Read, Write Music Notation Digitally, on Windows: $100 or Less

Proprietary systems like FreeHand’s awkwardly-named MusicPad Pro Plus (Pro Plus, eh?) have offered digital manuscript paper for some time. But the idea there is you buy dedicated hardware; the MusicPad Pro Plus is US$899. With tablet PCs starting at about the same price, and the convenience of having your mobile computer also be your music notation, it seems like the convergence of the manuscript page and the computer isn’t far off. Enter MusicReader for Windows XP and Vista. It runs just US$69-99; bring your own laptop. Better yet, bring your own tablet PC and you have a form factor that …

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The Da Vinci Coda

Cezanne never gets attention like this. Yes, a musician and “computer engineer” (take note: even in 2007, using computers can make stuff way more science-y) has somehow made Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” into a musical score. You have to see loaves of bread and arbitrary points on the Apostle’s bodies as notes. And you have to draw your own staff over top of it to make it work. Oh, and read the whole thing backwards. (Something this far removed from the painting HAS to be a conspiracy. News flash: master painter Leonardo had a painstaking sense of mathematical proportion. …

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Notation Software Upgrades; Finale 2008 Adds Audio Recording, Single Selection Tool, Styles

Yep, that is a waveform inside Finale. (I hope you can print out the waveform on your score if you choose, for the massive market of electro-acoustic composers.) With some software tools, less is more. When it comes to the complexity and breadth of music notation tools, though, more is often more, because everyone’s needs are different. If the “pro”, “high-end” tool happens to do exactly what you need to do efficiently and quickly, that’s the tool you’re most likely to use — even if your notation needs are “modest” in your own eyes. In other words, if you use …

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Sibelius 5 Notation Preview: Plug-ins, Ideas Hub, More

Sibelius 5’s Ideas Pad aims to change the way you track thoughts and compose in your notation software. Or you can cut and paste from its presets, bringing “presets” to scoring for the first time. Hopefully you’ll err on the side of original ideas, but the next time Don Music can’t think of a cadence — you’re in luck. (Help! How does a plagal cadence go again?) Sibelius 5 is a big upgrade to the notation tool, now part of Avid. The biggest change of all: real VST and Audio Unit plug-in support on Mac and Windows. This merging of …

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Vista Support Updates for Sibelius, Finale Notation Software

It’s already near-impossible to find a new computer that doesn’t have Vista already installed on it. As I’ve noted here, hardware driver compatibility can be a bumpy road. That’s the bad news. The good news is, application compatibility for Windows Vista is often not as big an issue. Music notation software, for instance, largely works, with a couple of additional notes regarding installation and registration. Vista Compatibility for Notation Products [Finale / SmartMusic customer support] Windows Vista compatibility [Sibelius] These links come via a promising new blog/podcast for music educators, Music Tech for Me. Both Finale and Sibelius (and various …

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Pro Tools 7.3: New Features, Looping Tools, “Send to Sibelius”

Digidesign is fond of incremental upgrades with smaller improvements, and today’s release of Pro Tools 7.3 should bring some nice work enhancements to Pro Tools users. The most intriguing new feature is called “Send to Sibelius”, a single button that allows you to transfer music from the MIDI tracks in a Pro Tools project to Sibelius for notation. Before you get too excited, though, there’s nothing really unique here other than the button. According to a thread on Sibelius’ help forum (registration required), this feature only exports MIDI data and imports in Sibelius. That’s possible in every competing DAW. Frankly, …

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Music Scored by Bubble Gum on a Train Platform: Grime + Sibelius

Nat Jeanneret aka “funnel”, the musician and artist behind the CDM site design, has been busy at work on a new project: creating music my scoring those little spots of gum and dirt found on a train platform. It’s a great example of aleatoric music, not in the best-known sense of “pure” chance but in reflecting the patterns found in the world around the composer. Nat has made a video, as well, in which you can watch him convert bubble gum-on-platform music to Sibelius digital notation. It’s the ultimate digital music, in a way: the analog (erm, disgusting old bubble …

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Avid/Digidesign Buys Sibelius: Pro Tools, M-Audio, and Now Music Notation?

Sibelius Software Ltd., maker of the popular Sibelius music notation software, has been acquired by Avid’s pro audio division, Digidesign, maker of Pro Tools. That means Sibelius joins M-Audio in industry-leading products in Digidesign’s portfolio. Here’s the official word from Sibelius co-creator/co-founder Ben Finn: I’m delighted to inform you that Sibelius Software Ltd has been acquired by Digidesign, the audio division of Avid Technology Inc. … Digidesign has acquired Sibelius because of its strong brand and expertise in music education and its advanced notation technology, not to mention its loyal user base. Day to day, there will be no major …

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Finale 2007 Announced: Intel-Native, Parts Linking, Video Scoring, Sibelius Leapfrog Continues

Rivalries are good: they keep software developers competitive, leapfrogging each other in features. They keep the pressure on, and having seen what happens when one company gets a monopoly (Microsoft Office, I’m looking at you), progress generally slows. Notation users have benefited from the Finale/Sibelius rivalry, and that competition continues to produce better and better notation software. Finale 2007 looks like it will continue that trend. Now, I’ve gotten in trouble before when I’ve said Finale was blatantly copying its music notation rival Sibelius. But I don’t think anyone can argue with me this time. The major features in Sibelius …

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Composer’s Studio Goes Digital: Tech Toys and Inspiration

Now that the rest of our studio has gone digital, the approach to producing score for acoustic instruments has changed, too. Here’s a look at some of my favorite toys and tools for keeping music flowing. You’d have to be a true Luddite to argue that word processors are bad for writing. Blogs, perhaps, sometimes inspire poor writing (ahem), but it’s more difficult to blame technology. The original argument that word processors would end the process of drafting and revision is absurd to anyone who’s spent long hours slaving over text in Microsoft Word. Our attitudes have changed as we’ve …

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