Compose Music In Excel - What You Need To Know

Is it possible to create usable music notation in Microsoft Excel? The answer is: not really. But, if you must, here are some tips on how to use Microsoft Excel to compose music.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Microsoft Excel, the software is a powerful resource that is capable of much more than just spreadsheet processing.

Excel is used to organize, analyze, display, and make sense of data. As a multimedia artist, I find that this software is a phenomenal place to put together and present my music for publication.

Benefits of transcribing music using Excel

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A proper piano transcription will have what’s called a guide number, which is a standard piano key signature. If you decide to create your own piano transcription with MS Excel, you can use that guide number.

This means that you’ll know exactly what key your sheet music will be in. This was great when composing my first piece, as the guide number I created was a nice, even D flat major.

The sad part is that MS Excel doesn’t have any barlines to indicate where a pianist would press a key on the piano to find the next chord.

This doesn’t stop you from making your sheet music sound better. First, there are a number of things that you can do to turn an ordinary piece of music into an electronic transcription.

One method is to run a transformation on your file. This basically helps you replace notes on your sheet music with transposed versions. As this doesn’t change the musical score, it’s considered safe to use in a transcription project.

You can also cut-and-paste each section you’re interested in making into a new document and run another transformation. This is called “transposition.”

This allows you to alter the key of your piano transcriptions to suit your composition.

Finally, you can also use the function “Analyze New” within Microsoft Excel. This function creates a number of filters to search for your sheet music and transpose it to your current tempo and key.

This feature has been in Excel for many years and is very useful for when you want to make your piece sound better without messing with all of the specific sheet music notes.

In my case, I usually create my piano sheet music in a key of C major, which is a full step above C major. For this particular piece, the frequency ratio between D and E in each note is a semi-tone higher than the ratio between D and C major.

1. All music can be categorized and organized in Excel.

Let’s start by organizing your sheet music. Add columns named Title, Author, Book Notes, Publisher and Author’s Name.

What happens if you want to add sheet music?

You can place it in the Sheet Music File. This file can then be imported into your computer using the Insert Music or Music File functions.

2. You can create a custom color scheme.

Photo of planner and writing materials

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Create a new color theme and name it as you like. To open this theme in Excel, right click on it and go to Insert.

3. You can track progress

Track progress of your music by adding a new column named Track Time. This column contains all your music timing information.

4. Use Automate button

You can add functions to your custom color scheme. Select the functions from the drop down list on the left, select Convert Color to Rank.

5. Save the sounds

Save your sounds in the Sounds Folder. The Sounds folder is for sounds that will be useful for a tutorial, demos and tutorials.

To open it, go to File -> Save As and make a text file. Enter the name of the file as a MIDI file, enter the time of the song as a minute and click on Save. The text file can be opened in your MPC or any DAW software such as Logic or Adobe Audition.

6. Change the width

Increase the width to fit the music to a single sheet of paper. Or, to increase the width of the entire sheet music, go to Insert and press .+

7. Calculate the volume

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To calculate the volume, go to Insert and press Ctrl + P which brings up the Percent button. Select to get all the musical content (bars, notes, chords) and go to Find and Insert again. Click on Change Sides.

The bottom drop down shows the volume in decibels. The music volume will be multiplied by 2.

8. Add progress bar

Add a bar to the middle of the sheet music to show the progress of the song.

9. Save it as a MIDI file

To save your music as a MIDI file, go to Insert and press Ctrl + P which brings up the Percent button. Select to get all the musical content (bars, notes, chords) and go to Find and Insert again. Click on Change Sides.

The bottom drop down shows the volume in decibels. The music volume will be multiplied by 2.

10. Share it

You can share your music to different music players.

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