Music Technology

Middle to Late 20th Century

Although many programs and software have been developed, below is a discussion of some of the innovative techniques of notating music through the use of technology, and does not include other aspects of music technology such as recording or sampling.)

With advances in technology during the 1950s and 1960s, music was now possible to be notated through the use of computers and software. The first two programs that were developed in the early 1960s were Plaine and Easie Code and DARMS (Digital Alternate Representation of Musical Scores). The problem with early computers was the lack of visual feedback to the encoder.

The next development involved the use of a machine that used the Musicwriter keyboard which punched out paper. (Punched out paper was used as a storage device during the 1960s.) A machine called the ILLIAC was used to read the coded paper. An output paper was again placed in the Musicwriter and correctly formatted to print the music.

With the development of the desktop computer, music notation began evolving once again. Programs such as SMUT, SCORE, MUSTRAN, MEG, and the Oxford Music Processor were developed. In 2002, the author of this website inquired about using the program SCORE for a company. This is the email he received:

Dear Rosendo,

Regarding SCORE, I should warn you that the investment required may call for a somewhat more substantial commitment…as far as I know, the package costs around $1,000. A debate has been raging for quite some time about the “obsolescence” of the software, inasmuch as it still runs in MS-DOS and its developer, Leland Smith, is getting on in years. Yet, as long as it is still feasible to run DOS on a device (and that should still be true for years to come), the flexibility and output potential of SCORE remains unsurpassed. It is SO MUCH better than Finale. I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
J. S.

The development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in the 1980s allowed musicians to input music into a computer by connecting the computer to a music keyboard through MIDI cables. The next program to be developed was Mockingbird. This program was capable of playing the music back and printing with a laser printer. A successful music notating program was Professional Composer. It used a mouse and several palettes on the computer screen to choose different symbols.