Tag Archives: makemusic

The Finale School

I use Finale for notation. True, I did buy Sibelius when they were offering that sweet upgrade price. But, honestly, I haven’t used it. I haven’t had the time to learn it. I’d rather spend it learning, oh, Logic Studio, or ProTools. I like to complain about Finale, cause I use it daily. I want it to be better. It is a great notation product.

Finale has been tagged with the perception that it is hard to learn. That might have been true back in 1999, but that is certainly not the case with the latest versions. For many versions now, MakeMusic has been making Finale much easier for a new user to use. Finale’s real strength is it’s power. You can tweak your music to your hearts content. Learning how to do this can be a long, lonely road.

Enter The Finale School. Matthew Voogt has put together a nice site that has a lot of videos showing how to do stuff in Finale 2007. While the video quality is not great (fuzzy when you blow it up), the content is straight forward and easy to follow. You can learn a lot of new Finale things by watching a few of the videos. Check it out.

SmartMusic 10.2

MakeMusic finally released SmartMusic 10.2 today. Highlights of the new features:

  • Support of Mac OS X Leopard
  • Microphone Check Wizard ensures proper microphone levels for recording and assessment
  • Easier-to-Use – many aspects of SmartMusic have been simplified and made more intuitive, including the installer, login process, activation, and update messaging
  • Create assignments with audio-quality accompaniment for any concert selection. Simply upload the audio file and distribute sheet music; then your band, orchestra, and choir students can practice their part with accompaniment in SmartMusic.

There are some other “features”, but these are the ones that are interesting. Especially the last one. The update is about 80 megs for Windows, 97 Megs for Mac. So, how does it work? In a word, the same as before…. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.2

Music Education Alliance

This was announced today:

Leaders in their respective fields, Garritan, MakeMusic, Steinberg and Yamaha have formed a partnership that will provide integrated solutions to the music education market in the United States.

Announced at Winter NAMM 2008, the Music Education Software and Hardware (MESH) initiative brings together hardware, software, sound content and curriculum to provide compelling and complete turn-key solutions for today’s music educators, who are often faced with an array of products that can be difficult to navigate and integrate. In addition to aggregating four major components of music education technology into a seamless bundle, the alliance will also provide training to teachers based in the U. S., enabling them to fully utilize the power of computer music technology solutions.

Honestly, why? It sounds to me like a way for school teachers to waste money. Again. Spending thousands of dollars or more on some “solution” to make kids learn better. Money like that could be spent on lowering the student/teacher ratio. Very strange bedfellows as well. Leaders in their fields? Marketing speak at it’s finest!
Continue reading Music Education Alliance

Finale Users Defecting To Sibelius

There has been a LOT of discussion on the Finale List (which is NOT managed by the company) about the disappointment with Finale 2008. I decided to pass on 2008. To stir things up, Sibelius is offering a 50% off trade-up program.

It is sad to see so many veterans of Finale, people who have contributed tips, insights, short cuts, and what nots, finally get fed up with MakeMusic’s total lack of attention to detail. Their main complaints are the bugs that are never fixed from previous versions, and the company’s failure to finish new features, namely the Parts feature from Finale 2007. Nothing got fixed, or changed.

Two things keep me from switching to Sibelius. One, is the ability to easily convert the thousands of Finale files into Sibelius. I want to be able to just open them in Sibelius, not MusicXML crap. Just open, and it’s in Sibelius. The second thing, is being able to use Bill Duncan’s elegant engraver articulations. Honestly, the Sibelius jazz font thing just looks silly. Real silly. I absolutely love the professional look that I get using Bill’s fonts.

I suppose the third thing is SmartMusic. I couldn’t make Smartmusic exercises. That would be a problem as well.

Ok, THREE things. If they can get TWO of those working, I’ll switch.

UPDATE: 10/13/07 After some thought, the $100 price was too tempting. I ordered a copy. We’ll see if I actually use it.

SmartMusic 10.1

One of my favorite whipping boys is SmartMusic. This program could be so great, and yet, MakeMusic seems not to want to put that little extra polish on it. Case in point, the latest “update” to SmartMusic is a large download, some 95 Megabytes. Took some time to download. Here is what is listed as being “new”

  • Compatibility with SmartMusic accompaniments created in Finale® 2008.
  • Support for Windows Vista.
  • Improved Clarinet assessment.

I emailed MakeMusic’s tech support about the first thing a while ago, when Finale 2008 came out. Never heard back. Figures. Well, at least they didn’t wait nearly a year to update SmartMusic to read the SmartMusic files generated from the latest version of Finale (last time, it was August 2006 when Finale 2007 came out, and not until April 2007 when SmartMusic could read the SmartMusic files generated by Finale 2007).

