Software: Music Software List
Here are messages regarding:
1) Music Transcription/Notation software
2) How to use sequencers as aids to practice for singers
3) Ear-Training and sightsinging software
I hope this hasn't been asked too much before, but here goes. I'm looking
for a good music notation program that I can use to engrave scores for
performing and that also has midi capabilities. This is for a small
community theatre group. The program needs to be IBM compatible and have the
ability to print on HPLaserjet printer.
There is a progran called Music Printer Plus available from Temporal
Acuity Products in Seattle that runs on IBM or PCs.
I use Music Printer Plus for IBM (DOS). It has its own graphical interface
without using Windows, has MIDI capability for input/output, and supports HP
and Canon laser printers as well as a host of inkjet and dot matrix printers.
It has most of the features of Finale (the big name in the field) without the
extensive learning curve that Finale requires (so I've heard, at least). Music
can be entered with a mouse, computer keyboard, and/or MIDI keyboard. I
compose mostly choral music and have been quite satisfied with the program.
Several others have responded publically to the request for good
music printing software for IBM. I would like to add my vote to theirs in
favor of MusicPrinter Plus. I shopped for several years to find the right
program. I even purchased one low-end program ($100) called SongWright which
satisfied me for a time, but the best thing I have ever seen BY FAR is MPP.
I have been using it now for over a year and have done extensive work with
it using a Hewlett-Packard compatable laser printer. I have also made
excellent full-orchestration backup tapes using MPP connected to a keyboard
via MIDI. I use MPP's MIDI functions constantly to listen to pieces I am
working on for errors. I have also used the MIDI capabilities to help
people who don't have great sheet music skills get their original
compositions down on paper. Once they have learned to keep the beat with
the internal metronome, we are able to notate their songs quickly. They
just play it on my keyboard and the notes appear instantly on the screen,
bass & treble clef at the same time, or one staff at a time!
MPP is excellent at pointing out rhythm errors. It
is also extremely versatile, allowing the user to space out music or
condense it as much as he or whe prefers. It also features automatic
spacing and alignment of lyrics with notes, if desired.
On top of all this, it is VERY SIGNIFICANT to note that MPP offers
free knowledgeable phone support for as long as you own the program. (By
free I mean they don't charge you...it's still long distance) I have
called them many times. Furthermore, the people who run Temporal Acuity
Products are not programmers, but musicians. They have programmers that
work for them.
A few months ago, I wrote a letter to TAP full of suggestions for
improvements and expanded capabilities of MPP and within a short time, I
received a personal phone call from the PRESIDENT of MPP thanking me for
taking the time to give so much good constructive criticism. We talked for
some time, and he was very nice and genuine. He was a church-affiliated
choral conductor for many years.
Anyway, I'm not connected with MPP in any way, so this is not
advertising. It's just that nothing else comes close to MPP. Not only
that, but MPP is designed to run on the conventional 640 K of memory, so it
will run on virtually ANY IBM. I use it mostly on an IBM XT with a CGA
monitor. It also has beautiful graphics modes available for VGA and
Oh well. I don't mean to force all the technical stuff on a lot
of you who aren't interested, so if you would like more info. you may mail
One thing I should mention is the cost. Last time I checked, the
wholesale cost was $300, and retail was about twice that much. If you do
not have access to wholesale prices, I suggest contacting MPP directly.
They won't undersell their retailers, but I'm sure they'll give you the
best deal they can.
They also have a version available for Mac called Nightingale, I
think. I have not used it, so I don't know how similar it is to MPP.
If there's anyone out there interested in discussing MPP stuff,
feel free to write to me.
o o Kelly Van Shaar Regent's Row F21
)===( email@example.com (505)388-5594
I, too, use Music Printer Plus with a PC, and have found it very easy to
use and highly satisfactory. JCC
Joan Catoni Conlon Phone: (206)-543-1233
University of Washington E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
No music software has everything you need or want, but each has its
strengths and weaknesses. The trick is determining your most important
needs and matching up the proper software. It really helps to have a
local dealer (Brook Mays in the Dallas-Fort Worth area) who is
knowledgable and equipped to let you try out different packages for long
enough to form the basis of an intelligent decision.
Several contributors to this thread have praised Music Printer Plus,
which I used briefly as I began doing music on the computer. It has a
number of advantages: relative ease of use, a remarkably accurate
transcription tool, speed, the ability to set default accidentals, MIDI
capability, and good interactive editing are just a few (Kelly
van Schaar touched on some others). One of the biggest negatives is the
copy protection scheme, however. All it takes is one major system crash
to make you think twice about ANY scheme that renders your distribution
disks crippled or useless.
