If you are a student of music, either studying an instrument or learning to sing, you may some day want to create your own. If that day is approaching, and youve been looking online, youll see a dozen or so music programs available, all with varying features. Well, there are a few of those musical composition programs that stand out ahead of the bunch, and one is called QuickScore Elite Level II from Sion Software in Vancouver, B.C. Its available for the IBM PC or compatible, and is packed with everything youll need to create your own music from entering notes, to printing the final copy and all the technical music stuff in between. Say, you want to create music for guitar on a single staff with chords and lyrics? You can do it. But, you can also create music for an entire orchestra with all the various instruments. Its so versatile that it can interface with your midi piano keyboard and record the music as you play. When youre done composing within QuickScore Elite you can send the final copy back to your PC to print your sheet music, and burn an audio CD if you want. But thats only scratching the surface, because this program can do it all!
After a quick installation from the single CD (it was less than a minute), I was ready to try my hand at composing. But after the main menu was displayed, I knew I was going to need to do some reading before Id be composing anything. I do have a music background, and know the treble clef after taking guitar for several years, but I admit I am a little rusty and can't remember anything about music notation. So, I found the Help menu button at the top of their main page and clicked on that. I was anxious to experiment, but I needed a little direction, so I was happy help was on the way. Besides the Help feature, theres a lot more you can access from the main screen. Starting at the top left youll see File, Edit, Goto, Play, Track, Display, Options, View, Window, and the Help button.
Help is very extensive, detailing all the actions and features of QuickScore Elite, so once you know what youre doing, help is one or two clicks away. But, since Im really a beginner, I needed a tutorial. Unfortunately, the tutorials werent referenced in the Help menu. But, after contacting Sion Software, I was told that a 270-page manual with a number of tutorials was included as a PDF file in the program directory. I never thought to look there, but there it was, so I was ready to go.
Getting back to the main menu, youll have access to nine different editing tools, which open their own windows within the main screen:
Score Editor displays music and allows it to
be edited in standard music notation.
Piano Roll Editor displays music in piano roll format.
Controller Editor lets you edit continuous data like controllers, tempo, note velocities and pitch bend.
Audio Editor lets you enter and edit audio data like vocals and sound effects.
Track Sheet is for naming, moving, deleting and editing tracks and track parameters.
Mixer is for mixing tracks in real time, changing parameters like volume, pan or pitch bend.
Event List allows you to see and edit all the musical events present in your composition.
Song Editor displays music as a string of colored bars filled with notes and other musical data.
Comments Window allows you to insert your written composition notes.
The Editors are all similar in function, so once you learn one, say the Score Editor, youll know what to do in the other programs.
Below the menu buttons are icons used in the editors. On the far left you can select the various types of notes, whole to 64th note. To the right of the notes are the play and record buttons, so when in the Score Editor, you can play whats youve composed so far. You can also go back and add or change the notes and timing, and play it again until you get it the way you want it. Next, youll see the timing, punch and tempo buttons. A red panic button is there to stop the playback if it wont stop. And finally, youll see a microphone icon to record digital audio.
Youll begin your composition in the Score Editor, placing notes on a staff, and playing back what youve created. A palette of editing tools allows lets you enter or erase notes or other symbols on the staff, or move objects. This same palette is on the Piano Roll Editor and the Controller Editor. If you want to change tools, you can click on the individual icons displayed at the bottom of the screen. But to go any further, youll need to access their tutorials, and youll find tutorials for every necessary tool.
QuickScore Elite Level II sells for $179.95 and will run on any IBM PC or compatible running Windows 98/2000/Me/NT/XP/Vista and 20 MB free hard disk space. This is a complex program thats going take some time to master, but once you do, youll be proficient in one of the best musical composition tools available. Maybe youll use it to compose and arrange the next Broadway musical, and if its creative and unique, you may have that hit that will earn you a Tony.
Cyber News and Review November 2008