Discuss Notion Music Composition Software here.
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Been using Sibelius for transcriptions. I'm thinking of switching, but can Notion open Sibelius files & if so, are they accurately converted?

Rick Bell

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by Surf.Whammy on Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:00 am
Rick Bell wroteBeen using Sibelius for transcriptions. I'm thinking of switching, but can Notion open Sibelius files & if so, are they accurately converted?


NOTION does not open native Sibelius files, but it imports and exports MusicXML . . . :)

THOUGHTS

I think it's accurate to say (a) Dorico, Finale, MuseScore, and Sibelius primarily are engraving tools, while (b) NOTION primarily is a performance tool that does engraving at a reasonable level of complexity . . .

There is a bit of overlap; but (a) nothing beats NOTION for performance and (b) nothing beats the others for elaborate engraving--observing that I have not done anything with MuseScore in a decade (at which time it was primitive) and never have used Dorico . . .

[NOTE: Sometime perhaps 7 or 8 years ago, after reading posts about Sibelius and Finale in this forum, I purchased competitive (cross-grade) versions of both applications and explored them. Both were entirely too muddled and neither was even remotely good at using music notation to play VSTi virtual instruments; so overall is was a waste of about $500. The only good aspect was that Finale included a version of the Aria VSTi virtual instrument and Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO), although other than for an occasional experiment to help answer a question in this forum, I do not use GPO, but I keep it updated. To wit, (a) I had both of these applications for a while but stopped updating them five or more years ago; (b) they are focused on what I consider to be absurdly complex engraving (creating sheet music but not playing it); and (c) while they have the ability to play VSTi virtual instruments, doing this is cumbersome and impractical to the level of being painful after one has experienced the easy way this is done in NOTION. Overall, I suppose it was worth $500 (US) to discover firsthand how truly useless Sibelius and Finale are when the focus is on creating songs with music notation and AUi (Mac only) and VSTi (Mac and Windows) virtual instruments and AU and VST effects plug-ins, where via ReWire MIDI this is made all the easier since NOTION can be focused on music notation while Studio One Professional is focused on hosting the virtual instruments and effects plug-ins, producing, audio engineering, and recording both the virtual instruments and effects plug-ins and real instruments, as well as virtual and real singing . . . ]

I started with Musescore in 2010 when I was exploring the possibility of using music notation and something called a "virtual instrument" to create a Flamenco percussion pattern, since while I play drums, Flamenco rhythm patterns made, and for the most part continue to make, zero intuitive sense to me . . .

It's like Bulgarian buttermilk, salted lemons, pickle juice, and butter beans (a.k.a., "lima beans") in the sense that if you are introduced to these treats as a child under five years-old, then they become lifelong gourmet pleasures but otherwise mostly are categorized as being horrible or inedible . . .

Big Band, Country Western, Rock and Roll, Heavy Metal, Rhythm and Blues, Polka, Classical, Symphonic, Baroque, and Ska?

I'm there, but not Flamenco . . .

I knew a bit about music notation from being in a liturgical boys choir where I learned to sight-sing soprano treble clef music notation--and only soprano treble clef . . .

However, in 2010 I had no idea what a "virtual instrument" was; but it appeared to be the key to doing Flamenco rhythm patterns with a virtual drumkit and some virtual Latin percussion instruments . . .

After a week or so, this led me to NOTION 3 and the solution, which soon was followed by discovering SampleTank (IK Multimedia) and its sampled-sound libraries and the fact that it's possible to spend thousands of dollars on an ever-expanding set of sampled-sound libraries and effects plug-ins from a virtual festival of companies (which is good reason to get on mailing lists and to watch for discount sales) . . .

[NOTE: The verses and choruses are the standard 12-beat Bulería rhythm pattern; but for the interlude I created a custom 36-beat Flamenco rhythm pattern, hence the name "Surrealería". The instruments are a combination of native NOTION instruments and IK Multimedia VSTi virtual instruments, along with some VST effects plug-ins; and as with every song I post, it's best enjoyed when listening with studio-quality headphones like SONY MDR-7506 headphones (a personal favorite, since they have solid deep bass and are sonically neutral), which is fabulous . . . :+1 ]

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Other than a piano player and a trumpet player when I was playing string bass and electric bass in nightclubs when I was in high school, I do not know anyone outside of a choir, who actually reads music notation . . .

[NOTE: The piano player was a year younger than me (14 years-old) but was very mature, owned and operated a car, owned a house, and was married; and he knew that I knew the keys on a piano, hence would provide clues to the bass notes and general keys of songs by the notes he played in the bass register. The trumpet player was older and mostly wanted all the songs to be in B♭, E♭, or one of the other keys that horn players tend to demand, which is fine with me because (a) it makes no difference on bass and (b) if you know Barre chords, then no horn section can defeat you, no matter what key they demand . . . :P ]

I taught myself electric bass, rhythm guitar, drums, and a bit of keyboards; and after 11 years of working daily with music notation in NOTION, it continues to be the case that only soprano treble clef is intuitive . . .

