I have been an extremely busy bee the past couple months working hard on a project here at the school. I’d like to share just a bit.
I’ve learned a ton about using Notion software, by PreSonus, to fill in for musicians that just are not available.
You see we are a small school district with limited funds and limited access to amazing musicians who are able to cover all the possible different instruments we might want to utilize in a particular production. We just are not able to produce an entire orchestra, including harpist!
So I set out to see if it was possible to make do by using the nTempo feature in Notion.
Through a long process of taking the orchestra parts, entering them into the computer, and lots of trial and error I have found that using Notion with nTempo is absolutely a wonderful solution! Not a replacement in ANY WAY shape or form but I’d rather go live WITH these parts then to NOT have the parts!
Neuratrons NotateMe used in conjunction with the PhotoScore in-app-purchase saved me a TON of time!
I’ve found that using my iPhone X with NotateMe’s PhotoScore was WAY faster than using my original iPad Pro 12.9″ (I really wasn’t surprised that it was faster but I WAS surprised at HOW much faster it was!) Hands down, noticeable!
Sometimes PhotoScore was NOT the fastest way!
PhotoScore does NOT get everything –
multi measure repeats are the first obvious item it misses.
Another biggie was that sometimes it missed the key signature.
Text ALWAYS had to be cleaned up.
Notion – for iOS – Well worth having this on my iOS devices as well as my laptop! Has replaced my previous notation app.
PhotoScore was how I started with the strings – Violin 1 & 2, Viola, Cello, String Bass
I always had to adjust the Show Attachments Above/Below to Auto.
I also had to adjust Set Note Stem Direction to Auto.
Step Entry Mode is Pretty stinking fast!
Harp parts got entered via step entry mode
Many little parts that my High School kids couldn’t play were also entered via step entry –
Real Time Recording absolutely needs a quantize feature. Because of the lack of this feature I found it useless.
LEARN YOUR KEY BOARD SHORTCUTS!
In a huge project like this I actually for the first time in my life lived in Continuous View Mode
Found out that entering Lyrics has a bug – it doesn’t always work in Continuous View Mode!
One – switch to Pages Across or Pages Down mode
Two – Enter Score Layout mode and drag the Part containing lyrics down lower in the score temporarily.
USING THE iPAD:
For the entire first act I never touched my computer. I scanned all the string parts via my iPhoneX and then edited them all in Notion on my iPad.
Then I switched to my computer.
I think the computer is possibly a bit faster.
I haven’t tried the full score on my iPad again, now that I am about done. I am wondering if the iPad can actually handle playing the full score.
Using nTempo is pretty straight forward.
First of all – Not available on iOS – only Desktop/Laptop
Add an nTempo Track to your score (it’s under basics)
Add the beat that you’d like to tap along to
Then hit that little conductor dude (or Shift Return – which is VERY finicky though – sometimes that shortcut works and sometimes not. I really have NOT figured out the trick fully) (See the screen shot above to spot the conductor icon)
THEN the MAGIC….
start tapping and the music start to play and follows your tapping for tempo!
Sometimes it is easier to tap in specific rhythms rather than the beat – for instance why Tapp four quarter notes when everyone is holding a whole note? or why tap quarter notes if everyone is playing quarter note triplets? (as you can see in the screenshot above…. the nTempo part is NOT quarter notes)
iCLOUD SYNC for NOTION
iCloud sync in Notion is scary good! I never once had to manually transfer files between my iPhone/iPad/Laptop when I had wi-fi available.
I was working on the beach during spring break a few times and had to AirDrop files back and forth then
I used this app to store references to all the books that I did not want to carry with me.
I am actually NOT using my iPad during the show because using the computer AND iPad is a bit much. I actually like the static reliability of having a two page paper score in front of me.
That has been a pain though for simple things like quickly finding specific songs. I mean the full score is 202 pages LONG!
As for the sounds coming from Notion – OUTSTANDING – I remember the day I’d have to create a score for the way I wanted things to look and then another for the way I wanted things to sound. With Notion, this is no longer the case! Dynamics, articulations, and the list goes on…. they ALL make the sounds you’d expect! It’s very nice!
With the exception of swing… yeah… that’s a bit iffy still. It kind of works but there are adaptations you have to make. Like when you want one 8th note and then the next two tied.
I’ve ended up putting WAY more parts into the computer than I anticipated because I decided that trying to be the nTempo tapper AND trying to read my paper score was impossible! I really needed to use simply the computer.
Here are the parts I’ve put in that I never thought of before I started this process….
Piano Conductor – This is a piano part that actually get turned off in the mixer. It is there because even on a 15″ MacBook Pro screen I can not see all the parts. If I’m conducting I have to know what the heck I’m conducting. It is in effect a condensed score that lives at the top of my screen.
The actors cue lines to know how the music lines up with the dialogue.
Vocal Parts WITH lyrics – this helps immensely as I do NOT remember lyrics very well. It also helps to separate the vocal line from the instrumental parts.
nTempo – I knew I’d have to enter beats. I didn’t really understand the intense pre-thought of how detailed this track would become.
