The View from Red Knoll Lookout

Photograph of mountains surrounding artificial lake.

Southwest Tasmania is famous for its rugged landscape. Hardy bushwalkers recommend walking it for days for the best experience, but you can catch a glimpse from your car if you drive to Red Knoll, on the southern edge of Lake Pedder.

Getting there

Red Knoll lies within the Southwest National Park, so visitors will need a current National Parks Pass.

As of January 2014, there was no place to buy petrol southwest of the town of Maydena. From there, the drive was along Gordon River Road for 31 winding kilometres followed by turn south onto Scotts then a turn onto Scotts Peak Road and 38 kilometres from there.

All of these roads were built to admit construction vehicles for dams and power stations. They were wide, solid and had smooth bends. However, the entire length of Scotts Peak Road was unsealed.

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The View from The Sideling Lookout

Photograph of low mountain tinted pink by sunset.

The Tasman Highway connects Hobart to Launceston in a wide loop around Tasmania’s east coast. Between Scottsdale and Launceston it winds over a high ridge and is called “The Sideling”. This road is not the easiest to drive, but from the north-east edge of the ridge a car park and lookout offer impressive views over Scottsdale and Mount Stronach.

Getting there

The car park was hard to miss while driving from either direction. It contained one of the few patches of grass in a road otherwise surrounded by treeferns, plantations or steep drops. It was on the east side of the road, so on the right while driving from Launceston and on the left while driving from Scottsdale.

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Walking through the Tunnel at Tunnel

Photograph from inside of railway tunnel.

During the late 19th Century, railways were a vital economic and social link. They still took some time to spread across Tasmania, due to the inconvenient number of mountains and rivers. This is evident in the history of the North-Eastern Line, which opened from Launceston to Scottsdale in 1889, with extensions to Branxholm in 1911 and Herrick in 1919. The North-Eastern Line included a rare feature: a 704-metre tunnel. This was so unusual for Tasmania that the locality was named “Tunnel” and the nearby station was named “Tunnel Station”.

With increased use of road vehicles, use of the North-Eastern Line slowed from the 1960s onwards and ended in 1992. However, many sections of the old line may be walked. A 24 kilometre section of line from Tulendeena Station at Billycock Hill to Scottsdale opened in 2015. This was the North East Rail Trail, with plans to eventually cover the full length of the old North East Line for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. As of March 2017 North East Rail Trail work to replace tracks with gravel had not reached Tunnel, but the area was accessible to walkers who didn’t mind stepping between sleepers.

Getting there

The roads to the tunnel were helpfully named “Tunnel Road” (which passed over the top of the tunnel) and “Tunnel Station Road” (which led to the car park). Both were unsealed, with a combined length of 2.2 kilometres. Tunnel Road began about 6.5 kilometres north of Lilydale, turning west off Golconda Road. Tunnel Station Road then turned south off Tunnel Road.

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Walking to the Pelverata Falls Lookout

Photograph of long brown cliff with waterfall flowing down part of it.

Pelverata Falls form where Pelverata Creek flows west off Snug Tiers on the Huon Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia. The walking track described here leads from Crosswells Road to a lookout below the falls.

Getting there

Two road routes led to the start of the walking track. Both were slow driving due to the many bends.

  1. South from Sandfly on Pelverata Road. Drive through Kaoota and Pelverata, then turn left onto Crosswells Road. This half of Pelverata Road was narrow, but was sealed, unlike the other half.
  2. East from Woodstock on Pelverata Road. Drive through Upper Woodstock and across several bridges, then turn right onto Crosswells Road. This half of Pelverata Road was unsealed, but was wider than the other half.

Crosswells Road was also unsealed but only a kilometre long, ending in a car park at the start of the Pelverata Falls Track.

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Walking to Snug Falls

Photograph of waterfall pouring down layered cliff.

Snug falls form where the Snug River flows off Snug Tier, near the town of Snug on the Huon Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia. A short walk leads to the base of the falls.

Getting there

First we drove to the town of Snug, on the eastern side of the Huon Peninsula. Roads on the peninsula have more hills and bends than maps may suggest, so allow plenty of time for this part. From, Snug, Snug Tiers Road led west off the Channel Highway. This soon changed from sealed to unsealed, and split in two, with Snug Tiers Road continuing on the right and Snug Falls Road on the left. We took the left turn onto Snug Falls Road and followed it to the clearly signed car park.

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Walking the Fern Glade Track, Marakoopa Cave

Photograph of creek flowing under ferns and over mossy stones.

The Fern Glade Track is a short walk through rainforest near Mole Creek, Tasmania, Australia. It follows Marakoopa Creek to the mouth of Marakoopa Cave.

The Fern Glade at Marakoopa Cave should not be confused with the Fern Glade Great Short Walk along the Emu River in Burnie, the Fern Glade at Fern Tree on Mount Wellington or the Ferndene fern glade in the Dial Range, Penguin.

Getting there

The Fern Glade Track lies within the Mole Creek Karst National Park, so visitors will need a current National Parks Pass or to buy a ticket for the Marakoopa Cave tour.

