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Topic: Finale VS DAW

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  1. #1

    Finale VS DAW

    I am curious, what are the benefits of using Finale over a DAW like Sonar? I know sonar also has notation built into it as well (maybe minimum) I compose my music through piano roll view.

    Regards,

    Richard

  2. #2
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Finale VS DAW

    Hi Richard,

    Without being glib, there is no advantage unless your prime objective is strictly to produce a good looking score/parts and you chose to compose only by putting notes to staves (paper/pencil/pen/electronically/etc.) and the audio is only a 'proof' of the written score.

    Like yourself, I live in the piano roll view (PRV). I imput all my music by playing it in from a MIDI keyboard, or just drawing notes/controllers in ... all in the PRV. There, I can visually and aurally play with every aspect of the sound, from individule notes to concerted voicings to all the various MIDI controllers that breath life into computer-assisted music.

    When I have the need for a printed score, I'll create duplicate tracks, quantize the hell out of them, then import the very regimented, precise tracks into Finale. I choose to keep the creation/production side of music separate from the notation/publishing side of music. Just a personal choice. Although I could compose with written notes, I simply choose not to. To me the notes are the manifestation of the music, not the other way around. But I emphasize, it's a personal choice.

    In all fairness, there are several composers here at the site that create absolutely stellar audio entirely from Finale/Sibilius, but they put in the due diligence working in notation. Then there are others who start in notation, and export to a DAW like Sonar and do all the fine-tuning/tweaking there.

    So as you can see Richard, it's really very much a personal choice. It's what gives you the most comfortable and productive environment to create your music.

    Frank

  3. #3

    Re: Finale VS DAW

    Thanks a lot Frank for explaining this, my mind was baffled. I thought maybe it would help a little more on the humanization part of things. I would never be able to use it anyways, I can't read music . Everything I do is based on ear and how I want it to sound. I also pickup up some essential understandings over the years between making major and minor based themes and which notes etc go with each, but everything I compose is basically just done by how I want it to sound and painting it on the piano roll. However, I am sure this would be great for those who are the opposite and comfortable with notation. I am glad there are tools for us all!

    Thanks again for explaining this,

    Regards,

    Richard

  4. #4

    Re: Finale VS DAW

    I basically agree with Frank. It all depends on the personal approach any of us feels comfortable with, composition-wise. Rendering-wise, DAW are more powerful, they just give you many more options. Goes without saying.

    ... but, in my humble opinion, there is a case in which composition through notation is objectively superior, and this is when you compose through counterpoint, either purely or in heavily hybrid way.
    I know most people think as counterpoint as a baroque thing... but it is not. Most scores have some counterpoint in them, independently from the musical style. I do believe, for example, that big band jazz scoring relies very much on counterpoint. Or, at least, it is very convenient "thinking" this way while writing.
    I think that notation helps so much visualizing several staves at once and everything become very clear: harmonic rhythm, "pauses" in one voice that need to be filled or that might be better to fill with the movement of another voice, locate the best moments for embellishments like passing tones and similar. All of these is also possible via PRV, but in my opinion PRV is a bit (too) chaotic when showing more than one part.
    Also, even in a strictly homophonic approach (melody+chords) notation helps so much rationalizing the voice leading of the parts, avoiding wrong doublings of notes or messy movement. These are things that, if not caught, will make the score sound bad in any case, either rendered on the PC or played by real musicians. And it is rather difficult to catch these kinds of things in a DAW via PRV.

    Or maybe it is just me being more comfortable on notation.

    EDIT: one small example. This is an extract of something I' ve been working on but it is not finished yet.

    https://app.box.com/s/ykgnqumbtqnskdqy5gpi

    (The name, "Maldestro" is inspired by Vivaldi's "Estro Armonico". Estro means "creativity", Maldestro means "clumsy". That would be me. )

    It is still pretty raw rendering-wise, the output is directly out of Overture.
    If I'd write something like this via PRV I would personally drive myself crazy.

  5. #5

    Cool Re: Finale VS DAW

    Actually Finale was designed with the scope of fine and professional musical desktop publishing.

    Then a lot of the functions are totally useless to you, if you don't have any printing need.

    Finale is also a wonderful composition tool for people with Classical education (as I am): we learn composing on paper, and Finale give us a vrtual paper to write on in our familiar way, but with the advantage of fast copy paste, transpose and auditioning: 3 features that on paper in front of the Piano were the nightmare of past time composers, and today thanks to notation software make composing a quick and rewarding activity in front of the PC screen.

