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notation, musical

A good tool makes it possible to do things you simply couldn't do without it, not just do things you already could but that bit better. Thank goodness, then, for mup - notation software I use just about every day and couldn't do without.
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There are so many things I can't do as well as I can imagine them that … there are lots of things I've given up on trying to do. One of them could have been transcribing and arranging music, yet now this is an activity which brings me great pleasure; keeps De Schalmei well-stocked with nineteenth-century repertory, provides the Ceciliazanvereniging with crisply readable scores, and even gives me a harmless and productive occupation while Chris is watching football at the other end of the room.

My musical handwriting is simply not up to snuff, though, and my concentration as a copyist starts to flag after a couple of staves. Software to the rescue, then, with the unmissable functions of copy, paste and delete … but what software? Well, my first experiments were with Dr. T Copyist on Baldric the Amiga. Good results, from what was essentially a graphics program with a good musical vocabulary: it didn't handle justification, and notes had to be painstakingly assembled from note-heads, flags and beams, but it was (as they say) "enabling".

Then came the first of the Windows PCs, when all the big-name programs were only available for Macs. My choice at that stage was Noteworthy, a generally competent all-round notation program that gave good results, allowed fairly brisk note-entry and supported musical functions such as transposition and printing one stave of a multi-part piece. De Schalmei still play from some of the Noteworthy scores.

And then, and then … my very own PC, which after a brief, doomed flirtation with BeOS metamorphosed into a Linux box. Lilypond never even made it to evaluation; the list of dependencies and the impression it gave of requiring any number of applications to work seamlessly together ruled it out. mup, on the other hand, was simple to install, entirely text-based and clearly written by musicians who also knew their way round a computer. (this intuitive evaluation has since been confirmed, once I took the time to read some more of their site)

Astonishingly complete range of features, thorough documentation and impeccable e-mail support. It's a pleasure to use, really it is. But don't take my word for it: try it for yourself, something you can now do on most platforms.


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