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Using Musescore to Practice
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SharonC
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October 30, 2020 - 12:38 pm
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I was reading a thread in the Breakroom that mentioned using the Amazing Slow Downer to practice.  I used to use the Amazing Slow Downer on my Kindle Fire HDX, & it worked well while I used it. However, I now use Musescore a lot.  It takes time to put the music in (I do it note by note), but it has been useful to my learning.  Once I have the music in (use my Windows PC), I can use playback (on my Ipad, output to Bluetooth speaker).  It lets me loop (to included looping specific selected measures), adjust individual volume of parts, & the tempo.  I can also print out sheet music, and adjust how it looks (size of measures, where line breaks, etc.,)

I play a lot of duets with my teacher, and I've transcribed many of them into Musescore.  Also, I put in some music I did with the New Horizons Ensemble group I was with for a while (to print out better, readable copies of sheet music), which was 4 (sometimes 5--two violin, viola, cello, sometimes bass) parts. 

Although having the playback to practice with was my goal, putting these into Musescore, (“touching” all of the notes) helped increase my music reading skills as well as my understanding of how all the parts go together.  So, I’ve found it worth the effort.

Not suggesting Musescore is the right answer for everyone as a practice tool—just sharing my learning experience.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
October 30, 2020 - 12:49 pm
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Yup -  @SharonC -I too am duly impressed with MuseScore.  The editing software is free, and they have a large amount of .mscz ( Musescore format files ) on their site - and although that used to be free, for various licensing, copyright (oh, and simple upkeep costs of the server I guess) reasons, they now have implemented a subscription service.  Even that's not bad, if you find a number of arrangements you REALLY WANT (and you can always preview them, and listen to them without taking the last step of the download - which is what you pay for).  So, you can simply keep a note of the ones you want, collect a few, and subscribe for one month - not overly expensive.  But, if you don't need that - just manually notate what you want in the free-to-use program!  Costs nothing !

 

**EDIT** meant to add - some time back, I arranged to allow the MuseScore .mscz files to be a permitted file-type for sharing on the forum if anyone wants to swap scores.....

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GregW
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October 30, 2020 - 1:40 pm
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@SharonC i agree..there is something about putting the notes in that helps.  I use notion only because it came bundled with presonus and I started that prior to finding musescore.  theres 2 types of practice ill do concerning play along..1, the more common, is using slow downer from phone.  And only because i can get it setup and going quickly.  if I have the computer on and in presonus ill use the notion path.  once i have the notes entered i can assign to any midi instrument and play along.  or i can also play to a recorded track.  very handy.  one thing the latest update of presonus made available that i havent purcahsed yet..is the ability to on the fly in a track see standard notation instead of a midi piano roll.  that feature in itself will be worth it.  once i have a score built i can export that as an .mp3 play along and from that point use it in the first method played back from phone and use slow downer to speed up or slow down as needed.  if i had to pick one method it would be the notion or musescore.  theres a bit of learning curve that could make it frustrating but its been worth it to me.  learned a bunch.

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ELCB
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October 30, 2020 - 4:18 pm
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@SharonC , @BillyG , @GregW - 

https://anastaciomartinez.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/thinking-smiley.jpg

 

So... 

 

Could all the "Let It Snow" parts be put into Musescore or Notion - then used in place of click-tracks? 

Would it save Fiddlerman a lot of work...  

@Fiddlerman ?

 

giphy.gif

 

- Emily

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SharonC
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October 30, 2020 - 5:28 pm
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ELCB said
@SharonC , @BillyG , @GregW - 

So... 
Could all the "Let It Snow" parts be put into Musescore and then used in place of click-tracks? 

Would save Fiddlerman a lot of work...

 

Yes.  I’ve already done it for myself to practice (since he indicated a triplet quarter note/eight note = two eight notes, I put it in musescore as a dotted eight followed by sixteenth—to make swing rhythm). 

But this is Fiddlerman’s project—he may not want that, for a variety of reasons (how he merges videos, etc.,).  More than happy to help, but well intended assistance could end up costing him more work/time.

