Very nearly two years since my last appearance on the SoundNotion podcast, hosts David MacDonald, Nate Bliton and Sam Merciers invited me to return this past weekend to give an update on how things are progressing. In the hour-long conversation we covered a wide range of topics, including how our new application can help with building an understanding of music theory as well as music engraving, and a variety of new tidbits about what we’ve been working on… plus how much older (and in my case, how much beardier) we all look two years on from our last conversation.
You can watch the podcast on YouTube, listen to the audio via the SoundNotion web site, or if you would like to listen to new episodes of SoundNotion weekly, search for it in your podcast application to subscribe. Enjoy!
I’m looking forward for the state of art of music notation software 🙂
I’m ridiculously excited to hear that “open time” will be supported—with the capacity to easily define system breaks within an open time context. If I’m brutally honest, that single addition has the capacity to change my music. Yes, I realize this admission may provoke derision from “purists”, since the music should be untouched by the process of transcription. But the fact is that I now compose in the software domain (I used to work with pencil/paper, but no more), and I am nowhere near naive enough to think that the mode of working and the limitations imposed by the software I’m using do not influence the music I write. There are just too many hours spent trying to contend with these limitations not to be influenced. So to have open time as an option will be a huge change for me, since it will often better reflect the actual musical idea I’m trying to get out of my head and onto the page—particularly since the metrical structure (or lack thereof) of a given idea may not be obvious to me when I first start putting it to “paper”.
Now, connected to this idea, I’m wondering whether there will be a smooth way of moving from open time to measured time? That is, if I create something in open time, will I be able to easily specify metrical structure after the fact? This would also be a huge benefit for me, as I often find that, as a musical idea takes shape, the metrical implications of the idea may also shift and change. If there were a simple way to capture the “raw” musical idea, in notation, then set the metrical structure based on the perceived metrical implications of that idea (which implies playback), it would be a huge benefit to me (and probably to others, though I won’t assume to know how other composers work).
Very excited to see this coming nearer. You have no idea how eagerly I’m anticipating the arrival of this software!
@James: Short answer: yes, it’ll be very easy to apply metrical structure after the fact.
Okay, until you get this thing released, I’m moving to London and buying the flat next door to your office… 🙂
How would playback of ‘open time’ passages work?
Apologies if question about open time playback is in the video; I hadn’t watched it before reading the comments, and ‘open time’ is hugely important to me, also.
@John: Perhaps you are assuming that open time signatures mean something different than we are meaning. In an open time signature (e.g. as used in the first Satie’s Gnossiennes), notes are still given regular note values. Are you perhaps thinking of something more like plainchant, where notes are written without specific durations? If so, you would be able to write your music using regular note values, and then hide the stems, flags/beams, and so on.
I had in mind “an open time signature” exactly, as you define it, and am curious about how it’s implemented. Not asking you to give away secrets, of course. But in music with far more complex relations than the Satie, e.g. multiples lines with irregular subdivisions, how does the program hold it together?
@John: There will typically be some kind of common denominator that defines the relationship between the music in different instruments. For example, if there is a common beat length, then everything is very straightforward. If, however, one of the instruments is moving at a different tempo, then the relationship can be defined as a scale factor, which makes cross-rhythms that are similar to how tuplets work versus regular rhythmic durations.
Daniel, I heard you say in the podcast that the interface will be very different from Cubase. I really hope that the key editor of Cubase and the chord track will be included in the interface though. I use them a lot, alternating between the score editor and the key editor. It makes the use articulation, chord progression and expression maps much easier.
@Rudie: We certainly haven’t ruled out adding editors beyond the standard notation view to our application, but I don’t anticipate that they will be included in the very first version, I’m afraid.
This might be a deal breaker for me and will wait for a next version.
I am a Sibelius user since version 4, still using v. 6.2. Being very much involved in editing baroque music, I would like to suggest allowing the use of square brackets around each element: dynamics, notes, alterations, staccatos and so on.
Such square brackets are very much used in critical editions for signaling editorial emendations or signs missing in the source etc.
The square brackets should work like the round parentheses around alterations in Sibelius, calculating their own space and moving the notes accordingly.
Sometimes entire long passages of notes are put between square brackets, if this is impossible it would be ok to use a single opening bracket at the beginning and a single closing bracket at the end of the passage. Sibelius allow this, but the user must manually space the notes, disable the non-colliding feature for the brackets, and when reformatting you find the brackets wandering, often colliding, so you must readjust them.
I didn’t check yet, but two useful glyphs in Bravura font would be a pair of opening/closing upper half brackets (think a reversed “L”). They are used in critical editions for marking where the source leaves a blank staff to a instrument, let’s the oboe, just saying for example “with the violin”, and the like, meaning the oboe shall play the same notes the violin is playing.
Opus font lack the upper square brackets, but it’s fairly simple to tweak with the symbols in order to obtain them. If I didn’t make myself clear I could send you a sample.
I look forward to migrating from Sibelius to you new program which I am sure shall be awesome.
Hi Daniel, All…
I have been giving a lot of thought to the concepts in the video. Over years I have spent a lot of time thinking and reimagining scoring apps.
I can see the sense in developing most of the scoring app independently from Cubase, and I can see the sense in selling both products independently. I do however, see a role for integration of the two. I imagine the ability to use Cubase Score as another window in Cubase, just like the current package.
Sibelius had playback features, but for me they were lame and two dimensional.
