I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the files used to make notated scores versus the files used to make audio mockups. My personal opinion is that these two processes are quite different and are best kept separate.
Of course, most people would love to combine them. The most common shortcut is to create a notated score…and then import that data into a sequencer as a MIDI file. This saves a lot of time but reduces the quality of the final audio product.
First, the underlying MIDI data necessary for the ideal mockup and ideal score are typically quite different (even for the same piece of music).
In a sequence, the exact rhythmic performance of a part typically differs (both in placement and duration of notes) from an exact interpretation of the notation. In your sequenced performance, notes are likely to overlap slightly. You may slightly ritard or accelerando here and there. A quarter note may not be a full beat…but something like 90% of a beat.
In addition, you may have several tracks in your sequence for a single instrument, where you would only have a single staff in a score. If you are using different programs, the samples and effects available from your sequencer are typically different than those available from your notation program.
For all of these reasons, you will always need two separate files if your goal is to make the absolute best audio mockup and the absolute best notated score. This is true even if you are using the same software program for each purpose.
It’s worth noting that most software programs are designed to do one or the other really well. The sequencing programs are designed to create the best audio recording possible. If you are creating a recording, then you should be using your sequencer of choice. The notation programs are designed to create the best notated score possible. If you are creating a notated score, then you should be using your notation program of choice.
Notably, the two functions are rarely combined in professional settings. Most professional film composers write in their sequencer. When satisfied, they pass this on to their orchestrator, who creates a notated score for the recording session. In this case, the sequence and the score are created in two different programs by two different people.
In short, creating the best possible score and the best possible audio recording are two different processes. While it would be nice to do them simultaneously, doing so inevitably compromises one or the other…and you end up with the perfect recording and a less-than-perfect notated score, or the perfect notated score and a less-than-perfect recording.