To reach the start of the walk, we drove along Liena Road, then turned south onto Mayberry Road and followed it to the Marakoopa Cave ticket office. A car park here gave access to the north end of the Fern Glade Track. Another 500 metres beyond that was the car park for Marakoopa Cave itself, and the south end of the track. All roads and car parks were sealed.

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How do I start writing sheet music on my computer?

Install MuseScore and learn to use it efficiently.

What is MuseScore?  Where do I find it?

MuseScore icon

MuseScore is a free application for editing sheet music.  You can download the current version from musescore.org.

Can it be any good if it’s free?

MuseScore is open source, released under the GNU General Public License.  This does not automatically make it good or bad compared to “closed source” applications.  The document you are reading is hosted on a web server running the Linux operating system, Apache HTTP Server and WordPress content management system1.  All are longstanding projects that have proved themselves capable and are in widespread use.  You are also probably reading this on a web browser that uses the WebKit layout engine, if you aren’t using Firefox, where the whole browser is open source.

It is good to ask what pays for “free” software.  Sometimes it is advertising.  Some “free” websites rely on intruding on your privacy.  Some especially malicious examples go hunting through your files for credit card or bank account details.  MuseScore, at the time of writing, does not do any of these; it relies on an associated storefront for selling music written in MuseScore, with free accounts (which may be subject to advertising on the website, but not in the MuseScore application) and “Pro” subscriptions2.

Can I use anything else?

Yes, there are many other applications that do this job.  The most common two are Finale and Sibelius.  For an incomplete list, see the Wikipedia Comparison of Scorewriters.  If you already have one installed, you may prefer to start there.  You can download a time-limited demonstration version of most notation editors as well.

If you would rather not install anything on your computer, try NoteFlight, which runs in your web browser.  While you don’t have to install anything, this does require signing up for a free account.  NoteFlight has some potential for teachers and students wishing to easily share work.  Its notation library is limited, however, and its use of the browser keeps it from using all available keyboard shortcuts.

I have a notation editor, how do I start using it?

Learn how to do basic notation in it, then practice that.

This site has a number of posts on the subject, starting with How do I efficiently write sheet music on my computer?, with other topics listed at the Cowirrie Guide to Writing Sheet Music.

Most notation editors also have both written and video tutorials.

Continue reading “How do I start writing sheet music on my computer?”

  1. Installation details were correct at the time of writing but may have changed since. []
  2. The sustainability of the MuseScore business model is an interesting question, but not a focus of this post. []

How can I efficiently add slurs and ties to my sheet music?

Sheet music titled "Quintett" by E. M. Smyth, containing slurs and ties.

Use the mouse to select the notes and s to add slurs, except in Finale.

Slurs or ties?

When we learn to copy music my hand, we often refer to any curved line connecting notes as a “slur”.  However, most applications have two such lines.  You therefore need to know whether any given curved line is a slur or a tie.

Ties indicate the specific case where consecutive note symbols at the same pitch should be played continuously, sounding as a single note.  While slurs indicate some continuity (especially for string and wind players) they may change pitch or have articulations indicating small breaks.  Longer slurs may also indicate phrasing.  If both slurs and ties appear around the same notes, the slurs will be shorter and closer to the notes.

Musical passage with crotchets tied across barlines.

The ties on these notes indicate continuous sound across the barlines.

Sequence of crotchets with staccato notes, slurred in pairs to indicate bowing.

The addition of staccato symbols means that the bowing should be indicated by slurs, not ties.

This leads to a difference in how applications implement these two symbols.  While specifics vary, “being tied” is generally a property of a note that may be switched on or off, in the same way that a note may “be sharp”, “be dotted” or “be staccato”.

In comparison, slurs are graphical objects that are attached to notes, in a similar way to crescendo “hairpin” lines.

In consequence, when you look through the user interface you will probably find ties near the other note entry buttons, and slurs in a list of graphical line tools.  The slur will probably be the first on the list, as by far the most common line graphic.

With that covered, let’s look at notating the start of Ethel Smyth’s String Quintet, Op. 1. Continue reading “How can I efficiently add slurs and ties to my sheet music?”

How can I efficiently add dynamics to my sheet music?

Sheet music showing the first two lines of a string quartet violin 1 part.

Notate all the dots, then add the dynamics in a batch.

Let’s look at adding dynamics to Halina Krzyżanowska’s String Quartet, Op. 44, Violin 1, movement 1 (Allegro commodo), from the upbeat to bar 14.

If you’re already behind schedule

If you only have a few hours to finish a notation job, don’t worry about the formatting the dynamics.  Stop browsing websites like the one you are currently reading; they won’t help you.  Just finish copying the notes, print the music, and pencil in the dynamics or ask the musicians to do them for you.  It’ll be faster.

Promise yourself that once this deadline is over, you’ll come back to learn how to add dynamics quickly and accurately.

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What does typing sheet music on my keyboard look like?

Sheet music on faded paper.

It looks something like this: 5 e control 4 b control 5 b 4 a

Let’s look at a simple piece of real-world music: “The Rakish Highlandman,” as published in 1795 within James Aird’s A Selection of Scotch, English Irish and Foreign Airs, Volume 3, Page 175, Tune number 449.

This will provided good practice for the skills described in How do I efficiently write sheet music on my computer?

Continue reading “What does typing sheet music on my keyboard look like?”