My impressions and wishes - a short review

Discussion about Overture but not bugs.
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elerouxx
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My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

Hi!
I just put my notes together and made this 'mini-review' of Overture myself, including some requests and wish lists. I am aware there's a feature request section of the forums, but I wanted to just share my thoughs for the time being.

First of all, a short background about how I use software: I am a composer and clarinet player, I study and teach at the Federal University of Bahia, and also a filmmaker. So I do: contemporary composition and theme arrangements (which require good tools for several kind of notation, traditionally and modern), and also soundtracks for commercial/films (which would require a DAW or ideally mix up score/daw features).
I've used Finale, Sibelius, Musescore and even Dorico's demo recently. But my current tool of option is Notion, for composition and notation.
I am also a nerd and have done some programming in C and C++ when I had the time and dreams. I collaborated very little with Musescore, (just fixing the feathered beams that were already implemented).

Now sorry for being as honest and synthetic as possible about my opinions of these applications. I don't intend to start fires:
- Finale is old and stupid, expensive, bureaucratic, boring and awkward, anti-ergonomic and unpleasant, sounds horrible, it's almost offensive from a programmer's point of view, and however it's the most complete score editing tool if you know how to do things.
- Sibelius is old and stuck on the outdated microsoft Ribbon interface, which was dropped after a year or so but found its afterlive on Sib. Much more friendly and modern than Finale, might be tweaked to sound better. Still, some things feel a little 'hardcoded', and requires workarounds for lots of things that should be simpler to do.
- Musescore is a wonderful project but after touring the developer's forum and writing some small pieces of code myself, I see that it's plagued with differences and discussions that end up putting tools in awkward places, almost like Finale in some ways. Maybe it suffers from tradition, from how things have been done in the Big Boys for decades, even if it they have always been the wrong way (say, how you add a tuplet in Finale or in Musescore). It's however a beautiful effort, good engraving tool, and works fine for lots of things.
- Dorico (tried it recently) took an ethernity to be pre-released, and in my opinion didn't born as smart as it promised it would. I feel too much perfectionism in engraving, but to the pathologic point that slows down the real piece of software and its user interface.
- Notion is wonderful. Call me biased - but it sounds wonderful, lays things out wonderfully, it's the closest thing to a daw/notation hibrid so far, working fine with Rewire and now being integrated to StudioOne. The composer doesn't have to worry too much about layout since it produces beautiful scores with little effort and very few manual tweaking. I miss some features: contemporary notation and manual controls, it doesnt import or draw graphics, feathered beams or beams across barlines for instance. However it's the definition of elegance and smart, from its interface to it's output of both print and sound, and that made me fall in love with it and learn to overcome and work around the things I miss.


So, back to Overture 5:

I love the freedom the app already gives the user and the many things that work so easily, already implemented. In my opinion Don is doing the right thing - basically, finding a place among notation software despite the Giants that have been there for years, by OVERSMARTING them instead of mimic the way they do things and trying to earn a space by force. This is works great in most situations.

I particularly love these things:

○ Being able to draw and import graphics and lines everywhere
○ Graphics and lines are smart enough to go from a system to another, from a staff to another without losing their starting and end points. You can even draw a dotted barline manually that only goes from the top of a staff to the bottom of another, spanning on just some 4 tracks of a full and complex score, and this line will never lose the right place.
○ Graphics, lines, slurs can be dotted or dashed and this can be changed easily later. Hairpins can be rotated and widened, there is a 'dynamic baseline' that helps aligning dynamic markings.
○ Tuplets are added very easily as they should. Not as smart as Notion but with more capable, and WAY smarter than Finale and Sibelius.
○ Nested tuplets already! Just do it!
○ Very easily change noteheads and hide whatever elements you want to hide.
○ Super-easy beaming across barlines. Just do it. No tricks.
○ Contemporary Accelerando (feathered) beams already implemented, easy to use* [although glitchy right now] and already working across barlines.
○ Auto spacing and layout work fine in most situations. Slurs rarely need editing. User can just write music without worring a lot about the layout. Other applications require a lot of manual adjustment. [some room from improvement here, see below]
○ Staves can be scaled individually to any size and their properties edited (can use flat beams, show or hide signatures or clefs or ledger lines, can be manually designed any number of lines thru a cool interface... lots of options there) [*see note below]
○ Creating OSSIAS above or below any staff is a one-second task. This is wonderful.
○ Easily manage parts and switch between parts and the master score, including handling DIVisi
○ Easily create parts with more than one instrument (useful for section parts, like percussion).
○ Non destructive note editing - meaning, you can insert notes or change values without deleting the following portion of music. Just change durations, make tuplets or delete rests fearlessly, unlike finale or musescore that mess everything when you change durations.
○ Lots of score-wide engraving options: thickness of lines and beams, overall spacing, notation size, SMuFL fonts support and change in real time, all WYSIWYG and with realtime feedback while looking at the final output! It's very easy to achieve the look you want before you print.



- Essential things that don't work yet. (Essential, as in deal breakers, at least for the time being)
***UPDATE: This has been solved! [/size]○ There's no easy way to work on atonal/no signature music. User could just work in C major and choose to 'don't show' key signatures on transposing staves- but this option just hides the signature and doesn't make accidentals to show in every note. Meaning, if I have F# in the signature, every F will be shown as F but played as F#, with no visible accident anywhere. The only workaround right now is to hide the key signature AND manually put an accidental to every note as needed (even if the accidental already is in the invisible signature). This is a theoretic workaround, not really doable in practice.
○ Instrument and staff changes along a track isn't implemented and it's essential, along with their correct transposition. Overture 5 is amazing in which almost every dream advanced feature is already implemented (say, beams across barlines or feathered beams, correctly position any graphics, nested tuplets and other features that are a bit of a headache in other applications) however changing instruments is very essential and Overture doesn't have this yet. (Staff style changes are not as essential but would be a nice addition, regarding the so many features Overture already has. See below)

- BIG things that could improve:
○ I love the simplicity Overture handles everything. But this doesn't seem to apply in the same extension to: time signatures, key signatures and clefs. They are a bit more bureaucratic - can't be right-clicked and made invisible, nor just clicked and deleted. It would make more sense if:
§ A time signature in the middle of the score could be deleted, so the previous time signature would take effect from that part and on. Just as if this signature was never added.
§ A key signature could be deleted in the middle of track, thus the previous time signature would take effect
§ A key signature could be deleted even at the start of a track, just letting be without one, displaying the accidents every time they are needed per measure or per note.
§ A clef could be deleted in the middle of the track so the previous clef would take effect again, as if I never added the clef.
§ A key or time signature could just be put on the score (somewhat as clefs work) without needing to specify a range, and leaving all previous and FOLLOWING signatures to just be untouched. Currently, I have to worry about subsequent time/key changes or selecting a range of measures. This could be optional, and if I just 'put it there' it would take effect until there is a new change (which is already in the score). The way it works right not is too Finale-ish or Sibelius-ish to my taste. I think the big deal is to outsmart the big boys, not go along with them.
○ As told above (in Essential things) it would be WONDERFUL if the user could change the staff style design AND OPTIONS in portions of a track or in the middle of them. Reduce the number of lines to 1, 2, 3 or even zero, displaying or not keys, ledger lines, flat beams- everything that is in the Track inspector, activated or deactivated at any time of the track.
○ Auto spacing and layout is cool, but doesn't work as elegantly as, for instance, in Notion. It's easy to have beams and stems and slurs and dynamics overlapping from one staff to the next one, specially if using voices. Then, Staff Handles need to be used to drag the staves up and down (which is buggy). It would be great if Overture handled this spacing better as the composer inserts notes, slurs, texts...
○ Still about spacing: it's often hard to layout dynamics correctly, because the space is tight between staves and Overture doesn't auto-space. It's too easy to drag down a pp or ff or < hairpin and it ends up attached to the next track instead of being positioned right on the current one. This kind of breaks the so-desired auto slur, auto layout features, requiring a lot of manual work.
○ Although PARTS are handled essentially well for common pieces, and can be extracted and edited later, it would be much better that the composer could work on parts WITHOUT having to extract and unlink them. This would be accomplished by allowing notes, texts, rests and other elements to be spaced specifically on the part, and system breaks to be added to the part independent of the breaks on the score. I hope in the future that parts can also be edited, reflecting this edition on the score (really writing music on the part). A single file with score and parts that can be revised, fine tuned at any time and kept always together is a dream, but shouldn't be hard to achieve.


