Tuesday , May 21 2024
Do you need high quality musical notation software?

Software Review: NOTION3 From NOTION Music

NOTION3 is the latest release of the musical notation software from NOTION Music. At its base, NOTION3 is a software program used for creating sheet music. It does for music notation what a word processor is to writing. As their tagline reveals, with this latest version, the goal is in "Redefining Notation Software"

This type of software allows you to input, edit, and print musical notation from your computer. The amount of flexibility you have is really dependent on the complexity of the program itself. It can range from being able to create simple songs, to the ability to handle the complexities of orchestral arrangements. NOTION3 falls in to the later of these categories.

In working with notation software the music can be entered via the mouse, computer keyboard, or MIDI device. With NOTION3 you can also scan your sheet music as well. Along with printing your score out is the ability for NOTION3 to play back your compositions on your computer using virtual instruments giving you the ability to hear your score.

What do you need to run NOTION3?

• Windows XP , Vista, MAC OS X 10.4 or higher.
• 2.0 GHz Core 2 or Intel Mac
• 2 GB RAM
• 1024 x 768 with 16-bit color (1280 x 960, 24-bit color or higher)
• 16 GB Drive space; DVD Drive
• MIDI Interface
• Audio Interface

Using NOTION3 you work within two primary windows. The main music sheet interface contains your score. Then there is the new pro-audio mixer interface that has faders, volume meters, and peak indicators that give you the ability to fine tune your composition.

To create your score you begin by opening a template. There are seven templates and they correspond to the type of score: full orchestra, chamber orchestra, string orchestra, big band, jazz combo, rock band, and lead sheet. You can also customize the templates with the "in-document" score setup.

Next you choose an instrument from the available instrument groups and add it to the score. Using the entry palette you can begin to enter the notation to the page. As an alternative you can also use the MIDI interface to enter your music. By using Step-Time Entry mode, you can select a note value with a keyboard shortcut and press a key on your MIDI keyboard and the note will be added with the corresponding rhythmic value.

You can also do real-time MIDI entry by using the Sequencer Staff. This is a special staff that allows for sequencer style recording and editing of MIDI data onto a regular notation staff. You can choose your instrument and start recording. This gives you a way to combine a sequencer/MIDI style of workflow with in notation software.

So what is new with NOTION3?









• New user interface has a cleaner design with more emphasis on clarity and score space. They have added pro-audio mixer functionalities, a new guitar fret board, in-document score setup, and an entry palette that condenses the notation symbols into one place and one click entry. There is even a performance HUD indicating tempo, beat, meter, and measure in live performances or playback modes.

• Notation and score layout have been changed quite a bit. You can view pages in page across view, page down view, or continuous view. You can view or hide any number of instruments using Dynamic Parts. There are expanded notation symbols, text expressions as well as many special notation characters. There is guitar notation symbols and elements that come from NOTION Music' PROGRESSION software package. Finally there is a chord library with point-and-click as well a type-in chord options.

• Playback and DAW compatibility gives you an exclusive sample library of the London Symphony Orchestra. These are close-mic'd, stereo, multi-layered samples at 16 bit, 44.1 KHz with up to 7 dynamic layers. You also get the legacy samples that came with prior versions which were far-mic'ed hall samples. You have what you see is what you hear playback, all of the PROGRESSION non-orchestral sample library, VST instruments and effects support, ReWire Host and Slave modes, as well as the Sequencer Staff for manipulating and recording MIDI data in sequencer style.

• Better performance features include Performance Mode locks the score in performance-ready state, NTempo staff gives full control over real-time tempo performance, allowing the use of any rhythm to be used as tempo control, not just beat or subdivisions. You can perform with MIDI device or computer keyboard, Control dynamics with MIDI device velocity (adjustable), and the Score navigation designed for live performance needs (jump beat, bar, rehearsal mark). There is even a LivePlay feature that lets you use any instrument in the score to perform with your MIDI device while the score is playing.

• Import/export formats include NOTION3, NOTION2, Protege, PROGRESSION, NOTION Conducting files, MusicXML import and export,MIDI import and export, and Wav import and export (16bit, 44.1 KHz)

NOTION3 is a much improved more dynamic product than its prior incarnation. It has added VSTi's (virtual instruments) for a number of different products including Garritan ARIA, Native Instruments Kontakt, and IK Multimedia. It is really pretty easy to learn and easier to use than some of the other platforms.

It has MIDI support for import and export. It now has the new pro-audio mixer which is really nice for each staff has its own mixer track with four inserts per track and four busses. It also has panning, mute, and solo.

You also get, along with the recordings from the previous versions, all new close-mic'd recordings from the London Symphony Orchestra. These new recordings show a much improved quality. I have to say that if you are looking for a high quality musical notation software product at a reasonable price, you can't beat NOTION3. I highly recommend this product.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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