We knew something was wrong with Notion’s composition program, Protégé, when we began to seriously consider using pencil and some staff paper during our excruciating attempts to transcribe the theme from Halo 3.
It’s not that Protégé is lacking in scale. The program comes packed with more musical expressions than there are wet eyes during a showing of Mr. Holland’s Opus—everything from articulation and expression markings to those little trilly things and Italian words only musicians really understand.
And yet Protégé manages to take this mighty musical lexicon and completely destroy its usefulness, thanks to a few critical lapses in the program’s basic functionality. Case in point: You can’t hear the notes you’re inputting. Notion found it important to record the “sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra” for a greater degree of realistic playback—too bad you have to preview your song, or plunk keys on a nearby piano, just to find out if you correctly wrote that complex chord.
It’s equally frustrating that Protégé has virtually no automation whatsoever. The program won’t even create bar lines for you after you’ve scribed up a measure’s worth of notes. Nothing kills creative fervor like being forced to do the monotonous tasks that other music notation programs managed to eliminate years ago.
Protégé is one-sixth the price of similar programs such as Finale and Sibelius, and you definitely get what you pay for—a musical notation program that beats freehanding your first concerto… barely.