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  Notation Software  JackBandit at 21:48 on 01 April 2009

I am looking for the best software for notating music on the computer that includes many instruments, all clefs, standard things, etc. Recommendations??

  Re: Notation Software  piargno at 04:02 on 02 April 2009

I'm a diehard Finale fan, but I refuse to upgrade from 2002, even though I can use the other versions. If you want me to send you some of my more complex scores, I can show you what Finale can do, with relative ease.

  Re: Notation Software  IanTipping at 13:46 on 02 April 2009

For me it's Sibelius - generally produces scores that are clear and legible and it can do almost anything notation-wise. Certainly everything I've ever tried to get it to do, I've found a way! In terms of professional publishing, there's a program called Lilypond out there which does produce beautiful engravings but it isn't the most user friendly software in the world. From what I understand it is strictly an engraving program - I don't think anyone composes directly onto Lilypond scores as I do into Sibelius for instance.

In my opinion, the quality of the scores from Sibelius and Finale are very similar - not publishing house quality maybe (although with a good printer and with time taken over the parts, not far off), but easily good enough for any ensemble to perform from beginners to top pros. That being the case, you just have to choose the program that has the input system that suits you best. For me, I find Finale difficult to get on with, but I know many people who swear by it. Similarly, I can input things on Sibelius in a fraction of the time it takes to write on manuscript paper, but I know people who don't get on with it at all. One thing I would say though - if you do decide on Sibelius and you'll be working primarily on a laptop, get an outboard number pad. It will make life so much easier, trust me!

  Re: Notation Software  JackBandit at 21:47 on 02 April 2009

What version of Finale do you use??

I'm interested in the scores if you don't mind.

  Re: Notation Software  piargno at 05:43 on 03 April 2009

I use 2002, which is very intuitive, and extremely user-friendly for PC, not necessarily for mac. Please e-mail me, and I'll send you some scores:

My biggest initial qualm with Sibelius was the lack of a scroll view. I've heard that they've got it now. I'm still not switching, but it goes to show you that Finale got it right first ... At any rate, I always show some of my scores to Sibelius users, and they say that what I do would be really difficult in Sibelius. It's possible, but difficult.

In general, the key to ANY notation software is NOT TO COMPOSE FOR THE PLAYBACK!!!! As soon as you realize this, then you really can do anything.


  Re: Notation Software  Isaiah at 18:40 on 04 April 2009

seeing as how hiring a full orchestra is none the less cost prohibitive. what software would you recommend for exporting orchestral work. Finale tends to sound like childrens software in terms of play back.

i ask because i am intrested in composing for films and i need a cost effective way of presenting my work to future clients all the while providing them the option of not hiring an ensemble to play the score. if i had it my way... i would have an orchestra to play all of my music.... but, this is not offen possible...

i have no doubt that you all know where i am coming from and any suggestions will be very helpful.



  Re: Notation Software  Gary Green at 20:39 on 04 April 2009

Hi Inri
A decent budget software orchestra is Garritan Personal Orchestra. I've heard it's not as convincing as some of the more expensive ones, but it does produce decent sampled sounds and allows for some human variations in playing. It's much better than just using a general-midi run of the mill synthesized orchestra. I find it really easy to use too. It sounds too dry without reverb, but to make it sound like it's in the real world you'll have to add reverb to the sounds anyway.
Garritan also have other 'real'! software instruments, besides the orchestra.
Have a look at
Happy sound hunting.

  Re: Notation Software  piargno at 07:37 on 05 April 2009

Garitan is good. I've also seen people do some pretty impressive work with Garage Band. Just saving a Finale file as a MIDI file and exporting it into Garage Band, and spending a lot of tedious time editing panning and volume information, and changing the parameters of each sound ... It's tedious, but if you spend some time (about a good 2 to 3 weeks on an orchestral piece between 10 and 15 minutes), then you can produce a pretty decent rendering. Of course, if you're doing a lot of extended techniques, then you might not be able to exactly produce the sound you want. And I don't think Garitan has any col legno stuff for strings, even though Haydn used it ...


  Re: Notation Software  IanTipping at 11:07 on 05 April 2009

That is something to recommend Sibelius - if you get Sibelius 5 pro version (rather than an education package), you get a lot of the Garritan sounds as automatic playback, and they are reasonably authentic. It does remove the whole exporting to MIDI bit as it plays back the dynamics and a certain amount of the phrasing (staccato/tenuto, accents and slurs/phrase marks) and technique changes (pizz to arco, muted trumpets etc.) as it reads your text input of such things, which can save quite a lot of time. Speaking for myself, although as expressed by Anthony earlier, writing for playback is not advisable, it is quite satisfying to compose something and then immediately be able to play a reasonably representative example straight away to your friends (or commissioning bodies...)!

Having said that, for professional standard film/tv scoring it isn't really to the necessary level - excellent for demonstrating examples of what you've done, but I wouldn't want to put it out for commercial purposes as the sounds are somewhat limited and many techniques are not available to use (Gary's example of col legno for instance). You really need to buy a separate package of samples, which can become very expensive and needs a lot of hard disk space and processing power!


Sorry, Anthony's example of col legno!

  Re: Notation Software  MartinY at 08:07 on 08 April 2009

Another string technique notation programs usually cannot do is 'harmonic glissando'. I have just realised reading this forum that you can get it on playback by writing all the fast notes out literally, (though of course they will come out in equal temperament), and then hiding the writeout on print but enabling it on playback....... Might be worthwhile for a demonstration but i just put up with it sounding terrible and imagining what it could be...