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. I don’t see anything. There still is no green line tweaking, and in one song, which I don’t remember the name of, the line got almost 2 beats behind. This is on a 2 gigahertz Core 2 Duo iMac. With NOTHING else running. I’ll have to add the name of the song tomorrow. No Normalizing of all the real audio accompaniments (which is really needed!), or anything else improved/fixed. *Sigh*

One good thing about SmartMusic 10.1 is that it is a little less aggressive about being the front window when it is downloading updates and backgrounds. It still is absolutely insane that you can’t move over to say iTunes while SmartMusic is updating it’s Catalog.

UPDATE 09/05/07 The name of that SmartMusic song is “I Sit Alone In Martin’s Church” by Thomas Duffy.

14 thoughts on “SmartMusic 10.1”

  1. SmartMusic 10.1 was primarily intended to add support for Vista and to fix a problem with working with proxy servers, since schools are the primary target.

    If you have found a piece where the cursor lags behind the accompaniment or vice versa, you can email it to me and I’ll report it. I’m a beta tester for SmartMusic. Please let me know the title as well as the instrument part you’re using. I haven’t run into this with any pieces using my 2.16Ghz Intel iMac. Are you using the built-in audio hardware?

    As for new material, they’ve released a good amount of new repertoire since 10.0. The Yamaha Advantage and one of the Rubank books were released with 10.1. And starting in July they began their update releases of large ensemble pieces. 206 titles have been released since July 23rd, so they’re averaging around 70 new ensemble titles per month.

  2. Um, I don’t know about the 70 titles thing. When you send out pretty flyers and make the statement “EVERY MONTH” and then proceed to not do it until the end of July, that is false advertising. Do the math, that is like 3 months.

    The program should have some way of highlighting what is new, or maybe a sort column that shows you the date the file was added or something. Another complaint would be that few of the songs have any ratings on them. That is lame. And you can’t put your own ratings, nor make lists of your favorites either. Stupid. You guys really need to step it up and do these things.

    Yes, I am using the built in audio. I was flamed big time in your “forums” for complaining that it seems to lag and that you cannot adjust it like you can with the Midi/Synth arrangements. I do sometimes use my MOTU 828 (old one, again, I got flamed for using a “pro” audio component with SmartMusic…) with it, but SmartMusic seems to not find it sometimes. In fact, it’s the ONLY program that will lose it. Logic, Digital Performer, Garageband all find it and use it fine. I use at least one of those programs daily.

  3. I’m not sure where you’re coming up with the idea of false advertising. I haven’t seen anything on their website or advertising materials about monthly releases, and if they sent out flyers to some of their existing customers to tell them what’s coming in the software they already have paid for, then I don’t see the harm. The company has released 70 band/orchestra/jazz band pieces per month for the last 3 months. The Yamaha band book adds another 170 or so real-audio songs for beginner band. The Rubank book doesn’t use accompaniment. I was just trying to tell you what was new. If you’ve watched the company’s website in recent months, you’ll know that they began hiring their ensemble file production force sometime before the release of 10. Now it looks like they’ve gotten into the swing of things, and they did it before the audience for these files (band/orchestra teachers) got started with their school years. Personally I think their audience will be pleased with the additions and rate of new title production.

    You can identify new material through their website. You can look to see what titles are new over (for example) the last 30 days. You can also filter the songs by difficulty level there.

    I’m not sure who you’re talking to with “you guys.” I’m a beta tester, meaning I am not an employee of the company.

    Personally I use the playlist feature to create lists of songs I like to play.

    While they aren’t “my forums,” I do tend to agree that MakeMusic should be focusing on features for its target audience, which are primarily students and tools for teachers with large numbers of students. I agree that the features you ask for would be useful, but I probably wouldn’t personally rate them as among the most needed additions for teachers and students.

    Personally I’d like to see a date category for titles as well so that I could see when they’ve been added within the app, but I can see where it wouldn’t be as important a feature for their primary audience.

  4. “I’m not sure where you’re coming up with the idea of false advertising.”

    From the flyer they sent out which states “60 new titles a month, look for it.” The first three months went without any updates.

    I disagree on the features. I think it would make it a way better program to fix the song browser interface. Give people the ability to add their own ratings, and make custom playlists akin to what iTunes does. Kids and teachers know iTunes. It really should be an interface like that.

    Plus, they NEED to have some adjustment to the green line lag on the accompaniment files that have live music.

  5. Ah, okay, I see what you mean about the repertoire updates. Hopefully they’ll continue to keep up the current pace to make up for it.

    Agreed about the UI and presentation. It needs to be redone.

  6. Just to get back to you on the “I Sit Alone in Martin’s Church” piece that had the strange cursor thing… I submitted the report and learned that it’s actually by design for that piece. At measure 23 the people singing (such as the sax parts) and the rest of the band split. The singers continue on at 72bpm and the band slows down to 50-60. The conductor (and cursor) stay with the band, and the singers go ahead on their own.

    If you compare one of the singing parts to the Horn 1 part, you’ll see where this happens.

    From a technical standpoint SmartMusic can only have one tempo map per piece, and so they would have been forced to follow only one group anyway, but as it turns out in this instance, that’s what the singers are going to see in performance as well.

  7. I haven’t tried Leopard yet, but from their FAQ’s…

    “SmartMusic 10.1 does not officially support Macintosh OS Leopard. We have completed limited testing with Macintosh OS 10.5 and plan to support Macintosh OS Leopard in a future release.”

  8. Sadly, SmartMusic is the only thing keeping me from installing 10.5 on my Studio machine. All the other software I use, Digital Performer, Logic, MOTU Firewire drivers, have been updated to work with it. Finale seems to work (according to Finale list reports).


  9. UPDATE:
    Make Music reps at the Michigan MENC conference (Grand Rapids, MI) said SmartMusic 10.2 will soon be released and will be compatible with Leopard. They said the release target is the last week of January/first week of February.

  10. That is great news, if true. Now if ProTools M-Powered gets updated to work with 10.5. Though the new M-Audio interface I have doesn’t work with ProTools M-Powered at the moment, so, it’s a moot point.

    Make Music reps at the Michigan MENC conference (Grand Rapids, MI) said SmartMusic 10.2 will soon be released and will be compatible with Leopard. They said the release target is the last week of January/first week of February.

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