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SharonC
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October 30, 2020 - 5:45 pm
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BillyG said
. . . they now have implemented a subscription service.  Even that's not bad, if you find a number of arrangements you REALLY WANT (and you can always preview them, and listen to them without taking the last step of the download - which is what you pay for).  So, you can simply keep a note of the ones you want, collect a few, and subscribe for one month - not overly expensive.  But, if you don't need that - just manually notate what you want in the free-to-use program!  Costs nothing !

 

I found a few pieces that I was interested in, & just used the preview.  I think I would do like you said if I found a group I really wanted,  & just subscribe for a month to download.  But I'm pretty happy just using the free program. . . while it's still free.

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SharonC
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October 30, 2020 - 5:59 pm
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GregW said
@SharonC i agree..there is something about putting the notes in that helps.  I use notion only because it came bundled with presonus and I started that prior to finding musescore.  theres 2 types of practice ill do concerning play along..1, the more common, is using slow downer from phone.  And only because i can get it setup and going quickly.  if I have the computer on and in presonus ill use the notion path.  once i have the notes entered i can assign to any midi instrument and play along.  or i can also play to a recorded track.  very handy.  one thing the latest update of presonus made available that i havent purcahsed yet..is the ability to on the fly in a track see standard notation instead of a midi piano roll.  that feature in itself will be worth it.  once i have a score built i can export that as an .mp3 play along and from that point use it in the first method played back from phone and use slow downer to speed up or slow down as needed.  if i had to pick one method it would be the notion or musescore.  theres a bit of learning curve that could make it frustrating but its been worth it to me.  learned a bunch.

  

In a perfect world, some brilliant computer programmer/musician/nice person would design a program that does exactly what we want it to for practice/performing.  I'm thinking along the lines of Star Trek where I can say, "Computer, play the 1st part of the Bach Double with me, and adjust to my tempo. . ."  and it just happens.  I don't have to convert files, I don't have to Google "How do I....", I don't even have to put the violin/bow down to adjust something.  I know.  Dream on.  But the challenges are learning opportunities, so its all good.

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ELCB
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October 30, 2020 - 7:19 pm
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Yep! 

Great thread, @SharonC - thanx!

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/articles/2016/11/shutterstock-431133991-aha-moment-creative-pixels-opener-1484688241.jpg?resize=480:* 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d8/c5/94/d8c59462f37cec84f6cce3c1d09c1b64.gif 

 

I've still been waiting... warp speed! 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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October 31, 2020 - 1:19 am
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I'm not a fan of Musescore, but then it's probably because I'm a bit spoiled -- I got a copy of Sibelius (older version from before they went to a subscription model) at student discount when I was in law school. I do use Musescore when I want to share something with other people, because it provides a place to upload scores, but I find the interface clunky, so I mostly write the music in Sibelius and port to Musescore via MusicXML. That said, having that website to upload scores and find other people's scores is a huge benefit!

I've used Sibelius to generate backing tracks and click tracks before.

(But my main use for notation software is composing. I haven't done any composing in a few years since I got too busy playing viola, especially now that I play in an orchestra that performs standard repertoire on only 4-5 rehearsals, but this year, with practice time limited by injury, I've spent some time revising past compositions and cleaning up parts.)

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BillyG
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October 31, 2020 - 5:42 am
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SharonC said

ELCB said

@SharonC , @BillyG , @GregW - 

So... 

Could all the "Let It Snow" parts be put into Musescore and then used in place of click-tracks? 

Would save Fiddlerman a lot of work...

@ELCB - MuseScore can both export and import .musicxml files (quite separate from the .mscz files I mentioned earlier) - so - from Pierre (using, I believe "Finale" - but not certain) his score could be exported as .xml and imported directly by anyone using MuseScore (or Sibelius etc etc.... ) - BUT - the danger is that folks can easily change something (either intentionally, like slowing the tempo, or accidentally editing the score) and there be dragons!  I *have* swapped .xml with Pierre on an earlier project - but - once you start using an imported xml in place of the click track, and understand precisely what you are doing - one has to be ULTRA CAREFUL and do LOTS of checks against the original click track, JUST IN CASE.

