Music Notation Software Review

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Why Music Notation Software?

Have you ever wanted to compose a piece of music or create your own arrangement of a favorite song? With music notation software, you don't need to be Mozart or Beethoven to compose brilliant pieces — all you need is some creativity and a computer.

While home recording studio software lets you record your musical ideas in a mix of MIDI and audio tracks, music composition software serves a different purpose. Music notation software lets you preserve your musical ideas in the form of professional-quality sheet music.

In this site, you'll find articles on music notation software and comprehensive reviews of programs such as Sibelius First, Finale PrintMusic and MagicScore Maestro. You will also find a checklist of features included with each program we reviewed that will help you decide which notation software is best for you.

Music Notation Software: What to Look For

Many notation programs can transcribe your music in real time as you play a MIDI keyboard attached to your computer — some programs even transcribe the notes as you sing or play an instrument into a microphone. You don't really need a MIDI keyboard or a microphone to create beautiful musical scores, though, because all notation software lets you enter notes manually with your mouse. You can also import existing MIDI files to create your masterpieces with a few creative edits. After you have put the finishing touches on your masterpiece, you can print it to start a collection of sheet music or export it to another MIDI instrument or sound module to play it for your family and friends.

The best music composition software has sufficient features that allow you to input, notate, edit and output sheet music and MIDI files. It should also include guitar and drum notation, sample song files and a metronome to keep time while you record in real time. The software should be easy enough to use that a computer novice could successfully operate it. Below are the criteria Top Ten Reviews used to evaluate this software.

Ease of Use
The best music writing programs are user friendly and include convenient notation, editing, input and output features. The software should be easy to use and should have self-explaining icons so that even a beginner can feel comfortable using the program. There should be enough tools and features to give experienced composers the tools they need for the projects they want to work on.

Feature Set
The software should include the following features: Real-time and step-time note entry, percussion notation, guitar tabulation and guitar chord entry, a virtual keyboard, General MIDI instrument selection (128 instruments), the ability to enter multiple lyric lines, MIDI import/export, MusicXML import/export and a metronome for real-time note entry.

Input/Output Capabilities
Various MIDI devices from different manufacturers and a number of music file types should be compatible with the software. It should be able to export your creations as score, image and MIDI files, and as documents you can print.

Editing
The software should provide editing tools capable of deleting, inserting and changing notes in the score and revising imported files. It should also have mixing capabilities for live note entry and recording.

Help/Support
The program should offer enough help resources, which should be easy to find with keyword-searching capabilities. The manufacturer should offer various technical support options such as phone, email and FAQs so that customers can conveniently get answers to their questions.

The best music notation software will have you literally dancing to your own tune. With the outstanding features and tools available in these programs, you can have a lot of fun composing your own arrangements or putting your own touch on popular songs. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

 
 
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Sibelius First Finale PrintMusic MagicScore Maestro Forte Home QuickScore Elite MusicTime Deluxe Notation Composer NoteWorthy Composer Music MasterWorks Play Music
Sibelius First Finale PrintMusic MagicScore Maestro Forte Home QuickScore Elite MusicTime Deluxe Notation Composer NoteWorthy Composer Music MasterWorks Play Music
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Ratings
9.53
9.18
8.95
8.48
7.65
7.60
7.28
6.98
6.40
6.35
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
8.13
10.00
9.38
9.63
8.75
9.25
9.38
8.75
9.38
8.75
9.38
8.75
8.13
9.13
8.75
8.75
7.50
7.50
8.13
8.75
8.75
7.50
3.75
8.75
8.13
7.50
6.25
6.25
7.50
7.50
6.88
6.88
7.50
7.50
7.50
6.25
6.25
6.88
7.50
5.63
6.88
6.63
5.00
8.13
7.50
5.63
6.25
2.50
 
Features
Metronome
Percussion Notation
  
Chord Names
   
Guitar Chord Diagrams
   
Guitar Tabulation
    
Input
Mouse Note Entry
MIDI Keyboard Entry (real-time and step-time)
Standard MIDI File Import
Computer Keyboard Note Entry
 
MusicXML File Import
    
Virtual Piano Note Entry
 
 
  
Output
Print Output
Standard MIDI File Export
Audio (WAV, MP3)
   
 
MusicXML File Export
 
   
Graphic (BMP, GIF, JPEG)  
     
Editing
Mouse Editing
Transposing
Multiple Tool Palettes
 
Volume Mixer
 
  
Technical Support
Phone Support
 
     
Email Support
User Guide
 
 
Operating System
Windows 8    
  
  
Windows 7
 
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Mac