Ok, new stuff. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.1

Passing on Finale 2008

MakeMusic came out with a new version of Finale. 2008. Looking at the lackluster feature list, I’m am passing on the update. Basically, the only items that sound remotely interesting are the Cut/Copy/Paste Improvements, and ScoreMerger (taking a bunch of files and putting them together). All the other stuff, the Record/Import Audio, More Garritan Sounds, New Selection Tool, Vista Compatible, Integrated Sound Libraries, Enhanced Setup Wizard, Document Styles, Colored Noteheads and Boomwhackers® Sounds, Improved Scanning, Expanded MusicXML Support, Expanded Human Playback Support, More Powerful Templates, New & Expanded, Documentation, Improved HyperScribe are not enough to warrant the price of the update. From the various discussion groups, it seems a lot of bugs still exist, and features that have problems or issues, such as 2007’s Parts, have not been addressed.

Plus, I have a suspicion that the new version saves Smartmusic files in a format that SmartMusic 10 cannot read (2007 did that from August of last year up to when when finally came out with Smartmusic 10 in April).

SmartMusic 10

MakeMusic, after much hype, delay, and then more hype, has finally released SmartMusic 10 in April. This is really what the program should have been from the get go. There are a lot of great Concert Band, and String Orchestra music on the screen selections. There are a few Jazz Band ones as well. The program is Universal Binary for Macintosh, meaning it is really responsive.

The short review of this is to get it. If you can get it for the $25 a year subscription price, it is a huge value. There are tons of great tunes, exercises, and other things in there.

However, the promised “60 New Titles A Month” has not materialized as of yet. And there are some bugs need to be addressed….

The New Stuff

In the previous version of SmartMusic a lot of the arrangements were installed when you installed the program. Now, SmartMusic downloads what it needs. For people with fast internet connections, that is great. For people on Dialup….you have my sympathies. Though, on the flip side, once you have them, you don’t need to download them again.

This is also true of the Pro Audio backgrounds. One of the new features of SmartMusic 10 is the inclusion of professional background recordings. So, instead of a midi rendition of a Jazz piece, you now get a great sounding real version of the song. But…..you need to download it. For dialup users…..well, that could be a time consuming thing. Once you download them, the recordings seem to be stored in a SQLlite database as MP3s. I’ve tried out a lot of the Concert band and Jazz Ensemble ones. Very nice. Recording quality is excellent. You can also select whatever part you want to play. So, you can play Oboe parts, or Clarinet 2, or Bass Clarinet, or Drums. Very cool and fun stuff.

Music on the screen. The previous version of SmartMusic had a very limited amount of music on the screen. There were a dozen or so classical pieces, the Alfred Jazz stuff, Wynton Jazz stuff, and the exercises. SmartMusic 10 has a ton of music on the screen. ALL the pro audio selections have music on the screen.

There are some things to track student assignments and stuff. I really am not interested in that, so, I did not try it.

The Bad Stuff

First, content. MakeMusic is promising Continue reading SmartMusic 10

SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

For months, MakeMusic has been saying SmartMusic 10 is coming. The amount of hype they have been making is akin to Microsoft and it’s “new” Vista operating system. MakeMusic hasn’t even updated the current version of SmartMusic to handle files generated by Finale 2007 which was released way back in August. To create files, you need to have 2006 still installed on your computer.

The other day, I received a packet from MakeMusic. I was shocked. It looked like SmartMusic 10 had been release. Alas, it was not. Instead of spending money getting the stupid program out, they chose to spend quite a bit of money to continue the “hype” of the vaporware SmartMusic 10. This packet probably cost $10 to put together. Perhaps more.

Let us examine the contents of this “hype” package….

First Continue reading SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

Finale 2007

MakeMusic released Finale 2007 a while ago. August I believe. I’ve been using it since then, and I think I can finally review it properly.

There are not a lot great new features in Finale 2007 compared to 2006. The big feature, in fact, really the only feature that is huge, is the linked parts. Though, on MakeMusic’s preview page they harp “features” such as “Authorization Improvements“, and “Improved pickups, vertical collision remover“. There are a couple of other new things I get to. Let’s dismiss the authorization thing. That is as lame as the Copyright symbol they billed as a feature in 2006. The vertical collision remover sorta works, but not really. I can’t really see any difference in the pickups as I really didn’t do much with complex pickup measure.

So, lets dive into the reasons why you’d want to upgrade to 2007…..

Continue reading Finale 2007

Tweaking Smart Music On The Mac

I have a love/hate relationship with MakeMusic’s Smartmusic. First, the love part. I love that it has a lot of backgrounds for classical etudes, and you can slow them down, tweak the key, etc. You can even record yourself with it, though the quality and the mixing of the resulting recording is not great at all.

Hate part. They tether you to the computer. Personally, I hate looking at a computer monitor all day, and for music. I like to have music stretched out on my stand. 3 Pages sometimes. A lot of stuff, including the jazz stuff in Smartmusic, is screen only. While I can understand copyright issues for songs, for simple little jazz patterns I don’t. Why not let people print them?

Anyhow, the Continue reading Tweaking Smart Music On The Mac