Most of my popular music knowledge comes from being in garage bands with like minded subhuman mutants, none of whom--with one exception--read music notation . . .

Instead, we developed a "secret" musical language based on the name of the first song or artist we heard and liked, where for example the classic Heavy Metal rhythm guitar chord is called a "Purple Haze"; and it becomes more elaborate and is a type of musical shorthand, with a "James Brown", "Stormy Monday", "Sleepwalk", "Louie Louie", and "Heat Wave" being a few more examples of the mnemonics . . .

[NOTE: This is the mnemonic for {A, D, E} or {1, 4, 5} in what I suppose is a variation of the Nashville Number System . . . ]

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[NOTE: This is the classic walkdown, and it's also the classic drum pattern that changed drumming from the Big Band style to what became the definitive Beatles style drumming, along with the upfront focus on rhythm guitar chords, lead guitar, and whammying . . . ]

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[NOTE: This is the mnemonic for {C, Am, F, G} or {1, 6, 4, 6} . . . ]

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When "Heat Wave" (Martha & The Vandellas) becomes intuitive--which has a rocking back-and-forth, an upside-down or reverse Louie Louie, and a walkup (or a reverse Walk Don't Run)--you're pretty much there, since these four songs are the patterns for nearly every popular song since the 1950s, more or less . . .

[NOTE: The first pattern is the "rocking back-and-forth"; the second pattern is the upside-down or reverse Louie Louie {{4, 5, 1} rather than {1, 4, 5}); and the third pattern is the walkup or reverse Walk Don't Run . . . ]

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This mnemonic system probably makes little or no sense to anyone else on the planet; but it makes sense to me and a few other subhuman mutants, all of whom are superb musicians . . .

To the point, this provides a few insights into my perspectives on engraving, which I revise and extend by observing that I consider articulations, dynamics, playing styles, and all that aspect of music notation to be a grand waste of time for no productive reason, at all . . .

For musicians and singers who need elaborate music notation, it;s fantastic; but for me, it's a bunch of nonsense, and I do not use it . . .

There are several reasons for this, which I have described in detail in various posts; but one of the primary reasons--other than avoiding wasting time--is that behind the scenes, NOTION is a MIDI sequencer that takes music notation and converts it to MIDI to send to VSTi virtual instruments for the purpose of causing VSTi virtual instruments to generate audio, which is returned to NOTION in real-time . . .

In the MIDI universe, there is a volume level parameter that ranges in value from 0 to 127 (integer), and what happens when you specify dynamic notation like piano, pianissimo, forte, and so forth is that it gets mapped to one of the integer values, where fortissimo might map to 120, while pianissimo might map to 75 . . .

The dynamic marks do not change the way the trained musician played the notes that were recorded and digitized to create the sampled-sound library for the VSTi virtual instrument; it only changes the volume level like the volume control knob on a guitar amplifier or car radio; hence, technically, it's stupid . . .

In high-end sampled sound libraries, there are sample sets where the proficient musician played in a very specific way (dynamics, articulation, playing style, and so forth); and for the most realistic virtual performance, this is the way to do it--except for the rule here in the sound isolation studio that if you cannot hear it, then it's noise and for the most part serves no useful purpose . . .

I enjoy listening to a bit of Classical, Symphonic, and Baroque music; but when I am so inclined, the first thing I do is run it through a compressor-limiter to destroy all the dynamics, which then lets me hear everything at equal loudness . . .

"The orchestra was brilliant, and at times they played so softly you could hear a Timex® watch ticking. Then they fired the cannon, and I nearly pooped my pants. It was exquisite." is not something you ever will hear me say . . .

"i sat in the front row in 1976 at a KISS concert and it was so loud my ears rang constantly until some time in the early-1980s. Totally awesome!" is more likely to be something you will hear me say--observing that even though I listen to loud music, for some unknown reason it does not damage my hearing, at least as far as I am aware . . .

I can be in the kitchen, 60 feet away, but easily hear someone drop a metal spoon on a carpet . . .

Gifts that God gives . . . :+1

MusicXML

This will be the best way to get music notation into NOTION' but there are limitations on what MusicXML can do . . .

There also is a limit on what one can do with music notation and all the marks and so forth in NOTION; so the more elaborate the music notation and marks in the Sibelius score, the less likely it will map perfectly . . .

Nevertheless, if it's standard music notation and does not wander into being absurd, then it should be a nice mapping when imported to NOTION . . .

REAL-TIME PERFORMANCE

This is what makes NOTION unique, and it's the way I use NOTION . . .

By "real-time performance", in this context I am referring to using VSTi virtual instruments as the musicians for my pretend musical groups . . .

So far, I have not used the computer for actual performances; but this is possible and is supported by NOTION . . .

At various times over the years, I have had real musical groups and for a while had a female singer; but I find it vastly easier to do everything with AUi (Mac-only) and VSTi virtual instruments (Mac and Windows), as well as with a virtual festival of AU and VST effects plug-ins, many of which are precision emulations of classical signal processors from the 1950s and 1960s, some of which were vacuum-tube based and all of which were used by broadcast radio stations to comply with FCC rules and regulations regarding signal levels and frequency ranges, but in a melodic way, which once audio engineers and producers keyed on the melodic aspects led to these types of broadcast radio signal processors being used in recording studios . . .

