All 11 entries tagged Psalm

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July 25, 2008

The Final Report and Final Thanks

The end has come! ... for this project.

Thank you so much to everyone that has helped, contributed, showed interest or in any way been encouragement to me through doing this project. A special thanks goes to all those that completed my survey.

Sorry it has taken so long to wrap things up, but I couldn't post the report until exams/results/etc were over. Apologies if you have been waiting to see the final report.

The report can be downloaded below. It is a large PDF file (2.21 MB, 106 pages), so I recommend you download it for 'offline' viewing rather than open it within your internet browser. To do this, right-click the link below and select 'Save Link As...' or 'Save Target As...'.

The Final Report

The report is pretty long, sorry about that! If youare looking for the results of the questionnaire survey, skip straight to page 90 (appendix D) for the summary of the results in the form of colourful graphs, tables, etc. Chapter 3 (page 17) discusses the results and the rest of my research in more detail. I recommend this chapter to anyone interested in the current state of IT in churches and how it could, or perhaps should, be better used. The rest is basically the report on the academic work I have done for this project.

The report refers to a CD that was submitted for marking with the report, unfortunately I cannot distribute this. However, the links on this blog for PSALM have been updated with the submitted version. A few bugs have been fixed since the previous update, but little else. You can download PSALM here.

Finally, thank you to my supervisor, Steve Russ, for all his help in advising me and guiding this project.


March 20, 2008

PSALM v3

The 'final' version of PSALM is now complete and available for download. This is the version that was shown in my project presentation, and may still change slightly when further testing is done to fix bugs. This is it for features though. (At least for this project... My current church (Jubilee Coventry) and a church affiliated to my parent's church (Oxford Community Church) have both expressed interest in using either my program, or in using something that my program may evolve into the solution for.)

The main new feature in this 'proper' third & final increment is the song recommender. Build your setlist (the bottom-left list), and click 'recommend' to open up a new dialog. Here, you can choose whether the next song should share chords (making it easy to flow between songs), be of a certain theme(s), or even have been played before in setlist history (see the history.xml file included in the download - this is my record of most of the 'sets' I have personally played in over the last 12 months). You can alter how important each of these factors should be in compiling the recommendations, as well as how strict the recommender should be (ie. returning more/less results). 

Hopefully, that explains how to use it. Before you jump into using it though, PLEASE note that this is just a tool, nothing more. If you are thinking of using my program - or any other computer tool - to run/guide/build your set, or even church service, think again. It is imperative that the 'Worship Leader' is in fact God. And he uses people to conduct these services. He did not choose computers to do it. There is far more to worshipping God than choosing a bunch of songs that 'fit criteria' like the way my program might see it. Read 'I did it His way' by Tim Hughes - this explains more of what I mean. The Holy Spirit should be conducting our worship of God, not any computer program, let alone mine!!!

At the heart of what I have built, is a desire to worship God 'better', and to help others in worshipping Him 'better'. It can help in finding songs, or displaying them as a prompt. But sometimes we must put the computers, the songbooks, and even the guitars away. We must allow God to speak, especially since he may speak in "a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:12 (NIV Bible)). 

Anyway, thank you for bearing with me through that notice.

If you want to download PSALM, here it is: PSALM 3 (239kb). 


February 28, 2008

Psalm 25

To celebrate the release (finally!) of PSALM 2.5, here is the start of Psalm 25 (from the New International Version of the Bible):

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

in you I trust, O my God.
   Do not let me be put to shame,
   nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one whose hope is in you
   will ever be put to shame,
   but they will be put to shame
   who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me your ways, O LORD,
   teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
   for they are from of old.

The whole poem can be found on BibleGateway.com.

Have fun playing with my PSALM 2.5 program - as always, please let me know if you find any problems or have any suggestions. Thank you!


PSALM 2.5

Okay so I disappeared for a while, mostly because I've been trapped in a small cupboard (with a java/netbeans-enabled computer) working on the project. Well, maybe.

