Best Composition Tool

OK, I know a lot of people will shout: “Renoise!” but that’s probably not the right answer.

As has been observed elsewhere, Renoise is great for representing a piece of music which you have already composed. You make the crazy sounds you want, and Renoise is great at that. You enter the exact notes and automation you want, and Renoise is phenomenal at that.

I’m talking about the actual composition stage before that.

To a lot of people this is a total non-issue. Inasmuch as they have compositional needs, they are amply filled by Renoise. If you’re lacing together a drum track, or layering some samples, this is not much of a problem. This is not my situation.

I tend to produce carefully through-composed music, with planned themes, variations, counter-themes and so on.

I do know how to work with a score, although I’m less natural with it than some people. I still compose by ear to some extent, and I can never adequately hear a Neapolitan chord in my head, for example. I want a tool which will represent what I do, at least well enough to evaluate melody and harmony and rhythm.

So far, I’m torn between musescore, and some basic trackers like NightRadio’s pixitracker - but those aren’t really all that flexible.

Does anyone else have this problem? Does anyone have any solutions? Help me out here.

Yeah, I know, I’m replying to my own topic. So sue me.

It just dawned on me: A pianoroll might be a very powerful interface for composition, where a tracker is better for actually specifying sounds.

What does a pianoroll do well? Tone height, tone duration, tone placement and (up to a point) tone volume. It makes it easy to see relative note placement, it makes it easy to see multiple octaves in a parallel, transposition friendly sort of way, and with a little adjustment it’s even possibly friendly to xenharmonics, alternative tunings and altered scales.

Pianorolls are even not too unfriendly to automation.

And all this would explain why pianoroll interface software has traditionally been popular with a wide segment: it’s approachable, where trackers are less approachable.

Pianorolls are the slightly smarter big brother of step sequencers.

So: if you agree with my analysis, what’s your favourite pianoroll software?

Hey, trying to remember a software I used to use a long time ago. But I can’t remember the name for sure. It might have been “KBPiano”,

Other than that, I’m not sure. Really wish I could remember for certain the name of that software. Anyway, in looking at KBPiano, it appears to have piano roll, so it might be helpful.