I made String Roll

A new music notation system for digital composition with string instruments

Try it out


When music producers write string music, they use the piano roll editor that comes standard with all digital audio workstations (DAWs). While this is good for most music, it leaves something to be desired for strings, so composers often turn to techniques like key-switching that rely on the digital instrument to convey meaning rather than the notation.

Addressing these issues is the final project for my degree, so once the course is complete (summer 2024), I will release source files and a long-form report discussing the development process.


String Roll represents pitch over time as a line, with the ability to snap to user-specified scales. This allows the notation to represent the continuous nature of string pitches. Notes can either be connected or not, similar to bow changes. Additional techniques such as vibrato, bow speed and pressure and harmonics can also be represented.


To allow me the greatest control but the easiest platform to experiment with, I used the web Canvas API. This means I didn't have to deal with the assumptions of any higher-level libraries.

Each note is modelled by a pitch (Hz), length (beats), delay from previous note (beats), whether it is connected to the previous note and expressive variables still in progress. This means that the visual notation can be easily converted to MIDI or equivalent machine-oriented formats.