It’s WAY easier to just conduct – it comes second nature 🙂 I do wish I had the resources for all live musicians.
You had better have a great sound system to make this work. First of all the sounds in Notion rock but if your speakers are bad… well….
You’ve got to have a good monitoring system so you and the live musicians can hear the track.
and finally…. just like a real live instrument… YOU’D BETTER PRACTICE A TON!
Well this weekend I decided to create four keyboard parts for my electronic group. I also decided that I was going to use Notion on my iPad to do that. I’ve come up with a few tips for you….
I worked WAY better in “Continuous View” which is strange because I kind of hate that view in Sibelius on a laptop.
Part of learning if an app will work for you is to force yourself to just sit down and USE it exclusively! Don’t allow your self to go back to whatever you HAVE been using. Just bite the bullet and use the new app. It’s going to be frustrating but the more you have to dig for answers, the faster you will become better at it!
When Entering Notes…
Use the record feature if you can play the part from an external keyboard. It’s pretty darn accurate!
turn off tuplets if you don’t need them though!
Set your split point if working with a grand staff.
Really think about the Multi-Voice – try it both ways. Sometimes I thought having this on would work better and as it turned out it was actually worse!)
Learn what each mode does fro entering notes –
The two quarter notes besides each other allows for entry of one note at a time
The chords allow for entering of more than one note
The Pencil one allows you to step entry
the speaker icon allows you to hear the selected note
Learn where the Voice One and Voice Two options are in the fifth menu over from the left
Voice One has a solid note on top of an outlined note
Voice Two has an outlined note on top of a solid note
Of course if you are entering drum parts there are four voice choices right there to the left of the drum pads.
When selecting many measures at a time to copy and paste into another part…
To grab the little blue handle you have to tap and wait a moment THEN drag!
You HAVE to let go of the blue handle to move the screen over – you CANNOT drag the handles and expect the screen to scroll at the same time.
After moving the screen over wait for it to stop moving BEFORE grabbing the blue handle again. Then tap, wait a moment and drag your selection out further.
When the entire passage is selected make sure to select the option you need (Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Clear etc…) BEFORE moving the screen back! Otherwise you are going to end up repeating this entire process AGAIN!
Add all rehearsal marks at the same time – just makes it easier then jumping back and forth between tools.
Make sure the spot where you want to insert the rehearsal mark is actually green. If you just selected a note and turned it orange then the rehearsal is NOT going to go there! (See note below about dynamics and this tip)
In fact you can NOT even have the entire measure selected to insert a rehearsal mark (IF you want it to show up in the spot you THINK it should! Which is usually at the start of a measure by the way PreSonus!)
Good grief I wish there was a way to have those rehearsal marks be the measure number by default!
Add all your dynamics at the same time – just makes it easier then jumping back and forth between tools.
When inserting dynamics the spot you want the dynamic to be inserted can be Green OR Orange either one unlike when dealing with Rehearsals marks as noted above!
Yeah…. can’t find them? Select a measure and you will! Pretty slick eh?
Oh…. Notion determines if you should ACTUALLY be putting a hairpin in the spot you want to…
For instance you will NOT be able to add a decrescendo in a piano part underneath a whole note.
Page Layout and Printing….
Adding different types of titles, credits, page numbers DOES NOT WORK SMOOTHLY so be warned that you are going to have to dink around with this a BUNCH before you get all the text on your page the way it should be. It’s almost as if overtime you add a new one and the iPad AUTOMATICALLY picks a meta type, that if you already had one of those in there (and you usually do) that things get switched all around. BE PATIENT and for goodness sakes I hope PreSonus reads this blog post and gets to work fixing this issue! (I’m sure they already a fix in action!)
Please oh please add a title for pages 2, 3, 4 on to the end of the piece!
There are quite a few pre-set Text types you can choose from
Title, Subtitle, Credit, Dedication, Copyright, Date, Page Number, Part Name, or on iPad the type of None
Please add the Part Name to each part you print.
When changing Page Layout margins make sure you change the size of the margins and then hit the BACK button or else the changes will NOT take place! (Drives me NUTS! I want to change the margins and then just tap out of there back into the score.)
Play around with the notation size and margins until you get just the right look for you parts BEFORE you print them! SAVE A TREE!
Score and Part Printing….
There isn’t a piano reduction tool in Notion yet so don’t bother looking for it!
There isn’t a way to print just two or three of the parts into a condensed score so if you want to do that you will have to have multiple files. One would be the full score and another would contain just the parts you want. (Again, hopefully PreSonus already is fixing this issue and expanding the capabilities of Notion!)
Saving and Sharing….
The new options under the sharing menu just simply rock now! (THANKS PRESONUS!)
You can now Send As a …. Notion File, PDF, PDF Parts, MusicXML, WAV, AAC, MIDI
You can now Save to your Device or to iCloud (Choose this – it’s magic!)
You can upload to SoundCloud
You can Email (and all those different types mentioned in #2 above are choices when you email it!)
or you can Print it
If you have some tips for using Notion on iPad I’d love to add them to my list here!