Musicians - what software do you use?

BeardBro

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I'd like to start dabbling in orchestration, but alas, I'm not sure where to start! I'm very familiar with recording - I use Reaper and ProTools mostly - but I'm completely oblivious when it comes to orchestra software. I've heard of Sibelius, but I don't know if it matches my criteria or not. Essentially I'm looking for a software that has built-in instruments that I can make a composition with, then export it as MP3 or OGG for a soundtrack.


Thanks in advance!
 

Ms Littlefish

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I've used Finale since 2004. I love it and know it inside and out. Sibelius; however, I am going to give a shot just because I feel like they're winning the tech war with Finale. Finale is still a 32-bit software and it's really showing it these days. They even just put out a large update so I assume the leap to 64-bit is still awhile off whereas Sibelius has already made that progress. Those are both very expensive programs but they do have 30-day trials. However, if you'd like to just have something free around to experiment, Musescore will get the job done.


By the way, you can still export MIDI and use those in Reaper/Protools for further detailing, nor it is really necessary to have a notation software to make orchestral music. Though personally, I do like notation software simply because sheet music is the best way I can communicate and organize music because my entire experience with music has been such.


Hope this helps!
 
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BeardBro

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That helps quite a bit! I'll probably look into one of those three programs. Do you know offhand what features Musescore might be lacking in comparison to Sibelius or Finale?
 

Ms Littlefish

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Not off the top of my head unfortunately, no. I don't have much personal experience using Musescore but I always mention it because its free. One of main reasons I stay on Finale is because I get an upgrade price and have its keyboard shortcuts memorized. These are Musescore's and I really recommend getting some of them down, especially for note entry, to greatly improve the experience of using a notation software.


 https://musescore.org/en/handbook/keyboard-shortcuts
 

Composer

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If you have ProTools already, it's a matter of finding an orchestral palette. I use Finale for notation, but never for an orchestral mockup. I use Digital Performer as my main DAW, but ProTools can do most of the same things. I'd recommend checking out the Composers Cloud at soundsonline.com (EWQL). They have a 30-day free trial, after which it's $30/month. You get access to a large chunk of their libraries for that fee. The Hollywood series is a great orchestral palette. The Composer Cloud only gives you access to the Gold versions, not the Diamond versions, but you can do quite a lot with that. I'm actually envious of people starting out with the Composers Cloud, cuz I had to pay full price for these libraries years ago. Here's a cue I composed for Ferrari World that uses the Hollywood Series exclusively (albeit the Diamond versions): 
 

LaFlibuste

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Depends on the way you like to work, really. If you are good enough a pianist you could enter the lines directly in a DAW (I personnally use Logic, although I was a garageband user for a long time. It does fine up to a certain point). I don't like it though, I like to take the time writing everything down and I'm not really that good a keyboardist.

So I work with Finale because I know a lot of the shortcuts too. I tried sibelius a few years back but I found it less flexible. It was easier to pick up but ultimately more limited, in my experience. I couldn't rewrite and redefine chord symbols like I wanted, had a hard time with page layout (especially slashes), etc. As far as writing music to import in a DAW is concerned, it's not a big problem, but if you plan on writing for actual musicians to perform it can be a very serious issue. Can't really comment on Musescore or any other software, sorry.

That being said, I wouldn't trust either Finale or Sibelius to give a good result audio-wise. I use it mainly for the composition phase but I export it as a midi and import the midi in a DAW where I can better control every little details: sound fonts, EQ, panning, various effects, etc. This post-prod part is not really my thing but it's really worth it.
 

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