    Again if you don't have a classical education and you don't read/write notation, it's useless for you. BUT:

    Don't underestimate the option of learning it! Don't underestimate the power of Human Playback pre-listening during composition. Finale has a wonderful playback integration with Garritan sounds.

    Maybe for the scope of learning and playback one of the affordable basic versions should be enough for your scope.

    my 2 cents.

  6. #6

    Re: Finale VS DAW

    Quote Originally Posted by sururick View Post
    ...what are the benefits of using Finale over a DAW...
    Getting a clear picture of what the differences are between notation and DAW software is a perennially interesting and important topic, so thanks for asking the question, Richard.

    Every single response you've gotten is smart and helpful. This thread will remain an important resource for people with similar questions - (well, as long as the Forum and/or its archives remain online).

    I resonate with Frank's reply especially:

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    ...there is no advantage unless your prime objective is strictly to produce a good looking score/parts and you chose to compose only by putting notes to staves...

    Like yourself, I live in the piano roll view (PRV)...I can visually and aurally play with every aspect of the sound...

    When I have the need for a printed score, I'll create duplicate tracks, quantize the hell out of them, then import...into Finale...

    To me the notes are the manifestation of the music, not the other way around...
    there are ...composers (who) create absolutely stellar audio entirely from Finale/Sibilius...Then there are others who start in notation, and export to a DAW like Sonar and do all the fine-tuning/tweaking there...
    For me that touches on the main points, and I agree with all of it. If you need printed scores, get a notation program. If you already have a recording program like Sonar, and producing recordings is your main squeeze, then stick with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by sururick View Post
    ...I thought maybe it would help a little more on the humanization part of things...
    For the most part, it's just the opposite, Richard. It's much easier to get a so-called "humanized" performance in DAW software. Finale's "Human Playback," when used well, can have magical results, making the necessarily-quantized score sound natural in audio renderings, by introducing random factors which mimic what happens when a band performs on stage. But in DAW software, you're only stuck with quantized notes robotic results if you have all those grids and snap factors on. With things set correctly, a program like Sonar is a wide open, blank canvas, able to capture the nuances of live music without the user having to worry about "humanizing" it later.

    Quote Originally Posted by sec2 View Post
    ...I think that notation helps so much visualizing several staves at once and everything become very clear: harmonic rhythm, "pauses" in one voice that need to be filled or that might be better to fill with the movement of another voice, locate the best moments for embellishments like passing tones and similar. All of these is also possible via PRV, but in my opinion PRV is a bit (too) chaotic when showing more than one part...
    This year, I've needed notated scores more often than before, so I've been doing more work in Sibelius. There have been times when seeing my work displayed on staves has helped me see areas for improvement, much in the way Fabrizio is describing.

    But, as indicated in all the replies, everyone has their own preferences in composing tools. Fab finds the display too chaotic when more than one part is displayed in the PRV, and he can spot harmonic relationships better when looking at a notated display.

    After all this time of using Sonar, things are just about opposite for me. Displaying all the tracks at the same time in the PRV (with the controller panes on!--otherwise data and notes are superimposed) - is extremely helpful, and shows me all the areas that need tweaking. I can see instantly, as an example, when two lines have managed to accidentally collide. Like maybe one instrument is playing a 1/2 step off from another one, causing an unintended collision. That relationship between the notes can be clearly seen.

    I wouldn't have any idea how to produce music without seeing everything at once. I need to see the velocities, the CC controllers, and, very importantly, the length of the notes. Constantly adjusting the length of notes is one of the most important final steps to my MIDI editing. That sort of thing just isn't nearly as straight-forward in a notation program.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio View Post
    Actually Finale was designed with the scope of fine and professional musical desktop publishing...is also a wonderful composition tool for people with Classical education...
    That brings it back to the initial reason notation programs were developed - to make it possible to produce good looking printed scores with a computer. Now publishers all over the country use these programs for their businesses. The primary reason DAW programs were developed was to make it possible to produce recordings with a computer, and now it would be very difficult to find any recording studio that doesn't have a computer as its central piece of equipment. The two kinds of programs have developed and grown in many ways since their beginnings, but their primary, and distinctly different purposes remains.

