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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #1
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Music Notation Software

A friend who has a Yamaha baby grand piano with a digital midi output is interested in using music notation software on her Mac so she can write music that she plays on the piano.

So I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with using this type of software and has any recommendations or tips.

I found Finale Allegro and NoteAbility Pro on Versiontracker.
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #2
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You can do this with GarageBand although it is limited. The makers of Finale have a few different software pieces that can do this so check their site for the best price/feature comparison.

Good luck.
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 06:27 PM   #3
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You can't print the notation from Garageband. It is only for editing purposes within Garageband.

In this day and age, and if your friend isn't going to be doing this as a professional "music copyist" (to use a quaint term) providing preparation services for other composers, then I would suggest researching Apple's Logic's programs capabilities to see of they fit. I have used Logic professionally for YEARS and have produced scores and parts for everything from lead sheets to full orchestra.

The reason I had the caveat of doing professional copying is for interchangeability with client composers. You never know if they might start some stuff in Finale or Sibelius. OTOH, many might use Logic themselves, and interoperability may be better by you just getting Logic files from them to enhance! Times have certainly changed...

Logic will also give your friend the power to sequence and record/edit digital audio, also providing a host of virtual instruments and effects and massive sound library expandability; all things that the dedicated notation programs cannot provide. Having said that, thorough research is urged as to Logic's scoring capabilities. Again, it's served me well, but my needs are not all other composer's needs.

Apple has a feature comparison page between Logic Express and Logic Pro. I believe that both versions of Logic possess equal scoring capabilities. Given this, at CA$379.00 Logic Express is an excellent bang-for-the-buck! You can see SOME of its capabilities -- and many of its score toolboxes -- in this video (the guy's pretty simplistic on the power-user key commands, however and the joining of sequences for printing. SLOW, man!).
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Last edited by Macaholic; Apr 9th, 2007 at 10:33 PM.
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 07:24 PM   #4
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When it comes to notation, scoring and printing, you can't beat Finale! It's also optimized and looks nicer on the mac than it does on PC! (Coming from someone stuck on PC still.) As of 2007, it also comes with a bundled version of the Garritan Personal Orchestra which also *sounds* amazing! (Awesome for a "free" addon!)

If you want to play notes in real-time, some other packages are weaker on notation and printing, but far stronger in sequencing.

It depends on what you want to do.
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 10:27 PM   #5
 
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there is also a free version of Finale, I think it is missing some features.

That's what I use.
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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #6
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Finale has a few editions. We sell Finale Print Music for $95...There are then educational licenses (around $350ish) available to Churches / Religious Places / Schools / Teachers / Students if you are eligible. The other big one is Sibelius. It is the opinion of most people that have used both and sell both that Sibelius, albeit does about 85% of what Finale does, it is much much easier to learn then Finale. Full versions are being compared of course. Sibelius has the same EDU licensing available if you're eligible. Sibelius 5 is also on it's way within the next couple of months.

Don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions or check me out at Long & McQuade in North York (if you're in Toronto).
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 12:14 AM   #7
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Personally I use Sibelius 4. Its great for everything I do. Haven't had a problem with it, and its easy to use.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 12:21 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone on behalf of my friend. I've given the URL of this thread, so she can read the suggestions herself.

BTW, l looked at that Logic Express video that Macaholic linked. That was very cool.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 10:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GratuitousApplesauce
Thanks everyone on behalf of my friend. I've given the URL of this thread, so she can read the suggestions herself.

BTW, l looked at that Logic Express video that Macaholic linked. That was very cool.
Again, steadfast research comparing Logic to dedicated notation programs is recommended (which will be a demanding task). AND I have not used any dedicated notation programs, myself, so I can offer no objective opinion comparing them to Logic.

Having said that, I've used Logic for years, and it has always pulled off what I needed. For notation use, the default mindset out there is to use something OTHER than Logic... but this could be attributed to historical precedent... there may be more to Logic's scoring than meets the eye.

