Squeezing MIDI files into a trombone.
December 14, 2012 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My seventh-grade son is taking trombone in jr. high. I'm trying to put together a workflow that will allow me to find free scores (midi or other formats) of video game tunes and convert them to trombone sheet music.

He's really into video game music and might practice more or at least enjoy trying to play the scores, especially anything Minecraft.

So I'm wondering if there is a way to go from midi-->sheet music, preferably with free tools. I have access to windows and OS X machines. Also, I'm not a real music guy but it looks like the trombone is all on the bass clef, so I guess I'd want to transpose some of this too. I'm really too ignorant to properly frame this question, and may in fact be asking three questions:

1) how do I get free midi files into some sort of open music format

2) how do I auto-transpose that for my son's trombone and then

3) print the results in standard notation (is there such thing as trombone tablature?)

Thanks, and I acknowledge this is a complex question that may not have a turnkey solution.
posted by mecran01 to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, this is pretty easy to do.

There are midis for just about any song you can imagine online. Just Google "Song Name" with "midi" as a search term and chances are you will find the song you want pretty quickly.

There are several midi notation software packages. One for Windows is this free Notation Player. Each software application will have its own ways to transpose, so you will need to consult that particular software's documentation. Sometimes they also do tabs.

Apparently, horn tabs exist but I don't know anything about them since I don't play a horn.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you have another issue; the trombone only plays one note at a time; you're going to want to get just the melodic line from the sheet music and do an arrangement that is in the right range for the trombone- it isn't just a matter of taking the music, you need just the melody.

It looks like Game Music Themes has a bunch of sheet music you can download (grab 'em while they're up, I can't imagine it's legal), and they may be a starting point for what you're trying to do...
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Finale Notepad and MuseScore are other free options.
posted by mkb at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Trombone isn't a transposing instrument, so you don't need to transpose anything. Sure, they prefer to read bass clef at first (later, tenor clef), but the notes you see are the notes you get, so you don't need to worry about the transposition part.

Now, transcribing is what you are looking to do: take the melody line and write it down so he can read it in bass clef from a MIDI file.

The scores certainly can't be free as they are not public domain, and I don't have any tools to suggest, but now that I have outlined some terminology, hopefully that can help your searches and future questions.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:50 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

http://www.vgmusic.com/ for all your game music midi needs
http://musescore.org/ to read those midis and convert. It'll help to check some reference to ensure the music is actually playable in the range of the instrument.
posted by TrinsicWS at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for these tips; they're great!
posted by mecran01 at 7:01 PM on December 14, 2012

For Minecraft in particular, C418 has two dozen free downloads and a full album for $4.
posted by thatdawnperson at 8:34 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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