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What music notation software do you use when you write on the computer?

I use Finale PrintMusic 2009. After hearing the quality of some of the midi's here, I regret to getting this one.

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While I really appreciate the optimism and wish I could share it with you, I disagree, I think it will be a lot longer to achieve all the nuance needed to work with all the different sample libraries - keep in mind each library has different articulations that are slightly different. Composers today generally mix the best libraries to create a more realistic and unique orchestral sound (i.e. to not sound like everyone using EWQLSO only which is very flatline imo). So how a staccato note is played with VSL or SAM or LASS or EWQLSO or GARRITAN or whatever, each one is different and so how can a program understand all that? Or that you needed to layer one crescendo with another longer one and hide the cutoff of the first to make a swell sound right for the tempo/moment of your piece, etc etc.

Its going to be a long time till the finer points of working with sample libraries is going to work with a notation program to really sound live and real

Alexander Sadovski said:
I am optimist and I hope that in one or two years time there will be at least one notation program, which will be able to produce audio output with quality of lifelike recording. I do not know which one it will be, but Notion3 and Finale or Overture with ARIA-GPO4 are not very far from achieving it and such notation program will overperform DAW.
I do exactly the same except, I write with manuscript paper and pen at the same time as using the score editor on my DAW (Cubase), then make a midi-file and then transfer it to Finale 2010 (I haven't used the Garritan facility yet, but I might try it out for curiosity's sake when I've learnt how).

Chris, why use two notation packages? Aren't they both as good as each other?

Chris Alpiar said:
the music that you hear that sounds 'real' are not done from a notation program, but rather with a DAW and massaged, every scrap of nuance accounted for. Notation program = for making parts, one way to write a score and hear *something* back immediately. DAW (Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase, etc) is for recording midi and audio performances and for fine tuning them. And they are used in conjunction with sample libraries and vst instruments, like Vienna Symphonic Library or EWQLSO. Each library has certain nuance to learn to make it sound more realistic. And understanding the ins and outs of programming with your libraries as well as solid fundamental understanding of orchestration is all part of the modern composer process. Personally I use Finale 2010 and Sibelius 6 for notation, but I only use these programs to make parts for live sessions. I write by hand on paper sketches, then sequence in a DAW, then dump to Finale to create a score and extract parts
It's a good beginner's package. I know it's the London Symphony, but I don't think it quite has the 'oomph' of VSL or some of the LA based libraries (LASS in particular). But it seems to be the nearest there is to having a quality DAW/Notation package in one programme.

Adrian Allan said:
Does anybody know any more about Notion ? For a cheap program the built in orchestral samples sound really good - London Symphony recorded at Abbey Road. However I have heard that it can't export midi which seems a major drawback.
Which reminds me Chris. Arthur Butterworth has given me a second opinion about my symphony and says it's ''harmonically and structurally'' brilliant. He has also promised to kick the arse of a well known impressario in Canterbury to get it performed (who's already agreed to it anyway). So watch out for a live recording, and we'll see what the VSL users of this world will think of that. I've replaced the 'symphony' files on my home page with better tweaked versions, so feel free to have a listen to them.

Chris Alpiar said:
yea it will definitely happen, and notion seems to be closest, but still a few light years away. The main problem is that printed music is meant to be interpreted by a live musician, and a computer is an exact reproduction of the input. DAW lets you massage in ways you couldnt in notation (as each performance of every sample of every sample library will respond differently to that single eighth note, and to each articulation). So there will be a LOT of 'fuzzy logic' to connect the rigid score meant to be [varied levels of] interpreted loosly, and a lot of leeway to notate for humans the precise and often skewed and awkward recording of 'massaged data' in the daw timeline.

Personally I would prefer a shift in the business model of the current trends of teh music industry to allow for a new era of flourishing economy for musicians and orchestras and big bands. Because even if they come up with a notation program that uses samples to sound really really live, it will still be one dimensional and I would take 102930192830192301x over to work with live players who interpret rather than a machine
I agree with Chris. What the optimists are REALLY HOPING FOR is a programme that enables the musician to have the capacity to be composer, any conductor they wish to emulate, and finally the power and skill of each and every one of the 90 or so musicians in the orchestra. And the software engineers, microphone technicians, studio builders etc aren't even 20% of the way there yet.

By all means get the best DAWs/Libraries you can afford to increase the realism for your own personal pleasure, but get a very very universal notation programme if you ever want to hear your music live. I have heard my music played live and it's better than sex.

