Wow, what a year it has been! It’s time once again to reflect on the past year on Scoring Notes and in the world of music notation software and related technology — and to look forward to what’s ahead.
Find your favorite posts
If you have some downtime over the holidays, catch up on your favorite topics here. Simply type in a term in the search bar to search for it, or, if you’d browse the blog posts by category or by date, head on over to the archives.
There’s also our RSS feed which lists every post by date, with the most recent date first — there were more than 80 posts in 2019 alone!
This year we rolled out the Scoring Notes Product Guide, another way to find at-a-glance information about Dorico, Finale, MuseScore, and Sibelius with the date of their latest update, the most current version, supported operating systems, and quick links to the most recent news and reviews, all in one place for the first time, anywhere.
Desktop notation software
That’s a good place to begin, with the major updates of all the leading commercial desktop scoring programs:
Dorico 3 was another huge release for the upstart program in 2019. In addition to our comprehensive review, we have separate reviews covering each of its major new features:
- Dorico 3 feature: Grouped playing techniques
- Dorico 3 feature: Guitar notation
- Dorico 3 feature: Harp pedaling
- Dorico 3 feature: Lyric improvements
- Dorico 3 feature: Condensing
The year started with MuseScore 3, and we covered the first major new version of the software in more than 3 years. There were several other MuseScore updates:
- MuseScore 3.3 released with redesigned palettes, accessibility and other improvements
- MuseScore 3.2 released with single note dynamics, more flexible automatic placement
Sibelius rolled out updates once every two months on average in 2019. We didn’t see much in the way of notation updates in 2019, but there was a focus on audio, playback, and MIDI import, as well as behind-the-scenes improvements:
- Sibelius 2019.12 released; support for older OSs dropped
- Advanced MIDI import arrives in Sibelius 2019.9
- Sibelius 2019.7 released with MusicXML improvements, other fixes
- Sibelius 2019.5 fixes audio and printing issues
- Sibelius 2019.4 brings loop playback, scrubbing, more
- Sibelius 2019.1 released with Review Mode, Avid Link
Things were pretty quiet on the Finale front in 2019, with just a couple of maintenance updates to Finale version 26:
All major programs were compliant with macOS 10.15 Catalina support by November.
Common to Dorico, Sibelius, and Finale is the third-party playback tool NotePerfomer; after a mostly quiet year, we saw NotePerformer 3.3 and 3.3.1 come out with Catalina support, Dorico 3 support and a number of other improvements all free to existing users, continuing to make that product a great value.
This year we covered the 2019 NAMM Show in no fewer than eight separate articles ranging from full video coverage of the W3C Music Notation Community Group meeting, detailed video interviews with the folks from MakeMusic and Notion, product demos from GVIDO and Noteflight, and Dorico and Sibelius updates.
It was a busy time in Atlanta giving presentations at the 2019 MOLA conference and catching up on all things performance librarian-related, including the latest on the Newzik iPad music reading app.
Learn and improve your skills
Of course, there was no shortage of useful tips and tutorials again in 2019. There are so many to mention, so why not head over to the category-based archives of tips and tutorials to get exploring? You might find something new or something you could use a refresher on.
A few faves:
- The Create Trailing Pseudo-Grace Notes plug-in for Sibelius by Bob Zawalich automates a detailed method for creating grace notes at the end of a bar. How does Bob manage to do it?!
- DJA’s Notes is back from Darcy James Argue, where we learn the basics of well-prepared lead sheets, scores, and parts from a jazz/big band perspective.
- Quickly apply a sudden dynamic change such as “ff sub.” in Sibelius, Dorico, and Finale — and do it correctly.
- Working with master pages in Dorico, parts 1 and 2.
- And, because it’s the holiday season, in case you just missed it: Create a sparkling Christmas tree directly in Finale. Because we all pine for a little fun!
It’s hard to believe that Notation Express was not even a twinkle in our eye at the beginning of 2019, and now it’s a suite of fully customized profiles for the Elgato Stream Deck console and Stream Deck XL console that makes powerful features in Sibelius and Dorico easy and fun to use.
