Author: ghess

Notation Wars: Choosing the Right Software

There was yet another post the other day asking the age old question, Finale vs. Sibelius and why. These are always followed by a myriad of pointless posts professing love (or hate) for one or the other. Occasionally, someone provides a good reason for their choice, but most of the time it just degenerates into personal preferences of the same order as Mac vs. Windows debates. Aside from the futility of it, the real problem with these discussions is that it assumes that these are the only options. While that may have been true as recently as five years ago, it’s really not the case today. In fact, for most people, I don’t even think these are the best options. So let’s take a look at all of them, Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore, Notion and Noteflight. Best Doesn’t Mean Better Let’s start with the hows and whys of choosing software. The most important thing is that it does what you need it to do. This might seem obvious, but too often, rather than choose the most appropriate tool, people will choose what they perceive to be the best or most powerful tool. These may not be the same thing. For example, Word is generally considered to be the most powerful word processor. But for me, it includes many features I’ll never use and which clutter up its interface. In the...

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Blog Reboot

Ok, I’ve been really lazy about this blog. So my New Year’s resolution is to add posts on a regular basis. I’m going for weekly, but you know how resolutions are, so we’ll see. Now I do have bit of an excuse. I’ve written a book. Create Music with Notion: Notation Software for the Busy Musician (Quick Pro Guides) will be published by Hal Leonard this coming April. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work) writing it, but over the course of doing so, I’ve come to really like the program. So much so that it’s become my goto notation program for most things. Because I definitely qualify as a busy musician. Notion will be one of the main topics of this blog in the coming months. I’ll offer tips and suggestions and links to videos that I release. It’s a very different type of notation program as it’s not really about the printed copy. Sure, it will produce a serviceable printed page, (certainly looks better than my chicken-scratching), but it’s not going to create camera-ready publisher quality printout. But you know what? I don’t really need that most of the time. What I want is quick and easy and Notion gives me that. The other thing about Notion is sound quality. It’s really good and it’s very responsive to articulations, dynamics and other performance...

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TriplePlay Tracking Mystery

In my review of the TriplePlay pickup, I mentioned there were real problems with the included SampleTank software. As I continued playing with the pickup I noticed that where some synths and patches seemed to track perfectly, others had similar problems with tracking. For example, the Garritan Upright Jazz bass from the Finale sound set tracked beautifully and nailed the bends and slides, but the Logic Upright jazz bass patch on the EXS sampler, missed all of the bends and slides and was also played out of tune. Looking at it and listening more closely, I realized that when the pickup was set to either of the pitchbend modes, smooth or auto, the tracking became a problem on some patches, but not on others. Changing it to trigger or stepped solved the problem. So obviously it was a pitch bend So I looked into the pitch bend settings of the patches and found that all of the ones with problems had a pitch bend range of 2 half steps, while the ones that worked were set to 12 half steps. Light bulb time. In order for a guitar pickup to sound realistic, pitch bend has to be very smooth and be able to translate the subtle bends and slides. So a slight bend of the string will send a very small number. I set up an Environment patch...

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TriplePlay: The MIDI Guitar Pickup You’ve Been Waiting For

Latency, the delay between the time you play an ote and when the MIDI note sounds, has always been the issue preventing guitarist from embracing guitar synths. I’ve now spent a week with the incredible Fishman Triple Play wireless MIDI guitar pickup and I must say it’s that issue is dead. There is virtually no latency whatsoever regardless of how fast I play. The pickup is the work of Andreas Seleazy who was also the inventor of the Axon system, which was the previous champ as far as MIDI guitar latency*. Early MIDI pickups like the GK2 on on my mid 80s GR700 required at least two cycles to detect the pitch and then convert it to MIDI data. This caused all sorts of problems because not only was there a delay between attack and sound, but it increased as the pitch went lower. The delay on the low E string was 4 times the delay on the high E. It it made it nearly impossible to play in time. The Axon was able to detect able to detect the pitch much more quickly from just the transient or attack portion of the sound. This was playable, but still had some degree of latency. But, the TriplePlay has no latency to speak of and for the most part tracks great. And it does it wirelessly using Bluetooth. No more...

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MTEC 2013 Day 1

The Music Technology Education Conference (@mtec2103) is in Melbourne at Yarra Valley Grammar School this year. It’s a great biannual conference and they really pull out the stops, featuring keynote speakers from the US and Australia and lots of great sessions from presenters from as far away as Scandinavia and me (Singapore.) There are as many as 10 ninety minute sessions running simultaneously. So over the three days there’s a lot of great information being Keynote presenter Scott Watson @scott_watson set the tone with teaching creativity with technology. His project -based learning concepts are a great model for...

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About GeoMusings

This blog is about my three passions: music, technology and education, not necessarily in that order. I will be reviewing products, books, and online classes. Comments are always welcome. if what I write gets you thinking please subscribe.

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