The software I used to copy music (1993-2003)

Software used at the Stockhausen-Verlag in 2000
How the software was used to copy a Stockhausen score
My FreeHand Xtras, and what they do
Software used from 2000-2003

Software used at the Stockhausen-Verlag in 2000

Finale (Version 3.0.1a) Music software by Coda Software

FreeHand 7.0.2 (1988-96) by Macromedia Inc. (Macromedia is now part of Adobe.) This wonderful program was standard software in the graphics business (advertising agencies, commercial art of all sorts, print offices etc.) - if only there was as much money behind music software! It became possible to write Xtras (plug-in software modules) for FreeHand from version 5.0 onwards (1995). Macromedia, say (2008) that they are no longer supporting FreeHand's development, and recommend moving to Adobe Illustrator, which is a very similar program.

VectorTools: A set of Xtras for Freehand by Extensis. I also used Extensis' Intellihance Xtra when working in Photoshop (see below).

Music Tools : A set of Xtra buttons for typesetting music in FreeHand (programmed by me). As soon as it became possible to write Xtras for FreeHand, I spent much of my own time doing just that. Programming such tools requires not only the time and inclination to program, but also a thorough understanding of both music notation and practical copying. See My FreeHand Xtras, and what they do.

CLicht: I designed this music font to match my own handwriting. Stockhausen has the final word on his scores, so if he doesnt like a character, I change it. I originally created this font in FontStudio (a Letraset program which is no longer supported), but now use Fontographer (part of Macromedia's FreeHand Graphics Studio).

ART Music 3.0.1 by Two Bits Worth Inc. ART Music is no longer being supported. Nowadays there are easier ways to get graphics from music notation editors into vector-graphics editors.

ABM: an Art Beautifier for Music, by James Ingram.

PopChar 2.7.2 (1994) by Günther Blaschek. The current version can be downloaded from many sites, including (Nov.2008) here.

Adobe Photoshop 4.0.1 (1989-97) by Adobe Systems. The Stockhausen-Verlag used this for editing large scans when publishing facsimile scores.

Stockhausen used phonetic fonts sanctioned by the International Phonetic Association in his scores. Information about IPA fonts can be found (November 2008) here.

Other Software: I programmed in C++ using Metrowerks CodeWarrrior Pro 1.

How the software was used to copy a Stockhausen score

Here is the sequence I followed when copying a score in 2000:

  1. Stockhausen generally used the standard notation for pitches and rhythms, so these were entered quickly in Finale, using the 'speedy entry tool'. A set of standard settings was used with the font CLicht. I needed Finale's ability to align chords correctly, but wanted to do a lot of other things differently, more precisely, or more easily, so
  2. The pagination was fixed, and the detailed horizontal spacing (kerning) accomplished as well as possible using Finale's 'beat chart spacing'. Finale did not stop characters overlapping when doing this, so I estimated the amount of space I was going to need later, when respacing individual characters in FreeHand. I tried to keep the number of pages in a Finale file fairly small, to minimise any catastrophes...
  3. Each page in the Finale file was exported as a separate EPS file, and converted to Illustrator1.1 format using a utility called ART Music.
  4. The Illustrator file was beautified using ABM (which I wrote myself 1993-94). This was a filter program, which resized staves so that they fit the clefs, set all the line thicknesses, moved noteheads up and down to fit on the staves, fit chords together (noteheads, stems, flags, beams), fit stafflines to barlines, restructured beams (Finale gave them five (!) corners), etc. Unfortunately, ABM depended on the precise sequence of instructions in its input, so it could not be expected to work on the output from newer Finale/Art Music versions. It was, however, very useful and reliable, and successfully cleaned up many hundreds of pages.
  5. ABM's output (an Illustrator1.1 file) was read into FreeHand. Initially, the page size was wrong, but the drawing could now be cut-and-pasted into a default file containing the correct page size and my formats for line thicknesses and character sizes.
  6. Once in FreeHand, I made extensive use of all its tools - though in music, the wonderful colour functions are not usually needed. I also used the following Xtras:

My FreeHand Xtras, and what they do

My Xtras were originally written for FreeHand 5.0, using much of the code from ABM. I rewrote them later for Freehand 7, using C++ and Macromedia's MOA interface to FreeHand. Learning C++ and MOA slowed down development somewhat, but learning C++ was definitely worth it. This knowledge stood me in good stead as I began to learn C# in 2005.

The current version of Music Tools contains just four buttons:

fmusicon.gif Fit Music (Examples)
fblnicon.gif Fit Barlines (Example)
ctosicon.gif Convert to Slur (Examples)
convtie.gif Convert to Tie (Examples)

Fit Music ( fmusicon.gif )

This button first analyses the selected elements to find out what kinds of lines and texts are there (stems, stafflines, ledgerlines, beams, noteheads, clefs, accidentals etc.). It does this using context heuristics [ e.g. a staffline is a fairly long (nearly) horizontal line which passes through or near a clef and/or notehead(s)]. The button then does the following:

  1. It sets default line thicknesses for each known path type,
  2. sets stafflines and ledgerlines equidistant, and exactly horizontal if they were not already,
  3. moves clefs, noteheads and accidentals vertically so they are exactly on or between staff- or ledgerlines,
  4. fits chords together:
  5. the free ends of stems are moved off stafflines. For maximum legibility, it is better for the extremities of all characters to be visible.

In practice, I use Fit Music most for aligning accents and staccato dots. Stockhausen makes a lot of changes during rehearsals, before a score gets printed. I also use this button for small music examples, which can be produced entirely within Freehand without having to start in Finale.


