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Best format in which to store a midi file re notation software?

Please could members who shift files between a daw and notation/engraving software give an opinion on what's the best file format.

Seems I can go for a straight midi file (tracks separated) or

MusicXML (that comes with 2 flavours: score-partwise, score-timewise. I have yet to investigate what the difference is).

Unfortunately I haven't chosen a notation software yet. It's difficult as I don't want to have to pay for more than I need, at the same time it has to do all I want. I've no wish to have it generate sounds...possibly a case for proofing the editing.

It has to allow me to space the music out to fit in vocal lines.

Many thanks if you can offer any information.

Bests,

Dane.

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Funny enough I have the exact opposite philosophy regarding MIDI files and XMLs. In the former I always prefer to use the most modern version, but in XML I always use the legacy one (i.e. the one that saves as XML as opposed to MusicXML). Why would someone use one MIDI instead of XML? Well, if you're happy with the way it sounds in your notation program, then export the MIDI. XMLs are for transfer between Notation programs, not for DAWs. That said, some people program really well in DAWs and then use the score function to export an XML to be "polished" in a notation program. So it depends what you're doing and in which direction you're transferring to/from.

As for cheap notation program there's none better than MuseScore and it's free!

Hi Dane -  I'm not sure I have a lot to offer here as I've never used XML.  I use Sibelius but Finale and Dorico are probably as good or better and MuseScore has a loyal following as well. With the free versions and free trials available you should be able to see what works best for you. One possible issue is that Sibelius is related to the industry standard ProTools and Dorico is related to Cubase which is very popular; so there might be some cool interfaces somewhere in the future?

Writing lyrics to a melody and getting it to line up is easy with Sibelius, I never have tried writing the lyrics first, might be different. Sibelius exports midi, PDF, mp3 and wave files with no problem. Exporting individual parts is easy, all the transpostions etc. You can include an entire score in a single midi file (I don't know what the maximum instrument limit is.) and it expands into separate tracks in Reaper with no problem. Importing midi files into Sibelius works pretty well but if your midi track is 'humanized' you'll get some goofy looking notations.

IMHO hearing an accurate instant playback of a score is invaluable and is possible with NotePerformer installed in any of the three main notation softwares. Trying different orchestrations for instance, just too easy.

Hope this helps, I can try and answer questions if you have them?

I use Notion for my scores. I have had the best luck with Midi 2 files. Music XML, at least for me, does not import as well from my DAW, which is Cakewalk. but I have also imported from Reaper and midi2 works best from it as well. I do have to do a lot of fixing up of course after the import, but midi2 causes the least problems in my experience. I always "prepare" the exported material first. I clone the piece, and then alter the notation, which in a DAW may involve things like double notes for power; multiple instruments playing the same line; and trills, which I sometimes do by inputting every note of the trill, unless one of my patches has a trill articulation that sounds decent. Usually my painstaking method produces better results. you don't want to export something like that to notation software. So I make this second version of the piece, which is closer to the actual final result to be achieved in the notation program. Hope that helps!

Woops, I meant midi1 files, not midi2. I'm not even sure there are midi2 files. Just midi0 and midi1. 

Hey folks,

Thank you all for the information and suggestions. I suppose I face a learning curve through experiment. Basically all I want is transferring files from Reaper to...whatever... with the possibility that after editing I may want to transfer them back. It's a huge task that challenges writing scores by hand, the only merit being that I can extract parts. Even then I'm unsure about how cueing will look. The sort of music I write needs a fair few cues and substitutions (e.g. writing parts for one instrument into the staves for other instruments 'for insurance'!)

I thought of Dorico which is hugely expensive and gives me things I don't need like sampled playback. (It also seems to give me some of the things I want that others don't, from my research so far). Its one problem is it lodges the licence on the computer, not the Steinberg key although I believe it can be shifted across.

It looks like the best, then, is to go with straight midi files and take on a little more work up front.

Of the 12 or so scores I've written in the past 2 years about 5 may be worth converting into a publishable format and I can see it's going to take far more administrative work than transferring my m/ss into the daw!

Again, thank you all. I now have to get the various notation software manuals to go through in detail what they can and can't do and whether they can transfer midi files in and out.

Bests,

Dane.

As for me, I work with Finale and for transferring files I found MusicXML a much better way than midi, because expression marks and slurs don't get lost...

Gerd

I should point out that I use a DAW with a notation or staff view. Both Cakewalk and Reaper have such. If you use a DAW without this feature, it would be more difficult to edit before the export. If my memory serves me Dane, you use Reaper? So you would work in their notation editor to prepare the export version. You could just do the export as is, and do all the cleanup in your notation software, but it would be quite daunting I would think. Streamlining the export version makes for less work, and less confusion, in the notation program.

Gerd, it may be that either Midi1 or XML work about equally well. It probably comes down to what DAW you're using, how much pre-export editing you do, and the notation software you use. Which means it might be a good idea for Dane to do some experimenting to determine what, for him, makes most sense.

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I have Reaper and have used the notation view to produce the scores I post here (after, as you say, the task of cleaning everything up. It's limit is the amount of 'stuff' I can put on a page (only 1 type-size and face, no adjustable spacing between staves, no "courtesy" accidentals; lyrics don't line up too well in the pdf. And the pdf itself has inflexible bars and only allows 10 staves per page - so with a lot of small value notes unless I have one bar per page they can clump up in a mess). Hence something that looks smarter would be better.