After talking with many of my colleages at UNT, who use Finale almost
exclusively (we are very Mac oriented here), and having facilities
available in our labs here so I could spend some time familiarizing
myself with the program, I came to realize that this was a better way to
go for me as well. Yes, it is a more difficult program to learn, because
its design is kludgy, is behavior quirky, and it documentation reminds
one of a treasure hunt. It takes a fair amount of trial and error to
realize what the best and most efficient ways of using the program might
be, but once you have reached that plateau the power and versatility of
Finale is hard to beat.
Strong points: The transcription tool allows you to tap the metronome
yourself, so you can vary the speed according to the difficulty of the
music; this saves much time at keyboard note entry. The lyric tool takes
a little getting used to, but once you understand it and have become
accustomed to its enormous flexibility and versatility, you would never
wish to be without it. For a person who does mainly choral music this
tool is essential.
Weak points: The program is slow, so a fast machine, accelerated graphics
and a hunk of memory are necessary. Some of the transcription defaults
are just plain stupid and have to be corrected manually after entry. And
lots of little, annoying things that one always hopes will be corrected
in the next upgrade. Version 3.0, already released for the Mac, is due
for Windows in December or early next year; Coda (the manufacturer) is
saying that the Windows compatability issues that plague the current
version will be addressed in the new one.
Price: Finale is available in an academic package for students and
educators; I paid $200.
Information: Coda Technology forum on Compuserve (MIDIBVEN)
Internet mail-list: LISTSERV@shsu.edu (include in message
body: subscribe finale firstname lastname
College of Music, Univ. of North Texas
Just to clarify, Nightingale is not related to MPP other than being issued by
the same company. It is an excellent program.
Allen H Simon
Fellow Listers: Lots of great info going around about MPP and Finale. However,
no one has mentioned CUBASE by Steinberg. I've recently purchased it for about
$250. It seems very flexible, and a good alternative for Windows to the Finale
program. Excellent sequencing and perhaps less quirky printing that Finale.
However, I haven't logged enough time on it to make a complete judgment.
Timothy Banks, Samford University School of Music, Birmingham, AL 35229
Fortunately, they have dropped their copy protection scheme with the
version about a year ago. I use MPP , but find that it is sometimes
restrictive and unintuitive. I have been whining for a Windows version
for several years (even suggesting that I do the port for them!), and the
lack of a Windows version (and the resultant DOS low-memory segmentation
problems that you are forced to deal with--that's technoid talk for small
scores) is my biggest complaint.
-- Walter Knowles (206) 822-2441 --
-- Rainforest Software internet: email@example.com --
Possibly one of the best pieces of software is Sibelius 7. The main
disadvantage to it is that it runs on hardware that is virtually
unknown in the US. That is, it runs on Acorn's RISC OS based machines.
Sibelius is used professionally, by, for instance, John Rutter and is
(to my knowledge) unique in its use of an expert system for its music
There is a list of music notation programs produced in answer to an FAQ
on rec.music.compose. It is available on the WWW as
Henry Gibbons mentions in his message that there is an advantage to
having a distributor nearby that will allow you to try several different
software packages to choose the one best for you. Something that I am
doing that helps people make these decisions relates to sessions at
conferences. I am the computer instructor at the Montreat worship and
music conferences (94 and 95) as well as at the Westminster conferences in
1995 and 96. Both of these are PAM (Presbyterian Assoc. of Musicians)
conferences. I bring samples of various software packages for people to
try. Also, we have sharing sessions when people attending the classes
share their experiences with various software. Now, we have a network
established of people willing to be contacts for certain software
(published in the PAM newsletters). Perhaps Choralist would like to
start a listing of contact people for certain types of software. What I
learned from the 1994 PAM conferences is that most PC musicians use Music
Printer Plus, Encore, and Finale. Most Mac users use Nightingale (Mac
version of Music Printer Plus) and Finale. By the way, the new version
of Music Printer Plus (5.0) was supposed to have been shipped by now.
When I was in Seattle this August I called TAP who publishes MMP and
Nightingale to come by to look at it because they claimed that the new
version had a feature that would be great for choral directors, a feature
to help teach our choristers to sight sing. Unfortunately, when I called
the version was behind schedule and not available. Has anyone tried the
Also, another way to check what is on the market. Ask a colleague who
belongs to ATMI. We put out a directory every year, shipped in August
usually that lists everything on the market related to music. The
directory is organized by various topics: notation, multimedia, theory,
etc. It costs $30 to nonmembers. It is not shipped in both hardcopy and
in diskette versions. See your local friendly ATMI member. If he/she
isn't friendly (and a couple of them are not), ask them anyway.