In all the following examples, object positions in the diagram on the right are produced by selecting the elements (in the left diagram positions) then hitting the fmusicon.gif button.

As far as FreeHand is concerned:

before fmusicon.gif after fmusicon.gif
fmusic1a.gif fmusic1b.gif
The notehead remains where it was.
All the other objects are moved horizontally into position.
The stem is fit to the notehead and flag,
and its thickness is normalised.
The augmentation dots are aligned with the notehead
(if there is a staffline in the way, they are moved vertically
into the available space).

before fmusicon.gif after fmusicon.gif
fmusic2a.gif fmusic2b.gif
The noteheads dont move unless there are stafflines around.
The stems are fit to the noteheads, and their thickness is normalised.
The beams are fit to the stems
(They are made parallel, and given the correct vertical spacing from each other).
The accents are centred under the noteheads.
The tenuto is centred over its stem (this is how Stockhausen likes them).

before fmusicon.gif after fmusicon.gif
fmusic3a.gif fmusic3b.gif
The stafflines are made parallel, and are normalized with respect to the clef (the clef moves vertically).
The notehead is moved to the nearest correct vertical position (Fit Music decided on the line below).
The stems are normalised. Note that stem tips are moved off the stafflines - the upper end of the headless stem is moved
above the central line of the staff, and the lower end of the other stem is moved below the line it is currently on.
This is important for legibility, especially at small point sizes.
The length of the ledgerline on the headless stem is normalised.
The barline and stafflines are fit together.
(Fit Barlines is a separate tool as well, because it doesnt need any objects other than stafflines and barlines to be selected.
It assumes that all selected (nearly) horizontal lines must be fit to all (nearly) vertical lines.
Fit Music knows about lots of different types of horizontal and vertical lines, and wont fit a ledgerline to a stem by mistake.)

before fmusicon.gif after fmusicon.gif
fmusic4a.gif fmusic4b.gif
The stafflines and ledgerline(s) are made parallel with the correct vertical separation and thickness for the clef size.
The clef is moved vertically onto the staff.
The noteheads and accidentals are moved vertically to the nearest correct positions.
The stem is normalised with respect to the top notehead (because the stem as a whole is lower than the noteheads
 as a whole), and its lower end is fitted to the flag (which has been moved horizontally to fit the stem).
The length of the ledgerline on the top notehead is normalised.
The remaining noteheads are moved horizontally to fit on the stem.
The barline and stafflines are fit together - see comment above.

Fit Barlines ( fblnicon.gif )

Selected vertical and horizontal lines are redrawn such that there are no notches at the corners where they meet, and the horizontal lines which end near a vertical line are made to end exactly on the vertical line. This is useful in music, since staff lines and barlines have different thicknesses. Fit Barlines will correct any number of barlines and stafflines all at once (the following diagrams are one button-click apart).
Usually, of course, I cut stafflines exactly on the barline with FreeHand's knife, but this still leaves notches, and its better to be safe than sorry about the staffline endpoints... The existence of Fit Barlines means that I can do cutaway staves at much lower magnification


before fblnicon.gif after fblnicon.gif
fblin1a.gif fblin1b.gif

Convert to Slur ( ctosicon.gif )

This button converts a (thick) bezier-curve into a filled, closed curve. The resulting slur is pointed at both ends, and has the same maximum thickness and curvature as the original line. This tool can convert any number of slurs at once, though I usually do them one at a time.


before ctosicon.gif after ctosicon.gif
ctoslr1a.gif ctoslr1b.gif
Ordinary slurs.
The curves on the left are simple Bezier curves drawn with Freehand's pen tool.
Each curve has two points, one each end of the curve.
The maximum thickness of the completed slurs is the thickness of the original line.

before ctosicon.gif after ctosicon.gif
ctoslr2a.gif ctoslr2b.gif
Slurs can change staves...

before ctosicon.gif after ctosicon.gif
ctoslr3a.gif ctoslr3b.gif
Slurs can curve backwards...

before ctosicon.gif after ctosicon.gif
ctoslr4a.gif ctoslr4b.gif
The original line can have any number of tangent points between the end points.

Convert to Tie ( ctoticon.gif )

Similar to the above, except that the resulting tie has a special shape and is always horizontal. I no longer use this button, preferring to use template ties instead. A template is a perfectly drawn example stored in a library (see VectorLibrary).


before ctoticon.gif after ctoticon.gif
ctotie1a.gif ctotie1b.gif
The position and curvature of the right-hand point are ignored.
Ties are axially symmetrical.

before ctoticon.gif after ctoticon.gif
ctotie2a.gif ctotie2b.gif
Three-point ties:
The height of the tie is the height of the original tangent-point in the middle of the curve.

before ctoticon.gif ctotie3a.gif
after ctoticon.gif ctotie3b.gif
Four-point ties:
The height of the tie is the height of the left tangent-point in the middle of the curve.
There is a standard curvature at the two ends.

Software used from 2000-2003

After leaving Stockhausen, I learned Sibelius 2.1.1 and used it, instead of the antique Finale 3.0.1a, to prepare input for FreeHand. I used the Freehand plugin PS EditLink (TechPool, but now no longer available) to get from Sibelius into FreeHand. It was possible to get much further with a score in Sibelius 2.1.1 than I ever did in Finale, but I never got a chance to test the latest Finale version, so have no way of comparing the most recent versions of these rivals. I do not know whether the Stockhausen-Verlag updated its software after 2000. As far as I know, my Xtras should still work with the latest Freehand version if it still supports Macromedia's MOA interface, but I have no way of testing this. Professional copying work finally dried up in 2003, so I have little need to continue to develop these tools.