Why Non-Techie Teachers/Amateur Singers Should Download This Software

Now, here’s an offer that has potential for many musicians! Most would like to be able to create their own scores if it didn’t mean spending weeks learning to use software and parting with wads of hard-earned cash. To celebrate the 500,000th installation of their software, FORTE Music Notation are, for a limited time, giving away the Basic version of their software.Basic is readily accessible by beginners dipping a toe in for the first time, while more advanced versions are powerfully featured in the hands of more experienced users. But, even for those who don’t actually want to create scores from scratch, it has other useful functions.

Singers in amateur choirs often need support to learn their parts and there are several websites which provide free MIDI files for this purpose. FORTE will import these files and display them in notation and then afford various ways to customise them. Providing they have been recorded as type 1 MIDI, as they are on most choral sites, each voice will be displayed as a separate track. Clicking on ‘Mixer; opens the volume control for each track, so the desired voice can be brought out. it is especially effective if a different instrumental sound is used for each voice, which is done by selecting in this sequence: Home – Mixer- Click on track – Properties – Instrument. On the right hand side of the MIxer ribbon is the Master Volume and a tempo slider, so playback can also be slowed down at the same time. Singers can improve sight-singing as they follow the cursor through their part, as the music plays back.

MIDI files can be very useful for the music teacher, particularly in providing accompaniments. Available audio files are often not in the appropriate key and are usually too fast for instrumentalists. In FORTE, MIDI files can be very quickly transposed to any key and this is shown in the introductory video. Tempo sliders are found in the Mixer, Playback and Record ribbons. As described for singers, the volume of each part can be adjusted in the Mixer, to support a particular voice or instrument.

Rounds and repeated accompaniments/ riffs often feature in music lessons and these can be quickly entered in FORTE using copy and paste, as demonstrated in the introductory video. .They can then be assigned distinctive instrumental timbres to facilitate learning of parts.

There are numerous pieces in the program’s library – folk songs, music by a range of classical composers, hymn tunes, etc.These constitute a useful resource for sight-reading and study. They can be printed out for performance, orchestration and arrangement.

All in all, not a bad package for free!!! So get your hands on this lovely gift and share it with your friends. FORTE Basic is available as a free download until 14th September from http://www.fortenotation.com/en/lp/giveaway/

For more information about MIDI files, see http://fullpitcher.co.uk/midifun.htm

Have fun!

New Music School for Songwriters

I know scarcely anything about pop music and I certainly don’t intend to spend my time trying to write a hit song! I am, though, fascinated to find out what makes other composers ‘tick’ and I endeavour to support and encourage those just setting out on their creative journey, whatever road they may take. Thus it was that I found myself attending an “Introduction to Songwriting” day with The Songwriting Academy, founded last year by Martin Sutton. I thought it would be a bit of fun and interesting – an innocent bit of ‘me’ time. I was surprised to find my day was also motivating and personally enriching. I came away feeling a little envious of young songwriters who can look to the Academy to set them on their chosen path!

Those of you who do know something about the pop scene may be aware that Martin Sutton is himself a multi-platinum selling songwriter and producer. He has brought together a team of award-winning writers who have sold over 200 million records for well-known artists. From their collective experience of writing for the world’s charts, they have developed a system of learning to guide the student “from the spark of creation to producing a
record ready for the charts.”

Having experienced Martin’s “Introduction”, I am sure the  team will deliver. Course providers, especially in such a commercial arena, are often careful not to give too much away at a first encounter, but that is clearly not Martin’s way. He packed into the day as much information and experience as was feasible. I recognised a kindred spirit, passionate about sharing and enabling. In other words, a committed  teacher. In music, we must grow and live out our learning and that is what the Academy’s team of “publishers, record labels, managers, agents, lawyers, accountants and song pluggers” will facilitate for lucky students.

To find out more, visit www.thesongwritingacademy.co.uk