Overture (software)

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Overture is a music notation (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;[1] the software also plays MIDI files.

Screenshot of Overture 3.6 running on Mac OS 9. Palettes for adding notes, clefs, expressions and articulations can be seen. On the left side of the screen is the palette for entering non-standard note shapes. The step note entry window and the track list windows are also open.

Current version[edit]

As of February 2016, Overture is at version 5 beta.[2]


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[edit]

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 it very difficult to learn to use.

Other notation programs with different interfaces were eventually developed, including Encore, published by Passport Designs. It featured the ability to add notes by simply clicking on a staff; most notational elements could also be selected with the mouse.

In 1994, Professor Alan Belkin of the University of Montreal published a study of notation software available at the time (dominated by programs for Macintosh). Among other things, it described the advantages and disadvantages of the mouse- and keyboard-driven approaches to notation-interface design.[3]

Graphic MIDI Data Window in Overture 3.6 (Mac OS 9). The notes appear on a scrolling piano roll, and their durations and MIDI note velocities are editable using the mouse.

When Overture was developed, it followed Encore's interface design. It was also the first music notation software that gave users control over all MIDI playback data such as note velocity, pitch bend and duration, utilizing a scrolling "piano roll" MIDI-editing view where notes could be moved and changed with the mouse. (This said, notation software is intended primarily for the creation of visual scores rather than MIDI performances—thus most musicians prefer to use specialized sequencing software for the latter. Should scores originally produced in notation programs be desired for MIDI performance, virtually all full-featured notation programs are capable of exporting them in MIDI format for use in a sequencer.)

Overture was also one of the first music notation programs to always show the score in WYSIWYG page view. Previous notation programs either lacked this, or switched 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 Geniesoft) in both boxed and downloadable versions. Score Writer, a less expensive version of Overture with reduced features, is also available. Demo versions of both packages are available at the Sonic Scores website.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://sonicscores.com/products/overture/index.htm
  2. ^ https://sonicscores.com/downloads/
  3. ^ Belkin, A. (1994). Macintosh Notation Software: Present and Future. Computer Music Journal, 18, (1), 53-69. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3680522

External links[edit]