Chris Alpiar said:
While I really appreciate the optimism and wish I could share it with you, I disagree, I think it will be a lot longer to achieve all the nuance needed to work with all the different sample libraries - keep in mind each library has different articulations that are slightly different. Composers today generally mix the best libraries to create a more realistic and unique orchestral sound (i.e. to not sound like everyone using EWQLSO only which is very flatline imo). So how a staccato note is played with VSL or SAM or LASS or EWQLSO or GARRITAN or whatever, each one is different and so how can a program understand all that? Or that you needed to layer one crescendo with another longer one and hide the cutoff of the first to make a swell sound right for the tempo/moment of your piece, etc etc.

Its going to be a long time till the finer points of working with sample libraries is going to work with a notation program to really sound live and real

Alexander Sadovski said:
I am optimist and I hope that in one or two years time there will be at least one notation program, which will be able to produce audio output with quality of lifelike recording. I do not know which one it will be, but Notion3 and Finale or Overture with ARIA-GPO4 are not very far from achieving it and such notation program will overperform DAW.
Jacob, don't fret. You haven't wasted your money. From what I hear, you want to be a serious composer as opposed to a producer. Therefore, keep a hold of Finale PrintMusic because you will definitely be using it, I guarantee that. Just not for the purpose that you initially had in mind. What you now need is a DAW, and a good cheap one (a newer version of the one I use in fact is Cubase Essentials 5). After that, it's a question of starting your VST collection. Just remember that the lower the cost of your software (and that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be bad), the cheaper the hardware you need to accommodate it.

Cheers,

Simon
Although my Notation Program & VSTi experience is too basic compared to my DAW & MIDI experience, I do not think they can and should compete. Notation Programs are essentially for reading by humans, and however good your VSTi-s are, you will never achieve an emotional interpretation of your text by computer. This performance is mechanical by definition. On the other hand, MIDI can admit a realtime input and thus incorporate authentic emotions of a performer.

Alexander Sadovski said: I am optimist and I hope that in one or two years time there will be at least one notation program, which will be able to produce audio output with quality of lifelike recording. I do not know which one it will be, but Notion3 and Finale or Overture with ARIA-GPO4 are not very far from achieving it and such notation program will overperform DAW.
Well the score editor in Cubase (or DP or other DAWs I have worked with) isnt designed for being a good printing tool. Its more of a "something doesnt sound right let me look at it in score view and see what I screwed up". Finale is the granddaddy since the 80s on printing music scores and parts. Keep in mind your live performance when you get it depends TREMENDOUSLY on how your parts look. As a session player for many years I can tell you the performance of your piece goes down dramatically when the parts are confusing or missing nuance of a pro engraver/copyist. The same was true when we used to write parts by hand - sloppy stuff that doesnt look good (rehearsal letters, bar numbering, 4 bars per staff, double bar lines in the right place, etc, etc) just gets treated as junky - especially if you have anything complex to be played. The musicians dont respect it the same way. Its the same kind of thing as section politics where you need to keep each instrumentalist feeling like you respected them enough to write for their instrument correctly and give them something cool to play, not too much rests, etc. How you work with your orchestra on these levels is night and day between what kind of results you will get

Simon Godden said:
I do exactly the same except, I write with manuscript paper and pen at the same time as using the score editor on my DAW (Cubase), then make a midi-file and then transfer it to Finale 2010 (I haven't used the Garritan facility yet, but I might try it out for curiosity's sake when I've learnt how).

Chris, why use two notation packages? Aren't they both as good as each other?

Chris Alpiar said:
the music that you hear that sounds 'real' are not done from a notation program, but rather with a DAW and massaged, every scrap of nuance accounted for. Notation program = for making parts, one way to write a score and hear *something* back immediately. DAW (Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase, etc) is for recording midi and audio performances and for fine tuning them. And they are used in conjunction with sample libraries and vst instruments, like Vienna Symphonic Library or EWQLSO. Each library has certain nuance to learn to make it sound more realistic. And understanding the ins and outs of programming with your libraries as well as solid fundamental understanding of orchestration is all part of the modern composer process. Personally I use Finale 2010 and Sibelius 6 for notation, but I only use these programs to make parts for live sessions. I write by hand on paper sketches, then sequence in a DAW, then dump to Finale to create a score and extract parts
When I said two notation packages, I meant why do you use "Finale" AND "Sibelius". I know the score on Cubase is useless for printing. But it's great for editing and even composition sometimes.

