The computer has brought musicians throughout the world to a new horizon of musical possibilities. Formerly, musical sound could only be produced by predefined instruments to achieve a predefined quality. For example, the structure of a piano defines the piano's sound. If one desires to change the sound quality of the piano, one must change its structure. However, if the computer is used in producing a piano sound, sound quality can be altered easily by using different parameters in the process of generating the sound.
Technically, "sound quality" is determined by five attributes:
  • frequency - pitch;
  • amplitude - loudness;
  • overtone structure - timbre;
  • duration and articulation- how the sound begins, goes on and fades away (Cage, 1961).
The use of the computer enable the changes to these attributes on the fly, which when compared with the manual tuning method, it is much more convenient. We have particular interest in the alteration of frequency, or pitch, in computer-generated music.
The set of frequencies (referred to as the "tuning") most widely used in western music is called "12-Tone Equal Temperament", but this is not the only kind of tuning and it may not even be the best one. Musicians, especially with the aid of the computer, create different tunings for their creative use. Since the computer can do a lot of tunings, we need software tools to help assist in developing and managing the tuning data.
Currently there are few software tools engineered to fulfill this purpose. Among existing software in this field, JICalc is one of the most comprehensive programs in functionality and usability. However this software only runs on the Macintosh.
The objective of this project is to port JICalc from the Macintosh to the PC environment and other platforms using computer independent Java?Technology. The significance of this project lies in its comprehensiveness and usability inherited from JICalc, and its portability by using Java?as its environment.
Download JICalc Beta!
Copyright JICalc to Carter Scholz and Robert Rich
Copyright Java JICalc to Alvin Cheung, Daniel Suek and Lydia Ayers