MP3 Patent Countdown

Various Sagebrush programs are able to record and play MP3, but only if you already have an ACM MP3 audio codec installed on your computer, which was common during Windows XP but less  likely in later versions of Windows. We do not bundle an MP3 encoder with our products because the technology is covered by software patents, whose validity is recognized in the country where Sagebrush is located. The licensing fees are prohibitive.

When do the patents covering MP3 encoding and decoding actually expire in the USA? That is complicated, as issues relating to software patents tend to be. Tunequest provides a handy list of patents, with the last expiring December 30, 2017. The Wikipedia article on MP3 raises the question of validity of the later patents:

The various MP3-related patents expire on dates ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S.[52] The initial near-complete MPEG-1 standard (parts 1, 2 and 3) was publicly available on December 6, 1991 as ISO CD 11172.[53][54] In the United States, patents cannot claim inventions that were already publicly disclosed more than a year prior to the filing date, but for patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, submarine patents made it possible to extend the effective lifetime of a patent through application extensions. Patents filed for anything disclosed in ISO CD 11172 a year or more after its publication are questionable; if only the known MP3 patents filed by December 1992 are considered, then MP3 decoding may be patent free in the US by September 2015 when U.S. Patent 5,812,672 expires which had a PCT filing in Oct 1992.[55][56][57]

Just for the sake of caution, let us take the more conservative date of December 30, 2017.

[ujicountdown id=”mp3patent” expire=”2017/30 23:59″]

(We are not lawyers, and nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice.)

We hope and expect to be supporting RecAll and RecAll-PRO well into the next decade, so it is quite possible to wait out this particular portfolio of patents.

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Add New Instrument Voices to MouSing

Recently we described how to add new instrument voices to WinChime, beyond those pre-defined in the drop-down list.

TL;DNR version: Enter the MIDI instrument number (minus 1) in the edit box portion of the drop-down list.

You can do the same trick in MouSing, on the MIDI tab main window.

We actually forgot this trick,  but the capability was recently rediscovered by a tester. (The help file will be updated in the next program update to include a MIDI instrument table as a reference.)

MouSing MIDI depends on pitch bending, which varies in quality of implementation by audio device. In particular, MouSing-MIDI works best with large pitch bend ranges, beyond the plus-or-minus two semitones in the General MIDI specification. With large pitch ranges, MouSing doesn’t need to start a different note because that produces a note attack sound– not very theremin-like. If you hear a break in the sound when using MouSing-MIDI, that’s what is happening: you hit a note boundary and have started another note with its associated attack.

Useful theremin-like MIDI instrument voices have indefinitely long sustain and little or no attack. We pre-defined six instruments in the drop-down list: Ocarina, Synth(sawtooth),. Synth(square), Flute, Whistle, and Choir Aahs. We left out a few that might be useful, so refer to the table in this article and experiment.

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RecAll-PRO and RecAll on MacIntosh OS X

Previously we described how to run RecAll-PRO, RecAll, and other Sagebrush programs on Ubuntu Linux, using the free open-source Wine software library. Here we show how to do the same thing with MacIntosh running OS X on an Intel CPU.

The easiest way to install Wine on OS X is with WineBottler. Download and install the dmg file. Open the file and you should see this folder:

Drag and drop Wine and WineBottler to Applications Folder shortcut.

Go into the Applications folder and double-click Wine. You should see a wine glass icon in the upper right tray.

Double-click WineBottler in the Applications Folder. Select “Create Custom Prefixes”.

Download the most recent RecAll-PRO .EXE file and click the “select File…” button in the WineBottler window to select this file. (Under Winetricks an “allcodecs” package exists, but it doesn’t seem to refer to ACM codecs used by RecAll, so don’t click any packages.) Click the Install button.

In the pop-up dialog, select the Applications folder and change name to RecAll-PRO.

Run the RecAll-PRO installer and try out the program.

No Wave or MP3 compression codecs are available, but uncompressed Wave and all Vorbis/Speex compression works. (Perhaps some Wine/Mac guru can figure out how to make MP3 work?)  The next time you want to start the program, look in the Applications folder.


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Try New Instrument Voices for WinChime

A recent comment from a tester prompted us to write up this application note. WinChime has long had the capability to use any instrument defined in the MIDI sound bank, not just the ones listed in the Instrument drop-down list. This is even documented in the help file… but it’s a little hard to find unless you use the context help feature of Windows, which

WinChime Help has a table of MIDI instruments, in the table of contents at Operations-> MIDI Instruments. (The table is included below). As an example, take Kalimba, with number 109. Subtract 1 to get 108. (Why subtract one? It’s a long story. Just trust me on this.) Enter that number into the edit-box portion of the WinChime main windows Instrument combo-box.

Try playing and see how it sounds. Now try entering other random numbers between 0 and 127. Instruments with a distinct attack and slow decay, such as Tubular Bells, make the best traditional wind-chime sounds, but on some days you might just need “Voice Oohs”, number 54.

