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4 note ratingReview of MusicTime Deluxe



y now, many students and teachers are familiar with word processing on the computer. However, those of us who have labored at writing music by hand have often wondered when an affordable equivalent to word processing would be developed for musical notation. Enter Passport Designs with MusicTime Deluxe, which is especially ideal for piano and piano/vocal works, but flexible enough to handle orchestral scoring.




This review is based on the Windows 3.1/Windows '95 version, which may be installed via 3.5" disks or CD-ROM. MusicTime's technical support line, although not toll-free, is nonetheless responsive with ready-made troubleshooting faxes and same or next day call back. The user's manual is also informative and easy to read. Your printer must have at least 1 megabyte of RAM, and you'll get best results with a high resolution (300 dpi) ink-jet or laser printer.

Notes can be entered in any of three ways: 1) playing them in real time using the PC with a keyboard, sound card, and MIDI cables; 2) playing the notes on the on screen (QWERTY) keyboard; or 3) clicking them onto the staff with the mouse. Surprisingly, the latter options require the least editing, since - as with other programs - real time playing must be so exact in order for the notation to be accurate. Once you've made entries onto the staff, the program does an outstanding job of mimicking word processing commands to allow you to manipulate your input. You can highlight a note, phrase or line and issue such commands as COPY, PASTE, or CLEAR from well-organized and readable pull-down menus.

In fact, MusicTime Deluxe has an answer for virtually every item on a "wish list" for how you might want your music to appear. From the outset, you can highlight your score (under EDIT/SELECT ALL) and proceed under various menus to set up your own key signature, meter, margins, measure numbers, lines per page, and measures per line. For the adventurous composer, the program allows you to transpose your piece to another key, add orchestration, change the colors of your notes, or write in multiple voices. The options under PALETTES are the most fun, where you'll find articulation, dynamics, fingering, ornamentation, pedal marks, clefs, symbols, formatting for lyrics, and even fake book and guitar chords.

Those who work with complicated rhythm patterns should be prepared to do some formatting, i.e., the "nudging" of notes in one direction or another so that they are spaced to your liking within the measure and line up accurately. Others who work extensively in large-scale orchestral scoring would do well to look into other products which specialize in this type of notation.

Although MusicTime Deluxe is menu-driven, you'll want to keep the user's guide nearby, since even a cursory glance through the index will give you a better understanding of just how comprehensive a tool you have! The pricing as of the time of this review was just under $100, which makes the program a very good value for any teacher, composer, or student looking to put his/her materials in polished form. MusicTime Deluxe is well worth the additional cost over its predecessor, MusicTime. If you order directly from Passport Designs, it is advisable to fax/e-mail orders or leave a message on their voice mail system, since we encountered waits of longer than 15 minutes before being assisted live.

All in all, MusicTime Deluxe is user-friendly, especially for those already familiar with word processing commands. Its templates are not set up for large-scale orchestration, but its flexibility and many other extras are a plus. In the end, you'll be happy with the publisher-quality results it produces.

Amy Y. O'Grady

MusicTime Deluxe, Version 3.0. List price $69.99. Distributed by Passport Designs, Inc., Passport Designs, Inc., A G-VOX Company, 1080 North Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125, USA.
Tel.: 215-922-0880, Fax: 215-922-7230. Available from G-Vox: WWW: E-mail: and many third party music equipment and software suppliers. Minimum system requirements: IBM PC (or compatible) running Windows 3.1, 3.11 or Windows 95; Windows-compatible sound card for playback; Windows-compatible printer. Options recommended: 80486 CPU or greater, at least 8 megabytes of RAM and SVGA video; MIDI keyboard and MIDI interface (built into many sound cards); ink jet or laser printer with high resolution graphics capability. A Macintosh version is also available.
Page created: 10/9/96
Last updated: 01/30/15
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