My favourite DAW is Logic X because it was the first digital audio workstation in which I learned to produce music. There are many reasons to love Logic X, and the score editor is one of them. Logic X is not the only DAW with a music notation editor; Cubase takes it to another level with its ties to the Dorico music notation software. Still, not being a Cubase user, I can’t speak to that.
Sticking with Logic X momentarily, can you create printable scores in Logic X? The answer is yes. So why not stop there and use Logic X as my primary music notation software? Many can do that successfully. There are two main reasons why I don’t score entirely in Logic X, one is that I never learned to, and the other is that Logic X only has some of the features I require to produce my scores. In another post, I wrote about why I use several music notation programs, what each has to offer, the different features between the programs, and why using multiple notation programs may be necessary, and that’s the case here.
In a video I watched, the presenter demonstrating some music notation software asked, “Why use a DAW?” regarding creating orchestral mock-ups. The answer is rather evident to experienced orchestrators who create mock-ups. Suppose you make the mock-up in your favourite music notation program and export the audio. You can’t achieve the quality of sound and expression in a music notation program (as of yet) that you can get in the DAW. The DAW has so much more functionality. Usually, the DAW has better quality virtual instruments, better control over quantization and expression, better audio mixing capabilities, and more options regarding how the audio file is to be rendered, to name a few. The same concept can flip the script in the opposite direction meaning the DAW’s scoring capability lacks many features found in other music notation programs. The exception to this rule may be Dorico which integrates with Cubase, but essentially, these are still two different pieces of software.
My basic philosophy is that DAWs and music notation programs are different. While they have some crossover, the DAWs are for recording, mixing and mastering, and the music notation program is for scoring. With current technology, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can get surprisingly good audio mock-ups from a music notation program or that you can get beautiful-looking scores from a DAW. Still, each software program has a specialty, so I keep them for their intended purposes. It seems true; however, these programs are getting closer to doing it all with each new upgrade. The score editors in Logic and Cubase are becoming so advanced there is less and less you can’t do in them. Sibelius has virtual instrument support; depending on your instrument plugins, Sibelius can substitute its sounds with your plugin instruments.
So do I use the score editor in Logic X? The answer is all the time. While it can generate excellent scores, I use it as a DAW rather than my primary music notation software.
- I record a track in the DAW precisely as I want it heard with the correct expression and articulation.
- I go into Logic’s score editor and add the expression and articulation marks to the score to match what I hear.
- When the piece is finished, I check it for accuracy in the DAW and prepare the file for exporting to the music notation program by making a copy of the Logic file and renaming it with the addition of the word notation.
- I prepare the new file by removing all key switches and controller commands, which interfere with the music notation program, then I export the file as an mxml file.
- I then import that newly created mxml file into my music notation program. Since all the dynamics and articulation are already in place, all I have to do to tidy up the score is slightly move things around and adjust page sizes.
Each program is designed with particular purposes; however, use what you can, the best way you know how, and get creating. Thank you for reading; I’m just a music teacher having fun; catch ya on the next one.