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In this post, I am going to outline some ways SmartMusic can help you as an arranger and composer. SmartMusic is a subscription-based application for Mac, Windows and iPad that is designed for practice and performance for students and performers at all levels. There is no free version so you have to have a subscription in order to access the music files in SmartMusic. The annual subscription cost as of June, 2014 is $40.00 per year.
There are two main areas of interest to composers and arrangers. The first is Jazz Improvisation materials. The reason these exercises are helpful to arrangers and composers is every improv exercise also includes a transcription of the piano, bass and drumset part. This can be an excellent learning tool for studying bass lines, piano comping styles, and how drummers interpret specific styles.
From the instrument menu, choose one of the options for transcriptions: Bass, Piano, or Drums.
View the notation of one of the transcription to study the way Wynton’s rhythm section member played the part. It is a great way to study walking bass lines, 2-feel, Bossa-Nova and other styles. Below is a screen shot of the first page of the bass transcription from Monk’s Dream.
You can change at any time between the bass, piano or drum transcription for all of the Jazz Improvisation materials in SmartMusic.
SmartMusic also includes a host of published Jazz Ensemble arrangements. Each of these arrangements allow for displaying any one of the individual parts. For example, you can select an arrangement and then view the rhythm section and horn parts one at a time. There is no option for viewing the conductor score. This can be a wonderful way to view and learn from a host of published arrangements.
You can listen to a recording of the piece and view the printed part. This is a terrific way to review how arrangers write parts for various instruments.
TIP: SmartMusic is not designed for printing. Basic Mac and Windows screen capture is disabled. In order to make a screen capture for your personal reference (not for printing for commercial or performance use), you will need to use a third party screen capture app. Check out my blogpost on screen capture options for Mac and Windows.
Back in 2008, one of my first posts in this blog, I did a post on scanning and music notation software. The concepts and information in that post are still relevant. If you have sheet music that you want to scan in, using a scanner and converting them to TIFF files is the still the best option. See the post for details.
In this post, I focus on scanning in PDF files.
The first step is to choose the software for scanning PDF files. As of now (April, 2014) the free version of Scanning that comes with Sibelius, Photoscore Lite, does allow for scanning PDF files. The free version that ships with Finale, SmartScore Lite, does not.
TIP: With Finale, there is an option using the free scanning software that comes with the program: convert the PDF file pages to a graphic TIFF image and then read them into Finale. That’s a bit of a pain, but if you don’t have the money to purchase the full version of SmartScore, then this can get the job done. You can convert PDF to TIFF files using any one of many free options including websites and free PDF readers such as Preview for Mac and Adobe Acrobat Pro.
If you do a lot of scanning and importing PDF files into Finale or Sibelius, then consider upgrading the Pro versions. I recommend downloading the demo and experimenting with it to see how it does with PDF files. If it is accurate for the music you want to scan, then purchase the full version of the software. The advantage of the Pro versions is they recognize text, chord symbols and much more and the conversion process is also more accurate.
With Sibelius and Photoscore Lite and Photoscore Ultimate, you launch a separate program and then import the PDF file. Once the PDF file is imported into PhotoScore, you can then correct any mistakes. The last step is to send the converted file to Sibelius. Consult the Sibelius manual for more information on the scanning process.
First you must convert the PDF file to TIFF files using one of the options mentioned above. Then, import the TIFF files directly into Finale. Be sure to watch the scanning video that Finale produced. With SmartScore Professional, you launch the program, import the PDF files and then edit any mistakes in SmartScore and then send the file directly to Finale.
PDF files are ubiquitous on the Internet. And, there are many sites that feature PDF files of music in public domain so you can scan in the music without violating the copyright law. These sites include:
Finale has included worksheets since version 2010. The current version, 2014, has hundreds of worksheets in a wide variety of applications. Back in 2009 I did a post on Sibelius Worksheets. I made the statement that the Sibelius Worksheets made the total cost of the software worth it for music educators. Since that time, Finale has created their own Worksheets and they are also an incredible free resource for use in private lessons and for K-12 and College music teachers. I tell Sibelius users to consider purchasing a copy of Finale just to have access to their worksheets. And, if you use SmartMusic, the worksheets can be used in conjunction with it.
