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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:19 am 
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I've been driving myself crazy lately trying to find a new software program that allows me to create sheet music. I used to use Encore for Macintosh, but since upgrading to Snow Leopard my old version is no longer supported. A new version of Encore is $399 :shock:

Anyway, I find that this type of software (combined with a slow-downer software) is essential for me to figure out and memorize new tunes. This is how I learn new tunes (one note at a time, transcribed onto sheet music software) and I'm a bit lost without such a program on my computer. I haven't learned a new tune from scratch in a couple of months, and I hate relying on transcriptions from others (like at session.com, etc).

My problem is not that I can't find such software -- in fact I've downloaded trial versions of Sibelius v.7 and MuseScore v1.1 (both for Mac), as well as a couple others. I'm having big problems with these programs, however. My old Encore software used to let me enter notes in a simple solo score in a "freehand" style, with no requirements for specific numbers of beats and rests within a bar. I could enter a hundred sixteenth notes in one bar if I wanted and the software didn't care. With these new programs I'm not able to input notes in such a fashion. The programs demand that I have an appropriate number of notes and rests within a bar, and add new (and distracting) rests if I don't create the number they want me to. This is driving me nuts. I've developed my own style of transcribing over the years that works well for me (with my own shorthand for articulations, etc.) and I want complete control over the number of notes within every bar. I can't handle these unwanted rests that every program inserts for me. In my old Encore software I'd create my own rests just by dragging notes around within a bar and making "gaps" between them. No software I can find allows me this freedom, or at least I can't figure out how to accomplish this with the new programs I now have.

If anyone has any input as to how I might disable the rests within a score in these programs (although I think I've tried everything), or suggest another program that allows the "freestyle" input of notes that I've described, I'd appreciate a response. I also have a Windows 7 machine.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:22 am 
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Why not try paper and pencil - personally I am going to order a Moleskine blank manuscript book (I use some of their other notebooks and love them - I first bought them at a 'going out of business' sale, unfortunately they did not have any music manuscript books.)

If you want to try the reliable, future proof, low tech pencil & paper method without ordering a book these are couple urls to print manuscript paper:
http://people.virginia.edu/~pdr4h/musicpaper/
and
http://www.blanksheetmusic.net/

If you really want to stay with the high tech solution (and here are advantages) you could try this:
in Sibelius you can move notes around (for your rests) and you could probably fool the program with a fake time signature, such as 240/8 so that the program would not insist on bar lines and rests adding up (though normally that is considered a good thing!) I can't confirm this works because my copy of Sibelius does not work with OS 10.7 so I'm kind of in the same boat as you, though I write things out in standard notation - sometimes it easier and useful to go with the flow! Of course Sibelius is $$$ - I haven't upgraded, and could (but have not) boot into my older OS to use my old version.

Also if I have have a recording of a tune I want to learn I have been resisting the urge to transcribe it and learn it by ear. I am an excellent sight reader from former training and am trying to develop my playing by ear skills. Once I know the tune I transcribe it - though so far once I really know a tune I do not seem to need to look at music - a little nudge and it all comes out, even if I've not played it for a while. Time will tell whether this is still true when I know several hundred tunes!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:13 pm 
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If you are willing to learn abc you'll find that EasyABC (which is free) will do most if not all of what you want.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:15 am 
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With Sibelius, just click on the rest and delete it. Or use big gracenotes for your articulations, since they don't count against time.

Sibelius is kind of a pain to use for free time music, but I think Finale works for that sort of thing. I'm actually jumping off on a large free time project, transcribing piobaireachd, and in Sibelius I need to create each bar individually with the right number of beats.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:03 am 
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Musescore. It's free. It's good. http://musescore.org/
When you're starting out, have the PDF manual open at the same time, so you can refer to it. I'm getting better at using it, and it doesn't take me any longer to transcribe a piece than it does to render it in ABC. (Get ABC as well!)

I got passed a guitar piece that was doing my head in - it was just beyond my capability, or so I thought, and the sheet music was blurry and smudgey with nasty annotations in thick felt-tip. Once I rewrote it in Musescore I felt a lot more confident, and then remembered Musescore can play the piece. Now I understand it. Much better. Much!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:48 am 
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Thanks for the suggestions posted. I'd already considered the old-fashioned paper and pencil method and I appreciate the link to the blank music score sheets.

