Making music is probably one of the most rewarding and entertaining pastimes you can possibly fill your day with. Whether it is composing your own completely original piece from scratch using nothing but the instruments you have at your disposal or simply laying down your own interpretation of someone else’s song, the finished product Is invariably satisfying and brings with it a sense of accomplishment.
But how do people make music when there are no instruments around? Well, there are many articles about this online that range from the merits of composing with and without instruments to detailed techniques on how to compose in a purely mathematical manner. Thankfully we are past the age of simply pen and stave paper now however, and notation software now exists in all shapes and sizes. For those composing on a budget, I highly recommend having a look at Notessimo, a free-to-play, flash-based composing program that is as simple as it is fun to use.
Notessmio’s basic concept is much like professional (and expensive) pieces of software such as Sibelius in that it gives you a stave on which you can place notes from various different instruments. Simply select the instrument that you wish to use from the huge range available and place them at the desired position on the stave. Once you are happy with how the composition looks, you can press the play button to listen to it and the program will continue looping them music so that you can evaluate parts that need work or need modifying slightly.
Though it is restricted to a treble clef only, you can pretty much stuff as many notes as can be fitted into the space available, allowing you to come up with a piece of music that sounds much richer and thicker than you would imagine a treble clef-only piece to sound. Of course, the tempo and note duration can also be edited by typing the desired numbers in the boxes underneath the music. This means that you can create quaver, semiquaver, and notes of even shorter duration and differing rhythm to make your piece sound less robotic and more natural-sounding as if someone were actually playing it by hand.
The range of instruments is something that definitely stands out when you first encounter Notessimo. It possesses different classes of instruments ranging from strings and keyboard, through brass and woodwind, a percussion section, and even a section for miscellaneous sounds as well. The range of instruments included in each section is itself quite astounding, with the strings section containing a variety of guitars (nylon, steel string, banjo etx.), classical stringed instruments, and even synth-style strings; each instrument class has a similarly diverse selection. The miscellaneous section contains some more unusual sounds like those you would hear in many Gameboy games.
Just as this useful piece of software has its uses, it of course has its limitations as well. The most obvious for Notessimo is the lack of a bass clef, forcing you to stuff everything into the treble clef section. The instrument sounds are of course all MIDI-based as well and are therefore not of the quality you would expect from more professional music production software programs such as the aforementioned Sibelius or Steinberg’s Cubase. These limitations shouldn’t really affect the experience too much however since it isn’t exactly intended for use as a professional music creation tool, but rather a basic medium in which you can note down some melodic ideas, layer them up, and listen to them out loud instead of having to compose without any instrument whatsoever. This music composition program from Team Atemis is one of the more powerful flash-based offerings I have discovered on the internet, so go ahead and give it a go to see if it can act as a composition tool for your musical proclivities.