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Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)

chysn

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Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« on: February 09, 2016, 03:33:20 PM »
I started writing music--I mean writing music down on paper--when I was maybe 14. When I was in my mid-20s, I moved to notation software. First, The Copyist, then Deluxe Music 2 (for Amiga). I tried QuickScore Elite for a while. But mostly, I've been a Finale man.

I used to sell Finale. I used to give Finale lessons to people. I've used it since 1998. Today that ends, and I'm a bit heartbroken about it.

The 2014.5 version just crashes. It just stops running, and I lose whatever I've been working on. This has been going on since December. I entered a support ticket with MakeMusic (or the investment company that took them over) saying that I was about to move to another product. I wrote to technical support, and sent them my crash logs. Their response: "If you deauthorize your software, we'll give you a refund."

After eighteen years, they're not even trying to keep my business. No, "We've looked at your crash logs, and here's the problem." No, "We know folks have had trouble, just hang in there while we do an update." No sir, it was "Sorry, here's your money back."

It's going to take me some time to export my music into MusicXML format, while I look for another option. So far, I'm most impressed by MuseScore 2. It has a robust feature set, and has the ability to explode chords into individual staves, which is so important to my monosynth-based process. Its MIDI file output is a bit quirky, as it sets of note-off velocity which upsets Reaper. But Reaper offers a quick work-around.

Are there any other users of notation software here? If so, is there anything that you love?
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Arturia MicroBrute
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2016, 03:37:35 PM »
I'm sorry to hear about that subpar customer service.

I dunno, the only other ones I know about are Sibelius and PreSonus Notation.

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2016, 08:19:00 AM »
I sympathize, though Sibelius has been generating better-quality output than Finale for more than a decade.

When Emagic rolled basic notation into Logic nearly two decades ago, I watched Finale sales drop through the floor (I worked for a large multi-location MI retailer back in the middle 90s). MusicXML wasn't even a possibility back then, though basic desktop scoring suddenly became a commodity feature that eliminated the demand for entry-level notation software. Finale IMHO never improved with a speed commensurate with its cost, in spite of its role as a professional notation alternative.

I think it's largely up to you as to whether you wish to ante up for a Sibelius license, though I'd be inclined to do so if printed / PDFed scores are a crucial part of your workflow.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2016, 08:24:06 AM by DavidDever »
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Prophet 2000

chysn

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Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2016, 08:04:27 PM »
I think it's largely up to you as to whether you wish to ante up for a Sibelius license, though I'd be inclined to do so if printed / PDFed scores are a crucial part of your workflow.

No, printing is not crucial. Notation makes it easier for me to understand structure, rhythm, etc., so the writing is more important than the reading to me. I do print hard copies for archival purposes, but nothing more.

I'm quite happy with MuseScore as a replacement. Its output isn't as nice as Finale's, but its feature set is robust, and its development is pretty active. It's also a big plus that it's FOSS, which I try to support when possible.

MuseScore lacks real-time recording, and it lacks the audio track that Finale has. I will miss those two features the most, but both tasks are done better by Reaper anyway.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Arturia MicroBrute
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2016, 03:01:49 AM »
This is something I'm looking into as well. I can't seem to find the right program for my needs. It seems a lot of notation software (in fact a lot of sampler synths and digital synths) seem to ignore certain articulations when it comes to brass. I use a lot of flutter tongue and cluster stabs and a lot of the notation software doesn't recognize these articulations via Midi and in most cases doesn't give the option of adding them manually in the program. It will have falls and sometimes rips but no flutter tongue or clusters from what I've seen.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

chysn

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Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2016, 07:48:23 AM »
You may want to try MuseScore. It's open-source software, so you can't lose anything by trying it. It supports tremolo note stems up to 64ths, both on the stem and between notes. It does render these articulations via MIDI, although I can't say whether or not they're what a brass player would expect.