What you said about the standard of the parts is true enough. At university, the BBC Ulster Orchestra librarian was really specific with me about how the parts should be written. I wrote out a flute part and showed it to him and he said it was fine, except that there were to be only 10 staves on the page as opposed to 12 (like the manuscript paper you can buy). So I had to actually design my own manuscript paper on the computer and print it out. Writing out the parts was sheer hell. You had to check every single bar about fifty times. Because it was a workshop, if there had been just ONE mistake on one of the parts, the conductor would have just put your composition away and said "next"! As it happens, the parts were fine and the orchestra played their boots off. Anthony Halstead (the conductor) was brilliant as well. He must have been telepathically linked to my brain, because it sounded just like I wrote it. Amazing experience. I'm so glad I've got Finale now. I look forward to seeing the completed score almost as much as hearing the damn thing. Lot to learn though.

Chris Alpiar said:
Well the score editor in Cubase (or DP or other DAWs I have worked with) isnt designed for being a good printing tool. Its more of a "something doesnt sound right let me look at it in score view and see what I screwed up". Finale is the granddaddy since the 80s on printing music scores and parts. Keep in mind your live performance when you get it depends TREMENDOUSLY on how your parts look. As a session player for many years I can tell you the performance of your piece goes down dramatically when the parts are confusing or missing nuance of a pro engraver/copyist. The same was true when we used to write parts by hand - sloppy stuff that doesnt look good (rehearsal letters, bar numbering, 4 bars per staff, double bar lines in the right place, etc, etc) just gets treated as junky - especially if you have anything complex to be played. The musicians dont respect it the same way. Its the same kind of thing as section politics where you need to keep each instrumentalist feeling like you respected them enough to write for their instrument correctly and give them something cool to play, not too much rests, etc. How you work with your orchestra on these levels is night and day between what kind of results you will get

Simon Godden said:
I do exactly the same except, I write with manuscript paper and pen at the same time as using the score editor on my DAW (Cubase), then make a midi-file and then transfer it to Finale 2010 (I haven't used the Garritan facility yet, but I might try it out for curiosity's sake when I've learnt how).

Chris, why use two notation packages? Aren't they both as good as each other?

Chris Alpiar said:
the music that you hear that sounds 'real' are not done from a notation program, but rather with a DAW and massaged, every scrap of nuance accounted for. Notation program = for making parts, one way to write a score and hear *something* back immediately. DAW (Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase, etc) is for recording midi and audio performances and for fine tuning them. And they are used in conjunction with sample libraries and vst instruments, like Vienna Symphonic Library or EWQLSO. Each library has certain nuance to learn to make it sound more realistic. And understanding the ins and outs of programming with your libraries as well as solid fundamental understanding of orchestration is all part of the modern composer process. Personally I use Finale 2010 and Sibelius 6 for notation, but I only use these programs to make parts for live sessions. I write by hand on paper sketches, then sequence in a DAW, then dump to Finale to create a score and extract parts
i use sibelius but have tried finale.
i find that sibelius is a bit more easier to use.
I use MagicScore Maestro
I find it great to produce the sheet music and as a notation tool.
I never saw this, sorry Simon. I have Finale, Sibelius and Notion now. Notion was a gift from a friend who wanted me to try it. And I keep finale and sibelius because of different clients that work in those programs. I still generally make parts in finale and I generally dont use notation software to sequence or compose in. But I have some clients (most) that use finale, and a couple that use sibelius. Usually these are clients hiring me for arranging or for digital mockups of their scores. So its more for convenience of my clients

Simon Godden said:
When I said two notation packages, I meant why do you use "Finale" AND "Sibelius". I know the score on Cubase is useless for printing. But it's great for editing and even composition sometimes.

What you said about the standard of the parts is true enough. At university, the BBC Ulster Orchestra librarian was really specific with me about how the parts should be written. I wrote out a flute part and showed it to him and he said it was fine, except that there were to be only 10 staves on the page as opposed to 12 (like the manuscript paper you can buy). So I had to actually design my own manuscript paper on the computer and print it out. Writing out the parts was sheer hell. You had to check every single bar about fifty times. Because it was a workshop, if there had been just ONE mistake on one of the parts, the conductor would have just put your composition away and said "next"! As it happens, the parts were fine and the orchestra played their boots off. Anthony Halstead (the conductor) was brilliant as well. He must have been telepathically linked to my brain, because it sounded just like I wrote it. Amazing experience. I'm so glad I've got Finale now. I look forward to seeing the completed score almost as much as hearing the damn thing. Lot to learn though.

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