- Minor things that could improve:
- Custom noteheads: it's doable by either mapping the font element of an existing notehead to another symbol, or hiding the notehead and manually adding a symbol. But see next:
- When hidding noteheads, ledger lines will also hide. This is not always desirable and could be an option to do so or not.
- Cross-staff: sometimes a piano score uses a third staff. I think it's brilliant how Overture can just "Display note in next staff" but this is limited to the two staves on a piano or organ system, not the third staff. There are modern pieces in which a second staff can be added to any instrument and this staff could even use another style (like a rhythmic staff added to a cello or flute part) and chords that share stems and beams across staves are desired. Yes, a minor thing, but it would make sense for the sake of Overture's natural freedom of editing, that one could just display any note in any previous/next staff regardless of being on a piano grand staff or not.

Some Glitches and minor reports:
- Dragging the tips of the beams with CTRL to make feathered beams is tricky.
- Dragging staff handles to respace the tracks is tricky, specially in orchestral. Sometimes work, sometimes it doesn't. I have to try several times and move the mouse wildly up or down and hope for eventually being able to move the track.
- There is no obvious way in the interface to know/choose a voice to work with. Just found I have to use CTRL-numbers, like in Notion. This is mentioned in the online help - however the help also mentions a Voice menu that doesn't exist.


Sorry for the long text. And I'm aware that all these comments are about the notation, interface and graphical output ONLY - haven't had the time to look into playback yet. I love what I read and see about it being some kind of DAW too, but my main concern is about Notation. I have been really excited to find out about Overture lately, have talked about and showed it to my colleagues, and for me it's the notation features that will make this fantastic app to be or not adopted, at least by composers that are related to conservatories or any academic institutions.
(Thus I classify the Essential things as 'deal breakers' above, for me and them).

Can't say enough wonder about how big Overture 5 is already, even at an early stage. Those who code should be aware how titanic an effort like this is. Best wishes for a brilliant future!
Last edited by elerouxx on Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bill Reed
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by Bill Reed »

Voice menu is part of the View menu...
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by Don »

The next release allows you to delete a key signature with the Eraser tool.
This was just a simple bug fix. It worked in older versions of Overture.

I believe you are wrong on the following points:
Clefs can be deleted with the eraser tool and all notes following are transposed as if the clef were never there.
Keys signatures entered are in affect until the next key signature.
You can also select a range for the key signatures by selecting entire measure and choosing the Key Signature command or by entering the measure range directly in the dialog box.
You can easily drag staves using the Hand tool (Type 'h') and click and drag on any measure on the staff.

Also the next release has a Track setting for A Tonal.
This simply hides the key signatures and and forces all accidentals to be drawn.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by MikeHalloran »

Interesting review. As Don points out, there are things waiting to be discovered by you in Overture 5.

As for the rest:

Finale — still my choice for heavy lifting. Poor Rewire integration and dropping the Movie window has many abandoning it. I hope to replace it completely with Overture 5 someday (getting closer!).

Sibelius — I've nothing to add except that you have a much higher opinion of it than I do.

