Ideas for a Psalter App

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Logan, Oct 15, 2013.

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  1. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I had an idea for a psalter app and wanted to ask for input or (dare I mention it) assistance? I have some programming skills but have no experience with app building for either iOS or Android.

    There are currently three psalter apps available for Android that I am aware of. One for the 1650 psalter (it's very, very basic and doesn't appear to have any options to change text size), one for the the 1912 "The Psalter", and one for the Book of Psalms for Worship, and it's not nearly as nice as the one for iOS.

    The idea came about when I was using a split-leaf psalter recently (which I personally love for the ability to mix and match music). I thought that a tablet would be the perfect venue to use a split-leaf psalter because it just naturally would fit on a tablet for navigation and such. And not being limited by bulk, why limit it to any one psalter then?

    So ideas I've had so far would be:
    • Include 1650 Psalter, BoPfS, BoPfW, Sing Psalms, Psalm Singing in the 21st century, etc.
    • Have suggested tunes linked by the text (tap it and the music portion of the split-leaf jumps to the tune)
    • Allow for bookmarks for tunes tied to text (if you prefer a specific tune to a psalm, bookmark it, tap it and the music portion jumps to it)
    • Include a wide variety of music
    • Include midi files for playing tunes (possibly even playing a select part, such as bass, alto)
    • Have an option to "combine" split-leaf and insert text into the notes like Comprehensive Psalter, for example, though this would be quite difficult to set up and would take a huge amount of work.

    Obviously there are copyright issues. Not all music or words are in the public domain and some organizations wouldn't want to let their intellectual work be used for a project like this. I am also under no delusions that this would be a profitable enterprise, it would be a labor of love as all the people interested in it are probably on this board :D

    The benefit, in addition to the usefulness of having music and midi files, would be to have access to a huge selection of music. The Book of Psalms for worship has some Common Meter tunes that are quite beautiful and would work well with the 1650 Psalter (I've used 42D's beautiful "Steadfast" for psalms of lament in the 1650). There's also some classic tunes from the Genevan psalter that you might get in say, the Comprehensive Psalter but not in any other. You could potentially have all (or nearly all) the tunes, and all the psalters.

    Aside from the logistics of getting folks like the FCS, RPCI, RPCNA, RPCGA, and PCEA in on this, are there any thoughts or ideas? Am I the only person living who would be excited about this or even use it?

    Any volunteers to help me? :lol:
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  2. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    By the way, I am aware that Crown and Covenant licenses many tunes for the BoPfW and they don't even have the digital license for some tunes, just the print license.
  3. perl2012

    perl2012 Puritan Board Freshman

    My strength is in Perl, but I might could get into android programming. It's been something I've wanted to do but never got around to it.
  4. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Hi Logan,
    I am an iOS developer. What church are you a member of in OK? My membership is in the Stillwater RPCNA church as they are the session of Dallas RPCNA. :)

    Anyway, I'd be interested in seeing more of your ideas for a psalter app. My family uses the iOS app from Crown and Covenant, and it's been a huge help.

    PM me sometime.
  5. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior


    I am also part of the Stillwater congregation, though you met a lot of people the day you visited and I wouldn't expect you to remember me. However, I'm the one who asked all the nosy information about birthdays and such for the directory :)

    I'll contact you in a bit after if I map out a bit more regarding this. I envision something more like this than the BoPfW app, for several reasons: to make it easier to mix tunes, and to make it easier to read the psalm (I have found it easier to glance away to attend to a small child and then back when the line isn't spread out in the middle of notes).
  6. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I like your ideas so far. I have the BPW for Android. I've been singing the Psalms with small groups of people on campus and we tend to just pass out electronic devices with the app, but it can be confusing when switching between Psalters and so forth. And thanks for telling me about the 1650 app. It's extremely simple, but it's at least an easy way to pull it up for tunes I know since Crown & Covenant doesn't publish that app for Android. I don't really have much need for it, but where is the 1912 Psalter app? I couldn't find it.

    I think it would be best to focus on psalters that are in the public domain or have limited copyright to avoid problems. Another good one would be the Bay Psalm Book, which I know at least one congregation still uses as their Psalter! This would also include the 1650 and probably a lot of other early Psalters. As far as features, you have some good ideas. I think really the feature set of the BPW app for Android is all that's needed, although having the sheet music would be nice.

    I've actually been toying with a Windows 8/RT app in .NET to learn the platform, but that's going rather slowly. :)
  7. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior


    There wouldn't be any reason not to include various historical psalters, and there should be plenty of tunes to select from (in the "tune" window) to fit them. So why not the Bay Psalm book? Or Sternhold and Hopkins? 1871 United Presbyterian? Tate and Brady. Adding the text would be little trouble, and several are available here. Presumably one could turn them off in the settings so they wouldn't show up on the selection list unless you wanted them to.

    I would object to paraphrases, though it's hard to tell where "The Psalter" of 1912 would fall. My inclination is against it but it has some usefulness too.

    The 1912 Psalter app is here.
  8. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I was just noting that from a practical standpoint, it may be better to focus on including several older Psalters, rather than the headache of getting rights to newer Psalters. I do not know the history of all the Psalters, I just mentioned a couple of older ones I have used.

    I am not a fan of what I have seen of the 1912, but I still wanted to take a look at the app. Sadly, when I first started learning the Psalms I used some settings from the 1912 because it had familiar tunes and everything was available on-line. Now I am trying to relearn some of these Psalms in more faithful metrical versions.
  9. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Just so you know, I wasn't criticizing you, I was agreeing. We could include a lot of psalters because the storage requirements for the text are pretty minimal. So I like the idea :)

    If this project got started I would look into all the copyright stuff if newer psalters were to be included and I can do lots of grunt work with formatting. For right now I'm just gauging interest/usefulness.

    The hard part would probably be the music (and of course interface). Since Android doesn't have a native PDF viewer (to my knowledge), perhaps PNGs would work.
  10. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    You could include some sort of "pitch pipe" feature for the Presenter. In other words, it would give him the note he needs to start the Psalm with.
  11. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    That's a great idea.
  12. jandrusk

    jandrusk Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm in the process of learning the Android SDK.
  13. markkoller

    markkoller Puritan Board Freshman

    Have the human voice lead each tune instead of a piano. That would be very helpful for folks who dont like singing along with musical instruments. The apps with piano music are not useful for family worship. Just an idea.
  14. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks Mark, I can see how that would be helpful for some people and perhaps volunteers would be willing to at least give a melody. I know I could do that. Are you thinking a humming or with words? One stanza or the whole psalm?

    One of the features of this psalter app is the ability to match words to various tunes. This would match words to one specific tune as an example?
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