Ideally I should like to have a way to write a score for orchestral instruments and have them play back authentically. This seems to me to be the goal of any future scoring package. It’s a real challenge, but Cubase score is in a unique position to capitalise on the power of Cubase 8 to deliver this.
For me there are three issues:
1] Getting the appearance and conventions of a score to display correctly (the current focus)
2] Getting access to the interface of the VST producing the sound and being able to adjust each individual note with authentic characteristics of the sound itself (i.e. adjust the strength of a pluck on a harp, or the bowing of a note on a string, or the drawbar of an organ) from WITHIN the same set up – no exporting and importing.
3] Passing the correct information from sequencer to notation package so, for example a hairpin crescendo makes an actual difference to the sounds it scores for.
Notation, important though it is, is inadequate to capture all the nuances for this task. An Obvious example is the velocity of individual notes which is not commonly notated. Moreover, every instrument has its unique features. IMO it needs a custom graphic interface for each instrument, to enable a user to get a grip on the sound in an authentic way.
Powerful though MIDI is, in itself its not enough to deliver information from a performance to a staff and vica versa. My view is that there needs to be some re-evaluation of the notion of a VST and this should include, all the information that the scoring package needs to dynamically transfer between sequencer track and score.
Again Cubase score is in an ideal position to make these changes
Imagine if the next incarnation of Halion Symphonic orchestra set a new standard for VST 4. For each instrument there was a custom graphical interface such that a player of the real instrument would straight away recognise its characteristic features. Where, using Halion Symphonic Orchestra, sounds on Cubase Tracks can be seamlessly displayed in score. A new VST standard that had all the internal features, for the scoring package to communicate.
Stenberg could steal a march this way again
@Steve: I agree with the broad strokes of what you’ve said. We are in this for the long haul, and although we are going as fast as we can, we are pulled in many directions, and we have to focus on specific areas in order to make good progress. Our colleagues in Hamburg are still working on the separation of the audio engine from Cubase such that we will be able to integrate it directly into our application. Once this significant milestone is achieved, we will be able to start putting more of our attention onto playback, and to begin to address the kinds of issues you describe.
Will you able to do your application with 35 tublets? Example “Chopin Nocturne in CSharp Minor” bar 59.
Sorry for my English.
@ercan: Yes, our application can produce tuplets of arbitrary complexity. This particular tuplet is 35 16th notes (semiquavers) in the time of eight, or a ratio of 35:8. I have input those notes into our application (minus the octave line, which is awkward to create directly in the application at the moment), and you can see the result here. (Yes, I know that the tuplet bracket collides with the beam: we are in the process of doing fine positioning of slurs, tuplets, octave lines, and articulations at the moment.)
Seriously. Most. Freaking. Exciting. Update. EVER!
I’ve been your loudest complainer about a lack of decent CC editing like Cubase has. However, given some of your reasons why and knowing that this application and Cubase will come closer together with time- is enough to keep me satisfied for now. I’m excited that instead of giving users every option known to man, the UI will be simple, focused on the writing, etc. I’m excited you’re looking at what other scoring apps aren’t doing. I’m way excited you have a name, even if I don’t get to know it. I’m sad this is going to take a few more months before v1 is released (see what I did there?) *wink wink*
My only request: Don’t just make playback decisions friendly to some crappy stock sound library that will come with the system. If users want to use VSL, Spitfire, Berlin, and other sample libraries… test the application with popular libraries and see what challenges exist and can be addressed reasonably early on. If giving users adequate midi editing isn’t a focus of v1, then I at least would ask that you guys test the water with popular sample libraries and make some minor tweaks where possible.
Thanks again! Can’t wait!
It is necessary: Historical notation, non western notation, and an excellent output when postscripting… (among many other things, no program has out there…). Just a simple thought: about playback, EVERYBODY is dealing with… so main thing is: The music and how it is engraved. Thank You Daniel and team for creating a promising alternative!
I am guessing that when the new notation program comes available, Steinberg will stick to the same business model currently in place for their flagship DAW’s Cubase and Nuendo…!? I really hope that Steinberg will always (be able to) steer clear of the ‘subscription sales model’ that Avid has recently adopted.
@Dave: Please be assured that we will not be offering our product on a subscription basis. You will buy your initial license, and then as major updates become available, you will be completely at liberty to choose whether to purchase those updates or stay on your current version. For Cubase, for example, the cost of updating to e.g. the current 8.0 varies depending on whether you are updating from Cubase 7.5, 7.0, 6.5, or earlier, and I anticipate we will follow a similar model as our application matures.
That is indeed great news. Very wise of Steinberg.
I am hoping that you include ReWire in version 1.0 but sadly I am not optimistic about this given all the work you have. Perhaps you are not a DAW user so you may not fully appreciate the value of a DAW to a modern composer. A well implemented ReWire connection between your program and Cubase/Nuendo would make a lot of people very happy, especially those who are scoring video and making multimedia & electro-acoustic recordings. Please consider it in the first release!
Just a followup, How great would it be to have musicians reading automatically scrolling notation on a pad computer while at the same time being recorded into a DAW? Obviously this would not be for everyone but I imagine this would be useful some some.
Sorry if I’m repeating earlier requests. One thing that’s quite annoying in Sibelius is the inability to easily create special key signatures for music in non-Western modes (e.g. Bb, Eb and F#; C#, D#, F# but with a cautionary G natural shown in the key signature). Will the new Steinberg software allow for these?
@Guy: Yes, it will be easy to create custom key signatures in our application.
Tremendously happy to have found this answer. This is an important feature point for me.