With the recent announcement of Apple’s iPad, I’m once again thinking about the fact that many people in the filk community use a laptop computer as a songbook. This appears to work fairly well for those who don’t play an instrument (or who have a third hand to look after scrolling and page-turning while the song is in progress). Others might like to make the transition to an electronic book and sometimes mention the idea of a foot-operated device that would be used to page through material while playing. For most songs on most devices, showing everything at once isn’t feasible in a readable font.
Being a programmer, I think, “Can I do something about this in software?”
Here’s what I see as basic requirements. Feel free to add other suggestions in comments. The purpose of the program is to display a song file in such a way that the correct portion of its content is viewable as appropriate to the length of the song, the elapsed time since the song started, and the size of the application window.
- the user will specify the song’s file, its length in minutes and seconds, and scrolling options
- the program will automatically scroll the song display proportional to elapsed time
- assuming a reasonable size of application window, the program should be well-behaved for approximate song lengths
- supported file formats should be at least plain text and RTF
- user control changes (e.g. manual scrolling) will override automatic functioning
- the program will save the meta-information related to each song file and use it by default in subsequent performances
- the program will support the concept of a Set List, which references a number of songs
- songs in a Set List will be activated by manual use of a ‘next’ control
I realize that there is software available to turn a computer into a teleprompter, but what I’ve seen of it makes display assumptions and doesn’t take into account the repeat use of content in different contexts.