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Topic: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Jersey City, NJ (sort of...)

    Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    Question to all: who uses just notation software, who uses just a sequencer, and who uses both and in what way?

    I have only completed 1 MIDI song so far, and I got so frustrated getting Overture SE to sound the way I wanted it to sound, that I just said "screw it" and did everything straight in Cubase. Thing is, I don't really have a score for what I did, and I don't feel like spending the time to create a score after the fact-- I'd rather work on another song!

    Now, I'm working on something else, and my process so far is to use Overture SE to compose the notes and general dynamic markings, with a rough score being the end result, and then go back into Cubase and 'record' it.

    Does anyone get notation programs to sound really good without using a sequencer?
    Nigam Shah

    American Songbook Project

  2. #2

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    I'll often start by creating a score file in Finale, since most of my music is intended for live performance eventually. But, while Finale's Human Playback feature helps, it's too much trouble to try to edit the file to sound acceptable.

    So, once I finish the score, I'll save it as a MIDI file and import it into Sonar. I think a lot of people here work in a similar way.
    Dan Powers

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  3. #3

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    When writing traditional music like a string quartet or woodwind ensemble, I start with a notation program (Sibelius), then export to Sonar to make it sound right. When doing much of anything with percussion or modern styles, I start playing things live into Sonar, and generally don't bother doing the notation.


  4. #4
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    California Redwoods

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    Well, I always start with paper and pencil, then when I have a good sketch, finish it with Sonar. Then I will use Sibelius, only for a good score. There are some features Sibelius does not have, which present problems to me. Sibelius makes a good score. To me, playback with Sibelius is not ordinarily a thing I even think about. With Sonar, it is exactly the opposite.


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    For diddling live with my minimal skills I use Logic Pro 7.1.1. I have tried Overture and prefer notation for my scoring AND want to see the marriage of notation and sequencer move along rapidly......but it has not come together for Mac and Overture YET.

    I am hoping all you PC guys get the expression and nuance stuff working well so I can get it when the Mac version is ready.

    I had a dream the other night that Apple bought Overture and put a team on the problem with a now well compensated and forward looking team made up of the individuals who have been developing Overture and some top Logic Mavens.

    (Ooops, dreaming again.)

  6. #6

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    I use Overture 4 on a PC and for me its great. GPO is well intagrated with dynamics, key switch a lot of articulation and more functions are added weekly. Considering the price difference (finale etc.) for me it was a no brainer.
    I read music well, but I'm a lousy piano player. Writing things out for me is much faster than playing then fixing what I played. Editing midi is just about the same as a sequencer. I started by entering songs and making them sound good before I started writing new stuff. In other words I tried to learn the program some BEFORE I tried to be creative with it. Overture will do a lot (which is an other way of saying it takes more than a week to really learn it) They have one of the most helpful forums I've ever seen. The moderators and developers show up all the time. They are actively improving the program.
    I think they have a downloadable demo

  7. #7

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    I use only Overture 4. I think it's because when I first got GPO, the Overture SE that came with it was the only thing I owned (besides the Cubase that came with it). (Before that, I was using DirectMusic Producer to write MIDIs ). Anyway, I became so accustomed to using the Overture environment, to the keyboard shortcuts and windows and where all the buttons were that I now work best with it. Overture 4 makes things even easier now, so it's all I need.

    As Gary sometimes uses painting as a metaphor, with sample libraries being the paint, notation/sequencer software would be the paintbrush, I would imagine. The trick is to become one with the brush. After using any brush for a good amount of time, you will become accustomed to using it.

    Anyway, I can't really afford anything else

    By the way, for Overture SE, make use of the graphics window! I believe Joseph Burrell wrote a great tutorial about it . . . here it is: http://www.lostandlonging.com/Overtu...indowIndex.htm It's a great tutorial for a great feature
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  8. #8

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    I think that once the Mac version of Overture 4 is released, you just might find it will do almost everything you wish. I tend to work in Overture and export the midi file into Digital performer. But it will be nice to edit most of the piece in Overture 4, then do the final mixing and mastering in DP.

