March 2016

More Than a Score

Trying out notation software.

Prepare: Have students read More Than a Score (page 46 of the student edition). The article describes the benefits of musical notation programs such as Sibelius, Notion, and Noteflight.

Key points in the article:

  • Notation software was originally developed to make it easier to print sheet music. DAWs typically feature notation, but it’s not central to their functionality.
  • When setting up your sheet music in the software, you start by choosing instruments, then input notes either manually or via a type of MIDI controller, drum pad, or wind controller.
  • Notation software comes with its own sound library, and recognizes terms like arco or pizzicato for violin. It generates appropriate instrument sounds for playback, allowing you to hear your work.
  • Once you’ve created something, you can share your composition in a PDF or audio file, or, using Noteflight, in a web-based form.

Begin: What are some advantages and disadvantages of composing music using notation software? Topics may include:

  • The ability to write notes quickly with a MIDI controller, and copy measures or phrases within the program
  • The benefit of being able to hear your music played back, and the disadvantage of some of the more unrealistic MIDI sounds
  • Using the program to enter difficult passages in your music for performance and play them back to hear the correct rhythms

Develop: Have students follow the link below to tryout a demo of Noteflight online, either at their own computers or as a group watching your activity on a projector screen.