Although a relative newcomer to the scene, Notion from Presonus is nonetheless a mature notation software solution available for both Mac- and Windows-based computers. With the exception of some very high-end publishing requirements, the upgrade to Notion 5 delivers everything needed for composers, performers, producers, worship teams, arrangers, orchestrators, educators, and music students who work with notation. It offers many of the features required for scoring to picture, including a new Timecode view, the ability to add hit points, and select the volume, frame rate, and start time of a project. Additionally, the software supports most of the modern and important video formats.
A good benchmark for any software is its ease of use and level of interactivity, and here the program certainly makes the grade. Easily compose using interactive keyboard, fretboard, drum pad, and chord library entry tools, edit music and have it play back with orchestral samples recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, and more. While recording and editing MIDI data is simple in Notion, the Sequencer Overlay feature goes further by displaying notation and MIDI performance data on the same staff. Edit an individual note’s velocity, duration, start point, and end point using drag-and-drop. And overdubbing MIDI is perfect for adding expressive controller information, recording key switches, or trying a particular line one more time.
Scores can be played back following metronome marks. However, with Notion scores can be also be performed live using NTempo mode, providing the ability to continuously control tempo and volume (if using a velocity-sensitive MIDI controller) by tapping keys on a MIDI controller or computer keyboard. Performing in NTempo mode has many uses but it’s especially useful for music students and educators. A playback marker shows the current score location. The software can also import audio files and mix them with a score using the built-in software mixer, the latter featuring buses, panning, inserts, subgroups, and more. Audio can be processed with built-in reverb, a guitar-amp simulator, and Native Effects EQ, compressor, and limiter plug-ins from the company’s Studio One DAW.
The ability to create a score in Notion for Mac or Windows, and then continue to work on it in Notion for iPad (a separate purchase), or start with the iPad and transfer to a Mac or Windows computer for in-depth editing is a boon for traveling musicians. Additional new features include the ability to bounce all stems, eight mix buses over the four found in the previous version, audio upsampling for export, and support for new VST libraries. The software is 32- and 64-bit compliant and will also function as a ReWire master or slave. Support is also available for Apple’s Retina displays and Windows 8 touchscreens. With this update to an already complete program, Presonus has managed to hit several new high notes when it comes to notation creation.