Music Software Recommendations
As music librarians for a long established Youth Orchestra program (over 60 years of accumulated music) we find that we have a lot of music that is missing parts. A lot of these works are out of print and those that are still in print will not sell a single instrument part - only complete orchestral sets.
We're looking for recommendations for a music software program that is easy to use with a computer, mouse and QWERTY keyboard (not midi entry). We also want the software to support bowing markers, finger numbers, and the string specific symbols.
Any ideas? We know that the day is coming when one of the conductors will want to perform one of those works where we have to re-create a part that is missing. Help!
Musescore does all that.
I find Musescore to be workable for minor bits of personal annotation but it's not something I'd want to use to enter an entire score's worth of parts.
I've created entire scores using Musescore and I see no real problem with it. Finale or Sibelius may give you more flexibility, but the learning curve is steeper too, and of course they are expensive.* Sibelius (and possibly Finale too) does have an "educator's" edition which is discounted, but I don't know how you qualify for that. Musescore is free -- and they continually improve it.
After years of using the free version of Finale, I bought the full version at educator pricing and it's been completely worth it. I think I filled out a form attesting to be a private teacher. What I first needed it for was automatic linking of score and parts. The impression I got when browsing for reviews and comments was that there are a number of things in Finale that are "not intuitive" because features may have been gradually tweaked and modified over the versions and years instead of major overhauls such as significantly moving options and menus around to "make more sense"...and now I'm just used to it.
Like Paul I have typeset orchestral scores and generated parts using Musescore (https://imslp.org/wiki/Cello_Concerto_in_the_form_of_a_Concertino%2C
There is a free version of Sibelius available. It is limited in the number of parts in a score and in other features as well, but for what you describe it should be sufficient.
Lydia, maybe you were using an old version of Musescore?
If you are only looking into type-setting out the missing parts occasionally, just go for Musescore.
The free version of Sibelius is very limited, both in the number of parts in a score and also in the extra markings available.
A colleague of mine produces dozens of jazz arrangements for live shows in major venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas using only MuseScore.
Thanks everyone. I downloaded the Musescore3 but, for whatever reason I cannot find the symbols for string markings (up/down bow, accents,... nor how to place a number above the note to indicate fingering)
George, if you look in the articulations palette (the workspace to the left of the screen) you will find the up/down bow symbols. Just highlight the note you want to add them to and double click the appropriate symbol in the articulations pallette.
I believe Musescore also has some tutorials on YouTube and such.
I downloaded - looks neat but anyone know how to import a PDF that is already on your computer (if that is possible)? Seems that PDF import takes you to a web-page....
It was a couple years back. I eventually switched to using Noteflight for doing quick things.
Paul, Musescore has also forums on which you can ask any question like the one George has asked above and answers will be forthcoming quickly, often from the developers themselves.
Elise, Importing music from a PDF requires a special software program. I think this is true for all the software notation programs.
Musescore also has a commercial website called musescore.com. People have converted, to music XML format, well-known music of many genres and uploaded the files to that site. It does not cost anything to join, search and download.
Thanks Carmen - its just that I already have a very extensive PDF collection so it would be nice to be able to import that. Will check out your ideas.
I think turning PDF files into notation files like XML is a big challenge and requires a musical OCR, and OCR is never super reliable...
What Lydia said bears further discussion. There are lots of programs you can get that will convert existing PDF scores to a form that can be imported into Musescore. But you have to remember that those programs are not magic -- they're a form of OCR with pattern recognition algorithms and they make a lot of mistakes. We haven't really reached the point where those programs are ready for you to feed all your PDFs into it and expect them all to emerge in a useful form without a fair amount of editing, correcting, etc. The amount of your labor that will still be required means that you will be choosing those PDFs that are of highest importance for conversion. The "hive" will eventually do it for you...
What about the audio equivalent of OCR, software that notates pitch and rhythm? That's been around for quite a while but maybe accuracy, including accuracy of guessing intention and not overly complicating the notation*, has improved since I last checked (not any time recently). *For example, you meant to play eighth-quarter-eighth instead of some combination of various dotted values or ties or 32nd notes that takes up the appropriate duration but isn't anything anyone would actually read.
In most cases, I found that manually transcribing a piece form print to Musescore took less time and was less bothersome than using a program to convert a PDF and then correcting the mistakes.
I'm a composer by trade, and I guess this will sound like a curmudgeonly reply, but... I'd say--Get Finale on a Mac, and hook up a USB keyboard (I use the AKAI LPK-25--it's $50 if you're a good shopper), deal with the learning curve (just dive in--my first project back with Finale 1.0--really!--was writing out transcriptions for a musicologist's article), and then you've got something that will give you professional results. And you can scale it up for whatever notation needs you can imagine. In the end, I suspect you will wish you had gone this way.
Steinberg has released a free version of Dorico. I got an email about it from Steinberg, but when I went to their website I didn't find it there, but I didn't look all that hard.
For transcribing pdf, I bought Neuratron Photoscore. There's still a lot of work involved. If anyone knows a better way, I'd be glad to hear it.
And, in answer to George, as a string player I don't WANT someone else's fingerings in the part.
Ditto Malcolm -- I tried Photoscore for transcription. It is, shall we say, substantially less magical than one might like.
The "CAPTCHA" quizzes that you see at the bottom of web forms are (were?) actually (sometimes) snippets of text from actual manuscripts cut into tiny pieces so that the hive mind can do OCR on them, as the human brain is still the world's best computer for some tasks.
I revisited the "Import PDF..." feature of Musescore. (You can find it under the the "File" menu option.)
I can do that with Reaper
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