TIP: Finale Worksheets do not come with the demo version of Finale. You must purchase a full version of Finale. Also, take advantage of the educational discount that MakeMusic offers. You can purchase Finale at a significant discount if you are a music educator, private teacher or church musician. You can purchase it from MakeMusic or resellers such as www.sweetwater.com and www.soundtree.com as well as directly from MakeMusic.
Some teachers have created their own personalized theory workbooks for students using Finale worksheets. You have permission to duplicate and distribute Finale Worksheets either in print or electronically. Finale includes the following statement on each worksheet:
MakeMusic grants permission to duplicate this worksheet for non-profit, educational use only, provided each copy includes this copyright notice. Copies may not be sold or included in any materials offered for sale to the general public.
To access the worksheets, launch Finale and choose File > Open Worksheets and Repertoire.
The Worksheets section includes hundreds of pre-made materials useful with students of all ages.
There are over 50 rhythm worksheets that correlate with the rhythm exercises in SmartMusic. However, you don’t have to be a SmartMusic user to apply them in your teaching. You could print a packet of pages for sight reading or post them in PDF format or Finale format on your teacher website. I have used these worksheets with students and asked them to write in the beats over each bar. And, I’ve used them for sight reading materials. The numbers above each line of rhythms correlates with the specific number in SmartMusic.
PDF version of the above Worksheet: 2210 Simple Time 6215 to 6220
Other rhythm worksheets include a set of rhythm equations where students add up the total number of beats. These make for a good way to use cross-curricular concepts in a lesson as these are math-related exercises.
The elements of music section includes worksheets that are designed to be printed out and completed with pencil. Teachers have used these worksheets to create a complete and customized music theory booklet for students. Below is an example of the The staff,
PDF version of the above Worksheet: 0001 The Staff
Many teachers use Finale worksheets for substitute lesson plans. For this and similar purposes, there is a complete set of answer sheets available. The answer sheets download as a separate PDF file when you install Finale. Go to the folder where Finale is installed on your computer and look for Finale Worksheets Answer Key. There is a PDF for each section of the worksheets. For example, the answer sheet for the above Staff worksheet looks like:
PDF version of the above Worksheet: Elements of Music The Staff Answer Sheet
The rest of the categories contain many helpful worksheets. The Intervals, chords and ear training worksheets can be used to help students practice ear training exercises. These files work best when opened in Finale or via the free version of Finale, Finale Notepad. Share specific files with students via email or posting on a teacher website. Students can then open the files in Finale Notepad for practice and reference.
Since Finale offers a free version of Finale, Finale Notepad, students can open and manipulate worksheets. Finale Notepad does not have all of the editing functions of Finale, but students can view, playback and enter notation into exercises and worksheets that you want them to complete.
If you use SmartMusic, you can use the worksheets as supplemental print materials for students. The various rhythm and melodic exercises can be printed and opened by students. The Finale worksheets include the SmartMusic exercise number on the sheet (see the rhythm sheet, above). One option is to print up a booklet of the various rhythm worksheets you want the students to cover. They are numbered and correspond to the exercises in SmartMusic.
The Finale repertoire section contains materials of interest to teachers. There are folk songs that can be printed for singing as well as repertoire for ensembles. And, if you open the files in Finale, you can make adjustments to them for your students so it is a great resource for creating duets, trios and other chamber music pieces. Since all of the music is in Public Domain, you can arrange and adjust them for your own use without violating copyright.
I often suggest to teachers that if they can propose a topic for an in-service activity, propose that the staff take time to review the Finale Worksheets and Repertoire and integrate them into the music curriculum. With hundreds of worksheets, it can take the better part of an entire day to get through them all and to create lesson integration ideas for their use. Even if you don’t own a copy of the full version of Finale, you can review the options from the online Finale manual. These only offer thumbnail versions of the files, but at least you can see the options. You will need at least one copy of Finale to open the full versions of the worksheets.
A common question that I receive from my arranging students is about the difference between jazz shuffle and jazz swing.
Jazz Swing and Jazz Shuffle are similar styles. They both have swing eighth notes. When I am writing in a jazz shuffle style, the first thing I think of is a heavy back beat in the snare – like rock. And, with shuffle, the horn rhythms can be a little more choppy or staccato sounding.
A good discussion of this topic: http://www.studybass.com/lessons/rhythm/shuffle-and-swing-rhythms/
Sometimes, I write the parts with a dotted eighth and 16th rather than the typical 2 eighth notes. Notice in the Bubba’s Revenge example how there are 16ths in the first bar and eighth notes in the last. This communicates a slight variation of the rhythm to the player. This is from the guitar part in bars 9 and 10. Check out the YouTube recording, below.