The company is Temporal Acuity Products (TAP)
300 120th Ave. NE, Bldg. 1
Bellevue, WA 98005
(800) 426-2673 (except WA)
I've had Nightingale for several months now, and I'm pretty happy with it. It
isn't as powerful as Finale (doesn't allow for Bartok key signatures or
Schenker notation, for example), but much much easier to use (you'll be using
just about every feature within an hour), and faster. It is still on the
first version (1.4, actually), so there are still a few minor bugs, but they
seem to be working to fix them, and they're pretty receptive to getting
suggestions from users. They have an academic price; ask about it.
TAP actually got its name from their first product: a rhythm drill device
called TapMaster, on which students tap rhythm exercises to the accompaniment
of a cassette with music (students say it's the most fun lab exercise they've
ever done). Temporal Acuity Products was an ex post facto mynorca (spell that
Allen H Simon
I use cubase by steinberg-jones. i find it very powerful and very easy to use.
I must agree with Henry Gibbons--I used Music Printer Plus
for a number of years with great satisfaction. However,
after my system crashed and I lost one installation of the
program (due to a copy protection scheme) I called the
company and was surprised at the lack of help they were
able, or willing, to give.
I have since switched to Finale, which is not copy
protected. As Henry states this program has a much
steeper learning curve but is very powerful and,
through their academic purchase program, costs less
too (I paid $150.00).
Finale allows the user to do anything from simple, quick
keyboard input, to midi input, to very complex input
used by publishing houses. I also use it to export
eps files to other programs where the file is imported
and used as an example in publications.
I recommend this program highly.
Michael J. Anderson, D.M.A.
The University of Illinois at Chicago
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 95 12:46:54 CET
Subject: MIDI and Sight-Reading notes
I work for a show choir made up of Army soldiers who for the
most part are non-readers. We have worked hard over the last 2
years establishing a reading program. We reach some singers and
some will never learn or make a solid attempt to. Those non-
readers feel they should let their ear be the guide. For myself
coming from the "school" trained environment it has been a
challenge keeping motivated as a section leader. We perform
approx 100 shows per year. This is very time demanding on an on-
going education program. We use the literature to practice sight-
reading. Primarily music written for the High School level. Every
now and then we slip in something more challenging. Our
operational requirement has us learning special music quite
often. We make great use of sectional rehearsals and we use
On the MIDI issue. Electronic Musician catalog (monthly pub) has
virtually every tool needed for both the MAC and PC. For the PC I
recommend MIDISOFT Recording Session. Input can be via MIDI or
Mouse entry of notes. This program has a mixer screen which
allows you to give one part precedence over the others. So that
is my two cents worth
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 95 17:21:43 -0500
From: promza@SAUNIX.SAU.EDU (Patricia Romza)
Subject: MIDI rehearsing
I presently use quartets in my large choir and require them to
meet an hour a week outside rehearsal to help each other learn
the notes. However, some quartets are stymied by the no-piano-
skills problem. I've been thinking about doing exactly what you
describe and making MIDI files available so that no one person in
a quartet gets bogged down playing piano at rehearsals (or worse,
no quartet shirks because "we just don't have anyone good enough
to play all our parts").
I'd like to know what sequencer program and keyboard you are
using on what system of computer. Our department (and campus, in
fact) are Macintosh-oriented, but IBMs can be found also if
needed. There are some Title III grant monies available at our
school for integrating technology into existing courses and
course requirements, and I'd like to take advantage of those
funds if possible.
P.S. This is my first year here and the quartets are a big step
up from where the choirs were in terms of self-preparation.
During the first semester, quartet participation was very good;
this semester it fell to fair-to-middling, I think due to the
over-heavy scheduling of theatre events AND the musical
production coupled with typical spring burnout.
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 11:24:14 -0600 (MDT)
From: "James D. Feiszli"
Subject: Re: MIDI rehearsing
> I'd like to know what sequencer program and keyboard you are
>using on what system of computer. Our department (and campus,
>in fact) are Macintosh-oriented, but IBMs can be found also if
>needed. There are some Title III grant monies available at our
>school for integrating technology into existing courses and
>course requirements, and I'd like to take advantage of those
>funds if possible.
SDSM&T is a PC shop, which means that for a long time I had to
wait to get music software that was worthwhile because all the
good stuff was being done for the MAC.
