A Choral Composer's Megahertz Musings
Vol. 3 - January 1, 1999

As a composer who had spent many years copying scores and parts with pen on onionskin - losing brain cells while breathing ammonia over blueprinter's ozalid copiers - the advent of personal computers and notation software held giddy promise!  I was trained in the era of Putney synthesizers, mini-Moogs, and razor blades with splicing tape. When computer technology offered its promises in the mid-eighties, I asked myself if this "old dog" could learn new tricks!  As I looked toward a future filled with late nights and an ever-growing callous on my writing finger, I found myself willing to grapple with an unfamiliar challenge.

I began with Personal Composer software on a rip-snortin' 4.77 megahertz PC.  I'll never forget the night I slept on my home-office floor, having borrowed a laser printer from work. I set my wrist-alarm every 55 minutes - that's how long it took for the computer to process the graphics of each page of my new anthem.  I woke up every 55 minutes that night in order to program the next page for the printing process....certainly no improvement over old techniques!

I'm no computer whiz, but my anticipation of impending possibilities kept me abreast of the technology just around the next bend!  Here's where I stand now - not way out in front of the pack, but certainly not allowing cyber-potential to pass me by!

  • I've been using Finale software from MakeMusic for about seven years. My computer is a seven-year old 486 PC running at a snail's 33 megahertz.  It's fine for my applications, but I'll probably upgrade when my hard-drive kicks the bucket (it grinds and groans now) and Windows 3.1 quietly insists that I must have Windows 98 as I develop my own web page.

  • I'm equipped with midi-keyboard so that I can load in pieces as they're composed, check for accuracy with playback, and engrave my scores before they ever reach publishers.

  • When I submit new works to publishers, they're engraved and accompanied with a midi-tape if appropriate, already sized to octavo dimensions.  This prepares my work for publication on the internet.

  • I use e-mail and fax to quickly interact with publishers and editors when submitting new compositions and proofing octavos to be released.  One editor even sends beautiful texts for me to set!

  • I've bookmarked valuable resources on the Web pertaining to composer's contests, grants, and commissions.  I frequently review websites of publishers, other composers, and copyright information.

  • I plan to set up a spreadsheet to track my compositional progress (i.e. dates of compositions, contracts, and commissions, as well as royalty reports with all those "pie-chart and graph-thingies").

  • When I log on each morning, my browser's home page location is the MakeMusic Technical Forums.  Daily, I read about Finale-users' trials and tribulations from around the world.  Often, I jump in with my own comments or questions and receive helpful solutions within hours, and sometimes minutes!

My highest priority remains the composing of new choral works, but I will accomplish this joyful task with the aid of, and amidst the ever-expanding environment of technological magic!  I keep my old pens, inks, onionskins, and razor blades in my desk drawer as a reminder of life as it used to be - my dead brain cells now rebooted by ever-increasing mega- and giga-bytes!

Feedback gladly anticipated at - musings@gladdemusic.com
Copyright 1999 by Gladde Music Publications
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