Take a moment to picture what is currently on your music stand. What do your music scores look like? Maybe there’s a thick method book, threatening to push the rest of your music off the edge, or a piece left open to the last page you were practicing. Whatever is there, whether it is simple or advanced, Debussy or Andrew Lloyd Webber, it was all printed using music notation software. It may seem that such professional-looking scores could only be printed by music publishing companies, but like so many things in this Internet age, the high-end tools of the music publishing industry are more accessible than ever. This means that you can also create professional-looking scores yourself, and it’s much easier than you might guess.
Imagine what you could do with the ability to print music. You could compose a piece and share it with the world, arrange music your own way for the harp, or write an etude individually tailored for one of your students. Suddenly, your stand becomes much more personalized.
Follow the the steps in the article to create this sample harp piece in Sibelius or Finale. (Click to enlarge; right click to save and print.)
If you are curious to get started writing music on the computer but overwhelmed by the technology, or if you already dove in and would like to discover more about what you can do, then read on. The following guide is designed especially for harpists, to address specific issues that you may encounter when writing music for the harp. Using this short waltz as an example, this guide will walk you through each step of the notation process, from creating a new file to adding the finishing touches. In addition to the explanations here, you can also view our series of accompanying videos illustrating each of these steps and download the original music notation file for the waltz. Before you can get started, however, you will need to install some music notation software on your computer.
Which program should I use?
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Elizabeth Jaxon has been writing for the Harp Column since 2010. As a freelance professional harpist based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, she not only performs and teaches, but is involved in a variety of projects including managing the competition of the Dutch Harp Festival. She holds music performance degrees from the University of Illinois and the École Normale de Musique de Paris.