Summer stock: recharge, reading, re-listening, and reductions

Meta

Summer is here! At NYC Music Services, and Scoring Notes, we’ll be taking it easy the next few weeks as we recharge with that solar energy after a very busy first half of 2024. Don’t worry, things won’t go totally dark around here, but if activity seems a little lighter than usual, that’s the reason.

Fortunately, there’s lots around here to catch up on. For your summer reading, there are the many news articles, reviews, tips, and tutorials that we’ve produced, to get you all caught up for the second half of this year.

For your (re)-listening pleasure, of course, there’s the Scoring Notes podcast, with many episodes where we talk all about our favorite topics: music notation software and related technology.

And over at Notation Central, our marketplace for music notation technology, there is a summer sale going on, with price reductions across the board, to help you make the most of the music notation software you use.

Wishing you a very happy holiday and summer season, from all of us at NYC Music Services and Scoring Notes!

Reading

Notation software

If you use music notation software, the first place to start your summer reading list would be our Product Guide, where we keep current with every major release of Dorico, Finale, MuseScore, and Sibelius, and most of the intermediate updates, too.

Dorico 5

Dorico users will be interested to read about Dorico 5.1, which came out late in 2023, with many new features and improvements found in Dorico 5 range widely and touch most areas of the program, followed by Dorico 5.1.10, 5.1.21, and 5.1.30 (along 5.1.40, which we didn’t have time to write about!).

Although there haven’t been any Finale updates in 2024, there was one, to version 27.4, that appeared in November 2023, so we’ll include that in here if you missed in during the winter holidays. The official support for running Finale under macOS Sonoma enough to take note of this one, along with some small but helpful items and fixes for longtime bugs.

Although MuseScore 4 came out in December 2022, it’s seen several updates since then: MuseScore 4.1 added engraving and performance improvements in July 2023; MuseScore 4.2 added more guitar features and improved scores with parts; and MuseScore 4.3 was the first to carry the moniker “Studio” to help distinguish the application from the MuseScore web site and storefront.

MuseScore Studio

Sibelius has seen three updates in 2024 already: The Sibelius 2024.3 release added MIDI copy and paste, remote connection, and a resizeable Keypad; 2024.5 was a special release that brought Sibelius to Android and Chromebook for the first time; and 2024.6 finally made Sibelius run natively on Macs with Apple silicon processors, resulting in speed gains for many common operations.

You can super-size the Keypad in Sibelius, if you like

Related tech

One of the new features in Sibelius 2024.3, Sibelius Connect, allowed us to totally overhaul Notation Express and Notation Express XL for Sibelius 2024. These are the custom-designed profiles for the Stream Deck consoleStream Deck XL console, and the Stream Deck Mobile Pro app for iPad that make powerful Sibelius Ultimate features easy and fun to use.

This complete re-write of the entirety of Notation Express takes advantage of Sibelius Ultimate’s newly-introduced ability to receive commands directly from Stream Deck, instead of relying upon a custom keyboard shortcut profile as the intermediary. As a result, more than 75 new buttons have been added to Notation Express XL for Sibelius and more than 40 new buttons to Notation Express (15-key) for Sibelius — this is the largest update to Notation Express ever.

 

We also reviewed PDF Expert, an alternative — at least on Mac and iOS —  app that may well satisfy your requirements for more robust PDF editing compared to what Preview can provide, without all of the more niche features and recurring bank debits of Acrobat Pro.

PDF Expert

Graphical MIDI Tools for Sibelius continued to see updates. The February update added a tempo editing module, while the May update added hit points, among other useful features to this unique and ingenious plug-in.

The Graphical Tempo Module in Graphical MIDI Tools for Sibelius

In a convergence of modern technology and ancient music, Ben Byram-Wigfield offered up his Ben’s Early Music Bundle, giving Dorico users supercharged tools for creating early music notation in Dorico, in connection with his detailed tutorials that explain a variety of techniques and approaches to getting the best results.

Ben’s Early Music Bundle, in use in Dorico

Special coverage and tips

We attended and covered two major events this year already: The 2024 NAMM Show, and the 2024 MOLA Conference.

NAMM 2024

After a four-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic and related changes to the timing of the show, Scoring Notes coverage of the NAMM Show was back in full force. Back at its usual position in the calendar in January, the show offered no shortage of opportunities to meet with the interesting individuals in the world of music notation software and related technology.

NAMM 2024

Starting from the “exhibition mission” of trying to see as many people and products as possible, both familiar and unfamiliar, and continuing on to have more detailed conversations, it was a great visit. Here are the highlights, most of which was offered as web site content, video content, and podcast content:

A special treat was visiting with NAMM president and CEO John Mlynczak, a music notation veteran, in his relatively new position leading NAMM.