Notion — 6 is the first version worth considering. I suspect that many Finale users will land there for the reasons you mention if they can get around the annoyingly gawdawful workflow — I can't. Great sound library. Cheap crossgrade. PreSonus wants to hook you into StudioOne and all their hardware. I paid the $80 but am stopping there.

Dorico — not even close to being ready. Clearly aimed at the hobbyist engraver — who is welcome to it. Isn't that who LilyPad is aimed at, too? What is Yamaha thinking?

Encore — 5.0.7 for the Mac is the closest to a version that actually works (too many bugs in all the other versions for me). It's long overdue for an upgrade. Output looks amateurish and can't use 3rd party fonts. Absolutely the fastest for the way I work but MusicXML 1 support (and partial at that) means Adios! for me. I believe that it has become deadware. Hello Overture 5.

MuseScore — The current 2.1 build is the first that doesn't absolutely suck IMO. I've upgraded my opinion of it to pretty bad but it's free and worth every penny. Lord help you if you actually point out its shortcomings on the user forum. The solution to everything seems to be a) buy the book b) if you don't like it you aren't smart enough ... and other arrogant crap.

There are others still being sold. I'm appalled that money is being charged for some of them.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

Bill Reed wrote:Voice menu is part of the View menu...
Thanks for clarifying! This is just a minor issue with documentation, under the 'using the notes palette' chapter.
Mouse Entry Method

To insert notes, rests or accidentals using only the mouse:

Select the voice you would like to enter from the Voice pop-up voice menu at the bottom of the Score View.
Alternatively, you could type Ctrl[Cmd]-1 throughCtrl[ Cmd]-8 to select voices 1-8. If you type Ctrl[Cmd]-0,
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by Bill Reed »

Ah, that's left over from Overture 4
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

Don wrote:The next release allows you to delete a key signature with the Eraser tool.
This was just a simple bug fix. It worked in older versions of Overture.

I believe you are wrong on the following points:
Clefs can be deleted with the eraser tool and all notes following are transposed as if the clef were never there.
Keys signatures entered are in affect until the next key signature.
You cal also select a range for the key signatures by selecting entire measure and choosing the Key Signature command or by entering the measure range directly in the dialog box.
You can easily drag staves using the Hand tool (Type 'h') and click and drag on any measure on the staff.

Also the next release has a Track setting for A Tonal.
This simply hides the key signatures and and forces all accidentals to be drawn.
Hey Don, thanks for taking the time to reply!
I'm pretty sure I have to find out a lot of things as Mike said, and sorry if I was mistaken at some points. My intend is to contribute and not criticize.

You are right, I can delete clefs with the eraser tool! I was just expecting to be able to select the key and hit DEL, as I do with other elements.

About signatures - I thought that they were more bureaucratic than other elements because you have to select a range - Notion handles these in a simpler way, no range needed. Now I see that the range in the dialog is automatically filled to the next signature, if any, or to the end of the score. So it works fine.

Now, for dragging the staves, either with the hand tool or using the handles, I still have an intermitent problem in which the staff doesn't move. I uploaded a short video (cel video, sorry) showing it not always works.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

MikeHalloran wrote:Interesting review. As Don points out, there are things waiting to be discovered by you in Overture 5.

Notion — 6 is the first version worth considering. I suspect that many Finale users will land there for the reasons you mention if they can get around the annoyingly gawdawful workflow — I can't. Great sound library. Cheap crossgrade. PreSonus wants to hook you into StudioOne and all their hardware. I paid the $80 but am stopping there..
I think Notion is far too different from Finale, specially regarding the workflow. It's it, the Notion workflow, which I love the most of this software, and most Finale users will surely hate it as much as I hate Finale's wf.
Other than that Notion has many limitations on engraving. Scores look pretty but several things just can't be done, like creating ossias or beams across barlines just as examples. I think only Finale users that make simple things and want a program that handles most of the layout automatically (and, as you say, can get around the workflow) will embrace it, others will probably just jump to Sibelius. Or, hopefully, Overture 5.