@SharonC - absolutely - as you say following....

Yes.  I’ve already done it for myself to practice (since he indicated a triplet quarter note/eight note = two eight notes, I put it in musescore as a dotted eight followed by sixteenth—to make swing rhythm). 

But this is Fiddlerman’s project—he may not want that, for a variety of reasons (how he merges videos, etc.,).  More than happy to help, but well intended assistance could end up costing him more work/time.

And really I see no alternative (unless you absolutely know what you are doing) to using the one, absolute frame of reference, for recording - that being the released click track.

[ An aside - and ABSOLUTELY NOT recommended unless as I say you "really know what you're doing" - you CAN take the released click track into, say Audacity.  Inspect the lead-in bar count-down click.  Measure the time (from a knowledge of Audacity's sample rate and number of samples from peak-to-peak (or zero cross to zero cross) across an entire bar).  You also need to know what the time sig is (i.e. beats per bar, and whether that is 1/4 beats or 1/8th etc) and from THAT yes - you can establish the tempo and create your own click track (in MuseScore, now you know the actual tempo of the click track from Audacity).  And yes - I have seen a score with an indicated tempo of (I forget precisely now - but I think it was) 110 (indicated) - but 108 in the actual click track - precisely why I say the absolute frame of reference really has (for most "normal" users - aye - there are a few LOLOLOL) to be the released click track - not a metronome (for other than practise) or a reliance on what the score may indicate.]

@AndrewH - indeed - I too also find some of the MuseScore user-interface "clunky" - although there are some hidden gems in there.  Still, it's free.  Nice one though on the student discount you got on Sibelius thumbs-up- green with envy here LOL !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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ELCB
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October 31, 2020 - 10:31 am
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@BillyG -

🌟 Thank you! 🌟 Thank you! 🌟 Thank you! 🌟

Tremendous help in clearing this up in my head! 

Really appreciate you taking out time to explain this, Billy. 

 

https://freedesignfile.com/upload/2013/10/Halloween-Spooky-Pumpkins-and-cat-vector-03.jpg

 

- Emily

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
October 31, 2020 - 11:54 am
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LOL - @ELCB - no problem - you've clearly got it - but yes, it can sometimes be difficult to get these points across (some of which are more subtle than others).   

I know we have had (on previous projects) the occasional submission that cannot be used because of the tempo being out - MANY things can be corrected/hidden/suppressed in the video and audio mix-down when there are a large number of audio parts - but - time-stretching/reducing a submitted slightly-slower or faster take, while keeping the frequency/pitch unchanged, although entirely possible (I do that in Audacity frequently), can be really time consuming. 

Such a time-stretch-while-preserving-pitch conversion is, in itself, fast (like any slow-downer/speeder-upper) - but getting the overall time to match precisely over say 120 seconds is a much greater problem) - and wouldn't be necessary had the player used the click-track in the first place !!!!   The other issue is that so many folks leave submissions to the very last minute - and then there's simply no time to get back to them, explain, and ask to re-submit....

I sort of imagine the only other "absolute frame of reference" would be an actual player performance as a "lead player" (and used as a play-along by the other participants) - where perhaps the (possible) subtle nuances in timing and expression can be emulated by the participants. I can see something along these lines (the lead-player being almost a conductor, in a sense, not just "playing-out-the-lead-line" like an automaton (LOL like MuseScore, etc) - I mean the leading of the entire combined performance as a virtual conductor.......  Hmmm...  anyway, that was just thoughts....  Perhaps that goes a step too far for an individual player to "bring their own feel" into the part(s) they submit - dunno - as I say - just thoughts - dunno

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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ELCB
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giphy.gif 

@BillyG -

I'm aware of the importance of synchronized parts and performance. 

My problem is I don't want to start practicing any of the parts without a click track because without it, I will always put my own feel into them!  Guess I just haven't learned any better (lol).

It would've been nice to have been able to help Fiddlerman with some of his prep for this Group Project (sigh). 

https://i1.wp.com/www.mipuntomap.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/23000166_907575836067157_5088976394038768013_o.jpg?fit=720%2C597&ssl=1

 

A lttle early, but Happy Samhuinn Billy!

