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We love music notation software and related products and technology, so that’s what we cover here. You’ll find timely news, engaging podcasts, in-depth coverage about the field, and honest reviews about products you use every day. Our advice, ranging from quick tips to heady tutorials, will give you a leg up in your important work. You’ll learn about the interesting people in our field and find out our opinions on ever-changing developments in the industry.
Our contributors are experts in the field and knowledgeable about a broad range of topics — and so are our readers. Sometimes you can learn as much on our blog by reading the comments as you can by reading our articles!
Philip Rothman, editor and principal contributor
Philip Rothman is the editor and principal contributor to Scoring Notes. Philip’s a Juilliard-trained composer and orchestrator with two decades of experience preparing quality materials for professional clients in the music industry. Philip’s music preparation firm, NYC Music Services, provides music services to professional clients and has worked on thousands of projects ranging from simple transpositions to large opera productions.
David MacDonald, senior contributor and podcast co-host
David MacDonald currently teaches music composition, theory, and technology at Wichita State University. He has previously taught at University of Central Florida, Full Sail University, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University. He has been commissioned by Hastings College Symphonic Band, H2 Quartet, and others. davidmacdonaldmusic.com
Bob Zawalich is a composer, guitarist, and software designer who lives near Seattle, Washington. He wrote software professionally for over 20 years. After getting a degree in music composition, he got into notation software. He has written more than 400 plug-ins for Sibelius, and has written a number of music notation blog posts. He has a website at bobzawalich.com.
Darcy James Argue is a Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-based composer and bandleader who has toured nationally and internationally with his 18-piece ensemble, Secret Society, garnering countless awards and nominations and reimagining what a 21st-century big band can sound like. Argue made his mark with his critically acclaimed 2009 debut Infernal Machines. 2013 saw the release of Brooklyn Babylon, which, like Infernal Machines before it, earned the group nominations for both GRAMMY and JUNO Awards. His most recent recording, Real Enemies, released in the fall of 2016, earned a third consecutive GRAMMY nomination.
Steve Aho splits his time between Los Angeles, California, and Graz, Austria, where he orchestrates, contracts and conducts large-scale orchestral studio sessions, including the newest albums of Harry Styles, Nate Ruess, Emile Haynie, Paramore, and Young the Giant. Steve plays drums and serves as music director for Warner Brothers recording artist William Joseph. Well versed in many different styles of music, he has performed worldwide with diverse artists from jazz vocalist Monica Mancini to Engelbert Humperdinck. He has has performed at Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards. www.steveaho.com
Ian Blick studied music and performance at Bretton Hall college. He has worked in music education for over twenty years and during that time has composed music for television, including the BBC regional arts programme, ‘Northern Lights’. He has composed all of the music for the shows that he and Tony Brown have collaborated on during the last decade, including the commissioned works for orchestra and children’s choir, ‘Inside:Outside’, ‘The Visitors’ and ‘Ten Tribes’. up4itmusic.com
Jeremy Borum is a film composer, orchestrator, and music engraver. An active member of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, he is a contributing author to their quarterly journal The Score. He has worked globally with many major orchestras and studios, recording or performing in about 30 countries. He teaches a bi-annual intensive film scoring seminar at Citrus College in Glendora, CA. Jeremy was a founding member and co-owner of the digital sheet music publisher ZMX Music. Prior to his time with ZMX he prepared music engravings for many of the largest print music publishers including Hal Leonard, EMI, Edition Peters, Alfred, Morning Star, and others. jeremyborum.com
Robby Burns is a music educator, freelance percussionist, and technology specialist residing in Ellicott City, Maryland. Robby’s teaching experience ranges from elementary school through university ensembles. He teaches band and general music at Ellicott Mills Middle School and maintains an active private percussion teaching studio. Robby has presented sessions at music education conferences on the subjects of band and orchestra directing, music production software, cloud services, Apple products, and their connection to productivity and creativity in the music classroom. He writes and speaks about music, education, and technology on his blog and podcast, Music Ed Tech Talk.