I confess I wasn't expecting so much from Overture. The professional looking site surely helped but I was afraid it was one more of the so many lesser scorewriters around (that, as you say, shouldn't even charge).

I couldn't be more wrong: in only two days with the demo I'm already advertising Overture 5 all around, to my friends and colleagues, and preparing myself to make the investment on a few days. I believe it will be a game changer.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

elerouxx wrote:Hi!

- Essential things that don't work yet. (Essential, as in deal breakers, at least for the time being)
[s]○ There's no easy way to work on atonal/no signature music. User could just work in C major and choose to 'don't show' key signatures on transposing staves- but this option just hides the signature and doesn't make accidentals to show in every note. Meaning, if I have F# in the signature, every F will be shown as F but played as F#, with no visible accident anywhere. The only workaround right now is to hide the key signature AND manually put an accidental to every note as needed (even if the accidental already is in the invisible signature). This is a theoretic workaround, not really doable in practice.[/s]
Obstacle Destroyed! :)
Thanks!
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by PeteFine »

Really great in depth analysis of current notation software with many pertinent observations of overture, which in my long time relationship with it has always been more overall user friendly, not to mention the best support of any software I've ever used.
I am fascinated however with your request for "atonal" features... since composing in key of c shows notes with sharps and flats notated as the note is entered, wheras all other keys omit the accidentals related to that key. So why would you need another option? If you play or manually input f# it will show as f#....
Obviously in an atonal piece, or even in a tonal piece with many frequent key modulations, key of c would do the trick.
Just curious
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

DougKerr wrote:Hi, Pete,

But when notating atonal music we do not want a "key signature". By choosing the atonal mode, when we generate (or look at) the "trumpet part", all the notes will be transposed up by two semitones, but there will be no key signature, and all the notes should carry accidentals as needed.

There may well be further reasons, which actual musicians here can explain. (I'm just a telephone engineer.)

Best regards,

Doug
You summed it quite well. That's the reason.
A C major score actually shows a D major signature on the Bb clarinets, a G-major for the French Horns (in F) and so on.

BTW I truly hate when I receive a score for the clarinet, for an atonal piece, and the signature is in D Major. Makes no sense, since the piece isn't really in D major - the two accidentals in the signature are nothing but a problem.

Key signatures are for tonal music only.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by PeteFine »

Understood. Explanation appreciated.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by elerouxx »

Just had orchestration class this week. Found out that most modern composers DON'T use key signatures on french horns, regardless of signature - and also that the harp should never be written on a key signature, since it's diatonic and depends on the pedals.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by Don »

Then all you have to do in the next release, is set the key signature for French Horns to No key in the Key Signature dialog.

I had to change this from the previous version because some composers switch from atonal to tonal in the middle of a piece.
It does require a little more work, bit solves all problems with key signatures and accidentals.

This is in the next release.
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Re: My impressions and wishes - a short review

Post by Scilxurkel »

Currently Overture 5 is full of drawbacks in my opinion.
First, there is no automatic engraving system, this point is even worse than MuseScore 3, which has already did it in 2018-2019, you have not done it in 2023, which is too far behind.
Second, you can not directly export PDF files, you need to rely on PDF Printer and Adobe Acrobat.
Third, some of the symbols are still not clear. The mental model is not enough to be fully established. (Yes, another place that is not as good as MuseScore, but compared to Sibelius, this is way better.)
Fourth, importing MIDI files will still be missing tracks, a bug that should have been fixed a long time ago.
Fifth, some MusicXML files imported on the crash, specific MusicXML files imported after the lack of symbolic elements, in addition, almost all types of MusicXML files imported after the layout are all messed up, manual modification requires a lot of time. (Why can't you learn MuseScore's automatic layout?)
Sixth, don't use GM anymore, and don't ask us to download an extra set of VST plugins, get a set of sound libraries, thanks, MuseScore already has Muse Sounds.
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