The key to Logic in general are the local menus providing further commands, utilizing modifier keys when clicking is important. KNOWING THE APPLICATION -- be it Logic, Finale or whatever -- is important. For example:

Command-shift-click with the pencil tool to insert slurs (or almost any other notation event like dynamics) across multiple tracks in full score mode -- and then being able to shape all of the slurs together at once -- is really handy. ("insert multiple events")

After inputting chord symbols on a part, I like to use the "Select similar events" command to grab them all and then hold down Option and Shift while adjusting their height value all at once (holding option and shift while clicking-dragging on a value in the event window imposes the value you set on ALL events).

One thing I like to do is, after I have played or edited in all the basic midi data, and if the song requires many different parts with similar notation events, I create all the general events I'd need on ONE track. Then, select all those events but not the notes within that track, copy them to the clipboard and then use the "paste at original position" command to quickly apply them to any other tracks that need them.

Logic's key commands are fully user configurable, and I have created a comprehensive key command set for Logic's notation window. So, things like rest interpretation, stem direction, beaming, enharmonic equivalents etc. are a SNAP to adjust. The trick is to establish a consistent modifier key strategy. Any "up" commands are invoked using the shift modifier, "down" commands using control, "default" using shift and control, and "hide" (where applicable) using shift and option. Using stem direction as an example, shift+S is up, control+S is down, etc. Enharmonic sharp is shift+E, enharmonic flat is control+E. This type of approach makes it easy to use your body's motor memory to tweak parts

Logic can quantize the display of notes without forcing the user to ruin any nuanced, unquantized or swung midi sequencing in order to make the score display look right. This benefit plays into Logic's other "hats", where one can use it to create solid sequences destined for rendering on the computer versus rendering "on a human", if you will.

Logic comes with pre-transposed "score styles" for many instruments, and you can create or adapt your own. One thing I wish it did, however, is also have a "global concert score" mode, where you can tweak the parts with their transposed styles for individual part printing BUT also assign parts to concert pitched bass, treble or grand staffs and switch to concert score with ONE command for concert score printing. I don't know if dedicated notation programs can do this, but I wish Logic did. Also, when you transpose a part, the midi data gets adjusted... but the user-added notation events DO NOT! So, after a transposition, you may have to grab slurs etc. (thankfully using the "select similar events" command) and then adjust them. With select similar events, this adjustment might be a one-shot process... unless stems change direction by virtue of a large-ish transposition. Then, you're in hell because, although TIED notes ties change direction automatically when the stems change... THE SLURS DO NOT!

If lyrics or chords get cluttered after a transosition, you can easily use "select similar events" to move them all in one shot.

Logic also has a polyphonic part chord anylizer, displayed as a global reference bar along the top of your windows, and you can have Logic display the chords it "thinks" are there as notation events on selected parts. But, it's analysis is subject to error at times (no surprise, given the complexity of harmony) and there's a weird connection between the global chord track and how it actually can transpose YOUR SEQUENCES(!!) if it's set a certain way and you start messing with the chord changes. Frankly, I haven't really worked through this recent feature addition... so, the problem could exist between the chair and the mouse

There are a few other hassles or bugs but, given the serious complexity of music notation AND the technology demanded to create a computer-based notation environment, I'll wager that there are shortcomings or hassles within EVERY such program.

Here are some web references:

An overall review of logic:
MusicPlayers.com: Reviews > Recording > Apple Logic Pro 7

Some guy's score tips:
Apple Logic Pro - Score Hints & Tips

This guy has a TON of PDFs using BOTH Logic and Sibelius... but, he doesn't specify which is used on which PDFs... but he uses both:
Werner Icking Music Archive: Ulrich Nehls

A book for sale on Logic notation:
Logic Notation Guide

And an interesting history of Logic and its progenitor, Notator. Heh... those old Atari screenshots bring back memories...
The History of Logic
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Last edited by Macaholic; Apr 10th, 2007 at 11:10 AM.
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Old Apr 10th, 2007, 12:21 PM   #10
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After years of Cubase, I recently switched to Sibelius for my choral arranging. If I were doing lots of recording, Sibelius would be a bad choice. However, for arranging, it's light years easier and more intuitive than Cubase.
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