I'm not familiar with the term "cluster stab," but MuseScore handles staccato via MIDI as well.

I can say that I've used a lot of notation packages over the span of a couple decades, and MuseScore does so many things right that it's astounding.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Arturia MicroBrute
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 09:26:07 AM »
You may want to try MuseScore. It's open-source software, so you can't lose anything by trying it. It supports tremolo note stems up to 64ths, both on the stem and between notes. It does render these articulations via MIDI, although I can't say whether or not they're what a brass player would expect.

I'm not familiar with the term "cluster stab," but MuseScore handles staccato via MIDI as well.

I can say that I've used a lot of notation packages over the span of a couple decades, and MuseScore does so many things right that it's astounding.

Cluster Stabs are essentially a dischord played with horns. Think The Shining soundtrack or as an example if you play an F and F# together and add another note that isn't pleasing to the ear harmonically.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

chysn

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Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 09:54:06 AM »
Cluster Stabs are essentially a dischord played with horns. Think The Shining soundtrack or as an example if you play an F and F# together and add another note that isn't pleasing to the ear harmonically.

Ah, okay. What's the notation challenge for this?
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Arturia MicroBrute
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 01:05:03 PM »
Cluster Stabs are essentially a dischord played with horns. Think The Shining soundtrack or as an example if you play an F and F# together and add another note that isn't pleasing to the ear harmonically.

Ah, okay. What's the notation challenge for this?

For example if you use Hollywood Brass it has the clusters triggered by a single key not an actual chord formation so I either have to go by ear to decipher which notes are making up the cluster or try and convert the sound to Midi via Melodyne and see if it's accurate.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

chysn

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Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2016, 02:05:45 PM »
For example if you use Hollywood Brass it has the clusters triggered by a single key not an actual chord formation so I either have to go by ear to decipher which notes are making up the cluster or try and convert the sound to Midi via Melodyne and see if it's accurate.

If a single note triggers a sample that contains multiple simultaneous notes, that doesn't reflect a limitation of the notation software. But with MuseScore, you can accurately represent this sort of thing by specifying whether individual notes are played. You enter the chord's base, the one note that you actually want sent via MIDI, and then place the other notes of the cluster (once you've figured out what they are) onto the staff, then open the Inspector and individually set the other notes to not play with a "Play" checkbox. This way, it's notated properly (for reference or for a human player), and also triggers Hollywood Brass properly.

I know what you're thinking: "But I'd need to go through this process for every damn note!" No. Once you have your chord defined, with its base and its referential non-playing notes, you can copy that chord and paste it into your score, and use some quick keyboard shortcuts to change its duration and pitch. You'll be laying down stabs in no time, and they should play just as you expect via MIDI.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 02:11:35 PM by chysn »
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Arturia MicroBrute
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Notation Software (Or, My Breakup with Finale)
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2016, 04:05:48 PM »
For example if you use Hollywood Brass it has the clusters triggered by a single key not an actual chord formation so I either have to go by ear to decipher which notes are making up the cluster or try and convert the sound to Midi via Melodyne and see if it's accurate.

If a single note triggers a sample that contains multiple simultaneous notes, that doesn't reflect a limitation of the notation software. But with MuseScore, you can accurately represent this sort of thing by specifying whether individual notes are played. You enter the chord's base, the one note that you actually want sent via MIDI, and then place the other notes of the cluster (once you've figured out what they are) onto the staff, then open the Inspector and individually set the other notes to not play with a "Play" checkbox. This way, it's notated properly (for reference or for a human player), and also triggers Hollywood Brass properly.

I know what you're thinking: "But I'd need to go through this process for every damn note!" No. Once you have your chord defined, with its base and its referential non-playing notes, you can copy that chord and paste it into your score, and use some quick keyboard shortcuts to change its duration and pitch. You'll be laying down stabs in no time, and they should play just as you expect via MIDI.

Awesome! Thanks!
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.