Anyway, today's news is:

1. Lots of work on the research side of things has been done. Almost 95 surveys have done - Thank you so much if you have done one! (And if you haven't, please complete the survey!) Books and papers have been read, including plenty of rather complicated ones to do with Latent Semantic Indexing/Analysis and some rather more interesting & surprisingly helpful (for personal reasons as well as for the project) books.

Two books I've read recently are: 'Wired for Ministry - How the Internet, Visual Media, and Other New Technologies Can Serve Your Church' (2004) by John P. Jewell (see my interesting/amusing quotes post), and 'High-Tech Worship?: Using Presentational Technologies Wisely' (2005) by Quentin J.Schultze. 

I don't really have time to go into too much detail on these books, but basically, Jewell's book was very practical and advocating balancing technology with theology; while Schultze focusses much more on the theological/liturgical reasons for (or not) using technology in worship. I found Schultze's book incredibly useful for myself as someone who leads music in a church, as it helps to ask questions and place worship in a wider liturgical perspective. As for what it says about technology, its biggest contribution is to discuss why it should or should not be used, rather than just why it is or is not used.

2. The next increment (and more!) of PSALM can be unleashed on the internet! Originally, the plan was to do 4 increments, focussing on:

  1. Song organisation system
  2. Theme recognition & search facility
  3. Transposition & capo features
  4. Setlist/song recommendation toolPSALM v2.5 screenshot

The first two are complete, and the third has been evaluated to be utterly pointless (as it only involved one, or maybe two at a push, dropdown boxes to transpose a song) and was amalgamated into the first two. So by this plan, the first 3 have all been done. I am also pleased to announce that work on the setlist 'increment' has begun already with the GUI having been re-designed from the prototype/first increment layout to look much closer to the final design mock-up drawn up in the project's early stages. This means that a very basic setlist builder is already working and included in this release. Take a peek at how PSALM 2.5 looks in the image to the right (click to enlarge).

So rather than releasing this version of PSALM as a particular increment, here is the deliberately-ambiguously-named PSALM 2.5! (ZIP file, 236kb)


February 04, 2008

Psalm 1.2

Thanks again to anyone reading this that has filled in a questionnaire. I've said it before but I'm saying it again because responses are still pouring in, so I'll keep this message at the top :-)

While you're here, feel free to have a read through this blog about my project.

Today also sees another minor update to PSALM (Personal Software Aid for Leading Music). Parts of songs can now be displayed differently - so for example, choruses are in italics. The included psalm.css file can be edited to alter the way songs are displayed.

'Boolean' searches for songs (lyrics or titles/etc) are now enabled. This means you can 'or' song terms rather than just 'and'ing them (which happens by default). 'NOT' searches are not supported (yet) though. The 'Google' searching convention is followed - so you can search:

'term1 OR term2' - returns all songs containing term1, or term2

'term1 term2' - returns all songs containing both term1 and term2

'"phrase in speech marks"' - returns all songs containing the whole phrase (this can be combined with other terms too). 

And as the next release is here, heres the next Psalm from the Bible:

Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire
   and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand
   and the rulers gather together
   against the LORD
   and against his Anointed One. 

"Let us break their chains," they say,
   "and throw off their fetters."

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
   the Lord scoffs at them.

Then he rebukes them in his anger
   and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

"I have installed my King 
   on Zion, my holy hill."

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD :
   He said to me, "You are my Son;
   today I have become your Father.

Ask of me,
   and I will make the nations your inheritance,
   the ends of the earth your possession.

You will rule them with an iron scepter;
   you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
  be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear
  and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
  and you be destroyed in your way,
  for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

And here is the new version: PSALM v1.2 . As ever, please let me know if you come across any problems. 


January 28, 2008

PSALM 1.1

Hi there... if youre reading this, there's a good chance it's because you've just completed my online questionnaire. In which case, thank you very much! If not, please feel free to take the survey.

