Score-based sequencing?

Hi all, I’ve been lurking here for a while, and thought I’d make my first post a question that’s been on my mind lately:

Does anyone have experience with, or knowledge of, a score-based sequencing workflow?

I’m imagining a setting where the musical content is fixed in some kind notation program with midi output, and the performance aspect comes from patching that into some kind of sound generation facility, which would be manipulated in real-time. Almost as if the performer were also the conductor of an electronic orchestra.

DAWs such as logic and reaper don’t seem to have a good enough notation workflow for this feel intuitive, and notation packages that I’ve examined don’t seem to have the robust midi CC support that might come in handy. The upcoming musescore 4 has some new features targeting film scoring that might help this cause, however.

Any other ideas?


Sibelius wasn’t made for real time scoring but with the short-cuts and on-board pattern helper you could become proficient enough to manipulate a track in real time. It outputs data that can be repurposed to control a modular system via a MIDI-to-CV module.

I’m not super familiar with non-hardware based music, but could you not route the midi from a scoring program into a daw, then use the daw for sounds and midi cc. If you want to get gestural for real time manipulation as the conductor, use a hardware midi controller with lots of knobs as your ‘baton’ for controlling aspects of the sound.
Or, in a modular context (since you said patching), use the midi output of a scoring program into a midi to CV module, then use a meta CV controller like 16n faderbank patched into modulation attenuators, filters and VCAs to control aspects of your sound.

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I actually hadn’t considered real-time scoring as an application for this, but that’s a cool idea.

I really like this proposal - it seems like a good way to use the right tools for the job. Use notation software for notation, daw for midi operations and routing, and the modular/vst/VCV as the instrument.

Faderbank isn’t something I’ve come across yet, so thanks for putting it on my radar!

You are describing CSound. :slight_smile:

It’s old, and linguistic quite primitive, but if you want a sophisticated and powerful system that you literally drive off a score, and that is designed around that paradigm, that’s the one! And you can embed it into Max or Pure Data with the csound~ object to allow you to send messages from Max or Pd widgets into Csound and get messages out if you want to, or in a C host via the C API.

I did some live shows many years ago doing pretty much what you described. We produced scores with a Python based score generation tracker interface I wrote, and in the shows the score system drove things, and we changed audio producing parameters in real time. There are a whole slew of front ends to generate Csound scores from tools, including traditional notation. The Csound score syntax is plain text, but is very accurate and flexible, much better than midi for actual scoring. You just don’t want to edit it by hand, but because it’s just text, it’s also very easy to cook up tools to generate your scores.


One thing I would add if you are thinking of modular and/or using a sequencer instead of a midi > cv is to make sure you choosing the right sequencer. I haven’t used the output of the midi from something like sibelius, but not all sequencers are “music theory”-inclined (so to speak) and can make it difficult to create sequences outside of the typical grid expectation. So it might require manual work to actually translate the midi from the score to the sequencer.

In eurorack, there are a few sequencers that would probably make it easier. The ones I know are:

If you’re thinking more about notation as opposed to the computer music version of the word “score”, and want a full fledged DAW with real proper scoring, I think the only game in town now is Digital Performer. It’s the one film scorers who want trad. notation use, others have it (Logic, I think maybe Cubase too) but from what I’ve read and seen, DP is the one folks who seriously think in trad notation want to use. Scoring apps like Sibelius and Finale only provide pretty basic playback sequencing abilities.

Another potential area to explore are the various projects that bring notation to Max, like the Bach project and some others who’s names I can’t remember right now…