspub.com, for the download


There is also a Discussion Group where users of MP worldwide exchange thought and ideas.  It's good fun, and there is continuing input and support from the program's author.

Jo Gopsill, Dorset



I use Sibelius for scanning in sheet music (www.sibelius.com/cgi-bin/home/home.pl).  You can then do lots of things including changing key, and extracting parts for different instruments. Sibelius is brilliant but you really need to be Grade 5 Music Theory standard at least to use it properly. Sibelius run day courses all over the country on how to use the program but it's very consumer friendly and you can teach yourself.  The program is expensive but it really is the best and well worthwhile if you are serious about music.  I've been a Head of Music in secondary education for many years and the pupils all enjoy using Sibelius and swapping tips.

Anne Elliott, London



Try Turandot: www.turandot.hu to scan the music (using the greyscale setting) and save it as a BMP or TIFF file. Then drag the file into Sharp Eye and get it to read it. You can then edit the mistakes (and there will be plenty). Next save it as a MIDI file. Open the MIDI file in Turandot and it will convert it into music notation. You can play around with it to your heart’s content.

Richard Tanner, via email



I use Music Works from Middle Earth Systems (www.tierramedia.com/home.asp) to transpose musical notation that I have created and input using the mouse/keyboard.  The transpose function is very easy to use and Music Works produces good printed output and is not as expensive as the market leading Sibelius. The tone of the enquiry suggests that the facility is needed for ‘melody’ instruments which play single notes as opposed to instruments which play chords and multiple notes e.g. pianos, guitars etc.  Inputting a single line of musical notation is not difficult and once it is in Music Works format it can be checked audibly by playing it back at any speed, and, using the built-in MIDI facility, set to sound like virtually any instrument.

R. Ball



Software Partners supply the Capella Music writing package and Capscan the complimentary scanning in package. For more details go to: www.software-partners.co.uk/

John Gould, via email



Finale (www.finalemusic.com/) is an advanced music composition and editing program, which will do this and much more. The full program costs $600.00, but there are substantial discounts for academic and church-related users. The music scanning functionality within Finale is actually a special version of Smartscore (www.musitek.com/), which is available on its own in a number of versions from $99.00 to $399.00 for the full program. Again, substantial discounts apply to academic and church-related users. I suspect that Dudley would need at least the $199.00 "Songbook Edition" of SmartScore. I mentioned Finale first, despite its greater cost, because I find if much easier and more intuitive to use Finale to edit (correct errors, transpose, modify in other ways) scanned music than the editing facilities which are built in to the full version of SmartScore, though I possess and use both programs.

Peter R. Fletcher, St. Ives, Cambs






My lawn is fairly large and an irregular shape. When mowing I find I am covering the same ground several times in a number of areas in order complete the cut. Can anyone suggest a program that could work out the most efficient route around the lawn?

Roy Collins, via email



Does anyone know of a way to use a computer to drive Scalectric cars so that a child can race the computer, giving Dad a rest?

Kevin Cottrell, via email


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