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.

Continue reading “Walking to the Pelverata Falls Lookout”

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.

Continue reading “How can I efficiently add dynamics to my sheet music?”

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?”

How do I efficiently write sheet music on my computer?

By typing notes with your computer keyboard.  Most notation editors offer powerful ways to quickly enter music, but the means of doing so are not obvious, and may even be actively counter-intuitive.

Apart from this document, your notation editor probably contains some sample scores and videos covering this.

A digression on word processing

You’re probably more familiar with your word processor than your notation editor, so it’s worth taking a moment to think about the different modes of operation it has.  When started with a blank document, you probably see a blinking vertical bar.  This is called a caret.  You may have heard the caret called a “cursor,” and this is a valid word, but the “cursor” is also used for symbol where your mouse points – an arrow most of the time, or an I-beam shape when over a text entry field.

Word processor screen capture showing vertical blinking bar (caret) and mouse cursor.

Word processor in text entry mode, showing text caret and mouse cursor

When the caret is visible,

  1. Any letters typed on the keyboard are inserted1 at the caret, and it moves to the right2.
  2. Any formatting (bold, italics, font changes) will have no visible effect, but will apply to letters typed from then onwards.

However, if you select text by dragging the mouse or holding down the shift key and the an arrow key, the caret disappears, and instead the selected text is highlighted.

Word processor screen capture showing the word "emboldened" selected and with bold formatting being applied to it.

Word processor in text selection mode, showing formatting being applied

When text is selected,

  1. Any letters typed replace the current selection, and the caret reappears to allow typing to continue as usual.
  2. Any formatting will be applied to the selection.

Why does this matter to music?

You have probably absorbed these lessons from your word processor, so easily that you don’t have to think about them.  However, your music editor also has a caret mode and a selection mode, but they require greater awareness of which mode they’re in and how to move between them.

Continue reading “How do I efficiently write sheet music on my computer?”

  1. If overwrite mode is on, new letters will be replaced, not inserted. []
  2. If working in a language that reads right-to-left, the caret will of course move to the left. []

Walking Postmans Track, Sisters Beach

Photograph of coastal cliffs.

Postmans Track is a walking track along the north coast of Tasmania, Australia. In the early days of the coastal towns of Burnie and Stanley, this track was the shortest land route between the two. It was only suitable for people on foot or on horseback.

The “Postmans Track” seen here was a short segment in the middle of that original route, passing along cliffs at the eastern edge of Rocky Cape National Park.

Getting there

Postmans Track lies within part of the Rocky Cape National Park, so visitors will need a current National Parks Pass.

The route to both ends of the track began by driving along the Bass Highway, turning north onto Port Road, then following Sisters Beach Road after Port Road diverted to Boat Harbour. All of these roads were sealed.

The car park for the southern end of the track was on Sisters Beach Road itself. The car park for the northern end of the track was on Sisters Beach. The road to this car park was unsealed, with large ruts that would be inconvenient if filled with water. Drivers wishing to avoid this could park on Honeysuckle Avenue and walk an additional 1.6 kilometres along Sisters Beach.

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Why we couldn’t walk to the Anchor Stampers on Blue Tier

Photograph of dam with hole due to flood damage.

Update – 21st December 2015

Read the comments on this post for details on a new track to the Anchor Stampers site.

Original Introduction

The Anchor Stampers is a piece of old tin mining equipment once used at the Anchor Tin Mine on the side of Blue Tier, Tasmania, Australia. A 20 minute walking track used to visit the site, but in April 2011 floods destroyed a dam that the track crossed. The photographs in this post show the damage state of the track in May 2013. As of April 2015 the track remained closed, with repairs under discussion.

Getting there

The Anchor Stampers site was on the west side of Anchor Road. This road was unsealed for its entire length, and became progressively narrower and rougher as it continued north. The Anchor Stampers track was near the north end. Parking for the Anchor Stampers was on the side of Anchor Road and easy to miss.

Continue reading “Why we couldn’t walk to the Anchor Stampers on Blue Tier”