    As for the hypothetical case for combining the forces of the Overture team with those of Apple. I think this would surely bring on the death of the wonderfully creative program of Overture. As long as developers let their products import and export to each other's software with ease, I feel it would be best for each developer to work in their own unique fashion. Too often when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, they just trip over each other's feet.

    Besides companies like Apple and MOTU have enough problems of their own to overcome without compounding them with those of another company. Apple should work on rewriting some of the old leftover clumsy interface of Logic before taking on such a project, and MOTU needs to do something about their abysmal QuickScribe. Both programs can be a tiny bit buggy when playing with Virtual Instruments, although they are getting better, bless their little digital hearts.


  9. #9

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    Before I got into sample libraries, I'd settled into using the Staff view to compose in Cakewalk / Sonar. As a guitarist with limited keyboard chops, it seemed the easiest way to get the music into the box, and then of course I was already in a sequencer environment for tweaking. I've stayed with this approach not only because it's become comfortable, but due to the fact that what I write is only intended to come out the other end of a recording rig. If I was scoring for live performance, I'd definitely go with a notation program, as Sonar's isn't nearly as full featured.

    For me, the priority is getting the music into the box in the least distracting manner. If I was a keyboard player, I'd just play it all. Either way, though, I think you're destined to end up tweaking stuff in a sequencer. However, as long as you can export MIDI from the notation program you use, I'd use the best tool for each phase of the job. It's nice to have so many power tools available these days!
    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

  10. #10

    Re: Notation/Sequencer relationship in your workflow?

    It depends!

    It depends on my mood, whims, the task at hand, the phase of the moon... did I mention my mood???

    In general, a musical idea may crop up while I am noodling around on the guitar or piano, or it could even pop up while I am driving or puttering around the house. In all of these cases (except maybe when I'm driving) I'll immediately scramble for a piece of paper and a writing implement and I'll sketch the idea out.

    If I have a specific task at hand then I am in the studio, noodling around on either the guitar or a keyboard, but now the sounds may not be guitar or piano, they could be anything. And now, I can skip the paper, but I still tend to enter notes into Finale using conventional notation and the mouse.

    Once I have the melody skectched out then I start playing around with harmony, and maybe even a rough arrangement, but still using the mouse to enter notes onto the staff.

    Sooner or later I will want to hear what I'm doing, and at that point I usually export to MIDI and import into Sonar. In Sonar I can add guitar tracks, which appear more often than not in my compositions, and I can tweak the MIDI data endlessly. The score presentation is not on a par with Finale, but I'm less interested in presentation during this phase, so I can live with the limitations.

    Unless I am micro-tweaking, I tend to work in the score view in Sonar. Piano Roll View has it's place, and I wouldn't want to give it up, but the score view is easier for me. (And with the new integrated PRV in the main view, Sonar 5 has made my life even easier!!!)

    Once I have an arrangement that I like I will mix it in Sonar, and generate my stereo WAV files. Then I usually save each track as MIDI once again, and import again into Finale, where I'll clean up the score.

    That's the typical method, but I do work only in Finale if I do not need to work with audio tracks, or if I don't plan on making a CD (which is pretty infrequent). With the new Human Playback and GPO integration, I can imagine projects that are realized in Finale for playback as well.

    And sometimes I will work only in Sonar, if I don't need printed music.

    I'd love to see Finale and Sonar share a common file format, or be able to read eachother's native file formats, or (anyone remember the Amiga) be able to share data while both are running. I have toyed around with slaving one to the other, but the results thus far are less than gratifying!

    Ah the search for the perfect tool!!!!

    (In fact, I think that if Finale were to include support for audio tracks, and maybe a little better MIDI data manipulation, that would be close to perfect. I'd still need a tool to edit the audio files, but that is true for Sonar too!)

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