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Software Review of:
Finale Note Pad 2002
Write Music on Your Computer

 

Larry Grosskopf is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital, with a very strong interest in computers. He and Marta, his wife, are raising two wonderful children, Zoë, age 9, and Jackson, age 7.

From the September, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Finale Note Pad 2002 is one of a series of musical notation software programs from Coda Music Technology which allows the user to create musical scores right on his/her computer. This program came to my attention when I was conducting some investigative Internet research on what kinds of music software was available for this “Making Music” theme issue. My interest was in programs that were useful to the beginner (novices like me) as well as to those individuals who are more accomplished musical connoisseurs. I will briefly describe the other members in the lineup of music programs from Coda Music and refer the reader to their website for more detailed information on these software products. 

Coda Music makes Intonation Trainer, designed to help brass and woodwind students learn how to play in tune. Finale Allegro, lets MIDI users see their music as well as hear it. Finale Print Music an easy and fast way to create, print and play sheet music. The full-version Finale 2003, is referred to as the “best-selling and world standard” program for creating, editing and printing sheet music. In addition, they offer a subscription service called SmartMusic Studio, which is an interactive, computer-based practice program for woodwind players, brass players and vocalists. 

In order to use this product, computer requirements consist of a Windows operating system (98/2000/NT/Me/XP), a CD-ROM drive, a minimum of at least 64 MB RAM (128 MB RAM is recommended), and 70 MB hard drive space, required for the software and the user manual. I installed it on my computer running the Windows XP operating system with no difficulty whatsoever. It has since run flawlessly and is a fun program to use. My only complaint about this program is that it hasn’t seemed to make me any more musically inclined than I was in 8th grade Band class with my teacher and Band Director, Mr. Matson. One thing that makes this really much better than that 8th grade class is the fact that this music program won’t yell or throw erasers and drumsticks at me!! 

Now, on to the Finale Note Pad 2002 program, an easy-to-use, download free, neophyte music notation program from Coda. Anything you learn and practice in Note Pad 2002 will translate into the more sophisticated programs such as Finale 2003. In that way, should you decide to become more professional in using this kind of software than I ever hope to be, then the learning curve will be more satisfying. First of all, the interface is just what you would expect, a blank music sheet. What I didn’t expect was the ease with which I was able to start thinking up music (notes in my head, and no, I am not hearing voices) and simply using my mouse transfer them onto a music score sheet on my computer. 

When you initially open the program, you get the chance to register the product and if you do that, you get technical support for it, even though it is a free product. They also throw in advertisements asking you if you want to upgrade, but they are not trying to be sneaky about it, you can just opt out of them. First, you are taken to Page 1 of the Document Setup Wizard, which asks for your song title and the composer’s name. The next page lists instrument categories (e.g. Brass, Percussion, Chorus) and when you select Woodwinds as a category, for example, you are provided with an inventory of instruments in the active category (e.g. Flute, Piccolo, “A” Clarinet, “B-flat” Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone and so forth). You may select (by adding or removing) up to 8 instruments on this page and of course, you can mix and match them from among the seven “categories” (Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, Plucked Strings, Chorus, Strings and Keyboards). You can even add multiple instruments at a time from one category by holding down the CTRL key as you pick. The third page of the Display Setup Wizard offers you a series of buttons from which you decide on the characteristics of your musical piece (See Figure) This includes the time signature (4/4, 6/8, etc.) for your masterpiece in the upper box and in the lower box, a Concert Key signature (C Major, B-Flat Major, G-Sharp Minor). 
Finale Screen Capture
Pressing the Finish button enters your data and creates an on-screen music sheet which is the true generating and editing segment of Note Pad 2002. Here you select your notes by simply dragging and dropping them onto the proper line on your sheet to score your musical construction. Please don’t make the mistake of ignoring this program just because it is free. For all of you beginners like me, and you know who you are, it is quick, it works well and it is simple to use but powerful. My take on it is that in the hands of a creative and knowledgeable musician, it would be an especially powerful tool. If it sounds like something you would like to try, why not give it a go. If you find it to be something you just can’t live without, then I suggest you get on the Internet and go to their Web site and explore the wide variety of options they have to offer.


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