Back when I was a music student, it wasn’t all that unusual for people–especially students–not to have a computer at home. That’s what computer labs were for, so, yeah, my first few years of internet-use all took place in campus computer labs. Campus computer labs tended to have only the sort of software everyone needed, so while the music notation software Finale has been around for ages, I never really learned to use it properly: the only computer I knew that had it installed was a tiny little Mac Classic in the “electronic music lab”–a tiny, windowless room mostly taken up by an antique synthesizer, to which normal music students didn’t have normal access until my final year of music studies.
The result? I’ve been carrying around handwritten music scores for almost two decades now. I’ve been carrying them around because most of them are the only surviving copy of that piece, and it’s hard to back up something written on paper. So I’ve been carrying them around for ages, but lately I’ve decided that maybe I should teach myself how to use music notation software. After all, while I’m not sure anyone would ever want to perform any of these pieces, I would be able to share them; I would also be able to stage a performance easily if I wanted–just print the score and output and print the parts. Finally, whether I trash or store the manuscripts, I won’t have to carry them around anymore.
So anyway, lately, I’ve been teaching myself to use the freeware music notation software Musescore, the freeware music notation software designed to compete with Finale. I’m still struggling with a few things, especially because of my lack of a numpad on my current keyboard–I may have to borrow my wife’s external keyboard to see if it speeds up input, and I need to spend some time refreshing my memory regarding a few input shortcuts–but overall my experience has been very positive. It’s a great program, and for free, it’s downright amazing. There are features that are “missing” but I have faith that those features will be added in the relatively near future. Certainly for most of my compositions, there’s no need for more than what Musescore offers.
But, you know, I’ve also been thinking about languages and learning curves.