Count Bubba’s Revenge: Gordon Goodwin
YouTube links in a Jazz Shuffle Style:
1. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – The Chess Players
2. Jump Jive and Wail: notice the heavy back beat in the snare.
3. Buddy Rich Groovin Hard – after the intro section – when the drums play the heavy back beat
4. Harry “Sweets”Edison-Red Bunk Shuffle
Compare the above with straight ahead swing:
1. Sinatra: Summer Wind – Notice the difference in how the snare is much less heavy and the figures in the horns more legato or “laid back.”
2. Buddy Rich: Basically Blues – Notice how the snare is a cross-stick and much less “heavy” sounding.
3. Count Basie: Cute – drums with brushes, no heavy back beat.
I co-authored a new book with Vince Leonard entitled the Musical iPad. The book is available from Hal Leonard, Amazon and other book sellers and dealers.
You can download the complete Table of Contents of the Musical iPad:
Musical iPad TOC
Musical iPad will help you turn your mobile device into a powerful amplifier for your creativity—and turn your modest investment in a tablet device into an extremely valuable tool for learning and making music. The well-written, easy-to-follow instructions and descriptions will get you up to speed in no time and will help you make the most of your Apple iPad.
Senior Vice President for Innovation, Strategy, and Technology
Berklee College of Music
When you are creating a score in Finale, Sibelius or any other notation program, using the proper score order is recommended. There are several ways to make changes to the score order in Finale and Sibelius and these will be address in this post.
When you are starting a score, both Finale and Sibelius have templates. Finale calls them Ensembles and Sibelius Manuscript Paper. This is the easiest way to review score order as these templates have been created by musicians with knowledge of the common score order for scores. Here are the steps:
When writing for a jazz or rock combo with rhythm section:
If there are multiple guitars or keyboard instruments, put them in alphabetical order within the above overall order.
Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:
Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:
Voices at the top from highest to lowest:
There are often times when you may want to indicate a “ghost” note in a part. These occur in jazz and rock and can occur in a vocal or horn part or rhythm section instrument. Ghost notes are suggested or implied and are much softer than normal notes. They are typically notated by placing parentheses around the note.
Check out the transcription of the beginning of Lee Morgan’s solo on Blue Train on the Jazz Trumpet Solos site. Notice the ghost note in bar three of the transcription.
Finale: Notating Ghost Notes
To add a parentheses around a note, enter a left and right parentheses via the Articulation Tool.
Sibelius: Notating Ghost Notes
(Thanks to John Hinchey’s comment for suggesting the above Sibelius method)
MakeMusic is shipping the latest version of Finale notation software, Finale 2014.
Improved note entry when entering with Voices and entering accidentals
I am impressed with the improvement Finale continues to makes with note entry. Finale 2014 addresses this issue in several ways. Check out the Finale promotional video on these features: http://bcove.me/lj6m16yp
Additional Finale 2014 Improvements
Demo video: http://bcove.me/1blxbgfi
New Export options:
The new option of backwards saving in Finale 2012 format is a welcome new feature. However, in order to backwards save to earlier versions of Finale you must import and export via MusicXML.
Additional Garritan Sounds in Finale 2014
List of new sounds included with Finale 2014:
Finale offers an upgrade to Finale 2014 from any previous version of Finale for $139.95.
if you are a teacher or church musician and you are purchasing Finale for the first time, take advantage of their Academic Pricing. http://www.finalemusic.com/finale-and-printmusic-academictheological-pricing/
Sweetwater offers a significant discount on the Academic version of Finale.
Check out the list of third party vendors who sell Finale: https://store.makemusic.com/Dealers/Default.aspx
However, in order to upgrade, you must do it directly through MakeMusic.
Finale 2014 is not an update that I would consider significant in terms of features. However, there is enough here to make it worth the upgrade cost. And, if you have an older version of Finale, the upgrade price is worth it as there have been many new enhancements in Finale 2010, 2011, and 2012.
In Finale Notation Software, when you are entering Lyrics via the Click in Score method or you are entering chord symbols by typing them into the score, you are presented with a series of triangles on the left of the screen. It is a good idea to know what they mean, as each has a distinct function. From the Finale manual:
What Each Triangle Controls:
The views expressed herein are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Berklee College of Music.