MT5, multitrack player for musicians

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Version de 21:45, 18 Sep 2019

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Introduction

MT5 is a multitrack player based on the Web Audio API. It’s open source, runs on multiple devices (all recent desktop browsers except IE, all IOS browsers based on Safari Mobile, Android Chrome, Opera and Firefox mobile). It has been entirely developed in a web browser using the Cloud9 online JavaScript IDE.

Michel Buffa (main coder and designer) and Amine Hallili (HTML GUI), authors of this webapp, are involved in several teaching activities related to Web Audio, are also amateur musicians –rock guitarists who play in bands, and have been taking guitar lessons in public music schools for years. In 2012, The W3C proposed a number of online training courses on key technologies. One of the authors (Michel Buffa) is in charge of the HTML5 course , and had to cover the different APIs that come with this standard, including the Web Audio API. The writing of MT5 – a multitrack player in a web browser- started as a small hack to learn how this technology worked. Several multitrack datasets where available on the net, such as MedleyDB that was primarily developed to support research on melody extraction (and included 122 multitrack songs) or The 'Mixing Secrets' Free Multitrack Download Library made for practicing mixing. Writing a web application that could play multiple tracks in sync was a sort of challenge back in early 2013. A proof of concept quickly worked and we used it as a theme for a master student course at the Polytech Nice engineer school  in France. In addition to the free, legal, multitrack datasets, our students rapidly found multiple bittorrent/mega files  packed with hundreds of rock classics songs played by original artists such as the Rolling Stones, Metallica, Guns’n’Roses, etc. We found out that these songs came from different sources: most have been ripped from the video game series Rock Band and Guitar Hero (that included songs with 3-16 tracks depending on the version of the games), some came from sites like hdtracks.com that propose for sale high quality, master multitrack songs (Queen, David Bowie), some have been released officially on collector compact disc editions -this is the case of a few Led Zeppelin songs- and finally some had tracks separated from the original stereo mix using audio editing software (this is the case of some songs by “The Police” where we can hear the other instruments on each separate tracks, if we listen carefully). Being able to play and mix in a browser these classic rock songs by original artists led MT5 to become popular in private circles such as students from our web technology courses, musician friends or musician students from the rock class in our public music school.  

The rock band of the music school played rock classics and most songs members had to learn were available in a multitrack format in these bittorrent archives. Along with Guitar Pro and YouTube, MT5 found its place. You want to learn Aerosmith, ok, but what if Steven Tyler sang along with you instead of a midi generated melody? You think this guitar tab is not faithful, you think this is not how Angus Young from AC/DC really plays its guitar solo in Back in Black? Isolate his track and listen carefully! Then mute the track and try yourself. Just with your web browser. The current version  is rather stable and runs on any recent browser except Internet Explorer that will support Web Audio in version 12. It also runs on Safari, Chrome and Firefox mobile. It is open source and available on Github at https://github.com/squallooo/MT5

How to use the online version

Load and Play a song

Just go to http://mt5demo.gexsoft.com, and click on the drop down menu:

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Select a song, it will load asynchronously the different tracks and when they are all loaded the play button will be enabled.

You can click it to play the song.

Mute, Solo or change volume of any track

You can use for that the slider and buttons on the right of each track:

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