Gerd, Thank you for your comment here. I think it's going to be down to what the notation software accepts. Reaper produces a MusicXML file but I'm not sure how well it'll handle custom symbols. It'll be a learning curve I don't really want to face but will have to eventually. As I seem to be drying-up composition wise at the moment, I suppose it's time to start!

Many thanks.

michael diemer said:

I should point out that I use a DAW with a notation or staff view. Both Cakewalk and Reaper have such. If you use a DAW without this feature, it would be more difficult to edit before the export. If my memory serves me Dane, you use Reaper? So you would work in their notation editor to prepare the export version. You could just do the export as is, and do all the cleanup in your notation software, but it would be quite daunting I would think. Streamlining the export version makes for less work, and less confusion, in the notation program.

Gerd, it may be that either Midi1 or XML work about equally well. It probably comes down to what DAW you're using, how much pre-export editing you do, and the notation software you use. Which means it might be a good idea for Dane to do some experimenting to determine what, for him, makes most sense.

This is a phase that we all go through and I see it as a wonderful opportunity! Trying new things is difficult if you are in the midst of works in progress so now is a great time to jump off a cliff. (Just kidding of course!)

Sibelius, for example, will score and export 1/4 tone passages and I'll bet other NS's will also. I envisioned two keyboards, one conventional and the other electronic, tuned to 1/4 tones and stacked on top for easy access. This would allow a standard 88 key range and an adjustable 32 note tuning to intermix for live performance.  Well it seemed like a good idea, I'll bet your skills could make this work.

Dane Aubrun said:

 As I seem to be drying-up composition wise at the moment, I suppose it's time to start!

For me XML works seamlessly back and forth with Reaper and Musescore or Notion (sorry, Claude, it isn't just notation intercommunication, at least not here).

I prefer it over MIDI because it doesn't carry performance data (key switches, note velocities, especially doing it from Notion. It doesn't fit my workflow).
Importing from notation to Reaper sports graphic elements along — a bit annoying to get rid if you don't need them. Never tried the opposite.

Like you, I'm not aware of the difference between score-partwise and score-timewise export function. Reaper lingo.

I second the Musescore choice. Powerful (leadsheets to massive orchestral), flexible (I'm used to take lots of written notes) and free.

Hope it helps

PS. Hi Michael Diemer, nice to meet you here!

Thank you, Fabio.

As Musescore is free it wouldn't hurt to try is at least. I've been looking through the manual and will get to importing and editing. I do a fair amount of "expression" and dynamics in Reaper to ready scores to post here so it would be useful if these were carried across. The other issue is whether I can turn the internal sounds off. I've never appreciated the sounds these various programs make!

I've never worked out how to do tuples in Reaper, always getting the weirdest results. I suppose it's a problem as grids work out in powers of 2 none of which is divisible by odd numbers. That's probably something that notation software can cure.

Anyway, I'll give it a go. I have the choice of midi or MusicXML although research tells me conversion from this to XML is possible.

Ingo, and thank you for the encouragement. It'll only have to wait a short while as I put the finishing touches to a cantata-thing and just reviewing another impressionist piece which has been in cold storage for a couple of months. I mentioned I might try musescore and I'll soon find out if it can do the things I want! Otherwise it'll probably be Dorico when I can afford it! 

They've just slammed us into even tighter lockdown here in the UK because a new variant virus has crept in. It doesn't affect my town thankfully but I can't see any real music on the horizon for a while.

All the best

and in case I don't turn up before Christmas, all good wishes for a merry one! 

Stay safe and well. 

To silence the awful internal sound, you must mute intruments in the mixer window.
I see v.3 mixer is poor as v.2 (version in use here due to os incompatibility).
Getting rid of included sound samples could be another way.
On the other side, those unpleasant sounds help me focus on writing.

To enter tuplets in Reaper, go to Actions Menu —> choose "MIDI Editor as a target" —> search for "Set Grid" in "set filter" field. The long string of available values includes matching triplets. You can assign custom shortucts for them (see screenshot).

Hope it helps.

And Merry Christmas to you and all other members!



Dane Aubrun said:

Thank you, Fabio.

As Musescore is free it wouldn't hurt to try is at least. I've been looking through the manual and will get to importing and editing. I do a fair amount of "expression" and dynamics in Reaper to ready scores to post here so it would be useful if these were carried across. The other issue is whether I can turn the internal sounds off. I've never appreciated the sounds these various programs make!

I've never worked out how to do tuples in Reaper, always getting the weirdest results. I suppose it's a problem as grids work out in powers of 2 none of which is divisible by odd numbers. That's probably something that notation software can cure.

Anyway, I'll give it a go. I have the choice of midi or MusicXML although research tells me conversion from this to XML is possible.

Ingo, and thank you for the encouragement. It'll only have to wait a short while as I put the finishing touches to a cantata-thing and just reviewing another impressionist piece which has been in cold storage for a couple of months. I mentioned I might try musescore and I'll soon find out if it can do the things I want! Otherwise it'll probably be Dorico when I can afford it! 

They've just slammed us into even tighter lockdown here in the UK because a new variant virus has crept in. It doesn't affect my town thankfully but I can't see any real music on the horizon for a while.

All the best

and in case I don't turn up before Christmas, all good wishes for a merry one! 

Stay safe and well. 

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