IK Multimedia has outstanding VST effects plug-ins that are very precise emulations of these types of classic broadcast radio signal processors; and I use them in my songs . . .

This is one of my recent songs, and as you can see, the music notation is simple (no dynamics, articulations, or anything else, other perhaps an occasional glissandi) . . .

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Project: Simple and Stupid (PreSonus NOTION Forum)

In particular, I use ReWire MIDI staves in the NOTION score and host the virtual instruments in Studio One Professional, since this is the most efficient way to do it . . .

It focuses NOTION of what NOTION does best, and it focuses Studio One Professional on what it does best . . .

[NOTE: Realivox Blue (RealiTone), my favorite virtual female soprano, is the exception; and she resides in NOTION, mostly due to using key switches to select the phonetic phrases she sings and a few other vocal control aspects. It's also easier to fine-tune the phonetic phrases this way, but one I like what she is singing, I move it to Studio One Professional and run it through Melodyne (Celemony) to do more elaborate fine-tuning, which is the key to enabling her to sing as humanly as possible, which is heard in the next song and was done to experiment with the "human" aspect, where the concept is that sometime in the future, cyborgs are so lifelike that the only way to distinguish them from humans is the way their skin tastes, which curiously is the taste of Anarchy anti-perspirant and deodorant made by AXE® and is a homage to the Nirvana song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which was an anti-perspirant and deodorant in the 1990s or thereabout . . . ]

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[NOTE It took several months of experimenting to discover the phonetic rules and the various techniques to fine-tune the way Realivox Blue sings . . . ]

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Project: Realivox Blue (PreSonus NOTION Forum)

SUMMARY ~ JUST THE FACTS

(1) NOTION has a deep and rich set of music notation, which provides everything most folks need.

(2) MusicXML is the best way to collaborate and to exchange music notation, although MIDI files (".mid") are another option.

(3) NOTION and Studio One Professional are the best way to create, record, produce, and audio engineer realistic virtual songs for your pretend musical groups.

(4) The "ReWire MIDI" strategy optimizes the way NOTION and Studio One Professional work; and I explain how to do this in vast detail in my posts.

(5) I tend to be a bit chatty; but at least I don't make people give me antique cowbells, which is what one of the best luthiers in Los Angeles did in the 1970s when people wanted him to set the action and intonation for their guitars and basses.

Lots of FUN! :)

Surf.Whammy's YouTube Channel

The Surf Whammys

Sinkhorn's Dilemma: Every paradox has at least one non-trivial solution!
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by nathanielwalker2 on Thu Sep 16, 2021 12:14 am
Nice essay, but...

Quote: "There is a bit of overlap; but (a) nothing beats NOTION for performance and (b) nothing beats the others for elaborate engraving--observing that I have not done anything with MuseScore in a decade (at which time it was primitive) and never have used Dorico . . ."

I completely disagree. Notion doesn't play back scores properly. Grace notes literally disappear during playback, for example. Playback in Dorico is leagues ahead of it, and same for Sibelius and Finale. MuseScore as well... it plays back the notation faithfully.

Notion's playback was mostly renowned for the better default sound set that it ships with. For example, compare the Notion stock sounds to Sibelius'. They are far superior. However, with software like Note Performer 3 existing, this has been largely eliminated. Beyond that, Dorico and Finale are bundling better sound libraries (HALion Symphonic Orchestra, Subset of Garritan Orchestral Libraries).

So, you're left with a Notation app that doesn't play the score back accurately, is inefficient for writing music, is bad for engraving, has a terrible rules/preset system, doesn't support Note Performer, has no VST3 Support, crashes constantly with some (fairly major) virtual instruments (and almost anything from Steinberg), etc.

It also doesn't support features like Ossia Staves, cannot play back Fermatas, etc. It is too limited, and it's getting to the point where there is decreasing need to ever want to use it - particularly if you already own Studio One 5, because it's score editor is serviceable, it has better MIDI Editing, and can use intuitive articulation maps/sound variations (and even import them from Synchron Player - Cubase can do the same with East West Opus, and Dorico can import Cubase Expression Maps).

I actually feel Dorico has pretty much taken over Notion's niche, while providing pro-level engraving.

I used Notion a lot due to the iPad App. The iPad App is actually pretty damn good, but others are going into that market segment now; and bringing their advantages with them. Staff Limitations are now the only real advantage Notion has (the writing recognition, I bought it... so I'm ignoring that).

I feel like people use this "Notion is a performance tool" as a bit of a crutch, often. The software hasn't seen a ton of development. It needed an upgrade over a year ago, IMHO. It is hard to use Notion as a sweetener for PreSonus Sphere in its current state. I hope they hurry up with the v7 release, but I'm not sure I can sit on 6 because I need a bit better score playback. Notion 6 gaslights the user with some weird playback quirks.

Probably still good enough for band music, though :-P

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