Part C: Overview

Part C discusses methods for adding new songs to Singer's Mate.

By iTunes File Sharing

(The following instructions are for iTunes 12.7.3.x.)

To transfer MusicXML files to Singer's Mate from a desktop computer, first connect your iPhone/iPod to the computer with a USB connector. Next, open iTunes on the computer and click on the small iPhone icon that appears just to the right of "Music", in the upper lefthand corner of the screen. This will open your device in the left panel. In this panel, beneath “Settings”, click on "File Sharing" and select the Singer's Mate icon from the list of Apps that appears. A window, titled "Singer's Mate Documents" will open to the right of the Apps list. This window contains a list of the MusicXML files installed on Singer's Mate. You can add new songs to Singer's Mate simply by dragging MusicXML files from your desktop or other folders and dropping them into the documents section. The only requirements are that the files have an extension of ".xml", that they parse to valid MusicXML and that they have a DOCTYPE of score-partwise. This sounds a little technical, but it's not much to worry about. We tested many lead sheets from various sources during development of Singer's Mate and they all had a DOCTYPE of score-partwise. Also, the MusicXML file must contain only the melody line. This version of Singer's Mate has been designed to play only lead sheets with a simple accompaniment line for the singer and will not handle chords.

iTunes file sharing opens up many possibilities for Singer's Mate. It allows you to create your own songs or exercises with any of a growing number of MusicXML editors and transfer them to and from Singer's Mate for additions or corrections.

By Downloading

To download MusicXML files directly from the Internet, touch the URL bar at the top of the Info Page, so that the cursor starts blinking at the head of that input field. Next type in, followed by Go. When the Google page appears, search on keywords, such as "music xml download" and tap the search button. You can surf and download any MusicXML files that you find just by tapping on the file's link. Files to be downloaded must have an extension of ".xml" or ".mxl", the file must parse to a valid MusicXML file and it must have a DOCTYPE of score-partwise. If the file does not meet all of these requirements, it will be rejected.

After tapping on a link that leads to a file with an extension of .xml or .mxl, the dialog shown in figure 1 will be displayed. The title of the link will be used as the download title; however, this is often not the title of the song as shown in the figure. Check the download title and edit as necessary before saving.

Figure 1

After adding a song to Singer's Mate, if you want to change a title or delete a song, tap on the Songs Button and select the song. A detail disclosure button will appear to the right of the song title. Tapping on the button will open the dialog shown in figure 2. Rename or delete the song as directed in the dialog.

Song titles that appear on the song list are just the XML file name without the extension. All file names in Singer's Mate have the following restrictions. The first character in the title must be an alphanumeric character, an underscore (_) or an apostrophe ('). The remaining characters in the title must be alphanumeric characters, underscores (_), apostrophes ('), commas (,), hyphens (-), ampersands (&) or exclamation marks (!). This odd set of restriction came about because the music symbols, such as flat signs, quarter notes, etc. that are used in Singer's Mate were implemented by replacing some of the regular characters in the character map. If you attempt to input a file name with any other characters, the dialog will ask you to change it. If you transfer a file to Singer's Mate via iTunes file sharing that contains restricted characters, a warning will be displayed and they will be automatically replaced by underscores.

Figure 2

As mentioned above, Singer's Mate will download files with an extension of ".mxl." This is the MusicXML compressed format. If Singer's Mate finds an .mxl file it will automatically extract the file just by tapping on the link. After exiting the Info Page and displaying the song list, you will see that the songs you downloaded have been automatically added to Singer's Mate. Also, when you exit the Info Page, the last file downloaded will be selected as the current song, ready to practice.

Possible Problems with Lyrics Display

This section may seem out of place, but it is a problem that you may experience when you start adding new songs to Singer's Mate. MusicXML software typically displays music from an XML score in classical format, displaying all verses at the same time, each in their own line below the staff. However, Singer's Mate must select the correct lyrics for the current verse as it plays through the song.

Something that most singers never think about is the fact that information in the lyrics attached to a music score is often ambiguous. In some cases, a multiple verse section may suddenly drop to a single line of lyrics, which should be repeated for all verses. The same song may also have notes in the middle of a multiple verse section that simply don't have lyrics sung on them. This results in cases where the singer has to decide which line of lyrics to sing or not sing on each verse. This sounds much more complicated than it actually is. For human intelligence, it is obvious and the singer doesn't even think about it. However, for a computer program, it's much more difficult.

Singer's Mate contains algorithms that will select the correct lyrics in almost all cases. If you occasionally see a lyric missing from a note, it is probably due to an ambiguity. For example, the XML author intended for a short phrase or word to be repeated in all verses and didn't bother inputting it but one time. If you have a MusicXML editor, such problems can usually be fixed by transferring the file via iTunes file sharing to your computer and editing it. Of course, if you think you have found a bug in Singer's Mate, please let us know and we will fix it in the next update.

Tutorial Links:

  • Part A: Getting Started - just enough info for your first practice
  • Part B: Customizing Your Practice Experience
  • Part C: Installing New Songs On Singer's Mate