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Music Notation Software


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Squeezers,

 

I'm looking for Music Notation software for the PC... Would want to be able to enter notes onto a staff through keyboard or mouse... Simple stuff like Irish melody lines and two-hand piano stuff.... Primary requirement is that I would like to have it be able to create a graphics file (JPEG, TIFF, etc.) of the staff notation I create that I can then export into a Word document. I've taken a brief look at Finale Legato, but it is fairly expensive and probably overkill for me... Ideas?

 

Thanks,

Craig

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I've been using NoteWorthy for about 8 years now and find it very comprehensive and incredibly easy to use. It's quite inexpensive too at only $39!

 

You can input by mouse, computer keyboard, or by midi keyboard (which I've only recently started to do). The only thing I don't like about NoteWorthy's input is that the input window presents only a single line of the staff (or staves) going from left to right across the monitor which scrolls right/left automatically (or manually).

 

This means that you can't view an entire (long) piece on the screen at one time while you're creating/editing it (but you CAN see the entire piece by selecting "preview"). Normally this isn't much of an issue though with traditional tunes which usually have similar measures, I do a lot of cut/past which means a fair amount of scrolling.

 

NoteWorthy's output is just as easy and flexible. While the input window is pretty plebeian, it has a great output capabilities. You can make the staves/notes any size, adjust the distance between staves and between sets of staves, add lyrics, comments, special characters (like the Irish "turn"), complete font control (type, size, style), and does non-printable notes (yet they play in midi - so you can print a single note with a roll mark over it yet it will play the multi-part roll sound) and comments (like bar numbering, tempo changes, etc.).

 

For webwork I do a screen dump for great output. Of course print output is stellar. You can also output to other windows applications like Word which preserves the quality of it no matter now much you drag the handles to resize it. And of course it also does midi.... I also understand that NoteWorthy imports/converts/outputs ABC by way of a "plug-in" though I don't have any experience with that.

 

NoteWorthy also has a very active and helpful forum and newsgroup.

 

About a year ago I became aware of Mozart which I tried out and found the input significantly nicer than NoteWorthy (staff returns down the page rather than running off the screen which requires scrolling) and automatic beaming which is amazing and a great time saver. OTOH, I was still able to input a lot faster with NoteWorthy (though that may because I'm so much more used to it?).

 

One thing I didn't like about Mozart was that I wasn't able to do cetain grace note things, nor create different duration stacked chords, and couldn't alter the "set" bar note-count for "crooked" tunes and zwiefachers. Maybe it's possible to do that but I wasn't able to figure it out.

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I've tried most of them, and found that most are overkill for my needs -- simple tunes, single staff, etc. I second the suggestion of Noteworthy, which has an added advantage; there's a utility that lets it read and convert to ABC format, which means you can import all the great tunes on the Web.

 

I registered Melody Assistant, which is nice in many respects, but they keep upgrading, and you have to go along with the upgrades if you trade music with other users. And the interface is very confusing.

 

I tried the simple version of Cakewalk and didn't like it at all.

 

But this is all very personal; depends on your specific needs.

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Richard and Jim,

 

If I played a CD, would Noteworthy give me the standard notation layout?

 

I have wanted this for a long time. Someone told me that Cakewalk did that, but I was watching him try to play his instrument and have it output standard notation and he was having a hard time.

 

Also, I believe Cakewalk is a lot more expensive than Noteworthy.

 

Sorry to horn in on this thread, but it was taking a direction I desparately wanted some input on.

 

Thanks thanks

 

Helen

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Dear Music Writers,

I have been using "Musictime" for some time and find it has lots of good features. For one thing it gives you a format just like an empty page of music for you to fill in and peruse, not like that other one that gives you just one line at a time!

Musictime is great for most things but I am looking for a program that allows me to scan in existing music. I have tried demo versions of Finale and Sibelius and though they claim to do this thing the demo versions are not too accurate! They also cost a lot of money and are probably too complex for anyone not intending to write their first symphony. Print Music claims to scan music in but if it does it worse than the expensive programs then it is probably useless. Perhaps I will have to wait for further developments unless one of the clever people out there has some suggestions.

Yours Concerternally,

Richard Evans

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I am looking for a program that allows me to scan in existing music.

About 5 years ago I tried MidiScan (which was the only music OCR on the market that I could afford) which was so miserable that I considered it unusable and continued inputing by hand (mouse and keyboard). A couple of years ago I heard good things about SharpEye which I got (the Version 1 which was only $50) and which worked vastly better. I hear that they now have a V2 which is better yet, and possibly the best there is.

 

Accuracy comparison of 8 music OCR programs.

 

Links to other music OCR programs.

 

Review of several music OCR programs (which concludes with SharpEye being the best).

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If I played a CD, would Noteworthy give me the standard notation layout?

No. AFAIK, there is NO program that you can input multi-instrument wav or mp3 files hand have it output notation. OTOH, there are several programs that will convert a simple one-instrument wav file to midi....

 

I tried several such demo programs last year which didn't pan out. Even the best of them needed so much manual cleaning up (using a notation program) that it would have been far quicker to manually input things.

 

Also, the better programs take an incredible amount of time to "set up". You have to play the instrument into the program to "calibrate" things, much like the older (and some still current) voice recognition programs require. The programs need to create a basis by analyzing various pitches of notes at certain sound levels for beginning attack, sustain and decay so that it can correctly recognize the note pitch and duration.

 

Even with all that, I found that the accuracy of the output varied greatly upon the type of instrument. I compared results from concertina, piano, fiddle, and electronic keyboard by slowly playing a simple scale. The software outputted midi fairly well of the keyboard, fairly poorly of the concertina, poorer yet of the piano, and the fiddle was almost complete mush.

