IV. Using the Software

4.1 Overview of the Main Window

The main window of the SpeciesChecker interface has the following components, from top to bottom:

4.2 Creating a New Composition

The user can start a new composition by selecting the New Composition command from the File menu. The user is then presented with the dialog box shown in Figure 4.1:

Figure 4.1: The Create New Composition dialog box

The user can use this dialog box to select what species the new composition will be in, whether the cantus firmus is the upper or lower voice, the key of the new composition and its length. When the OK button is pushed, the user will be returned to the main window of the SpeciesChecker interface, where he or she can specify the notes of the new composition. A new composition is automatically filled in with default notes, based on the species type.

4.3 Editing the Notes Table

Once a composition is created as just described or loaded from disk, the user can modify it using the notes table. This is done by clicking on the appropriate cell of the table. If the cell is modifiable (as are all non-empty cells not in the first two columns), a combo box will appear when the cell is clicked on, from which user can select the new value.

Each row of the table corresponds to a rhythmic location in a composition. The cells in the first row of a table, for example, correspond to information about notes struck in the first beat of the first measure of the composition. The columns are as follows:

The table prevents the user from being able to make certain mistakes. No rhythmic duration is specified for notes belonging to the cantus firmus, for example, because the theory requires that these notes must always be whole notes. For similar reasons, it is not possible to tie notes belonging to the cantus firmus.

4.4 Inserting or Deleting Rows

It is sometimes necessary to insert or delete rows in the table, in cases where a note needs to be added to a beat that is not present on the table or where there is no note struck in either voice on a given beat. This is only necessary in second and fifth species, since they are the only species that allow choices as to rhythmic values.

The user can insert or delete rows by choosing the Insert Row or Delete Row commands from the Edit menu. The Insert Row command gives the user a dialog box to select the rhythmic location of the new row, and the Delete Row command simply deletes the row that is currently selected on the table.

4.5 Opening or Saving Files

The user can open or save compositions using the Open, Save and Save As commands from the File menu. Only one composition can be open at a time, so the user will be asked if he or she wishes to save the currently open file if he or she attempts to open or create a composition if one is already loaded.

4.6 Adding of Removing a Counterpoint

If a cantus firmus is open and the user wishes to add a counterpoint to it, he or she may choose the Add Counterpoint command from the Edit menu. The user can then choose the type of counterpoint from a dialog box. The user can also remove the counterpoint from a given composition, so that a composition containing only a cantus firmus is left. This can be done by selecting the Remove Counterpoint command from the Edit menu. This is useful if the user wishes to reuse a given cantus firmus in another composition without having to reenter it.

4.7 Checking a Composition for Errors

The user can check a composition for errors by selecting the Analyze Composition command from the Action menu. This generates a list of problems detected in the Analysis Results area of the main window. This list is composed of two sections: The first section holds the results of an analysis of the cantus firmus itself, independently of the counterpoint. The second list consists of errors detected in the counterpoint line itself and in how the cantus firmus and the counterpoint interrelate.

If the user only wishes to analyze the cantus firmus, or if the composition is made up solely of a cantus firmus, then the user can select the Analyze Cantus command from the Action menu. The user can also concentrate the analysis on the counterpoint by choosing the Analyze Counterpoint command from the Action menu. This will cause the software to look for errors in the counterpoint line and how it relates to the cantus firmus, and will omit the independent analysis of the cantus.

The problems that are detected are given one of two labels: “errors” or “warnings.” Warnings indicate problems that may be relatively minor, and errors indicate problems that are more likely to be significant.

4.8 Setting the Preferences

The user may wish to disable some of the rules that the software applies while looking for problems. This can be done by selecting the Preferences command from the Edit menu. The user is then presented with a dialog box, from which he or she user may then choose to enable or disable any of the rules by clicking on the check box corresponding to the rule. The tabs at the top of the dialog box allow the user to view the rules for each of the different types of compositions. Explanations of these rules are found in Section V of this document. The user may also click on the Help button to check the definitions of the rules in the on-line help.

The software comes pre-loaded with the preferences configured to apply the rules most commonly found in the literature. Pressing on the Save Preferences button will save the currently selected preferences to disk, so that the user will not have to reset the preferences the next time that the software is run.

4.9 Automatically Generating a Cantus Firmus

The user can randomly generate a cantus firmus by selecting the Generate Cantus command from the Action menu. The generated cantus will appear on the table when it is complete. This may take a few minutes, depending on the speed of the computer that the software is run on. This cantus firmus will not violate any of the rules selected in the Preferences Dialog Box, but the user should still be aware that this does not necessarily mean that it will be a particularly good cantus. A counterpoint can be added to a generated cantus by selecting the Add Counterpoint command from the Edit menu

4.10 Using the On-Line Help

Selecting the Help Topics command from the Help menu will bring up the Help Dialog Box. This contains an HTML version of this manual. The user can navigate it by clicking on any of the links in the text, and can return to the topics page by clicking on the Index button. This dialog box remembers the user’s location in the manual as long as the SpeciesChecker software is not closed, so choosing the Help Topics command again or clicking on the Help button in the Preferences Dialog Box will return the user to his or her last location. Clicking on the OK button in the Help Dialog box will hide the dialog box.

4.11 Quitting the Program

The software can be closed by selecting the Exit command from the File menu or by clicking on the x button at the top right corner of the main window.

4.12 Sample Compositions

A number of sample compositions for each species are bundled with the software in SpeciesChecker format. These are available in the SampleCompositions directory. These are primarily from examples found in the literature. Depending on what rules are enabled in the preferences, some problems will be found in most of these pieces. The user can use these files to gain familiarity with using the SpeciesChecker interface.