By Chris Loeffler
Like the benefits authors enjoy writing when they moved typewriters to word processing software, composing music in the digital space offers many advantages to song writers- parts can be instantly moved around, keys changed, and good old “Copy-Paste” are all time savers. However, as with most new tools there is a learning curve to any software package and there are times where the effort it takes to master the tool is greater than the benefits and time saving it will bring down the road. Forte 5, the newest release from the Forte composition software team, claims inexperienced composers regularly have their first composition complete within ten minutes of the first time they load it. That is the sort of statement that should perk the ears of people looking to get their feet wet with composition but not willing or able to spend hours learning a new program.
Forte is available in four software suites, Forte Free, Forte Basic, Forte Home, and Forte Premium, with each suite upgrade bringing more functionality to the core package. Forte Free is the freeware package and allows for one stave, two voices, and a single lyric path. Forte Basic, the entry level paid suite, doubles the staves and lyric count and adds MIDI compatibility for step-time entry and the like. Forte Home quadruples the amount of available tracks, adds compound meters and pickup measures, and is pretty much everything a composer needs to document combo and small symphony scores. Forte Premium is the end-all in composition software feature sets, including enhanced sonic quality and VST plugins through the Forte player, 32 simultaneous tracks, four voices, 16 lyric verses, part extraction, and enhanced import/export options.
What You Need to Know
While the Forte 5 suites of compositional software won’t teach you how to compose, they are so easy to use and intuitive that they make the composition (and documentation) of songs a breeze. Forte has done an excellent job of making the potentially overwhelming number of options cleanly and logically organized without distracting novice users. The benefit of being able to compliment a printed version of a song or composition with an audio recording of it at no additional effort alone is worth the price of admission.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.