Overture is a music scorewriter program for Windows and Macintosh platforms, written by Don Williams. Visually, the Overture interface resembles Encore, another notation program originally by the same author. However, Overture is the first scorewriter program to feature full Virtual Studio Technology (VST) hosting; the software also plays MIDI files.
Overture is, as of July 2011, currently up to version 4.1.5.
In Overture, input of note data can be done by any of several methods: QWERTY keyboard, mouse, step entry MIDI keyboard recording, or real-time MIDI keyboard recording. Most notational symbols can be repositioned simply by dragging them with the mouse. Most other editing of notational symbols is performed by selecting the symbols using the mouse, and selecting the appropriate editing command from a menu or by clicking on a palette. MIDI data is edited in a special graphical view, where each note appears as a bar on a piano roll. Editing is done simply by adjusting the bars by dragging with the mouse.
Background and Notability
Because of the complexity of producing musical scores to publishers' standards, it took a long time for scorewriter software capable of producing professional-quality scores containing complex or non-standard notation to be developed.
In the early 1990s, the music notation software market was dominated by the Finale program, published by Coda. It was capable of handling large, complicated scores and non-traditional notation. However, its immense power and flexibility came at the expense of making the software, as it was then, extremely difficult to learn to use, due to its large number of operating modes. Different musical markings could only be edited when the user had first selected the appropriate editing mode, making editing a laborious task in comparison to more recent versions of Finale or other programs.
At the same time, a number of music scoring programs with more intuitive user interfaces became available, of which Encore became the most popular. Encore was first published by Passport Designs, and featured the ability to add notes simply by clicking on a staff with the mouse pointer, and most notational elements could be selected using the mouse.
A notable survey of this situation, and the music notation software of the time (largely dominated by programs for the Macintosh), was published by Professor Alan Belkin of the University of Montreal. Among other issues, it pointed out the differences between these two approaches to scorewriter software design, and the problems associated with each approach.
In an effort to produce a music notation program that was user-friendly and had powerful features, Overture was based on Encore's intuitive interface, and became the first easy-to-use WYSIWYG notation package capable of producing large complex scores and handling non-standard music notation (such as noteheads with non-standard shapes, or staves with other than five lines).)
Overture is also notable for being the first music notation software which gave the user control over all MIDI playback data, invisible on the score (such as note velocity, pitch bend and duration). The software introduced a MIDI data editing view where the notes appear as strips on a scrolling piano roll, and can be moved and edited using the mouse.
The program was one of the first music notation packages to always show the score in WYSIWYG page view. Most previous music notation packages either lacked this, or swapped between a scrolling editing view and a page view used for print previews or certain editing functions.
Overture was originally published by Opcode Systems. It was later published by Cakewalk. As of 2009, it is published by Sonic Scores (previously named Geniesoft), in both boxed and downloadable versions. A less-expensive, scaled-down version of Overture, called Score Writer, is also published. Demonstration versions of both Overture and Score Writer are available at the Sonic Scores website.
- Belkin, A. (1994). Macintosh Notation Software: Present and Future. Computer Music Journal, 18, (1), 53-69. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3680522
- The author has written postings concerning the ongoing development of the software at http://sonicscores.com/forum/
- Encore is the property of and is currently published by GVOX