We use a variety of sequencing and notation programs. The one
used to program choral ensemble music is MasterTracks Pro, which
I believe was originally a MAC program. The notation program I
use most often is Finale, which was also originally a MAC
There are better sequencers and notation programs (the new
Cakewalk Pro is supposed to be awesome. Encore just upgraded
and, of course, SCORE is the ultimate as far as professional
notation programs), but MasterTracks used for playback of music
is good because the interface is operated much like a cassette
deck (Play, Stop, Rewind, etc.) and neophytes can learn to
operate it in a minute. The playback tempo can be altered on the
fly for note learning and one can set it to play a single voice
part, or any combination of parts. I encourage my students to
use it as an *aid*, not an end, weaning themselves from their
part to eventually having the machine play all the parts *but*
theirs and then be able to sing their part.
The most important caveat is that the students must continually
be reminded that they should not under any circumstances use the
electronic sounds as a basis for vocal tone model. Yeecchh.
Get the best sound possible so they don't get a screechy
electronic sound in their head. We use a Roland U220 rack
synthesizer rather than a sound card, but that technology is now
pretty old and there are much better 16-bit cards that have
wavetable lookup for sound generation.
I second the suggestion on getting a few issues of Electronic
Musican. They information contained therein is invaluable.
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 95 13:17:57 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Patricia Romza)
Subject: Re: MIDI rehearsing
Thank you for the information on MIDI. From your description,
MasterTracks Pro sounds like it will do exactly what I want it to
be able to do without too many bells and whistles and steep
learning curve. I'll compile and send you my responses later.
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 95 20:01:21 CET
Subject: Re: MIDI rehearsing
The three system I'm familiar with are as followed (from most
least) all are PCs
Program: Cubase Score
Interface: 8-bit midi card in Electronic Musician
Input Device: Kurzweil Sequencer
Program: Quick Score Deluxe
Interface: Sound Blaster Pro
Input Device: Kurzweil Sequencer
Inferface: N: Mouse
Cost ranges from 3000 dollars on top to 65 dollars on bottom. I
use the bottom for most of my purpose. It is a liitle time
consuming but use the Midisoft option cause I have the on screen
mixer. When I have to work with a singer I can set the person up
and turn him lose with the program. Midisoft can interface with
input devices. My piano interface is broke.
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 1997 00:16:09 -0800
From: "Peter J. Green"
Subject: music software
Several people showed some interest in seeing the responses I received
about computer programs that drill ear-training. Here is a list:
I have used Listen software and Perceive. Both are fine ear
training programs and are available for Macintosh and IBM. I will send
you the addresses of the companies so that you can get other info from them.
Play it by Ear, for Windows or Dos, from Ibis software, is very good with
intervals and scales, and chord inversions, if not progressions. Their
Booklet doesn't list any address except San Francisco, though; sorry. DR
2 Mac Programs- Ars Nova's "Practica Musica" and Mibac's "Music Lessons"
This summer, I taught a workshop on ear training/sight singing software
for teachers here at Emporia State U. I recommend you try MiBac
Software's Music Lessons, v. 3.0 It's superb. MiBac is in Northfield
MN. (You can get it for PC's or Mac's.) MiBac Inc.
http://www.mibac.com or phone 800-645-3945 e-mail:
Practica Musica comes with an aural skills textbook and drills most
concepts and skills in aural theory. Practica Musica is made by Ars Nova
Software and they can be reached at 800-445-4866.
I use Practica Musica with my high school students. If you want
something more entertaining try Music Ace, geared for younger students,
or Music Train, the band director uses this.
You should try two:
Both of these are available for Mac's and work very well in reinforcing
eartraining and dictataion concepts. Any catalogue for music software has
these two programs listed.
There are many programs out there which drill, but only one which also
Explorations, by Kolosick, Mayfield Publishing Co., 650-694-2815.
It comes with a textbook, but the beauty is that the software is not
always quizzing the student -- the student can direct the software using
a what-happens-if mentality. It's for the Mac.
I use some ear training software for my piano (and eventually
singing) students. I have an IBM
with Windows 95 and use these programs:
MiBac Music Lessons
Alfred Theory Games
Electronic Courseware Systems - Ear Challenger
I've ordered, but not received or installed ECS's Keyboard Intervals
and Keyboard Chords. Also good are Music Ace (from Harmonic Vision),
which includes some "subliminal" ear training in their keyboard
drills. But I use most of these programs as reinforcement for what I
teach privately, instead of as teaching tools.