Tag Archives: composition


During my recent round of trying to evaluate the right music notation software for myself, I came across an XML application that I can truly relate to: MusicXML.

Much like how MathML is used to describe mathematical documents, MusicXML does this for music. It’s brilliant. Just looking at the spec, I can think of oh so many cool things that could be done with this, from extracting patterns out of the self-describing XML data all the way to doing some interesting procedures over the web.

And heck, if I was ever that much of a cheapskate, I could always write up a composition using XML rather than hoofing up the $650 bill for a full copy of Finale…

OK maybe that would be impractical for all but the simplest arrangement of Three Blind Mice. But it’s nice to know that, hey, it is an option if someone had the time…

I Need More Details

Apple – iLife – GarageBand – Explore

While you’re recording Software Instrument performances, you can watch your performance unfold by viewing the tracks in full music notation. Fast on its feet, GarageBand generates notation in real time, instantly displaying notes, rests and other musical events.

Great news for those of you who read music (and maybe even better for those who%u2019d like to learn), notation view includes all common music notation symbols. That includes time signature, key and clef signs. GarageBand uses vertical lines to indicate divisions between measures. Automatic notation.

And Garageband lets you edit Software instrument recordings in music notation view. You can move, adjust or replace notes. Even edit pedal markings.

OK. Let me just say an emphatic yea! Now I can relate to this program on a much more familiar level. Seriously – of all the announcements today from Apple, this one knocked my socks off. But I need more details – can I do keyboard notation input? (i.e. compose notes via QWERTY keybaord shortcuts?) Are there a limit to the number of staves? How are slurs and ties handled?

There’s plenty of software out there that will do music notation well, and I particularly like Sibelius. Obviously this is going nowhere near Sibelius’ sophistication level in terms of notation, but I am very curious to know what a GarageBand user can expect in terms of notation. I guess I need to go down to the store and give it a test drive.

Also of worthy note here is the addition of Jam Pack 4: Symphony Orchestra. Very cool…

Finale Finally

After a long wait, MakeMusic Inc. is finally getting ready to ship Finale for Mac OS X. I only wish it were sooner. This program is my personal favorite for music scoring and orchestration.

When I was working as an orchestra manager and in the computer lab at NEC, I was working intensely with Finale every day – pumping out scores, transposing parts, and troubleshooting it’s installation across the 30 or so Macs in that lab and scattered throughout the school. I know it back and forth. I find it’s user interface a bit more intuitive than Sibelius, and have found a lot of bugs and UI oddities with Sibelius that have prevented me from embracing the program even though it has been Mac OS X native for some time now. I know some people like Sibelius and prefer it over Finale, just not me personally.

I cannot wait to get my hands on this software. I really enjoy computer-based music composition, and I have missed this somewhat since switching to Mac OS X. I avoid my OS 9 installation because it is so slow and buggy, and Finale acts weird in Classic mode. I’ve just been neglecting it altogether, which is sad because I have a lot of music to write. I am just no good with the old pencil and paper approach. My scores look like what would happen if you dipped a chicken in ink and let it jump all over the staff paper. Unreadable. And it is just so much easier to organize motives and harmonies and transposition under Finale than it is by hand. Really, the computer has become such a crutch for me for music writing.