Jon Burr is a composer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, bandleader, bassist, and educator from Yonkers, NY. As owner/operator of Arranger for Hire, he serves music arranging and production customers from around the world. A veteran touring bassist, his performance credits include Tony Bennett, Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Eartha Kitt, Rita Moreno, The Hot Swing Trio, Stephane Grappelli and many others. Arranging customers have included the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Chilean Astronomy Society, The Milpitas Community Concert Band, The Honey Taps, The Montclair Kimberly Academy’s annual musical, and many others. He offers online classes in Finale at FinaleClasses.com.
Ben Byram-Wigfield is a musicologist and publisher, who works under the banner of Ancient Groove Music. Over the last 25 years, he has reintroduced forgotten masterworks to the repertoire, and created editions that challenge accepted thinking. He has a PhD from the Open University, on the sacred music of Antonio Lotti. He sings when asked and conducts when allowed.
John Hinchey is an expert in digital notation software. He has produced, written, or arranged thousands of professional charts and shows for musicians, singers, songwriters, cruise lines, theme parks, high schools, and colleges. He also provides tutoring on Sibelius notation software and helps musicians adapt to the changing needs of the digital world as it applies to music.
Andrew Noah Cap is a composer and trumpeter who calls himself the “most famous unknown composer alive”. His works includes over 250 original compositions and more than 100 arrangements, mainly for symphonic wind orchestra, but also for symphony orchestras, ensembles, and films.
Bernie Cossentino is a Montreal-based musician and keyboardist who, along with performing, runs Twin Page Productions, offering services for computer-music programming, recording, composing, arranging, producing, as well as music transcriptions for various artists, locally and worldwide. His works span musical styles from children’s to pop rock to jazz, classical, contemporary and world music. He continues to be inspired by engaging musical genres and enjoys the challenges and gratification that come from working on a project, from its inception to completion.
Cory Davis is an editor and production manager for new works at Dunvagen Music and St. Rose Music in New York City.
Douglas Gibson works actively composing and as an orchestrator for numerous projects. He has built an eclectic and accomplished body of work which spans several mediums and genres.His oeuvre contains compositions for classical music ensembles, film soundtracks, advertising, theatre and digital art installations. His Carnegie Hall debut featured his work The Pearl Divers, which Anthony Aibel of the New York Concert Review called “remarkably exotic.” www.douglasgibson.com
Dan Kreider serves as the music minister at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida. He also manages Grace Music, which provides free resources for local church music ministry. Dan holds degrees in piano performance, composition, and choral conducting. Visit dankreider.com for more information.
Florian Kretlow studied humanities, piano and conducting. He works as a choral conductor, voice trainer, répétiteur and music educator. He is also a passionate music engraver and music font designer.
Claude Lapalme has been music director of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra since 1990. A 1991 Laureate of the Besançon International Conducting Competition, he has conducted orchestras around the world, including the Moscow Radio and Television Orchestra as well as numerous ensembles in Hungary, the United States, Cuba, France and the Netherlands. Claude has become an eminent orchestrator and arranger, having composed orchestra charts for the likes of Ian Tyson and Marvin Hamlisch. His arrangements have been performed by top Canadian, American and Australian orchestras.
Jeremy Levy has worked in nearly every medium in Los Angeles. As a composer, he recently wrote music for Star Wars: Battlefront I and II, and Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Fallen Empire. As an orchestrator, he adds his musical touch to scores in film, television, and video games. Recent projects include LEGO Ninjago, Godless, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Trolls, The Peanuts Movie, Minions, Revenge, Empire, and The Book of Life. As an arranger, he has written for the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as pop records from Katharine KcPhee and Matthew Morrison. www.jlevymusic.com
Leo Nicholson is a classically-trained pianist, arranger and music engraver based in the U.K. He started working with Sibelius for Acorn in 1998, aged 10, but is now mostly a Dorico convert. Leo combines an active performing career with notation and notation consultancy services. leonicholson.co.uk
Thomas Nicholson‘s work has primarily explored the expressive possibilities of just intonation and the subtleties of how it is perceived in transforming musical situations. As a pianist, he’s performed with some of Canada’s leading chamber ensembles and festivals (Aventa, New Brunswick Summer Music Festival); recitals including works like John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes as well as Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories and Palais de Mari. Currently studying (MA) at the Universität der Künste Berlin with composer Marc Sabat. thomasnicholson.ca
Tristan Noon is a British TV and film composer based just outside of London. He studied briefly at the University of Surrey and has gone on to become an assistant to both Simon Whiteside (Orchestrator for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Brown) and Stephen Baysted (Project Cars, Need For Speed: Shift). He has written additional music for 2016’s Red Bull Air Race game and arranged music for a Yorkshire-based video production company, aired on ITV. tristannoonmusic.com
Ian Partridge is a violinist, pianist and conductor from Great Britain. He is chair of the board of City of Southampton Orchestra and has also often conducted Southampton Philharmonic Choir. In 2017 he conducted an award-winning production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. His string quartet has performed works including Debussy’s String Quartet, and he has also played violin and keyboards for many stage productions, including Les Miserables, Chess, Starlight Express, and Miss Saigon.
