What is Voices?

Voices is the name of a personal software project I’m developing. When it’s done it will tutor, train and test anyone who wants to know more about music theory. I was going to say ‘music students’ but I think music is one of those disciplines (like IT) in which you never stop learning. As importantly, Voices will also be a visual tool for composing and analysing music. Its mission statement is ‘software to help you write great songs’.


Voices will consist of a core class library, some view controls (ScoreView, KeysView, others), and a series of rich client applications. I’m expecting that developers will be able to take the class library and controls and build their own applications just as they do with the .NET Framework.


            I’ve been interested in music theory on and off for a few years now, but I feel like I still only know the basics. I don’t get enough practice time so I find it hard to memorise the many little facts. Plus, I find it a strain to conceptualise harmony without visual tools and a virtual workshop to play around in. These are the reasons I need an application like Voices, and I believe others will benefit from it too.


            I’ll let a lot of the textbooks I own guide the syllabus that Voices will cover in both theory and practice. This list will give you an idea:


Rudiments and Theory of Music. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, 1958.

Taylor, Eric. The AB Guide to Music Theory. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, 1989.

Warburton, Annie O. Harmony. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Hindemith, Paul. Elementary Training for Musicians. London: Schott, 1974.

Piston, Walter. Harmony. 5th ed., New York: Norton, 1974.

Pedler, Dominic. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press, 2003


By the way, voices are the ‘threads’ in a piece of music. The term comes from the singing voice which is a monophonic instrument (one which can only play one note at a time). Other examples are the violin and its family, and most brass and woodwind instruments. A monophonic instrument (including the human voice) plays one voice. Polyphonic instruments, such as the piano, can play multiple notes at once. But playing multiple simultaneous notes is not the same as playing several voices at once. An instrument is only playing multiple voices at once if it is sounding multiple notes of different durations and/or start times together. If I sound chords on a piano, even with two hands, where the notes of each chord begin and end together, then I am playing one voice. If I introduce another thread of notes, discontinuous with the chords’ timings, then I am introducing a new concurrent voice.

Comments (3)

  1. Kwan Lim says:

    Sounds cool, I was thinking of writing some music education software myself; something like Power Tab Editor (guitar tabs) but with an educational and experimental focus.

    When will we get to see Voices?

  2. Steve White says:

    As a finished article – I don’t have a schedule as it’s a labour of love. But I’ll probably make my first technical post about the project today. Thanks for your interest. 🙂

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