- Emily

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BillyG
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October 31, 2020 - 3:45 pm
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ELCB said ... I'm aware of the importance of synchronized parts and performance. 

My problem is I don't want to start practicing any of the parts without a click track because without it, I will always put my own feel into them!  Guess I just haven't learned any better (lol).

It would've been nice to have been able to help Fiddlerman with some of his prep for this Group Project (sigh). 

Oh - indeed Emily - I absolutely understand - we get so fired-up and ready-to-roll LOL and anything that feels like an impediment (or a delay to our final ambition/goal) is irksome to say the least !   With you on THAT !!!!

Equally - (and I experienced this - oh - not here - in earlier days and different instruments etc ) "putting you own feel" onto parts is actually IDEAL (well, within the timing constraints of course - I'm referring to bar-by-bar but effectively in-time interpretations) sure - in a strange, round-about-way , that is actually what happens in a "massed violin players" situation ( say between 12-16 vln 1 and much the same for vln 2 in a full-scale orchestra etc...) - they are NOT all 24 or 30+ of them "playing absolutely in synch or intonation" - of course they are not - that is what brings out that richness of sound.

But indeed - I do still agree (I was just making a point above!) yes - an indication of tempo, etc, especially with a click-track where (like in this case) a duplet is indicated as being a "swing" pair of 8ths, would give folks a kick-start....

As we say - we are all "champing-at-the-bit" to get started...  LOLOL 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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AndrewH
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October 31, 2020 - 5:14 pm
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ELCB said

My problem is I don't want to start practicing any of the parts without a click track because without it, I will always put my own feel into them!  Guess I just haven't learned any better (lol).

  

Practicing for virtual orchestra projects is definitely different from practicing other things. After playing a bunch of them over the summer, mostly on no more than a week's notice, I think I've worked out what's most effective for me.

I do find that it's best to do the bulk of my practice with whatever is going to be in my ear (whether it's a click track, a recording, or a metronome). I start off without the audio, because it often takes a bit of practice at slower tempo to learn the notes, but not for any longer than absolutely necessary. As soon as I'm able to play the notes approximately in tempo, I practice with the audio track.

I don't really bother trying to practice with a slowed-down audio track -- unless I already have the score in notation software (which is rarely the case), it's too much effort to generate one compared to the amount of time I'd spend using it. While learning the notes, I'm not really playing through the entire piece at all, but only picking out tricky spots to work on. Usually my first attempt to play through the whole thing is not until after I think I'm ready to play in tempo.

By the way, as options other than click tracks go, I think the most effective I've worked with was Camellia Symphony's Mozart recording this summer, where our conductor recorded a piano reduction of the orchestra parts and sent it out. The tempo could be much more fluid than a click track, the pianist (conductor) naturally stayed in time with himself, and the piano was percussive enough that we could hear the beats perfectly clearly without clicks.

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SharonC
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AndrewH said
I'm not a fan of Musescore, but then it's probably because I'm a bit spoiled -- I got a copy of Sibelius (older version from before they went to a subscription model) at student discount when I was in law school. I do use Musescore when I want to share something with other people, because it provides a place to upload scores, but I find the interface clunky, so I mostly write the music in Sibelius and port to Musescore via MusicXML. That said, having that website to upload scores and find other people's scores is a huge benefit!

I've used Sibelius to generate backing tracks and click tracks before.

(But my main use for notation software is composing. I haven't done any composing in a few years since I got too busy playing viola, especially now that I play in an orchestra that performs standard repertoire on only 4-5 rehearsals, but this year, with practice time limited by injury, I've spent some time revising past compositions and cleaning up parts.)

 

I’ve looked at Sibelius. I’ve grown used to Musescore, but I’m likely to tinker with Sibelius in the future.   I recently downloaded the free version (Sibelius First), but haven’t tried it yet.   

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Fiddlerman
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November 3, 2020 - 12:02 pm
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I think we tend to prefer whatever we are most used to using.
I am hooked on Finale.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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