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NoteAbilityPro

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  • 4.0 stars

    "For the person who likes page layout & manual tweaking"

    June 29, 2011  |   By iaml

    Pros

    Basic note entry is perhaps easier/quicker than any other notation app.
    Has unique features like integration with MaxMSP.
    Very capable for contemporary music composers.
    Regular, no-charge updates.
    Beat-level formatting control in a page layout style.

    Cons

    Playback is only a rough representation.
    No automatic formatting/engraving.
    Palettes are numerous, so non-basic functionality can be difficult to uncover.

    Summary

    NoteAbility Pro was arguably the first Mac OS X music notation app (since it was originally written for NEXTStep). Occasionally, some parts of the UI feel that old, but the rewrite at version 2 made it a much more modern Mac app. NA Pro uses a page layout metaphor, so you add new pages and systems when you need more digital manuscript paper. (In contrast, Sibelius uses a word processing metaphor and Finale a roll of measures.) Note entry is easy with or without a MIDI keyboard - similar in some ways to Finale's Speedy Note Entry, you press a key(s) on the keyboard to set note duration (e.g., q for quarter note, e for eighth note, h.. for double-dotted half note) and press a key on the MIDI keyboard or click on the screen to enter the note.
    Some of the UI is stuff only a geek could love (arguably the target audience), but it is usually the most efficient way to do what you need to do. Some of the more esoteric features that persons composing electroacoustic music would want are not even on the radar screen of the big name notation apps but are present in abundance here.
    Documentation is solid and the sole programmer (a professor at the University of British Columbia) updates the app regularly with new features (a recent addition was MusicXML support). Factor in to the price of the app that you will not be on an annual or semi-annual upgrade plan - we paid for the app once and have been using it for years with numerous upgrades.
    I definitely recommend you give the demo version of NA Pro a try before you buy anything else. If you want automatic everything, this will not satisfy, but it is a good general purpose notation program and, for a subset of the market, it provides features that no one else does.

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