I've fooled around with Sibelius a bit more but didn't get far. Adjusting the time signature to something out in left field doesn't really solve the problem. I still have to work around errant rests and I can't get rid of them.

As for MuseScore, I've researched this topic a bit as well. On their website is posted the statement (in response to a similar quesiton as mine): "There are technical reasons to have a complete timeline of notes/rests. The current rule is that voice 1 has to be complete and does not allow to delete rests." Doesn't sound promising, but if Innocent Bystander has specific instructions as to how to accomplish what I want in Musescore I'd appreciate hearing it.

I'll try the analog paper method and who knows I might like it. The problem I forsee is that I do A LOT of revisions as I gradually perfect my interpretation of the tune I'm learning. Better get myself a good eraser.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:29 pm 
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drewr wrote:
I've fooled around with Sibelius a bit more but didn't get far. Adjusting the time signature to something out in left field doesn't really solve the problem. I still have to work around errant rests and I can't get rid of them.



Playback or display? If it's playback you're out of luck, but for display you just click on them and delete them. The first time you click delete it turns them blue; the second time it eliminates them from the score. But on playback it's going to pause in the bar that has the deleted rests.

If you know in advance how many beats of notes your bar will have, then you can create,bar,other -- and then type in the note lengths with the keypad, and it will make a bar that will exactly contain the notes you type. It's kind of cumbersome though, particularly if you want to copy-paste, because you can't copy the bars, just the notes in them.

So to give a practical example, if you're doing a reel, and you want 5.5 beats, then in the insert bar dialog, you click in the bar length space and type 444443 (five quarter notes and an 8th note)

I'm looking forward to exploring musescore. The ABC reader plugin sounds handy.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:39 pm 
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drewr ... Just to be clear, and to address your main concern ...

As far as I know, the ABC spec itself doesn't require time value checking. I don't know about MuseScore, but abcm2ps - which is more or less the reference standard for ABC rendering - freely allows you to violate the time signature; in effect, it assumes you know what you're doing. :-) This makes it easy to notate free-form slow airs, or crooked tunes, etc. You can also specify time signature = none if you like.

As for the personal shorthand you've developed ... You can certainly re-purpose the standard symbolic inventory of ABC however you like. I do this in my own detailed transcriptions in re-purposing mordents, bow markings, etc. But the ABC inventory is more limited than something like Sibelius, so you might have to experiment with modifying your idiosyncratic conventions.

drewr wrote:
I'll try the analog paper method and who knows I might like it. The problem I forsee is that I do A LOT of revisions as I gradually perfect my interpretation of the tune I'm learning. Better get myself a good eraser.

You might want to look at my "Music Pencils" thread here:

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=85646

I'm still experimenting, but having good luck with mainly the 2B/4B pencil combination ... and a nice polymer eraser. :wink:

I definitely don't see manual notation and software notation as incompatible, any more than a good penmanship hand and a good word processor. But I'll admit I do my trad transcription directly in ABC for the most part, whether on paper or in my text editor.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:30 am 
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What MTGuru said. You can bugger about with ABC and it doesn't give a tinker's cuss about the scansion, unless you try to playback, in which case it goes horribly wrong in the playing - but doesn't affect your file.

Musescore does have methods of changing the scansion on the lead-in and final bars, and you *could* change the time sig on each bar, but by the sound of it, paper & pencil might be your best approach.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:17 am 
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I've been using scorewriter from geniesoft. It was about $60. My main consideration was the ability to share tunes with a buddy who also uses scorewriter.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:40 pm 
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I just started looking at notation software and trying MuseScore. I think it could do what drewr is looking for, but maybe not as easily as he'd like. The measures can be changed to any length. If you right click on a measure and choose 'Measure Properties' there is a choice of Measure Duration. There you can set the actual duration. If you do that you can get rid of the rests, but each time you add or take away notes you'd have to adjust the Measure Duration again. The information about this is in the pdf manual in the section on Measure Operations.


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