 

It seems that the problem has a lot to do with the overtones created by the instrument. For instance, trying to recognize the single note of middle C on the piano results in about 3 notes recognized (the octave above, the 5th above that, the octave above that). Recognizing the C a couple octaves lower results in about 10 notes (a lot more overtones). If you played consecutive notes the decay of previous ones gets in the way and causes all sorts of cleanup problems.

 

I found it near impossible to separate chords out as the overtones made hash out of the results. I can't imagine how a multi-instrument recording should come out when these programs have such underwhelming output using only single notes from a single instrument.

 

Has any one else had experience with sound recognition software? I'm sure things have progressed since I tried them out last year though at the rate they're going I'm afraid it'll be quite some time before we'll have a reasonably viable program.

 

I have wanted this for a long time. Someone told me that Cakewalk did that, but I was watching him try to play his instrument and have it output standard notation and he was having a hard time.

 

Also, I believe Cakewalk is a lot more expensive than Noteworthy.

I'm not very familiar with Cakewalk but would be very surprised if it has the capacity to recognize sound files and convert them to notation (or even midi). Cakewalk produces many software programs which go for as much as $700.

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Scorewriter is easily found using Google. It was by Scorewriter, then Geniesoft. While it doesn't attempt to write music from music played into the computer, I've found it an extremely easy, simple and inexpensive way for me to write music. I've used it exclusively for both my books and have quite a collection of Irish tunes waiting for compilation for the next session tune book. I find it quite useful that it plays back what you have written so you are less likely to leave an error in the music. The cost, when I checked it, just now, was $59.95. No, it won't write the music for you, if you play into the computer, but it does everything I need it for, and simple enough to use after only a couple of minutes of practice. :D

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At this site: http://www.marquis-soft.com/

 

I found Graph Paper Printer and got a copy of that -- the registration was about $20., I think (you can try a freebie, first, but not the staff paper, I think).

 

It's NOT really what most music writers are looking for, but...who knows, you may find it interesting.

 

I can't recall how on earth I found that website in the first place.

 

I've used the brick-wall type pattern to layout concertina buttons, and I have used the staff paper and the chord options, etc..

 

I do prefer Noteworthy, and ABC2Win, but, I do think the Graph Paper Printer options are kinda cool.

 

Edit added: With the graph paper: The musical notation is done by using the "Insert Text" click, then see the various fonts -- Breathnacht, Seville, etc...

Edited by bellowbelle
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Smarteye seems quite nice. I just converted four scanned pages saved in TIFF format, and Smarteye did a beautiful job on all of them.

 

The first was a simple klezmer-style tune of my own -- basically in Gm, with some F#s -- which I had printed out from Finale. Perfect!

 

The second was a page of a Corrente from an edition of the Bach partitas and sonatas for solo violin. It was too wide for my scanner, so the last note of each staff is missing, and Smarteye did an impressive job of making sense out of the errors. What's more, triplet eighth notes are indicated with a sub/superscript "3" only in the beginning of the original, yet Smarteye correctly interprets and marks the triplets throughout.

 

Smarteye doesn't pick up dynamic and text markings from the original, but it does get fermatas, key changes, repeats, etc. Something in the documentation implies that it will pick up lyrics.

 

My third example was a concertina arrangement of Come Back to Sorrento. This showed that it handles chords and multiple parts (notes of different durations in different parts) in the same staff quite well. Sometimes Smarteye is uncertain about the rhythm (where the notes should be placed in the measure), but when this happens it uses two graphic techniques to draw your attention to the fact, so you can check and correct.

 

My fourth example -- which was another of my own works, with two parts throughout -- was also printed from Finale, but at smaller size than the first. Smarteye had a little trouble with this, but all the problems turned out to result from it's not detecting the dots on some dotted notes. (It did "see" the dots on others, so the problem seems to be the dot size, not that it doesn't understand dotted notes.)

 

I haven't yet tried it on multi-stave music, but I understand that it does just fine with that complication, too.

 

Output is in three formats: MIDI, NIFF (a standard for transfer of musical notation, which I need to learn more about), and its own internal format.

 

AND you can download it for a 30-day free trial. That's what I did, but I'm already convinced that I should buy it.

 

By the way, Smarteye claims not to read handwritten music, but I think I might try it on some that's neatly done, just to see how it does.

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Jim (and all previous contributors)

 

Your Smarteye sounds very good! I myself downloaded a try-out version of Mozart and had some great fun with it. It is in many ways perfect, but I did not discover the possibility to import/export tiff or abc.

 

In this discussion thread a lot of software names are mentioned, but I have the impression that the functionalities are quite different, so (as we say in Holland) we are comparing apples with pears.

 

Maybe we should make a comparison with regard to price, user-interface, input and output of the software: tiff, abc, midi, etc. Make a nice table of it and publish it on this web site!

 

Henk

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Hi again,

 

Some extra thoughts on this subject. Maybe someone else has been doing what I suggested in my previous message. Because this subject is hardly concertina-related, I had a look at GOOGLE.

Some interesting results in the search, but I cannot find the time now to have a close look at the results.

 

Maybe someone else with more understanding of musical notation than I have?? :(

 

Henk

Edited by Henk van Aalten
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:Hi Friends,

I purchased a copy of "Personal Composer" about 5-years ago. I was advised to select it by an unbiased technician who also demonstrated several other programs.

It has been VERY aesy to use and can write from a keyboard ,although I haven't tried this myself. Good Luck. JOHN NIXON.

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For real simple, but OK looking publishing, I use Melody Assistant from Myriad. You can download it right from their site. You can do as many lines of staff as you want, or all sorts of tablature for stringed instruments. It works really well for my purposes and costs a whopping $15.00.

 

Have fun,

 

Jim Robertson

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