Friday, May 18, 2012

Notation: Augmented and Interactive

Since I spend a good part of my life notating music and I often use computers to do it, I pay some attention to developments in the computer notation world. It's a very good thing that the tools available for notation are far from limited to Sins and Fibs. (BTW: If you happen to teach music theory in an institution which presently requires the purchase of Finale or Sibelius*, why not do your cash-strapped and loan-burdened students a favor and encourage them to use an open source program like Musescore? It's free and open source, can do everything that would be required in a university-level theory sequence or orchestration class, and it's constantly getting better.)

The latest item to come across my desktop is INScore, an augmented and interactive program. "Augmented" means it allows all sorts of objects — among them score notation, graphics, text, signals or triggers or sensors of various sorts — to share space (and music-notational space-time) on page or screen and "interactive" means that it can be used in real time to generate and respond to objects and events and scores can even be designed in real time.  The utility of a program like this — for live animated scores for players, triggering electronics, re-arrangeable in realtime — is obvious.  It looks to me to be in an early but very much usable stage of development and is multi-platform and open source.  If anyone reading this gives INScore a spin, please let me know what you think of it.
* AFAIC the one thing worse than a music school or department requiring student to purchase a particular notation program — however good they may be (I use Finale and Sibelius myself, with a half dozen other notation programs as well) and however convenient it may be for classroom management — is giving credit courses for learning to operate one of these programs. 

1 comment:

mrG said...

Hear here on the musescore! Sure, there are things it can't do, but do you really need such things?

Another that appears to have fallen from the grace of the programming sea is one called Rosegarden; it lacked some very essential features (such as alternate endings!) but the brilliant thing it did was to create Lilypond output to typeset the scores it could produce into wonderfully professional-looking documents.

Even if they won't endorse Musescore, I think bands and schools would do well to endorse the MusicXML as the standard of music score interchange. So many collections and courses provide their samples in .SIB or .MUS files that are even useless to the owners of the other product! If we can agree on one format, one open standard format, as with every other industry on the planet, we will spark a great renaissance in information sharing and the consequent cross-fertilization of musical ideas.