“Playing” with notation software, part 1 of 2

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
“Playing” with notation software, part 1 of 2

The applications we talk about on Scoring Notes have had playback capabilities since their earliest days. But because these programs are so attuned to the visual elements of music notation, layout, and page formatting, their audio components can often be overlooked. Philip Rothman, and David MacDonald have the first of a two-part conversation about playback and music notation software.

We first discuss why it’s important for programs like Finale, Sibelius, and Dorico to have good playback features in the first place, and how you can make use of playback when you work in the software as a composer, teacher, or music preparer. Then, we review the different types of sound options available in the software — everything from basic MIDI sounds to the most expensive studio libraries. Then, we conclude this part by talking about what you need to do when setting up your mix so that you get the best possible results, as well as how to export everything to a digital audio workstation for further fine-tuning.

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  1. Peter McAleer

    Brilliant – thank you Phil and David. I can’t wait for part 2!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Peter – glad you enjoyed it! More to come next week.

    2. Alan West

      Great presentation, looking forward to the next episode!

      I have Note Performer installed which I use within Sib 7. When I need to listen to what a score will sound like, I use Note Performer to understand how things will sound and general balancing etc. However, if I’m checking for wrong notes, I switch to MIDI as these can be heard more clearly using this format to playback.

      Keep up the articles, they are well received.

      1. Philip Rothman

        Thank you, Alan!

  2. Andrew Savage

    Would love to hear you guys interview Arne Wallander about his work with Noteperformer!

    1. Philip Rothman

      We do hope to have Arne on the podcast sometime, for sure!

    2. Peter McAleer

      Now that *would* be something – bring it on!

  3. Florian Ross

    About Note Performer and Finale:

    I purchased the software and I like the sounds, however in order to function (at least in Finale) and to “interpret” dynamics, playing techniques and such, there is about a half second delay between a depressed key and the sound.
    So, although NP might be great for playing back a finished score, it is almost unusable for the note-entering phase of the composition process.
    All Jazz composers I know use speedy entry with a MIDI-keyboard to enter notes – having to endure the half-second delay made many switch back to Garritan, although NP sounds better (me included, unfortunately).

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Florian,

      Are you on Finale v26.3.1 or higher? It appears that this issue has been resolved:


      1. Florian Ross

        Yes I am using Fin27. It works if you only use Note Performer, however as soon as there is one sound from another library, the delay in the other libraries makes them unusable – sorry, should have been more precise ;-(

  4. Rod

    Excellent as always thank you!

    Why don’t you guys ever mention the rhythm section sounds? Yes the orchestral sounds are perfectly good for what they are for the most part and excellent with NP (apart from the stop start delay making it unusable in Sibelius until you drop it in at the end and have to remix the entire score, in your own time because budgets don’t allow for that), but sheesh the rhythm section drum, guitar and bass sounds in particular are just awful, especially after 10,000 hours of hearing them waaah! :(

    If only the rhythm section sounds matched the quality of the orchestral sounds!

    I can’t believe Sibelius haven’t jumped on this, especially if they want to keep their customers from jumping to another platform…

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Rod! We will talk a little about strategies to play back rhythm section parts in the next episode, although not specifically about any particular rhythm sample libraries. It’s a good topic for the future.

  5. Philip Rothman

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