While the sound isn't exactly a symphony orchestra, the MIDI playback gives you a very good representation of the rhythm and style of the music you've created.
Starting Up Power Tab
When you first install and run Power Tab, you have the option to set up a default guitar score and base score. This is only the initial setup, which you have an opportunity to change once the software is running. This gives you the ability to streamline the layout of your music if you tend to write music using the same layout often.
The Music Notation Environment
Once the software starts, you find yourself on the main screen. This is the area where you're going to create your music. While the area where you write the music appears very simple, integrated into this screen are numerous intricate options and selections. You can work with various types of notes, rhythms, chords and much more. At first the menu area appears a little bit overwhelming, and there is a little bit of a learning curve, especially for anyone fairly new to music composition.
Options While Editing
While there are a lot of different features throughout the menu system, most of the basic musical notation tools are available when you right click within the musical bars. For example, to add new tabs, all you have to do is right click where you want to place the note into the score, select "Tab Numbers" and then choose the number for the notation.
Throughout the menu system, you'll find not only musical editing options, but also amazing reference tools. For example, by clicking on the red reference book icon, you'll open up the Chord Dictionary. This is a small application in itself. In this mini-app, you can select the chord that you want to alter, then choose which type of chord (major, minor, etc...) and any alterations, extensions or additions. The app even shows the fret finger positions for your chosen chord. This alone is an excellent resource for guitar players, however the addition of such complex mini-apps in this software adds to the complexity and steepens the learning curve.
Similar to the Chord Dictionary, you'll also find a neat little app called the Tuning Dictionary, by clicking on the small blue reference book icon. This reference lists all of the tunings for various stringed instruments, from 3 through 7 strings.You can even customize your own tuning setup if you like.
Play Your Musical Creations
The software itself can feel a bit cramped and complicated, with menu buttons stuffed throughout the top of the application, many of which may have pop-up text but very little in the way of explanation or training. However, the most powerful aspect of the application that actually lends itself to ease of use is the built-in MIDI player. However, this player isn't like any ordinary music player. It actually takes the musical score that you've carefully written and plotted in the space below, and it transforms it into audible music that you can listen to and appreciate.
If anything sounds wrong, just tweak your notations and test it out again. The MIDI player is effectively a notation-to-audio converter which adds a significant amount of powerful functionality to this software. There are few free musical notation applications on the Internet that provide this range of features at no cost.
The Score Checker
Another feature that makes this software even more useful is the Score Checker function. When you click on the Score Checker icon (a green check mark), the application actually checks the musical score you've just created and it verifies whether you've done everything appropriately. For example, here you can see that in the sample score I created, the measure was off and the ending of the score had a missing double bar.
Menus Full of Features
Throughout the top of the menu bar, just above the toolbar icons, you'll find that almost every menu item has a multitude of tools and features to explore. You can modify almost every aspect of your musical score in every way imaginable. You can change properties of the staff, modify the tempo or note types, insert rests, and all sorts of other features that give you full control over your music. With Power Tab Editor you can create the most intricate music imaginable.
The one major drawback of this software is the learning curve. For someone with a musical background or years of experience writing or playing music, this software will come naturally and it will prove to be a very powerful tool. However for someone who is just learning music, or an amateur guitar player, this software will feel bulky and somewhat difficult to learn.
The power and usefulness of this application comes from the volume of features it has available. So, for anyone with the background and knowledge, this software can help you create music that you can be proud of.
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