Saturday, February 03, 2007

A New Encore Music Publishing Software Upgrade

This is good news: Encore 4.6 is just around the corner.

“Whatever we do, we always keep in mind that our customers are first and foremost musicians, and they shouldn’t need a degree in computer science to use any of our software.” - Richard Hotchkiss of GVOX

Amen, brother.

I may be among the last of the last generation who were taught music calligraphy when I was coming up, and my experience with music notation software goes back to my years as a Synclavier owner, and its Music Printing Option was the first music printing software system EVER. Of course, it was ponderous to use by today's standards - and a degree in "Manual Reading" was required - but it was SO COOL to be able to develop and save a score as a file in a computer.

But, the Synclavier also had a streamlined (and crude looking in classic green on black) notation entry feature for the Digital Memory Recorder. This revolutionized my compositional process: I could play back what I composed and audition it virtually immediately. Of course, it was a menu driven interface: There was no GUI with floating palettes &c. and WYSIWYG was a brand new term that applied to almost nothing at the time (Mid 1980's).

What I wanted was a program that would combine the beautiful score printouts of the Music Printing Option and the ease of use of the Notation Entry Option: Basically, the MPO interface was too slow - it was not possible to integrate it with my compositional workflow - and the NEO printouts didn't even beam notes on the beat.

Around 1990 I had my first encounter with Finale. OK if you are a publisher, but worse than useless if you are a fast working composer. The interface was actually user-hostile. Nope. Then I ran into Encore 3 in 1992 or 1993: FINALLY - a program that printed out nice looking scores, and that was easy enough to use so that I could integrate it into my compositional process. I got it and never used the Synclavier's systems again.

Changing from PC to Mac was a nightmare (I had to print out the scores and re-enter them manually), but once I got past that, it has been smooth sailing for almost fifteen years now. The current Mac version,, is quite nice, but I noticed that some of the new palettes come up in strange places and saving the template does not fix the problem: It has all the looks of an intermediate step toward a more complete release. It is a LOT more stable than 4.5.4 though: I have NOT been able to crash it, whereas 4.5.4 unexpectedly quits more often than any other Mac OS X program I use: Quite a relief.

4.6 sounds great: XML import will be fantastic, and Quartz rendering will move it closer to true WYSIWYG (We'll have to see how close): Planning for PDF renderings presently requires some... er... planning. I'd like a little more science than art in that particular area.

WYSIWYG... If_Only.

Now, if they ever come up with one of those Star Trek Holodeck dealies...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leland Smith's SCORE predated the Synclavier's music printing system.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Well, it turns out that you are correct. And, by quite a few years, at that.

I had never even heard of SCORE, which I think says enough about it.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

Hucbald: I don't know why I thought of this "politically incorrect" recollection from my days as a Classical Music Radio DJ. But I loved to jab the elitists who would call me at night on the studio line by playing a selection from "Switched On Back". On my back announcement, I said: "Music of course by Bach as interpreted for us by Walter...AHEM!...Wendy Carlos". A fun post here. I have heard of the Synclavier.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Interestingly (or not) I met Wendy once - I can't remember if it was at a NAMM show or an AES show - and (s)he was wearing sandals: Big mistake, as the feet were a dead giveaway (And not the only one). LOL!

2:32 PM  

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