Alexander Plötz is a music notation specialist and consultant who has roughly two decades of experience with scores and musical materials of all forms and flavors. His music services can be found at notenlektorat.de
Neil Radisch is a retired software engineer who, during his software years, specialized in digital video and audio compression technologies. As a musician Neil’s credits include an Off-Broadway musical (The Don Juan and The Non-Don Juan – Vineyard Theater, 1991), and a musical based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Player’s Club of Swarthmore – 1993). Neil was the sequencing engineer for the recording of Philip Glass’s Witches of Venice. In addition he has composed and orchestrated the scores of 23 full-length musicals for the Mask and Wig Club of The University of Pennsylvania.
Marc Sabat makes pieces for concert and installation settings, drawing inspiration from investigations of the sounding and perception of Just Intonation and relating to various music traditions — folk, experimental and classical. Sabat studied composition, violin and mathematics at the University of Toronto, at the Juilliard School in New York, and at McGill University, as well as working privately with Malcolm Goldstein, James Tenney and Walter Zimmermann. He teaches composition and the theory and practice of intonation at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Scores and artist editions are available through Plainsound Music Edition.
Marc Sabatella is a jazz pianist, composer, and educator who teaches theory and improvisation at the University of Denver. He has degrees in both music and computer science, and he is a technical contributor to MuseScore, the free and open source music notation software. Marc is the author of the comprehensive guide Mastering MuseScore as well as books on jazz theory and improvisation.
Stephen Andrew Taylor composes music that explores boundaries between art and science. His first orchestra commission, Unapproachable Light, inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Testament, was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Among his commissions are works for the Syracuse Society for New Music, Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, Quartet New Generation and the New Philharmonic, Piano Spheres, and the American Composers Orchestra. He is Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Justin Tokke is the technical lead for Carl Fischer Music Publishing and a composer, arranger, and programmer. He is the founder and co-administrator of Music Engraving Tips, an international community group of music engraving professionals, composers, musicians, and other enthusiasts, which has grown to be one of the preeminent resources for improving notation available online.
Luciano Williamson is a composer of bold, uncompromising and experimental music and a music notation specialist who produces scores that push the boundaries of how we write and perform music. He studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, graduating (MMus) in July 2020 (BMus 2018), where he studied composition with Mark David Boden and Joseph Davies, and conducting with Tianyi Lu. His studies were supported by the RVW Trust, the Arts Council of Wales, and the Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity.
History of Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes started in October 2008 as Sibelius Blog. Daniel Spreadbury started the blog and contributed hundreds of posts to it. Daniel started working at Sibelius in May 1999 in the company’s technical support team and eventually became senior product manager until his departure from Avid in October 2012. During Daniel’s tenure, the blog was a source for news and tips about the scoring program Sibelius. Daniel is now product marketing manager at Steinberg, where he’s worked on its scoring program Dorico since November 2012. He obtained his degree in music from Oxford University, and was one of the two tenor lay clerks in the choir of Ely Cathedral for two years.
Shortly before leaving Avid for Steinberg, Daniel asked Philip to assume responsibility for the blog, which Philip did in November 2012. In time, the blog expanded its scope to cover not just Sibelius, but any music notation products and related technology, and in April 2017 the blog re-launched as Scoring Notes to reflect this change. All of the posts published as Sibelius Blog posts are still available at Scoring Notes.