Idea for entering pitch and note value simultaneously

One of the biggest things that bugs me about notation programs (all of them really) is that note entry with computer keyboard or mouse is always a bifurcated process. You enter the pitch and then the note value, or vice versa. Either way is a bit cumbersome (though I personally happen to prefer the former of the two), and has the potential of getting in the way of the flow of musical ideas.

Why not try and unify the procedure? My idea would be to determine the note value by the length of time the keyboard key or mouse button is held down. A bit more like actual performance on a piano, but without having to whip out a midi keyboard (which is its own can of worms) or even having the ability to play one. You could set some reasonable minimum note value (32nds for example, but with the option to customize) and then calculate the note value to be entered by means of the ratio (time the key is held down) : (some minimum time length). For example, if you set the minimum time length as 0.25 sec, holding the key C for 1 sec will result in an 8th note C; while for a whole note C you would need to press down C for 8 seconds. You could even show the increasing note length in the caret, as per my previous proposal.

Additionally, you could make all these parameters fully customizable (when composing a hymn-tune one needs a different time-scale than for a virtuoso piano etude); and finally you can even keep the old and trusted methods for people who don’t like my proposal.

This has been suggested before, but I think in practice it’s actually not a good idea (I’m sorry to say). It’s going to be much less efficient than simply specifying the note duration either before or after the note you input, because it then takes a fixed amount of time to input a note of a particular duration, so even if you are inputting a run of 8th notes that you could play at great speed, you have to painstakingly play each one for the same amount of time in order to input them. Even if you can easily adjust the time interval for a particular note duration… isn’t that just the same as specifying the duration before you start inputting?

That’s a fair point, Daniel. Perhaps for runs and similar situation you could add a toggle key to “lock”/“unlock” the note value.

A bit like, you know, choosing the duration by pressing a key on the keyboard?

I would think real-time MIDI entry even at a reduced tempo, with appropriate quantizing, would meet this need. What am I missing?