BriFormer was created by me, Brian Edward
Jarvis, to facilitate the study and joy of formal analysis of music in essentially any style and to
make it possible to share analyses between anyone who might be interested. Like many others, I was really
inspired by Brent Yorgason's Audio
Timeliner (a.k.a. Variations Audio Timeliner). The experience of engaging with formal analysis from
a primarily aural perspective was inspiring and exciting and helped broaden my understanding of what the
analysis of musical form could be. Musical form is often studied within the context of a single style of
music, but Yorgason's program showed me that a more universal approach was possible and powerful.
After studying musical form and phrase structure from the books and articles of some of my favorite music
theorists (William Rothstein, James Hepokoski & Warren Darcy, Janet Schmalfeldt, William Caplin, and Mark
Richards) and doing some research of my own with my colleague John Peterson, I realized Audio Timeliner
lacked a number of details and features I needed to accurately convey my musical analyses (and it stopped
working on my computer ...). For example, I needed to convey when phrases elide, when they are auxiliary sections and not core
sections, and I also wanted a way to analyze music that I didn't own and I wanted a modern way to
share analyses online.
However, those issues weren't nearly enough motivation to create a whole new program. The real motivation to
actual dive into the project came when I decided to overhaul my Form & Analysis course at my University (The
University of Texas at El Paso). I had grown tired of using existing materials that focused on such a small
amount of the world's music and wanted to increase student engagement by allowing my students to pick the
music they wanted to analyze instead me telling them which music to analyze. To do that, I had to create
BriFormer and establish a general approach to musical form to accompany it. You can find my writings about
"Musical Form in General" here.
My love of musical analysis began when my classes included music that I wanted to know more about and already
liked. As a primarily classical pianist that played mostly tonal music, the textbooks were filled with music
from my repertoire and I loved learning about it. However, most musicians aren't classical pianists so they
aren't being engaged in the same way. Another major motivation for creating this program and changing my
course was to allow the students to study and share the music they love, instead of studying the music
someone else loves. The change has resulted in a major shift in student enjoyment, engagement, and the
students now really enjoy formal analysis and I couldn't be happier about that change. My wonderful Fall
2020 class has been incredibly helpful in stress testing the program and helping to find bugs and I couldn't
be more grateful for their help and patience with the development of BriFormer. Thanks, Everyone! 😁
A new, non-editing mode is now available. There is a new toggle on the top right of the
program that switches between editing mode (the normal mode) and presentation mode (the
new mode). Presentation mode only shows a few buttons and prevents editing. If you save
a BriForm file with presentation mode on, it will open up in presentation mode when
re-opened but anyone can still return to editing mode by flipping the toggle again. The
color scheme changes when in presentation mode to provide a visual alert in case it is
hit by accident.
Play from beginning of Selected Group
When you have one and only one group selected, you can now click a new play button that
moves the audio playhead to the beginning of that group and starts playing from there. A
keyboard shortcut can also be used for this: Hold Control and press space
Save as Image Improved
This has produced inconsistent results in the past, which is why the buttons says
"Partially Broken." It's improved now, but I'm seeing inconsistent results on iOS. The
file seems to download but you can't open it. Usually, simply trying again works, but
iOS Refresh issue fixed
iOS has a pull to refresh feature in Safari but that can lead to erasing the entire
analysis so pull to refresh has been disabled.
HTML in text boxes and text commentary areas
The text boxes now use raw HTML instead of raw text. This won't affect most people, but
if you want more control over your text you can now write things like:
This word is <b>bold</b> : will show as: This word is bold
This word is <span style="color:green;">green</span> : will show as:
This word is green
This word is <span style="font-size: 25px;">larger</span> than the
others : will show as: This word is larger
than the others
If you don't know HTML very well, you can use an HTML generator online and just paste
the text in.
Menu Title Changes
The "Save/Load" menu is now "Share" and the "Commentary" menu is now "Comments"
"Save to Browser" has been disabled
There was an option to save your analysis to the browser but there were some important
drawbacks like lack of available storage and the save was site wide, so if you started
on a new analysis and then loaded from the browser it would load your old one in which
was odd. I liked this feature so maybe it'll return in the future.
Skipping through audio now has a finer option
You can already skip through the audio/video in ten second intervals by pressing the
left or right arrow keys, but now, when you hold Shift while pressing left or right, it
will move in 1 second intervals.
Repeat Symbol added: ⁒
William Caplin uses a ⁒ symbol for repeats so it's been added to the Special Symbols
area in the text menu.
Font selector changes based on font of each text box
Text boxes can be moved around on the diagram, pixel by pixel, by pressing the new ↑ ↓ ← →
buttons in the text menu.
Issues with Marker Text being finicky have been resolved
"Unselect All" button at top is now an x with a circle
Keyboard Navigation Upgrades
Select Group with Keyboard:
You can now navigate the diagram and select single groups using the keyboard. On
Windows, hold Control and press the arrow keys to move around the diagram. On
MacOS, hold Control and Command and use the arrow keys.
Select Multiple Groups with Keyboard
You can also select multiple groups using the keyboard. Adding shift to the
"Select Group with Keyboard" command above will select multiple groups.
1.1 Update: (08/29/2022)
Markers can now be placed throughout the analysis. They are unrelated to the rest of the
grouping structure and they can be annotated with text above, below, left, and right and
they can hold commentary.
A new commentary feature has been added. All groups and markers can now hold commentary
that will only show on the commentary tab. The commentary is shown hierarchically so the
commentary of higher groups will be shown above lower groups. The marker commentary will
always be at the bottom (if it exists).
QR Code Sharing
Analyses can now be shared via QR codes. QR codes can also be downloaded as PNG files.
Undo Bug Fixed
There was a bug that would appear when working with multiple analyses at the same time
in different tabs. The Undo/Redo mechanism is now isolated to the particular analysis
being worked on.
Colors Area Updated
Switch added at the top of the Colors tab to make it easy to switch back and forth
between outline color and background color.
1 New Shape Type
Solid top with no beginning shape that ends with a dot.
3 New Special Symbols for Denoting Temporal Function