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 Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: Johnny Galaga 
Date:   2022-05-07 06:01

What's good brand of music software? Are there any freebies?

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2022-05-07 12:38

It kind of depends what you want it for I think.

I use Dorico for writing arrangments because it's really good for making changes retrospectively. For example, you can go back and change the time signature or whatever, even when you are really far into the piece.

However, I don't find that I can manage totally on just Dorico, so I sometimes export to XML and then import the music into Sibelius to make some very specific changes. For example, Sibelius has really good scripts for automatically adding brass fingerings to the music. Sibelius has loads of scripts and you can write scripts very easily so if you are desktop publishing music for a community orchestra and having to produce and distribute pdfs online every week, then it is great for that.

I think Dorico is free for two staves and Sibelius for 4 staves. They cost a bit for slightly more staves, and a fair bit more for 64 staves. However, both are lifetime licences, so if you save up the cash like I did then they really do a lot of amazing things with no on-going costs.

I don't really know about other options.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2022-05-07 14:50

If you want to write a single staff with a stylus, try NotateMe (free for Android tablet). It also has a paying multi staff version and PhotoScore that can bring a score into the app for playback and modification. It can transpose and offers a multitude of instruments. As a Bb/Eb player I find this very useful and never need to use the pay-for pc program I got a few years back.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: kehammel 
Date:   2022-05-07 17:34

Musescore is free and works well even for multi-part scores.


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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: gwie 
Date:   2022-05-07 21:15

I started off very heavily with Finale, made the switch to Sibelius during the period where Finale's Mac support was terrible, then transitioned to Dorico more recently due to their superb workflow. Most of my arranging and orchestration has been for string quartets as well as string orchestra and full orchestra. I think that any of these three competing notation packages will suit the needs of most users, although depending on the genre and use case, there may be better features in one or another.

However, the free open-source software MuseScore.org has made impressive leaps since their first version almost twenty years ago, and the current version is quite capable for most standard notation activities. One of my professional big band colleagues regularly uses MuseScore for all of his charts, and the quality that they produce with it is often a surprise to many players who have gotten used to pretty much only seeing Finale output.

For my arranging and orchestration students, while the online software flat.io and apps like NoteFlight can be a good place to get into it initially, I think MuseScore offers a better range of features and ease-of-use when it comes to producing parts for musicians to actually play versus focusing only on digital playback. For me, the best part is that regardless of what kind of computer my students use, MuseScore has versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: Johnny Galaga 
Date:   2022-05-08 05:12


Yeah, I'm trying our MuseScore right now. All I'm wanting to do is write Bb clarinet parts, not an entire score. MuseScore has these extremely tiny icons and buttons though, especially the palete and the initial screen to choose the key signature.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: gwie 
Date:   2022-05-08 06:11

The size of the interface elements in MuseScore is determined by the system settings for your OS.

Details on how to modify your icon, text, and UI size are here:

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2022-05-08 18:38

I think for a single instrument, pretty much every software option is free, so you could try several and see what you like best. I get the impression that personal preference comes into it a lot.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2022-05-09 08:31

As a former user of Finale, MuseScore, ImproVisor, etc., my favorite free sheet music/pdf creator is Lilypond. If you're into computer scripting, it is great. I create my own front-ends to Lilypond for specific purposes. For instance, I use one GUI front-end for quickly entering leadsheet chords/melodies; but another for entering four-part harmonies. There are also other GUI front-ends available for download. But a front-end isn't necessary...as a basic text editor is all you need (along with Lilypond).

The basic syntax for music entry is odd at first look, but very efficient once you get used to it - and you can use any text editor to enter the music - then process the text file through Lilypond when you get to your computing device.

The support documentation is thorough and a person can find many examples to achieve the desired results.

The output is clean.

For the non-computer-scripting folks, (as others have suggested), MuseScore works well.


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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: allencole 
Date:   2022-05-16 04:05

I prefer Sibelius for any serious arranging, but have been using MuseScore for to make playable files for students--and it's pretty hard to beat for a freebie!

Allen Cole

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: kerryklari 
Date:   2022-05-18 12:49

You can also use Frescobaldi to make LilyPond more user-friendly.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: ACCA 
Date:   2022-05-19 11:40

I have a paid for version of Finale Allegro.
But often I find myself banging out exercises for my students in Noteflight (free online) instead, because it's quicker!
so here's a vote for noteflight (free version) if you're not trying to do anything too complicated.

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: grenadilla428 
Date:   2022-06-27 23:24

I loved Sibelius pre-Avid, but it’s not supported by any current OS, so I actually run a virtual machine on one of my computers just so I can use it. However, I realize there’s only so long I can keep doing it, so have started exploring other options.
I don’t have the patience to sit down and learn Finale, and was disappointed that Dorico wasn’t as intuitive as Siblelius. I’ve used MuseScore for a few recent projects and found it pretty usable. I’m interested to try NoteFlight - anyone here used the full version?

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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2022-06-28 22:01

Hi grenadilla428,

I understand what you mean about Dorico, but after doing the small learning curve, I actually find Dorico a million times more usable than Sibelius.

I use both, and I used to have a volunteer job working three days a week running a desktop publishing setup for a community orchestra on Sibelius before I switched to Dorico, so I'm very familiar with both.

Dorico takes a little bit of learning because it is very different, but once you have done that tiny bit of learning, everything is just so much easier and quicker than in Sibelius. The trick to learning to use it is that you need to be willing to google to find out how to do things, because the user interface is not always totally easy to figure out. The docs are super-helpful though and really well written. I never find anything that I can't get on the first google search.

I almost never go back to Sibelius now. The only exception is when I need to run scripts in Sibelius, which is a thing that it really does well. That's for example, when I need to batch process scripts or automate the process of putting in brass fingerings.

I just today upgraded to photoscore ultimate and it's great for scanning in scores when I want to play them back to understand complex timing. I export from photoscore in xml format and then into Dorico and it works really well.

Best wishes,


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 Re: Recommend Music Notation Software
Author: davidjsc 
Date:   2022-06-30 23:30

I have been using Musescore for past year or so and really like it once I got the hang of some of the more obscure actions. What I really love about it is being able to convert staff to tabulature.


~~ Alto Clarinet; Bass Clarinet; B-flat and C Boehm Clarinets; Albert C Clarinet; Oboe ~~

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