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I'm considering taking a subscription for EastWest's ComposerCloud. For the moment I just want to be able to create a score in MuseScore and then somehow (I'm a total noob) use high quality samples of real instruments instead of the midi sounds generated by musescore. What is the absolute minimum I need to do this?

Will I get by with just the included EastWest's Play application? Or do I need a DAW. Don't get me wrong I do want to learn how to use a DAW, but learning various programs at the same time can be very confusing, so if - for now - I don't have to, that would be great.

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MuseScore is great for the price, but does have limitations.

If you want better quality playback, directly controlled by your notation, spring for Sibelius, Finale or Dorico.

Or, for meticulous manual control over playback plus a full choice of sample sets, use a sequencer (DAW).

The REALLY fussy guys compose in Sibelius to get publication-quality printed output, then transfer via MIDI file to a sequencer to polish the playback.

If your printed scores aren't for publication, you might consider doing the whole job in Cubase. Its Score Edit page is comparable to MuseScore, but you also get full DAW capabilities.

(No, I'm not talking about cheap programs, or 'easy' ones :-)

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    Yeah, that's what I want to try out next: compose in MuseScore and then export to midi file and tackle it in a DAW – Creynders Nov 18 '17 at 14:57
  • Give me a vote then! ARE your musical endevours notation-based? – Laurence Payne Nov 18 '17 at 15:33
  • Yes they are. I don't have any hardware except a computer – Creynders Nov 18 '17 at 15:49
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So, I'll try and update as I (hopefully) figure it out.

You can start by installing soundfonts in musescore. This will give you a variety of sounds and timbres. However, since Musescore is no DAW you have very little to no control over them.

FTM I like these the most:

To add these to musescore: https://musescore.org/en/node/181706

Anyway, this doesn't give you a realistic sounding orchestra. So, I'll definitely need to look into a DAW. But which one? There's so many of them and since I don't know what I'm doing I don't know what features I need. Hopefully more answers soon...

EDIT 20/11: So, what a surprise. Turns out I'm one of the fussy guys.

I started using the ensemble sample sets of VPO, but I'm not satisfied at all. They make the music feel as if it's dragging. So, since I don't know how to use a DAW yet, I went with a poor man's solution:

I duplicated all of the string staves in musescore, e.g. now I have two identical viola staves, then I assigned a different solo sample set to each. E.g. the default fluid "viola" to the first staff and then the VPO "solo sustained viola" sample set to the second one. And did this for all string instruments.

Then, instead of exporting the file as midi, I exported all parts as wav files. I.e. now I have 2 sound files for each instrument: one using the fluid sample set and another using the VPO solo sample set.

I have then loaded all of those tracks separately into a single garage band project. Garage band is fine for now, it introduces me to some of the concepts and as all of the Apple toys it's really intuitive and doesn't overwhelm me with 100's of things I have no frigging clue about.

So, now I'm tackling the volume changes and reverb track by track in Garage band. It definitely starts to sound better, but I'm nowhere near anything realistic yet.

PRO TIP: when exporting from muse score, make sure you turn off all dynamics first. You can do this by selecting all dynamics and setting the velocity to e.g. 64 See https://musescore.org/en/node/45851

Then, I use the score as a guide to know where I need to do the most basic dynamics in garageband first. The single individual dynamics I'll tackle later on.

  • So in terms of having no control in MuseScore, do you mean that articulations (e.g., staccato) and playing modes (e.g., pizzacato) don't automatically select the appropriate samples from the soundfont? Have you looked at the mixer panel, which lets you select the "instrument" for different playing styles? – Todd Wilcox Nov 18 '17 at 13:53
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    Yes, they do. And with instrument changes you can change samples mid-measure. But velocity changes are discrete and there's no way to control reverb except for the whole part for instance. – Creynders Nov 18 '17 at 14:52

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