    Richard, notation programs are there for you to explore when you want, but for now, my recommendation is to continue exploring the program you already use. Your recent determination to use your MIDI keyboard is an excellent step. Keep using that, and turn your darn Snap To off so you're never stuck with a notation-like quantized note.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Finale VS DAW

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post

    ...
    After all this time of using Sonar, things are just about opposite for me. Displaying all the tracks at the same time in the PRV (with the controller panes on!--otherwise data and notes are superimposed) - is extremely helpful, and shows me all the areas that need tweaking. I can see instantly, as an example, when two lines have managed to accidentally collide. Like maybe one instrument is playing a 1/2 step off from another one, causing an unintended collision. That relationship between the notes can be clearly seen.

    I wouldn't have any idea how to produce music without seeing everything at once. I need to see the velocities, the CC controllers, and, very importantly, the length of the notes. Constantly adjusting the length of notes is one of the most important final steps to my MIDI editing. That sort of thing just isn't nearly as straight-forward in a notation program.

    ....
    Randy
    Gosh, Randy, you are a true magician when it comes to Sonar, so good with it. If I open more than two parts in PRV I immediately get lost.
    Anyway, this is a point where programs like Overture (and I think Notion) come into play. I use Overture: one of the available views, "Midi data", displays information very much like PRV. Not exactly the same: you still have the staves, but the notes are displayed not anymore with the conventional notation symbols but like in PRV, as editable lines, and you can edit their lenght and starting/ending points at will. The interesting part is that notes continue to be displayed as notated (so the score is "clean"), but their execution will vary according to the editing done.
    Also, above each staff there is one 0-127 display on which all velocities or controllers (one at a time) can be ...well.. displayed. It is not bad at all... Probably useless anyway to users like yourself, with your kind of experience in PRV, but an interesting option for whoever prefers this kind of approach. I am not a huge fan of MIDI data editing, but I am as comfortable editing these kinds of data in Overture as in Sonar. You can draw curves, write, erase... same thing.

    Richard: As mentioned, I get easily bored in tweaking MIDI data, so my personal solution to the "humanization" problem is to code random behavior directly in the patches: random velocities within an adjustable span, random volume (also adjustable) and random start delay of the note (that automatically produces random ending of it). I remember to have read that you like to do your own tweaking of things, so it should be easy for you to test this kind of approach to see whether it works for you or not. It can be easily done in sfz format (both Aria and Dimension Pro, which you use).
    The "start delay" is also very useful if you are at all into building sections out of single instruments. Say you build a 4 trumpets section out of 4 single trumpets routed on the same MIDI channel, and these are playing an unison line. Having a random delay on them will make of these a proper section, with notes starting and ending at different times with a fat and "chorused" sound, without the need of tweaking all individual midi data and, above all, without having to clone the track four times in order to edit the necessary individual behaviors. Delays, in this case, are best set between 25 to 50ms as a starting point and then adjusted to taste.
    Do not know... might be worth a try. I like it. I am lazy

    Fab

  8. #8

    Re: Finale VS DAW

    The pros and cons of DAW / Finale (Notation) have been well represented here and not much more to add really.

    I think many members here know that I have the best of both worlds.

    I prepare my scores in Finale then move into Sonar to work on performance. I understand entirely that apart from the additional expense involved there is also an additional learning curve. However, I could never achieve the endless possibilities for performance of Sonar in Finale nor could I find the endless scoring features of Finale within Sonar.

    Again, I have absolutely the best of both worlds; I couldn't be without one or the other.

    I understand entirely that members produce fantastic recordings from start to completion entirely within a DAW and the same for Finale. Full respect and admiration to them.
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  9. #9

    Re: Finale VS DAW.

    "I can hear music, sweet sweet music", the old bubblegum song says, and I do. I "hear" fully arranged songs in my head. The trouble was always that my limited musical education (limited to playing a helluva lot of gigs, mostly by ear for nearly three decades) kept me from accurately putting those sounds on paper.

    In Grade 11, I wrote the soundtrack for a school film. When I played it back on the piano or guitar, it sounded like I had heard it in my head, so I gave it to the school band to record and it was completely rejected as "unplayable". Lesson learned. I wasn't an engraver. Later, with a little bit of multitracking and some help from a friendly drummer and bassist, the film got it's soundtrack and it sounded pretty good, but it was a lesson for me about my knowledge level when it came to putting down on paper what I was hearing in the windmills of my... (okay, that's enough of the sixties). I stuck to playing other people's music for a lot of years after that experience.

