SoundWorld 101: Distance/Time Ratio

by Hugh Smith on June 20, 2011

Bicycle vs Race Car

My original idea was to go into a little more detail about the specific items in this thread. But I’m going to go in a slightly different direction in this post to answer the “Is there a better way?” question.

I haven’t yet thought of a more pertinent way to describe how SoundWorld works than to compare it to a super speedway race track that has various types of vehicles running on it. The vehicles, or templates, that run on this track can come in many shapes and sizes, and as you can imagine, produce different results. As far as the distance to time ratio goes, how fast are you getting around the track?

In the old days (older versions of software), using a bicycle on a walking path got you great results. Today, on our speedway, that same bicycle doesn’t do so well, even though it still may get the job done. What’s nice for us is that we get to cruise around the track in a high-end race car.

Car Parts

Some of the parts of a SoundWorld vehicle include: sound set, sound IDs, sound ID changes, keyswitches, patches, plugins, input pitches, noteheads, instrument definitions, articulations, tires, percussion mappings, MIDI messages, dictionary, playback configurations, playback devices, spark plugs, program names … the list goes on. And most of the parts can be grouped together to form larger, more complex parts. Anyway, you get the idea.

Do you, the driver, really care what all the parts of the car are and how they work? No, you just care that they work. And all you have to do to be a productive driver is to make sure a few of the major components are setup properly. Of course, this assumes that the car has been built in the first place.

Driving Skills

This also assumes that the driver has put in an adequate amount of training to learn how to operate the car. For new Sibelius users and converts (software switchers, bicycle riders) the learning curve is not always the same. Brand new users almost have an advantage over converts because they don’t have to “unlearn” anything. What do I mean by that? Let’s see if these questions can help explain.

  • Do you really want to deal with all of the cryptic MIDI messages that is needed to access all of the sounds in the library?
  • Do you really like to take the time to hide those keyswitch notes?
  • Would you rather just type in some text over the staff and have the software handle all of those messages/switches for you?
  • What percentage of your overall time working in the software do you spend loading patches into your playback devices?
  • What percentage of your overall time working in the software do you spend making sure all the channels match what is in the score?
  • What percentage of your overall time working in the software do you spend dealing with the previous two questions when you decide to add an instrument change somewhere in the middle of a staff (old way: program change)?
  • Do you really like to spend your time doing all that?
  • Would you rather spend that time actually writing music?

The Circuit

A typical day of driving a race car can look like this:
1. Open file (or create a new one from Manuscript Paper)
2. Add instruments (new staves or instrument changes)
3. Hit Play or click on a note to load the sounds (if they haven’t already)
4. Start / continue writing
5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 as necessary

(Check out the Sibelius Templates Overview video for a visual representation of the above workflow.)

Checkered Flag

Once people begin to understand what it takes to spend more time on the race track instead of being parked in the pits, they quickly start to unravel whatever their previously ingrained notation software mentality was and accept the new parameters. The “Aha!” moments they have aren’t necessarily due to anything extra special that the race car builders may have done, but more the overall design of SoundWorld.

Bottom line: Using a fully built, customized race car and letting Sibelius’ SoundWorld handle all of the “heavy lifting” will give you so much more time for actually writing music that … well, you be the judge.

Leave a Reply