How does using music notation software affect your music? Gloria Coates



Gloria Coates
Photo by Anne Kirchbach

Personally, I find it easier to compose the old fashioned way—with paper and pen—and usually do not recopy a score once the music is written. I did try to create a computer notation system for my Second Symphony, but it was not as clear for the musicians to grasp as the original handwritten score, so I returned to my old method of writing.

In general, I think that a personally hand written manuscript has something to say about the music. I enjoy looking at original scores, even if the writing is sometimes difficult to read.

It might be that there will be a division in music history of music written before or after the computer; BC or AC. There are various technical devices that are simpler with the computer, such as those in minimal music or any other music with patterns dominating. Likewise, one can collage very easily, manipulate phrases and sections of music, or transpose. The possibilities for composing with the computer are almost unlimited.

It is often frustrating and wearisome to have to write all the notes by hand, but on the positive side, this allows time for more deliberation, especially for composers like me who weigh each note or chord. I think writing by hand also frees the imagination and illuminates more possibilities. Most important, I can go deeper into my thoughts and feelings.