Recent appearances: SoundNotion, NYU/ASCAP film workshop, MOLA


It’s been a busy time in the world of music notation software, and I’ve been keeping up as best I can, giving presentations here in New York at the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop and in Montreal at the 2015 conference of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association. Yesterday I was also interviewed by SoundNotion. Here’s a quick roundup.

Talking notation software and more with SoundNotion

The fellows over at SoundNotion have been covering the world of new music news, week in and week out, for more than four years. I was delighted to be their guest yesterday during which I spoke with hosts David MacDonald and Sam Merciers about recent updates to Sibelius, my part 1 and part 2 interviews with Sibelius co-founder Ben Finn, and lots of other news and goodies about notation softwear. We even cooked up an idea for a Sibelius plug-in app store and, in complete gear geek-out mode, I demonstrate my automatic folding machine.

If you watch this interview or listen to it online or through iTunes, you are hereby considered a bona fide music notation nerd like the rest of us. Congratulations! It was great fun — I’m sure we could have gone on for several more hours.


NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop

The NYU/ASCAP Foundation Film Scoring Workshop gives aspiring film composers a chance to record a cue with an orchestra comprised of some of New York’s top professional freelance musicians. It’s the culmination of more than a week of intensive study, collaboration, and seminars about the craft and business of film music.

It’s been a pleasure to lead one of those seminars for many years: a music prep class that covers scoring, orchestration, and as many tips and tricks as we can cram into a three-hour session. This year’s class took place earlier this month, and, as usual, I found the participants extremely inquisitive and talented. We seamlessly moved back and forth between Sibelius and Finale, like when we talked about how to make large time signatures — thanks in part to Tim Davies’s blog post about Finale tips, which he graciously allowed me to “translate” for Sibelius users.

    Giving a music prep clinic (Photo credit: Jon Schwarz; Courtesy of the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop)
Giving a music prep clinic (Photo credit: Jon Schwarz; Courtesy of the NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop)

It will surely be exciting to see these composers continue to develop their skills, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing their music in “a theater near you” before too long.

MOLA Conference

For the second straight year I presented several sessions at the annual conference of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA). This year’s conference, held in May, was located in Montreal and hosted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. The focus of the sessions was once again on using Sibelius and Finale in the library, with specific attention being given to the types of situations that librarians are likely to deal with, like urgently needed transpositions and inserts.

In addition to presenting my sessions and attending some others, I enjoyed connecting with colleagues, taking particular delight in spending time with many librarians that I have gotten to know over many years via phone and e-mail, but had never met in person until last month. All the technology in the world can’t substitute for a shared beverage after a day of meetings!



  1. Bo

    I think it may be just me, but I found it terribly difficult to listen to these interviews. I enjoyed the content but almost fell asleep wading through the “uhs” to actually hear a full, complete sentence. This is just my opinion. Anyone else?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Bo, thanks for the feedback. I’ll try to be more articulate next time, or at least have an extra cup of coffee on hand!

  2. Brad

    I think it important to tip the hat to others who have blazed the trail of CMN. In 1977 I met Donald Byrd at Indiana University (where I was then a music student) to see what he had done with music printing. Here is his later dissertation

    and his webpage.

    There was other work in the 70s/80s, such as Mockingbird at PARC:
    (see page 4 for an image of Mockingbird on the Dorado).

    It would be great for others to chime in with links to other early CMN applications.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Indeed, Brad – I would welcome learning more about that early history. You might also be interested to read the obituary of Leland Smith, inventor of Score, as well as reminiscences by Thomas Brodhead and Bill Holab.

  3. Andrei

    VERY informative interview for SoundNotion, Philip!

    I appreciate not only the wealth of professional information you share, but your tact and diplomacy in discussing objectively the past, present, and future of Sibelius and Avid, the people involved, and their various contributions, challenges, and opportunities.

    One wishes Avid took into consideration the valuable feedback they get from IdeaScale into their agenda, rather than busy themselves with convoluted pricing schemes that aggravate its long-time users’ community and most passionate advocates…

    From your assessment of Finale’s shortcomings, I’m very glad I chose and have used Sibelius since ver. 4, tuplet warts and all… I’ll stay on 7.1.3 for as long as possible!

    Best summer wishes, and thanks for keeping this blog alive and so very helpful!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Andrei, much appreciated!

  4. Bob Zawalich

    I also tend to prefer to read a transcript rather than listen to a podcast, partly because a well-edited transcription does clean up the um’s and ahs, and partly because you need to pay too much attention to a podcast, which you can scan over and reread a transcript more easily.

    As an example of the art of a good editor, compare Ben Finn’s recordings with Philip’s transcriptions. The stumbles and repetitions are gently excised, and, everything is just clearer and smoother. NIce, unobtrusive work, Philip!

    It was actually great to hear Ben’s voice (and Philip’s and Daniel’s…) but I will only sit and listen if it is an especially attractive topic.

    I have worked with Philip via email and forums for a number of years, but we have never met in person, so it was fun to actually see and hear him in action. And it was great to see that he is pretty much the same as I thought he would be.

    I am always glad when that happens.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Bob. Those transcripts do take a while to churn out, even with a tool like oTranscribe, and the little secret is I edited those audio clips of Ben to excise some unimportant vocal filler.

      But those SoundNotion guys crank out this material week in and week out, in addition to their busy lives and day jobs, and they do a remarkable job of it. So we can’t fault them for going “live-to-tape” – the upside is that within seconds of finishing our talk, it was up online for the world to see and hear. Pretty impressive!

      Anyway — I need to find a reason to make a trip out to the Seattle area sometime. Perhaps we will meet someday soon. Meanwhile – any thoughts on the Sibelius App Store idea we cooked up? We all seemed to grab onto it pretty quickly.

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