Anyway...

Although I've been doing lots of reading recently on subjects such as 'Probabilistic Latent Semantic Analysis' (!) in an attempt to find ways of automatically detecting song themes from lyrics alone, there hasn't been much progress made in the last couple of weeks in actually making it work.

But some tweaks have been made to my PSALM program. The mains ones are:

  1. Load database supplied as an argument to the program: (eg. 'java -jar XMLGUI.jar mydb.xml')
  2. Searching for keywords now works as searching for songs containing each word separately rather than as a single phrase. To search for a single phrase, enclose it in "speech marks". This then follows the convention used by Google.

If you're wondering just what PSALM is, it is the software component of my project. Take a look at the progress report or specification for more details. But basically, it is a song organisation system, that will soon also include theme detection & setlist/song recommendation functionality. (PSALM = Personal Software Aid for Leading Music)

So, here is Psalm 1...

Blessed is the man
    who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
    or stand in the way of sinners
    or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
    and whose leaf does not wither.
    Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

And the newly released 'PSALM 1.1' ...

Download PSALM 1.1 here

:-D 


January 14, 2008

The Questionnaire

First of all, just to say that the first release of PSALM is out, and I've fixed that little thing I mentioned before. So please have a look, test it a bit, use it, distribute it, do whatever to it! Any feedback on it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :-)

Download PSALM here

And now on to  the Questionnaire...

As a major part of this project, I am researching the current use of IT in churches. Specifically:

  1. What role(s) does IT currently play in churches?
  2. What role(s) could IT potentially have in churches?
  3. What problems exist in a church setting that could be solved using IT, or more specifically, software?

I have built a questionnaire that anyone involved in a church, or other Christian organisation, can fill in to aid me in this task. It will sent out to specific individuals and organisations already identified, and posted to websites that I believe will have users that can help. The questionnaire is NOT just for those interested, or using, IT, in church or outside of church. It is important that a wide spread of views is surveyed to gain as wide an understanding as possible within the scope of this project.

I will put together an online version asap, but please find the master version below. This is the version that will be distributed by post/hand when necessary. I don't mind whether the attached 'hard' copy or the coming online one is used.

If you would like to help, please do! The questionnaire will only take 10-15 minutes, and it is not even necessary to answer every question. Although extra comments would also be appreciated if you like! Your responses will be a great help to my project. 

Please complete and return the questionnaire before the 17th February 2008. Contact details for returning it are included in the questionnaire document itself. Thank you very much!!

Questionnaire: IT in the contemporary church

(added 21 Jan:) or complete the online version of the questionnaire at: 

http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=ad66fdd7-ed87-479f-9440-7b75fb1fc461


December 06, 2007

Prototype for first increment released.

Okay, so it's been a while since the last post. That's mainly because I've been working on the project! Term finishes in a few days, the progress report has been handed in, and the first increment is on its way to completion.

The progress report cannot be posted online until well after the deadline, so if you wanted to read that, you'll have to wait. It's not Christmas just yet ;)

But the prototype is here and waiting for you. Please be aware that at this stage, the chords & lyrics are not formatted as required. I have spent a while trying to display them like this. If anyone out there can recommend a way of displaying HTML that gets 'correctly' formatted with CSS (at the moment, the JEditorPane does not support the CSS code that I need it to), please do! I have looked around, but nothing could be found in a reasonable amount of time that would work and be platform-independant. This will be revisited, but as with much of this project, the priorities must be kept in order, so rather than getting stuck in details, I shall be focussing on the larger issue of the database functionality. Talking of which, the add/remove/edit song buttons on the prototype's menu do not yet work. Please remember it is only a prototype!

So here it is, Merry Christmas!: Prototype (ZIP, ~100kb)
To run this, unzip all contents, and run the XMLGUI.jar file. Do this either by double-clicking it in windows explorer, or at a command line (in the same directory as the file), type 'java -jar XMLGUI.jar' and press enter.
(It should work in Linux by the way, it was tested briefly on a DCS machine).

