11/17/15 : Today, following numerous teasers on the @finaleofficial twitter feed in the last few days, MakeMusic has released an incremental, but significant update to Finale 2014 they have dubbed “2014.5”. Although this is a maintenance update to Finale 2014, the installer leaves your original Finale 2014 application in place, allowing you to have both Finale 2014 and Finale 2014.5 installed at the same time. (You’ll have to redo your Finale workspace preferences and install any 3rd party plugins for this version, but in my opinion, well worth the few minutes this will take.)
July 28, 2015 : In the spirit of maintaining open standards in music notation, MakeMusic and Steinberg have announced they are transferring development of the MusicXML format and SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) specification to a new Music Notation Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
(Links to related articles on the web appear at the end of this post.)
At Winter NAMM 2015, MOTU demonstrated MusicXML export capabilities in their demo of the upcoming version 9 release of Digital Performer. DP is MOTU’s flagship DAW application for Mac and Windows, popular with many composers for film, television and other media.
DP9 will allow users to export a sequence’s MIDI data as an industry-standard MusicXML file, for import into music notation software such as Finale or Sibelius.
MusicXML export should provide a big workflow improvement for DP-based composers and orchestrators who currently must use Standard MIDI files to exchange data with their notation software of choice. This existing method often requires creating a duplicate copy of the sequence MIDI tracks and applying hard quantization before exporting, so that the notation application will interpret the exported MIDI data in a musically useful way.
DP9’s Music XML export appears to build upon the already solid Quickscribe notation features included in DP. The exported MusicXML file will included the non-destructive quantization applied by the Quickscribe transcription engine, as well as any dynamics or other markings added in the Quickscribe editor window.
DP9 is just the latest of several major DAWs to support MusicXML. Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo both feature import and export of MusicXML, while Apple LogicPro X, Cakewalk SONAR and MAGIX Sequoia offer export-only support for the standard. Users of Avid Pro Tools can open and save Sibelius files, but not MusicXML.
You can view MOTU’s DP9 preview presentation at Winter NAMM in the following video (notation-related content starts around 6:35):
MOTU Product Specialist Dave Roberts, seen in the video above, says “we are projecting late Spring for the DP9 release”. Check back here after DP9 ships for a thorough review of its MusicXML feature.
Brian Monroney is a guitarist, composer and arranger based in Seattle. He has recorded and/or toured with artists including Tom Jones, Gloria Estefan, Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, and Nelson Rangell. Brian’s music has been heard on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Ellen, TMZ and Modern Marvels.
A few days ago, I was asked to visit the students of Seattle’s Pacific NW Film Scoring Program to speak about my role as music copyist, orchestrator and music librarian for feature films and video games.
The students asked some great questions, so I thought I would post a few of them along with my answers here.
November 3rd, 2014 : MakeMusic today announced a new 2014d update to Finale which includes a half-dozen new features, as well as a handful of bug fixes:
- Meet Gear Fisher, MakeMusic CEO (Gear Fisher, via Finale Blog)
- Finale 2014d and News from MakeMusic – (Finale Blog)
- Announcing Finale 2014d! (Erik Vork, via MakeMusic Forum)
- Finale 2014d and beyond: a discussion with MakeMusic (Sibelius Blog)
Of special note is a new opt-in anonymous usage data feature which will help MakeMusic better track how Finale users are working with the program, so that relevant improvements can be made more frequently and efficiently in the future:
“Improve Finale: By selecting “Yes” below, you allow MakeMusic to automatically collect anonymous information about your hardware configuration and how you use the software. With this information, we will identify usage patterns so that our designers can make informed decisions when creating future versions of Finale.
We will not collect your name, address or any other personally identifiable information, and you will not be contacted in any way. Since we have no visibility into your actual documents, there is no risk that any unpublished or copyrighted material will be accessed.
You can change this setting at any time by choosing “Help Improve Finale” from the Help menu.”
Here is a list of the features and bug fixes:
MakeMusic, Inc. has announced that they will join the umbrella company Peaksware, Inc., effective immediately. Peaksware is division of LaunchEquity Partners.
MakeMusic, which currently employs about 100 people, is moving its headquarters to Colorado.
SibeliusBlog first broke this story on Wed. Aug. 6th. The article features an interview with Peaksware’s CEO Gear Fisher.
The MakeMusic product line currently includes Finale, SmartMusic, Garritan instruments and the MusicXML music interchange format.
As you may be aware, Steinberg is currently developing a professional level scoring program which will compete directly with Finale and Sibelius.
If you are composing, arranging or orchestrating in Finale or Sibelius and have ever tried to incorporate any of the available high end third party sample libraries with the goal of achieving realistic, expressive playback from your notation program, you know this isn’t currently possible with the current crop of software.
There are already several professional level scoring (music notation) programs available. Some, like Finale and Sibelius offer decent playback using bundled sound sets, but while playback quality is adequate, it is nowhere close to the level of realism offered by sample libraries from VSL, EastWest, Project SAM, Wallander, Cinesamples, and others when triggered via a DAW.
Steinberg appears to be interested in raising the bar here; recently posting a survey on the topic of integration of sample libraries with notation programs. Their survey was titled, not surprisingly “Scoring software and sample libraries”.
Finale and Sibelius both allow the user to control (and save for later recall) parameters to control Instrument Techniques (in sample library parlance “Articulations”), Dynamics and Special Effects optimally configured for playback of a specific sample library. Finale calls these parameters Human Playback Preferences, while Sibelius calls them Sound Sets.
However, many composers, arrangers and orchestrators working in Finale or Sibelius have simply given up trying to achieve realistic playback from within their scoring program. The result is that their primary use of playback from the scoring software becomes checking for wrong notes and other mistakes.
For those professionals who need to produce high quality audio mockups for clients, the most intuitive and least labor intensive option remains a DAW sequencer (Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase etc), which offers much greater flexibility and ease of use to get realistic playback results.
Sibelius users should check out The Sound Set Project, which provides Sound Sets for a number of 3rd party sample libraries designed to facilitate realistic playback from Sibelius. If you are aware of any other resources of this type for either Sibelius or Finale, please share them in the comments.
Even if you plan to continue to work in Finale and / or Sibelius in the future, in a small niche market like notation software, competition raises the bar – so if Steinberg develops a scoring program with amazing playback of third party sample libraries, there is a greater chance that playback will improve in your scoring program of choice, too. Stay tuned….