Hello everyone! I hope you all have had a musically productive week (well, at least more productive than mine!).
Since last week's post, "The Big Picture," I have found myself preoccupied. You see, that post stirred up a great amount of discussion related to several topics that I didn't anticipate. These included discussions on view mode preference (of which I see I am in the minority based upon my poll), the use of "Staff Sets," and perhaps most surprisingly, a request from a Sibelius engineer as to what additional features could be implemented to help manage "complexity" with composing and arranging. Upon reflection, though, it seemed in my mind that these all related to a single issue - how we manage our own personal work flow.
A large reason I became preoccupied with this topic was because it became very clear though the discussion that there are many features in Sibelius that I simply am not taking advantage of - features that, after experimenting with them for a bit, clearly do assist the composer in one form or another. Many of these features seem focused in two categories - those that provide the user with an increase in speed, and those that help with the "management of complexity." Several, in fact, do both (Sibelius 6's new magnetic layout comes to mind - a godsend feature if I do say so myself).
It made me wonder whether or not I was consciously choosing not to use newer features - if there was a reason that I choose to stick to older, possibly less efficient approaches. For example, I look at features like Sibelius' "Ideas" and think to myself - "Wow! That is SO cool! I'll definitely use that in my next piece!" Yet, to this date I have not taken advantage of it. I can surely see how the feature would assist my creative process, but something prevents me from using it. Is it simply old habits? Or is it something deeper?
After much thought, I've come to the conclusion that I stick to my more old-fashioned approaches not out of laziness, ignorance, or some sense of loyalty to old practices, but rather, because they allow my work flow to match my own creative goals. My work flow has always been about trying to emulate the "pencil and paper" experience on the computer. My goals have never been about working faster or having the computer manage complex ideas for me. It has always been far more important for me to find a work flow that allows me to remain conscious of all tasks that I do, so that in the end writing on the computer was as personal an experience as writing by hand.
In some odd way I actually prefer a slower approach when working in Sibelius. Using the program in such a way forces me to focus on the individual pitches that I compose, rather than inadvertently allowing me to throw too many notes on the page at once (a technique that I affectionately refer to as "vomiting notes"). Additionally, viewing the score in "page view" rather than scroll view or panorama seems essential to my own creative process, since it allow me to see the WHOLE piece as it will look in the end - including empty measures, abbreviated instrument names, page numbers, margins - everything. This is, admittedly, a much slower process than using Panorama/Scroll view, or using Score Sets to see only the staves you need. However, for me, it fits my own compulsive need to see everything at all times.
Of course, there are several newer features that I do enjoy using with great regularity. As mentioned above, Sibelius' "magnetic layout" is, in my opinion, the greatest thing since sliced bread - especially for a composer like me that places dynamics and other markings as I write the notes! I also DO believe that the Ideas panel would fit me in the right situation - I simply haven't really sat down and tried to use it....yet. So, obviously I'm not against the idea of saving time - particularly when it involves something as tedious as fine tuning the score layout.
The fundamental question that I would like to ask everyone thus isn't how one approaches his or her own individualized work flow, but WHY one does. What reasons do you make the work flow choices you make? Is speed a priority? Efficiency? Organization? Or, like me, do you intentionally try to slow yourself down, so as to focus on individual notes? Please share your thoughts!