Not so long ago, a common occurrence at music tradeshows was a Finale vs. Sibelius “shootout” where both companies would send representatives to alternately describe the benefits and features of their respective products. I always liked the “shootout” theme, with its cowboy connotations, perhaps because my mom frowned upon gun-themed play when I was a kid.
My favorite shootout occurred several years ago at a College Music Society National Conference in San Francisco. Prior to the event our host, Rocky Reuter, provided a sheet of somewhat complex music to both me and Robin Hodson, my friend and Sibelius’ representative at this convention. We were told to enter this piece in our respective software and to bring the resulting file to the shootout.
[Cue The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme]
The shootout was scheduled for that evening. I arrived early to find two long tables, each with a projector screen behind them, and a speaker’s podium set between them facing the audience. Robin and I sat at our prospective tables, set up our gear, and positioned our product logos to appear behind us on the projector screens. We were ready to notate.
[The Ennio Morricone score begins to swell.]
After the room filled with college music department heads, Rocky approached the podium and introduced Robin and me. Then he handed us each a prepared booklet, and instructed us to keep it closed and in view. When Rocky announced “Begin,” Robin and I opened our booklets to find the piece we had previously entered. We both had those pieces up on our computers, projected on the screens behind us for everyone to see.
Rocky then asked us to turn the page, where we discovered more of the same piece. He then instructed us to enter this next section. When we were both done, the process repeated, and repeated again and again.
To all attending it became obvious that both notation programs were professional and excellent at handling a large variety of specific music notation tasks. At the conclusion, Rocky heartily recommended both products for college music use. While probably true, I sat somewhat disappointed at this politically correct declaration.
Next Rocky turned to Robin and asked, “Now, Robin, how would you share what you have written?” I realized that my moment was about to arrive. As Robin expounded on printing and posting to Scorch, I formulated my response. When Robin finished, Rocky turned to me.
I explained how the score I just created in Finale can also be printed, played, and edited in any Finale family product including Finale NotePad and PrintMusic. You can also create an audio file or export your Finale score as either a MIDI file or a MusicXML file to be imported into other music programs. The bull’s-eye, however, was that only Finale can create SmartMusic accompaniments, and I added a short synopsis of SmartMusic’s virtues.
When the dust settled, Rocky, Robin, and I shared a beer in the hotel bar and I free-associated over my Guinness, thinking of how I began to share my mom’s feelings about gun-themed play when I became a parent. My mom was right about a lot of things, and there were few virtues that she regarded more highly than sharing.
[Roll credits against a setting sun.]