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Topic: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

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  1. #1

    Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Hi, there,

    I am going to buy GPO, but I can't seem to stop struggling with the best kind of program to get if my main concern is output to an audio file and not for score printing.

    It might seem obvious to just use a sequencer (and I already know a few really well), but I wonder how valuable it is to compose in notation-mode instead of performing the part with a MIDI controller or in a piano-roll.

    And the reason I am asking is because I've written modern non-orchestral music for 20 years (pop/rock/new age) and not needed to notate anything, really. But I do have a semester of classical college-level music and know quite a bit of theory. So as far as notation being a valuable tool, I might lose this with a traditional sequencer.

    So I am sort of narrowing this down to a score-based notation program like Sib 5, and then exporting to Sonar or Cubase once at least the notes are in place.

    Any ideas as to positives or negatives without using notation to compose with if I can read well and do know theory (but just haven't written a lot of orchestral stuff yet)?

    Thanks a lot,

    - Paul

  2. #2

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    if you only have that much music theory, I would recommend you go with a sequencer...
    using a notation programme with GPO requires a VERY advanced knowledge of notation and how to get the notation programme to react to what you want.

    If you are not used to working from notation, it is a completely different world from sequencing. It requires a very careful attention to details that you would probably not otherwise think about.

    I fear that you will find your notation-based performances "flat".

  3. #3

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy
    if you only have that much music theory, I would recommend you go with a sequencer...
    Let me add some things to clarify. I have 20 or so years of theory, including a semster in college.

    So it's not a problem theory wise. Orchestration and instrumentation, however, is not something I've studied yet. In fact, I've been finding that your "compose forums" is a wonderful contribution for us older students who don't have the resources to attend a school full-time to study composition.

    I actually switched my degree to computers, so I am very fluent software-wise.

    I am just trying to get a handle of having the notation software (or even a score editor) a good tool for learning and good for workflow since I could whip something out in the sequencer fast. This would hamper any benefit of seeing the score and how things relate score-wise.

    This is really where my question is leading.

    I do apologize for any lack of clarity before.

  4. #4

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    ah, then I will modify my response

    for notation programmes to play back with expression, your score has to be very carefully notated. With great attention to detail - phrasing, slurs, articulations, dynamics.

    I think I get pretty good playback from Finale (which I am using), but I DO have to spend a great deal of time making sure the score is very detailed for playback to work properly.

    There are times I also have to create "invisible" articulations, dynamics or tempo markings to get exactly the playback I want. This isn't a HUGE problem, but the first few scores are a pain until you've built up a library of these special expressions and articulations.

    Just so you know, I would be unable to work from a sequencer. I need to see the score in front of me when I work. I know I am in the minority here, but I MUCH prefer to work from a notation programme.

  5. #5

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Hi Paul,

    Many sequencers (Sonar and Cubase jump to mind) have pretty advanced notation editors within them that will allow you to enter notes and fairly complicated rhythms, as well as diagnose any theory related problems you might encounter after recording in a line using a keyboard. They auto-quantize this type of input for notation display, so usually it looks messy, but it works. So you don't have to abandon notation altogether in a sequencer.

    The notation markings in sequencer note views don't control any sort of human playback, as far as I know (perhaps adjusting a velocity of the note at most). So the expression in a sequencer has to be done manually using CC's.

    Hope this helps,
    Reegs

  6. #6

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Hello, Paul "Angelic"

    You've gotten some very good feedback here from both Michel and Reegs. I don't know if your decision is any easier, but at least you've gotten two helpful responses.

    I'm glad that Reegs explained that a lot of the work you'll be doing can indeed be done inside a DAW like Sonar, in The Staff View. I know of at least one very knowledgeable composer on this Forum who uses Sonar's Staff View instead of a dedicated notation program, and it's his strong preference. The absolute Need to see notes isn't thwarted in a DAW.

    As a DAW user, my prejudice is for DAWs, naturally, and I do not believe it has to be true that attention to detail is more important in a notation program. It all depends on the user, of course.

    As has been pointed out, you can certainly more easily, and I would add, more intuitively accomplish good sounding aural results of your work in a DAW. The background you already have in music will make the process of making good recordings a comfortable thing to do in a DAW. Whereas in a notation program, you're liable to be frustrated by the flat results which you get without the incredible amount of tweaking which Michel explained.

    My point is the same as Reegs, that you Do have a dedicated Staff View in Sonar, and your attention to detailed insertion of notes can be done there.

    Best of luck with your new studies!

    Randy B.
    (rbowser)

  7. #7

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Thanks!

    Funny, because I actually see the strengths in both, so I guess it really comes down to what you're good at, and what you can stand as far as playability!

    I still like scores and stuff due to my infatuation with traditional theory, but with writing mostly pop/rock/new age and since most of that is sequencer-based, once ear-training is down a notator is pretty much useless.

    I can't help wonder what the old masters would use if their only goal was to hear and spread their music via CD and not care about them being played necessarily.

    I honestly can't help thinking it's going to be a great day when the "tweakless notator" is released - one where you can hear exactly what an orchestra would play from the score program.

  8. #8

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    actually, we nearly ARE at that "tweakless" point...
    I must say that I am very happy with the playback of Finale/HumanPlayback and GPO for some of my pieces, notably my Clarinet Sonata (here in the Listening Room section of the forum, and also on my website), and at least the first movement of my "Symphony in C", for which the score required next to no tweaking to playback exactly as I wanted it.

  9. #9

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Whenever this question (notation vs sequencer) comes up, people always answer like it's an either/or question. There's no reason you can't use both.

    If you're the sort of composer who thinks in terms of notation, you can write your score in your notation program, export it as a MIDI file, and tweak it in a sequencer. You'll have a perfect score and an expressive, nuanced performance (if you're willing to put in the work).

    If you think about it, that's not much different that writing a score at a piano or desk, and then acting as the conductor during rehearsals.

    To my way of thinking, this is a 'best of both worlds' solution.

    - k
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

  10. #10

    Re: Newbie help - DAW vs notator

    Quote Originally Posted by klassical
    Whenever this question (notation vs sequencer) comes up, people always answer like it's an either/or question. There's no reason you can't use both.

    If you're the sort of composer who thinks in terms of notation, you can write your score in your notation program, export it as a MIDI file, and tweak it in a sequencer. You'll have a perfect score and an expressive, nuanced performance (if you're willing to put in the work).

    If you think about it, that's not much different that writing a score at a piano or desk, and then acting as the conductor during rehearsals.

    To my way of thinking, this is a 'best of both worlds' solution.

    - k
    Fantastic point klassical! This is the method which I most often use. It is a very handy method if you're thinking in terms of notes and ideas and don't have a midi keyboard handy to enter everything quickly.

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