Friday, March 09, 2018

Finding My Muse (Score)

It's funny how things happen. A few months ago, I switched from Sonar to Studio One as my main music recording software. I got a special Black Friday deal from Presonus. I really like Studio One and I've been writing and recording songs with it, so I'm happy, right? Then in January Presonus sent me a special offer on another piece of music software for Windows, Notion 6. It's a music notation and composition program which also interfaces with Studio One. Of course I didn't really need it but I'm always musically curious, so I bought it and started to fool around with writing little instrumental pieces to learn the interface. I learned that they have an iPad version, even cheaper ($15) and file compatible with Notion 6. Cool. I can write music anywhere, even on my iPhone.

So now I'm writing simple stuff and searching for scores to learn from. I found a site called and learned that this is an active community of composers and classical music enthusiasts of all levels. In addition to many classic scores, I quickly discovered several rather impressive amateur composers to follow. There is also a free, open source composition and notation program called MuseScore 2 which I downloaded. It turns out to be better on Windows than Notion 6 in many respects, not least of which is the fact that you can upload your scores to to share and discuss them with others (you can also import/export MusicXML, MIDI, and other file formats to transfer scores between different notation programs, including Notion). .

What's funny about this is that I can barely read music. Actually I know the notes and quite a bit of music theory, though I don't read and write notation fluently. I rely mostly on my ears. But with programs like Notion and MuseScore, this doesn't matter too much. Much like writing songs, I can try things, hear them instantly, and fix or improve them interactively. It's fun and educational. I've always regretted not being stronger with theory and notation, and this gives me a reason and a means to improve. When I told my friend Peter Inglis that I was embracing notation, he said "finally!" He's been urging me to learn to read and create musical "source code" for years! So I finally am. I've already noticed improvement in my ability to follow and understand scores. And write some too.

My early exercises are mostly brief pieces in string quartet form just because this gives you a small number of voices to explore. One I especially like was inspired by the fictional oboe player Hailey Rutledge on the Amazon Prime TV show "Mozart in the Jungle." It's called "For Hai Lai" (watch the show).

I am FlyingSinger at if you want to check out any of my scores -- or skip those silly things and go right for compositions by those who really know what they're doing.