Here’s a glimpse at what software/apps I use frequently to explore and create music (notation-type apps).
There are many companies offering incredible music-making apps for mobile devices that make music creation easier and inexpensive (most free). I have been a user of Finale for Mac for over 25 years. With the advent of tablet technology over the past 8 years, my allegiance has changed supporting companies that are re-inventing music creation, and in a mobile manner.
Finale is my absolute preference for large score, orchestral works, however, they have produced nothing for composing ‘on the go’ via a mobile device. Their $600 US hefty entry fee for their flagship software stops me from recommending it to few. It will become a relic of the past. They have student prices and other entry level software packages with less features, however mobile apps offer an impressive alternative, especially with the aid of a stylus, sampling and creating sounds, and work almost anywhere capabilities.
Notion offers the most beautiful, sampled instrument sounds (London Symphony Orchestra) on all their versions, desktop and mobile devices. Working ‘on the go’ is extremely important to capture ideas while sitting on the bus or subway, then continuing at home or work via cloud technology. Notion allows this from finger-gestures, Apple Pencil, music keyboard, and mouse input. Thumbs up, Notion (PreSonus)!
[Personal note: each orchestral instrument has various techniques as sampled sounds included, for example, French Horn includes hand-stopped or muted notes and glissandi. This is one of the many reasons I use Notion for its ease of use to add these effects or articulations. Check out my brass piece, ‘I Saw Three Ships’ on SoundCloud that demonstrates this.]
On the bus or subway – iPhone or iPad
GarageBand for iOS is an absolute favourite, now updated with more performance capabilities. I will celebrate the day when they add notation capabilities.
Personal note: This app awaits its entry into schools to help visualize music for so many disinterested students having to endure a skill or knowledge-based curriculum, rather than a holistic, creation-based one. Share your thoughts on this, please.
In this example, Stave’n’Tabs handles triplets fairly well compared with other music notation apps. I’ll keep my eye on this app over the next year.
Teaching or at home: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, MacBook, iMac
ScoreCloud is known for its ease of input by a variety of means, especially great for school use with students inputting their music by keyboard, voice, or recorder!