Over the weekend, I’ve been playing with scoring some of my songs. It’s been on my to-do list for a very long time; although most of my songs exist as lyric or chord-sheets (more recently in chordpro format), very few of my songs have notes on paper. This is not a problem for me, as I remember my tunes better than I recall my lyrics, but it makes it difficult to share original songs.
I’ve been encouraged to look at a few large packages, including Notion and the more affordable Progression. I do intend to examine those, but for the moment, I have been using the free and open source MuseScore. This has been a revelation; although I expect it has less functionality than the more commercial packages, I’ve managed to hit the road running and produce a decent bit of sheet music.
Furthermore, MuseScore is sufficiently sophisticated that it has exports to various file formats such as PDF, Image and MusicXML. The last of these appears to be supported by most other packages (including Notion and Progression), so even if I do change to one of these, I am not wasting my time playing with MuseScore, as I can take my scores with me. However, at the moment, it is doing what I need.
I’ve always found placing notes on a score to be a bit mouse-intensive. On a whim, I dug out my (very) old Roland PC-160. This is a two octave MIDI controller. Turns out that it sits nicely on the laptop stage of my sit/stand desk, and makes inputting notes very quick indeed. Note that MuseScore is only getting the note pitch from the PC-160; note length is selected via the PC keyboard (or mouse). But I was surprised how easy it was to go through a song, especially once I’d configured it to play each note keyed – very easy to tell when you’ve hit the wrong note!
So here is my own little musical workstation. Nifty, eh?