MIDI Instrument Table
Acoustic Grand 1
Bright Acoustic 2
Electric Grand 3
Honky-tonk 4
Electric Piano 1 5
Electric Piano 2 6
Harpsichord 7
Clavinet 8
Chromatic Percussion
Celesta 9
Glockenspiel 10
Music Box 11
Vibraphone 12
Marimba 13
Xylophone 14
Tubular Bells 15
Dulcimer 16
Drawbar Organ 17
Percussive Organ 18
Rock Organ 19
Church Organ 20
Reed Organ 21
Accordion 22
Harmonica 23
Tango Accordion 24
Acoustic (nylon) 25
Acoustic (steel) 26
Electric (jazz) 27
Electric (clean) 28
Electric (muted) 29
Overdriven 30
Distortion 31
Guitar Harmonics 32
Acoustic 33
Electric (finger) 34
Electric (pick) 35
Fretless 36
Slap Bass 1 37
Slap Bass 2 38
Synth Bass 1 39
Synth Bass 2 40
 Violin 41
 Viola 42
 Cello 43
 Contrabass 44
 Tremolo Strings 45
 Pizzicato Strings 46
 Orchestral Harp 47
 Timpani 48
 String Ensemble 1  49
 String Ensemble 2  50
 Synthstrings 1  51
 Synthstrings 2  52
 Choir Aahs  53
 Voice Oohs  54
 Synth Voice  55
 Orchestra Hit  56
 Trumpet 57
 Trombone 58
 Tuba 59
 Muted Trumpet 60
 French Horn 61
 Brass Section 62
 SynthBrass 1 63
 SynthBrass 2 64
 Soprano Sax 65
 Alto Sax 66
 Tenor Sax 67
 Baritone Sax 68
 Oboe 69
 English Horn 70
 Bassoon 71
 Clarinet 72
 Piccolo 73
 Flute 74
 Recorder 75
 Pan Flute 76
 Blown Bottle 77
 Shakuhachi 78
 Whistle 79
 Ocarina 80
 Synth Lead
 Lead 1 (square) 81
 Lead 2 (sawtooth) 82
 Lead 3 (calliope) 83
 Lead 4 (chiff) 84
 Lead 5 (charang) 85
 Lead 6 (voice) 86
 Lead 7 (fifths) 87
 Lead 8 (brass+lead 88
 Synth Pad
 Pad 1 (new age 89
 Pad 2 (warm) 90
 Pad 3 (polysynth) 91
 Pad 4 (choir) 92
 Pad 5 (bowed) 93
 Pad 6 (metallic) 94
 Pad 7 (halo) 95
 Pad 8 (sweep) 96
 Synth Effects
 Fx 1 (train) 97
 Fx 2 (soundtrack) 98
 Fx 3 (crystal) 99
 Fx 4 (atmosphere) 100
 Fx 5 (brightness) 101
 Fx 6 (goblins) 102
 Fx 7 (echoes) 103
 Fx 8 (sci-fi) 104
 Sitar 105
 Banjo 106
 Shamisen 107
 Koto 108
 Kalimba 109
 Bag Pipe Fiddle 110
 Shanai 112
 Tinkle Bell 113
 Agogo 114
 Steel Drums 115
 Woodblock 116
 Taiko Drum 117
 Melodic Tom 118
 Synth Drum 119
 Reverse Cymbal 120
 Sound Effect
 Guitar Fret Noise 121
 Breath Noise 122
 Seashore 123
 Bird Tweet 124
 Telephone Ring 125
 Helicopter 126
 Applause 127
 Gunshot 128

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Installing WinChime on Ubuntu Linux
WinChime RingTone: Android

Noise Machine for Goggies

Close to Home comic by John McPherson

Sleeping with coon

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5th Blogiversary

The Sagebrush Blog began on April 9, 2007, so we are five years old today!

Image credit: Sphoenixee, Wikimedia Commons

We haven’t actually been blogging continuously all that time, taking a hiatus from April 2009 to October 2011. It is hard to avoid the dreaded blog-poster burn-out.

We got better.

My current goal is to post at least once a week, with about 30% of new posts to be tutorials or technical application notes in long form, while the rest are breezy pointers to cool stuff elsewhere tangentially related to Sagebrush products.

Most posts in one month: 23 in May 2007
Longest post not in Random Friday: A License to Nil (935)
Shortest post not in Random Friday: Cricket Audio Grafitti (3)
Total published words in posts: 41,687
Average words per post: 195

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Installing MouSing on Ubuntu Linux

  1. Install Wine and MouSing using the procedure described in Installing RecAll-PRO and RecAll on Ubuntu Linux.
  2. If using the MIDI option in MouSing, install the Timidity MIDI daemon as described in Installing WinChime on Ubuntu Linux.
  3. If using MIDI, go into menu Options-> Preferences->MIDI and change the MIDI Output Device to an existing device.
    MouSing: Changing MIDI device on Ubuntu
  4. Adjust the volume and pitch settings on the main window.
  5. Play!

MouSing window on Ubuntu!

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Remember when voice recording was hard? Rare? A special event? Cost money? Required special hardware?


Full size ad at Vintage Ads.

More ads and hardware photos at Pinrepair.

Recording on YouTube.

(hat tip BoingBoing)

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Ambient Sound at Disney World

Check out this interview with the person who designed the ambient sound system for Disney World.

More than 15,000 speakers have been positioned using complex algorithms to ensure that the sound plays within a range of just a couple decibels throughout the entire park. It is quite a technical feat acoustically, electrically, and mathematically.

How Mr Q Manufactured Emotion

(hat tip BoingBoing)

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Particle Physics Wind Chime

Stanford physicist Matt Bellis and developers attending Science Hack Day SF have created a program to render subatomic particle collisions as musical notes. Particle parameters, such as energy or angle, could be mapped onto volume or pitch of a note.

Read the Article in Symmetry Breaking magazine or download the software.


Cloud chamber

from Cloud chamber photo/Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/User:Deer*lake

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