    In the 80's I discovered MIDI sequencers and sound modules. Very quickly, an enormous amount of money left my wallet and I was reveling in the new-found ability to create the music in a form that others could use (at least, they could hear it and play along). I did MIDI arrangements for my band(s), for other musicians, recorded MIDI tracks for singers to use, and even had one or three get onto the radio in the early 90's. But there was always the issue that my tunes and arrangements could only be played "by me", or at least by a sequencer synched to a multitrack recorder or PA system. When someone wanted an arrangement to play, or for their band to play, my life got exponentially more difficult. Early notation programs (Musicator 2, anyone?) helped somewhat, but lacked the sophistication to help me correct technical errors. Once or twice, I actually wound up paying someone from the Conservatory to re-write one of my Musicator-ized arrangements into something others would recognize and play "correctly". It was a step up, but it was a baby step. Mostly, I stuck to MIDI arrangements, and a good old Roland SC55 to provide the sounds.

    Then came my introduction to newer, more powerful tools in the form of Print Music 2000. FINALLY my scores sounded like the music I heard in those rusting old windmills of my mind, and even better- the sound was the same when someone else played it! THAT was my breakthrough.

    I've been 12 years with PM and more recently, Garritan and now Finale. With a little work, I can get a very reasonable audio playback without having to work through my DAW, but - so can anyone else with an instrument. That's what counts. When someone asked recently for an arrangement of "Bugler's Holiday", I was able to do it, and they went away happy. But I've wandered 'way off topic here.. feeling my age a bit today, I guess.

    I do have a DAW on this box (updated REAPER), but it's mostly used to master tracks from Finale destined for "redbook" CD production, which I export as WAVs and master as separate audio tracks. Oh- it also gets used to add vocals and the odd acoustic instrument to songs through an interface, but otherwise, I am basically a notation guy, and it works fine for me and those who get me to write arrangements, etc for them.
    Cheers,

    Kevin F..

    KM Frye- (SOCAN)
    Music Director- Four Seasons Musical Theatre- 2016

    Bella Vista Studios
    Canada

    GPO4, JABB3, Garritan World Inst, REAPER, Roland VS2480 DAW

  10. #10
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Finale VS DAW

    Back again Guys ...

    Loved hearing Randy's and everyone else's comments on Richard's initial question. Kevin: I enjoyed hearing your journey to 2013; many here I'm sure have shared at least part of that journey ... I know I have!

    I think an important distinction needs to be made in the "ages-old" (last 20 yrs anyway!) DAW-vs-Notation question. If your score is primarily for live performance purposes, "Good Enough" is the order of the day from a notation program. There's really no need for the DAW step, assuming notes-on-staves is how you like to compose. But if you need the audio output to also stand-up as a realistic performance, it's just easier to tweak the composition up in a DAW (as Michael and others do).

    For me, however, I am tweaking and sometimes outright recreating/rearranging my music right through the mixing phase. I need the ability to change any aspect (including notes, harmonies, rhythms, etc.) until I export the final, published, master audio file. Only then do I address notation. So you could say I use the Michael workflow, but in reverse (Daw Sonar > Notation Finale).

    One last point in reference to what Fabio and Fab (sec2) commented on (entering music in the traditional notes-on-staves method via a notation program). I read and write music (and agree w/ Fabio, it's a skill worth learning!). I can see where to the writer with a formal compositional education background, and also to the casual user of a DAW, the PRV doesn't seem like a proper environment to compose/arrange music in if you read/write music. I disagree that notes on staves is the only comprehensive way. Maybe it's because I spent 30 years in design engineering and have always had to take conceptual designs and commit them to complex drawings (and visa-versa), the graphic nature of the PRV seems to me far more encompassing for creating music than notes-on-staves does.

    I can view notes/durations, vertical aspects (voicings/harmony), rhythms, density, intensity, voice-leading, etc. ... all at a quick glance. I can view as many or as few of the instrument lines/voices at any one time as I wish, and through a well thought-out color coding system, easily follow any line in a concerted voicing. It's just a matter of seeing intervals in a different way (everything, of course, is viewed w/ the minor second as the smallest vertical distance). Diminished, augmented, 4th-voicings, 5ths, etc., all have a vertical symmetry to them, regardless of what key the passage is in. It's just another way of viewing music. When you couple the fact that notated music is lifeless (w/o humanization), and the notes in a PRV can be slightly off to instantly sound realistic, I just find it a very creative environment for composing/arranging and getting good feedback on the project at hand. Just another way to work than the traditional notation method, much like the benefits of guitar tablature in providing extra info to a guitarist than what standard 'formal' notation can.

    I've enjoyed all your comments and shared knowledge guys! ... lots of ways to skin the cat, right?

    Frank

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