To get the program to do something useful, click File > Load Songs on the menu, and navigate to the folder that you placed the contents of the zip file into. Choose the songs-nocopyright.xml file, and voilá, a small selection of songs is displayed. Click them, search them etc. Please note that the search function can match some songs incorrectly due to the search algorithm implementation for this prototype.

If you don't want to download it to have a look, heres a peek: Prototype screenshot


November 17, 2007

Some designing of PSALM Increment One

Slightly overdue (I mean overdue in going onto this blog), here's some of the more interesting design work done for the first increment of PSALM.

PSALM - First module diagram

First, the  component/module relationships. Please be aware that this is not in any kind of standard notation, but is actually just a tidied representation of what I have written be hand in my grand A4 pad of joy. The key should at the top-right should explain the crazy colour scheme. The arrows give a basic idea of relationships. So, for example, the GUI (which is circular in the diagram for no real reason other than most operations run through it) calls the DB (database) Bridge component. The little arrows under some of the components just highlight some of the more important functions or sub-components.

I have named these 'components' because they won't necessarily constitute modules. If anything, each block is more like a 'part' of the program. So the external XML database is included on the diagram, as is the Setlist object class. I will also point out at this stage that this design is just a starting point that is likely to need refinement. This first increment is about getting something built that will be functional to stimulate further thought and then work. 

Next, we have a plan for the layout of the XML database:

<songlist>
<song title="..." writer="..." date="..." basekey="..." capokey="..." ...>
<verse no="..."> | <chorus> | <prechorus> | <bridge> | <tag>
Lyrics go here, [C] chords go in sqaure brackets [Em]
[D/F#] Sometimes chords mig[G]ht be in awkward places. [C] [G]
</verse> | </chorus> | </prechorus> | </bridge> | </tag>
</song>
...insert more songs here!
</songlist>

Hopefully that gives you an idea. Additional imformation can be stored in the song tag, such as theme, quick reference or songbook information. This is not so important for this increment of the program.

For a better example, take a look at this code snippet: songs-nocopyright.xml. You may find it simpler to view this file in a text editor by saving it first rather loading it directly in your browser.

Again, this is just an example, which won't necessarily be used exactly like this in the final implementation. 


November 05, 2007

What should PSALM do?

I had an informal discussion with a friend today, Rich Kelly, about how software could help in leading worship. Rich leads worship in my local church, and leads one of our church bands. Our church is currently looking at re-organising the way our music is kept. At the moment, we use large files of paper sheets that aredifficult to keep tidy and up-to-date.

After introducing him to the idea that software could help, I asked what he would require in a program to help lead worshippers and their band. Here is some of what he said (paraphrased), together with comments I have added that lead directly from what Rich said:

  • The program - or the user's interaction with the program - must not distract the rest of the church congregation.
  • It must be easy to use, as songbooks will often suffice. Using a mouse would be very difficult while playing guitar! Even without a guitar, how would a mouse be used if there is no surface to use a mouse on?
  • Practically, could a laptop running the program be mounted on a stand?
  • There could be program versions for other members of the band - e.g. one with sheet music displayed for keyboard players, ones without music (lyrics only) for singers.
  • Voice recognition for song selection would be very useful. So while playing a set, the user could say the name of a song into a small microphone to select it, rather than having to click buttons.

All this shall be taken into account when designing PSALM.

In other news, here is another idea of what PSALM's GUI could look like:

Second GUI mock-up

Basically, the two halves have been swapped around because the left side would be used first, to select the song then displayed on the right. A little more thought has gone into the program's design, which hopefully shows in the functionality implied by this screenshot.


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  • Congrats for ur final report,, I dinn have ne problem veiwing the report, its seems to be gud,, ..! … by Veda Informatics on this entry
  • By the way, if you have any problems with viewing the report, or in using PSALM, please still let me… by on this entry
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