Location: TB Homepage > Torus > FAQ

Torus Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What tunes does Torus contain?
Q2. Why isn't tune X in the database?
Q3. Why does tune X seem to be shown twice in the search results?
Q4. Can Torus always identify a given tune uniquely?
Q5. How long should the shape string be?
Q6. Can I add a tune to the database?
Q7. Why do some tune details contain slashes, braces and other strange characters?
Q8. What does an "Anon" reference mean?
Q9. Haven't I seen this idea somewhere before?
Q10. Why is all this stuff free? What's the catch?

Q1. What tunes does Torus contain?

Mostly English and other folk music tunes, and very much my personal choice. Basically, if I've ever either forgotten or wondered what a given tune's called, or thought I might do so, then I've put it in the index. This is why the index contains only a subset of the tunes from any given source (I don't have time to type the details of all of them in).

Q2. Why isn't tune X in the database?

Probably it's not a tune I've come across much, so it never occurred to me. Please see Q1 and Q6.

Q3. Why does tune X seem to be shown twice in the search results?

The index often contains various different versions of a given tune. If a given search string matches two versions then they'll both appear in the results, and if there aren't any other details about the tune then they'll look the same.

Q4. Can Torus always identify a given tune uniquely?

Not necessarily: see the resolution discussion.

Q5. How long should the shape string be?

Again, see the resolution discussion.

The tunes' shape strings stored in the database are mostly 15-25 characters long. When refining a search, if the search string matches the whole of a tune's shape string then that tune will continue to count as a match no matter how the search string is extended.

Q6. Can I add a tune to the database?

Yes, please! If you send me details of a tune you'd like to add then I'll (probably) put it in. Putting the details into Torus CSV format would be a helpful thing to do.

If you're asking "Can I add a tune to my own private copy of the database?" then yes, you can: you just need to add extra lines to the CSV file. Again, please be aware of the Torus CSV format.

Q7. Why do some tune details contain slashes, braces and other strange characters?

They represent accented or other special characters. The original hardcopy version of Torus was produced using the TeX mathematical typesetting system. I've therefore adopted TeX's conventions to represent special characters, so for example \" represents an umlaut.

Q8. What does an "Anon" reference mean?

It refers to Thomas' Table of Titleless Tunes that I'd like to identify. One of the functions of Torus is to help me locate tunes in this collection quickly.

But why, you cry, does he include these tunes in an online title-finding system if he doesn't actually know their titles? The reason is that I'm hoping that we can share any partial information we have about these tunes, even if neither of us knows the title yet. So, if the search engine returns an Anon reference and you'd like to discuss the tune then please contact me.

Q9. Haven't I seen this idea somewhere before?

Yes, quite probably: systems like this have been developed independently by a number of people. I had the idea in 1994, and initially came up with a 16-page paper index with the entries written in by hand. Later I became aware of similar systems by others, some of them much older.

For example, in 1977 Denys Parsons used this method for The Dictionary of Tunes and Musical Themes, although I haven't seen a copy. Online, JC's ABC tune finder can search for a tune using this method (amongst many others). However, the three of us treat repeated notes differently. Parsons uses a third same character, JC simply omits repeated notes, and Torus uses a "same = up" convention.

There are also somewhat similar systems that transpose a tune to the key of C (say) to produce a string of note names, then order these alphabetically.

Torus is not necessarily bigger, faster or better than any other system (although its database does tend to match my repertoire more closely 8-).

Q10. Why is all this stuff free? What's the catch?

I'm very impressed by the quality of free software available, and try to use it where possible. It's sometimes a bit flaky and slow to be updated, but it's written by people who are very committed to a given project, and who tend to design things in an open way so that others can get involved. I use a free text editor, C compilers, mathematics and music typesetters, tune players, image and mutimedia viewers, audio editor, make and other utilities, and dozens of Android handheld applications.

Thus it seemed about time to give something back, and this is it. There's no catch, but please respect the distribution conditions on the software and data.


This page is maintained by Thomas Bending, and was last modified on 28 March 2016.
Comments, criticisms and suggestions are welcome. Copyright © Thomas Bending 2017.