Philip Rothman and John Mlynczak at the 2024 NAMM Show
Philip Rothman and John Mlynczak at the 2024 NAMM Show

MOLA 2024

Although much smaller than NAMM, the MOLA Conference is equally important to the Scoring Notes audience, from the perspective of the issues discussed and the people involved. Scoring Notes continued its valuable partnership with MOLA, both participating in the content of the conference itself and bringing coverage to readers and listeners. This year’s conference took place in May, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The individuals representing the music notation software applications at MOLA nicely complemented who we saw at NAMM; representatives from ArtsVision, Avid – Sibelius, Diese Software, dimusco, Easy Song, Ensemble Manager, Newzik, Scoremusic, Steinberg – Dorico, and Zinfonia all exhibited at the 2nd annual Tech Fair, which kicked off the conference. In addition, many other vendors and publishers attended to mix and mingle with the assembled delegates from orchestra libraries.

Steinberg’s John Barron demonstrating Dorico at the 2024 MOLA Conference

Specifically, I had conversations at MOLA with Notion’s Chris Swaffer, Avid’s Justin Tokke, Steinberg’s John Barron, as well as the MOLA board members Michael Ferraguto and Alastair McKean in their roles as official representatives of the conference. We also have an excerpt from the opening tech fair session, “Putting Technology into Practice in the Music Library”.

David MacDonald and I recapped the conference from Cleveland, with a summary of the tech fair and the rest of the event: from the intricacies of percussion setup to licensing, copyright, and commissioning agreements, and much more, which you can find in your podcast feed, or video form, below:

Muse Group and related coverage

Some of the biggest news to affect our field came near the end of last year, with the news of Muse Group, the company which owns MuseScore, StaffPad, Ultimate Guitar, and Audacity, acquiring Hal Leonard, the largest publisher of sheet music and educational books. We had a detailed analysis of the news, which was announced on December 4, 2023, and a discussion on our podcast as well.

Heading up more coverage of Muse Group’s products is Scoring Notes contributor Steve Morell, who has already penned detailed posts on the MuseScore Studio 4.3 update, an overview of formatting scores in MuseScore, and news of the official launch of the education-focused MuseClass platform.

Steve has also offered up extensive tips on using video, tempo, and time features in many of the notation software products (including StaffPad), and a follow-up tutorial on syncing video with Finale playback.

Re-listening

We know everyone reading here is already subscribed to the Scoring Notes podcast! But if you’re not doing so already, here are all the places you can follow us: Amazon | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Pandora | PocketCasts | Podchaser | RSS | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

In addition to all of the aforementioned coverage of the NAMM Show and MOLA Conference on the podcast, we revisited with Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury about the strategic, philosophical, and technical perspectives that shape how Dorico is produced.

And while it’s easier than ever to publish your own music, it’s important to not be toner-deaf about the printing challenges. Garrett Breeze of the Selling Sheet Music podcast joined me to discuss the best ways to avoid any jams.

Reduction (in prices)

At Notation Central, you can chill out this summer with some cool deals.

This is the first sale all year, with 20% off nearly everything in the store, through Monday, July 15, 2024.

This includes items like:

Just use the code SUMMER at checkout to see the discounts applied.

There are some extra savings to be had, too: Use the code SMUFLME to get 25% off when you purchase two or more SMuFL fonts from NorFonts together. This includes BopMusic, Da Capo, Groove, Mezza, Mezzo, RealScore, Rhapsody, Scordatura, Soli, The Copyist, and Tutti, for use in Dorico and Finale 27. Stack the code SMUFLME with the SUMMER discount for super savings of 40% off.

As mentioned earlier, Notation Express and Notation Express XL for Sibelius got major updates this year. Now, just like with Notation Express and Notation Express XL for Dorico, you can enjoy cross-platform support multi-language support, a direct connection to the software, along with many new features — 75 on the XL profile and 40 on the 15-key profile.

And, if you have multiple Stream Decks, well, more power to you:

Don’t forget that you can run two profiles side-by-side, on an iPad, with Stream Deck Mobile — even one with the Sibelius profile and one with the Dorico profile:

These changes alone would have been worth an update, but because it’s been so long since we’ve added new features to Notation Express for Sibelius, we went right on ahead with more.

And while you’re “expressing” yourself, check out Scoring Express, collections of professional templates for Sibelius, Dorico, and Finale, based on the same templates we use at NYC Music Services, an industry-leading music preparer. Each collection includes many professional templates for stand-alone use, plus corresponding manuscript papers, document styles, and libraries, so you can use Scoring Express to start a new score from scratch or beautify an existing score.

The Scoring Express bundles are ordinarily $45 off compared to buying each genre separately, so this is a great opportunity to pick up the bundle of all the Finale collections, the bundle of all the Sibelius collections or the bundle of all the Dorico collections and stack your savings by using the SUMMER code for an incredible combined value of more than $75 off. It’s like buying the Chamber and Jazz collections and getting the Theatre & Studio one nearly for free!

 

Future updates to Notation Express and Scoring Express remain on the road map. Any updates to either of these products made in 2024 will be free for existing customers with the most current version, so now is a great time to lock in your savings, thanks to the Notation Central summer sale, which will run through July 15, 2024.

Don’t forget to use the code SUMMER at checkout to see the 20% discounts applied.

Comments

  1. James

    From what I can see, PDF Expert is now a subscription as well, and the difference in price between that and Acrobat is not that much. So… if bank debt is the issue, then no one will save any of us.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *