So, you’re probably thinking that I should finish some of my other projects before I tackle a new one. Well, that’s not really the way I work. I tend to flit from one project to another as they take my fancy. Really finishing something generally involves a deadline. I do pretty good work under a deadline. I mean, I finished the backing track for my daughter’s solo in time – not that I’m thrilled with the way it turned out.
Actually, this work is prompted by a new software purchase. Back when I graduated with my engineering degree in 2000, I picked up a copy of Finale 2000 as a graduation present to myself. I’ve been using it since then strictly as a music notation program, which is of course what it was originally designed for. All of the lead sheets on my website were prepared with that copy of Finale 2000.
Lately I’ve been interested in more orchestral, or at least classically influenced, music. Two pieces I’m working on are going to be arranged for piano and string quartet. Then there’s the musical that I’ve been working on with a friend for years (most of those on hiatus), set in 1920’s Chicago and all of the music is Big band swing. I certainly can’t afford to hire a big band to cut the tracks, and since the target market is small to medium sized churches, they certainly won’t be able to swing live swing.
Enter Finale 2007. Sometime between Finale 2000 and Finale 2007 they added a feature called Human Playback. This allows Finale to interpret the symbols and markings on the score beyond just notes and rests. It can also duplicate styles of music from Baroque to Swing (Swing!). It is also bundled with Kontakt Player and a stripped down version of Garritan Personal Orchestra, which means very expressive possibilities. If and when I upgrade to Finale 2008, the instrument collection has been expanded to include much of Garritan’s Jazz and Big Band collection, and Garritan’s Marching Band collection.
My first project using Finale 2007, however, is none of these. I chose to start with something that is not an original composition at all, rather an orchestration. At the same event in Decatur where my daughter sang to the soundtrack I spent so much time on, she also played a piano solo. We found a book at a local music dealer with really nice contemporary arrangements of classic hymns and choruses. Last year she played Holy, Holy, Holy, and this year she played Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. While she was practicing this year, I could hear an orchestral accompaniment in my head – kind of a mini-concerto with the piano playing exactly what she played solo. I scanned in the piano part to jump start the process and began adding instruments this week.
For my next installment, I’ll start getting into the technical details of making Finale do what I wanted it to do. Until then, I’ll be trying to get this music out of my head and into the computer.