Impro-Visor FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Bob Keller
Harvey Mudd College

(Last Update: 2 April 2013 10:15 a.m. Pacific Time)


  1. What is the purpose of Impro-Visor?

  2. On what platforms (computers and operating systems) does Impro-Visor run?

  3. What are the system requirements for Impro-Visor?

  4. What is the best way to get started with Impro-Visor?

  5. Where can I obtain a copy of The Imaginary Book?

  6. Where can I find feature requests and bug reports?

  7. I have installed Impro-Visor successfully, but I don't get any sound. What am I doing wrong?

  8. I have installed Impro-Visor on Windows 7, but I cannot operate menus or save anything. What am I doing wrong?

  9. Can Impro-Visor import or export Band-in-a-Box songs?

  10. Can Impro-Visor import Band-in-a-Box styles?

  11. Can Impro-Visor export MIDI files?

  12. Can Impro-Visor import MIDI files?

  13. Can Impro-Visor export MusicXML files?

  14. Can Impro-Visor import MusicXML files?

  15. Can Impro-Visor represent polyphonic lines (stacked notes, double stops, harmony, etc.)?

  16. Can a leadsheet have sections with different styles, tempos, and meters?

  17. Can I add a pickup measure or measures?

  18. Can I add words (e.g. lyrics or instructions) to a leadsheet?

  19. I can't seem to save MIDI settings between runs of the program. Why not?

  20. When I try to run the installer on a Mac, why do I get a corrupted file message?


  1. [Purpose] For a list of primary and secondary purposes, please consult the Uses page.

  2. [Platforms] Impro-Visor runs on Windows (XP, Vista, 7, and later), MacOSx, and Linux.

  3. [Requirements] Your system must be able to run Java 1.6 or later, and it must be installed in order to run Impro-Visor.

  4. [Getting started] Consider starting with the quick-start video tutorial developed by Alex McMillan. Then for more detail, read through the tutorial webpage. Note that the latter is set up for Google Translation to many languages.

  5. [The Imaginary Book] The Imaginary Book can be obtained by joining the impro-visor Yahoo! group. Then go to the Files area on the left, open the folder Software Distribution, then download Expand and replace your current leadsheets folder with the expanded result. (If you have saved any of your own leadsheets, you might want to rehname your leadsheets folder first to preserve its contents.) The Imaginary Book is not part of the open source software, and thus is not distributed via source-forge.

  6. [Feature Requests and Bug Reports] The list of feature requests and bug reports is maintained on the sourceForge Impro-Visor tracker site.

  7. [No Sound] Most instances of no sound have been traced to user settings. [Impro-Visor relies entirely on Java and MIDI for sound production. If the platform does not implement these correctly, it could present a problem for Impro-Visor, as well as any other Java MIDI application.] What might be wrong depends on the platform. Below, I will be developing a list of issues that have been observed in the past.

    • On Windows: Make sure that your volume control is not set to 0. Some apps are known to set it to 0 if, for example, mp3 playback is stopped in the middle. Also check audio/MIDI control panel.

    • On MacOSX: Start the application Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup. If applicable, deactivate the IAC driver and disable any network session. If you are trying to drive an external MIDI synth on earlier MacOSX releases, you may need to install Mandolane (freeware), then select your synth in Impro-Visor's MIDI control panel. Note that you don't have to install a particular version of Quicktime.

    • On Linux: Please follow these instructions, and consult this reference if you need help with Timidity++.

  8. [Windows 7 issue] There are issues with Windows 7 permissions. If Impro-Visor is installed in Program Files, the user must run as Administrator. Consider installing on the Desktop to run as a regular user.

  9. [BIAB Songs] There is a way to import the chords, but not the melody, from a BIAB song, using separate software called biabconverter available in the Files > Utilities section of the impro-visor Yahoo! group. Band-in-a-Box songs use a proprietary, unpublished format usuable only on it. Impro-Visor uses an open text-file format. There is no way to export to BIAB.

  10. [BIAB Styles] No. Band-in-a-Box styles use a proprietary, unpublished format usuable on only it. Impro-Visor uses an open text-file format.

  11. [Export MIDI Files] Yes. The entire playback (melody and accompanyment) of an Impro-Visor leadsheet can be exported as MIDI

  12. [Import MIDI Files] Yes. However, the user must import one track at a time using the interface provided..

  13. [MusicXML Files] Yes, MusicXML can be generated from one Impro-Visor chorus at a time.

  14. [MusicXML Files] No. However, there is a plug-in for MuseScore, which reads MusicXML, that will generate an Impro-Visor leadsheet file.

  15. [Polyphony] Impro-Visor was designed around a single monophonic solo line, with auto-generated accompaniment. There is currently no way for a user to specify polyphonic lines (stacked notes, double stops, harmony, etc.). However, a limited form of polyphony is being contemplated. Such an addition needs to be worked out for the aspects of screen display, playback, and leadsheet notation, which is one reason that this is an addition requiring significan software engineering. Many notation programs that provide polyphony make it really easy for a user to mess up. We want to avoid this.

  16. [Sections] A leadsheet can have any number of sections of varying styles. However currently only one time signature is supported and one tempo. The overall tempo can be set by the user.

  17. [Pickup measure] Currently there is no way to add a pickup measure that wouldn't be played in every chorus. However this is a possible future feature.

  18. [Words] Currently there is no way to add text. However this is a possible future feature.

  19. [MIDI Settings] The current operation of the system depends on the MIDI device being connected in order for it to be known as an entity. Thus there is no way to save a setting to the device symbolically. However this is a possible future feature.

  20. [Mac Installer] Please see these instructions.