Collaborative Composition Soars with Noteflight

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With Noteflight, you’ll find a unique Internet-based notation tool for collaborative editing and composition. If you’re at the beginning of your composing endeavors and simply want to use something cost-effective and accessible anywhere, Noteflight as a music notation Internet-based service and community may be the right choice for you.

However, Noteflight's real advantage is its incredible flexibility.

The service is, flat-out, a fantastic tool for composers working in the performing arts – providing a seamless shared creative resource for use with lyricists, fellow composers, and other members of the creative team no matter where each of you happens to be. Its ability to import and export in XML means that whatever you create can also be taken with you to those few places the Internet can’t follow, or that you can then import and fine-tune your creations in higher-end applications like Sibelius, Finale, Maestro, or any number of other popular music notation programs. I've often created a piece 'on the fly' in Noteflight, just for fun, then exported it to MusicXML to be imported and worked with later on, using a music notation program with a more sophisticated sounds library and output capability.

From a big-picture standpoint, the service is pretty ingenious, as you can browse scores, share scores, work privately from anywhere, or share back and forth with a bandmate, creative partner, teacher or student.

It’s easy to use, and doesn’t require anything more than a little knowledge and a standard keyboard, mouse (and preferably, of course, a headset). Users can modify their creations easily thanks to a small, floating dropdown menu that goes with you as you progress in your manuscript, and which offers additional more advanced options through additional dropdowns at bottom as well, for tweaks to dynamics, tempo, pitch, ornamentation, and more. The service supports guitar tablature, as well as standard musical notation.

Noteflight is ultimately a great idea for integrating more advanced musical notation software features into an online service where creations can be shared, linked, printed, altered, organized, and edited between users, educators, students, bandmates or creative partners.

At $7.95 per month or $49 per year, Noteflight’s paid Crescendo service offers the ability to create and store unlimited scores, more than 50 high-quality instruments for increased versatility and quality in composing and outputting files, high-end sharing and privacy options, the ability to print individual parts, mobile access (via iPads and other devices), the ability to organize scores into folders, direct MIDI note entry, and more. Crescendo members can also utilize advanced notation options, can adjust levels in an Audio Mixing Panel, use templates and more.

The service includes a lively Forums area as well as a musical community with a wealth of shared compositions for instruction, inspiration or entertainment. Noteflight can be used anywhere, and Noteflight scores can be experienced on any mobile device, including smartphones, iPads and other tablets.

The only down side I found to Noteflight was the lack of responsiveness I encountered -- if you run into snafus, it appears that your best bet for a quick response is to utilize either the Noteflight forums or to get in touch via Twitter, where Noteflight’s official posters appear to be pretty quick, cheerful and responsive. My attempts to contact the company via e-mail support channels, however, were never responded to at all, despite repeated attempts over a three-month period -– so it looks like Twitter or the forums is the best bet for a response when the need is dire or you're on a deadline.

Still, if you’re partnering up creatively (and remotely) on your compositions, Noteflight is a good choice for exploration, and might just help your collaborations soar.

Info at a Glance
Noteflight (and Noteflight Crescendo)
Publisher: Noteflight, LLC
Price, Basic Noteflight: Free
Price, Crescendo: $49.00 per year or $7.95 per month
Noteflight Studio: $95 per year (one site accommodates up to 75 students)
Noteflight Classroom: $195 per year (one site accommodates up to 250 students)
Noteflight Teacher: $295 per year (accommodates up to 5 separate classroom communities of up to 75 students per class)
Noteflight for Teachers:
Platform: PC or Mac with Internet Access
Requirements: If you’re using an older Mac G4 or G5 with a PowerPC chip, Noteflight advises users to upgrade to the latest version of Flash Player to fix potential audio problems.
On computers with CPU speeds of less than 1.2 GHz, sound playback may be unstable in general due to the computational requirements of audio synthesis in Flash.
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