From the initial launch of the Notation Express for Sibelius in March 2019, Dorico support followed about seven weeks later. Thanks to the introduction of the Stream Deck Mobile app for iOS by Elgato, mobile support was added in May, and then, everything got “XLerated” with Notation Express XL profiles for the Stream Deck XL console in August. Dorico 3 updates came in October, making 2019 the year of Notation Express!
Fonts and resources
The Norfolk font for Sibelius, a derivative of the Bravura SMuFL font, is in its sixth year of adoption among thousands of Sibelius users. And while its handwritten counterpart Pori was revealed in 2018, it wasn’t until April 2019 where we saw the full potential of these fonts unleashed.
Major updates to those fonts at that time brought meticulously-crafted chord symbols and an ingenious way of creating angled-slash chord symbols by a simple font substitution. The ASC fonts capped a more than year-long effort of work with Jeff Kellem and Bernie Cossentino to bring these fonts to the public, all for free at NYC Music Services (donations accepted), complete with house styles to get you up and running.
That wasn’t all in the font world, however. Florian Kretlow, who regular Scoring Notes readers will know from his insightful and amusing Dorico reviews, also created Figurato, a new specialist font for figured bass notation. It allows for easy input of multiple vertically stacked numbers and accidentals. It can be used in all major commercial desktop notation software, regardless of whether the program supports figured bass notation natively, and comes bundled with the latest versions of Norfolk.
It’s about the people
One of our most popular posts this year was a video interview we did with Juilliard’s performance librarian Lisa Dempsey Kane. There’s a full transcript there as well where we talk about working in professional and student orchestras, bowing tips, MOLA, the role of digital technology, music prep advice, and much more.
Looking back, a piece we did on pioneer music copyist Mathilde Pincus is worth reading as much for the comments it generated as for the post itself. We ♥ our readers!
It’s been more than 7 years since I’ve been working on this blog and I’m amazed when I meet students now for whom it’s been a part of their entire education. Nothing could please me more.
And once again it’s been a banner year for posts by our contributing writers, whose expertise and advice is critical in bringing you objective reviews, news, tips, tutorials, and opinions that you’ve come to rely on. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who writes for Scoring Notes.
We already have several new posts by our contributors queued up for early 2019. Lots of good stuff to come!
In January 2020 I’ll once again be at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, bringing you near-real-time coverage of the goings-on from our perspective, and plan to attend the 2020 MOLA conference as well.
Of course, we’ll stay on top of all the updates and upgrades for all of the major notation software products along with our expert reviews.
Support Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes receives some advertising and affiliate income which helps defray our expenses — please do patronize our advertisers. The blog is mostly a labor of love, though, because we’re passionate about music notation, tech, and the field as a whole. Here are some ways you can help support it.
If you like Scoring Notes and want to donate to continue to support our efforts, please click the Donate button on the right side of this or any page, or follow this link.
Or, if you ever shop at Amazon, head over here before you make your purchases, click on the Available at Amazon page on the right side of this or any page, or at the link below, and click through to the site. Scoring Notes will receive a commission of the sale at no extra cost to you. It’s not too late to get year-end deals on the products I most often use and recommend.
And don’t forget the free resources available to you from our NYC Music Services site, like the Norfolk fonts and the brand new Pori chord fonts for Sibelius, and Abraham Lee’s time-saving PDF batch utilities. If you find those useful, there’s an opportunity to donate over at the NYCMS site.
More than anything, what’s most important is your comments, thoughts, and ideas about our posts. The Scoring Notes community is knowledgeable and engaging thanks to you — I look forward to bringing you more coverage and content in what should surely be a very exciting year ahead.
Thank you! Whether you occasionally stumble upon a post from time to time, or faithfully read every last post, you are welcome here anytime. Please make yourself at home, and visit as often as you like.
Very best wishes for a happy new year! See you in 2020!