Music notation software does not have a history of being affordable. When I was in high school (in the ’90s), I shelled out almost $1,000 for the software Finale. And, despite many exciting upgrades through the years, I have consistently refused to pay that same pricetag again for the newer features.
Instead, I have made do with the outdated version I had and the free tools I have found along the way (such as the previously mentioned blanksheetmusic.net for printing free blank sheet music and Noteflight.com for freely notating music online).
But, until recently, there has never been an affordable tool that can really be considered a replacement for Finale (and its Mac-based counterpart, Sibelius).
Admittedly, it’s been a slow entrance. The concept started within another software prior to 2002, and made its way to its own program that year. But, it wasn’t until 2008 that the software had a web site or until 2009 that it had a stable release, safe to trust for regular use.
Even then, the features came in slowly. After all, this is a free software program, which completely relies on volunteer efforts and donations.
Nevertheless, it has held its own. And, in March 2015, version 2 was released with exciting new features, “including full support for tablature and guitar chord diagrams, linked part/score editing, [and] an image capture capability” (Wikipedia).
I can’t speak to how it compares to the full versions of Finale and Sibelius today. It may not yet be ideal for advanced production.
However, it is an incredibly fast and powerful tool for music notation, which sure beats handwriting notes on blank sheet music and is far better than the free version of the online tool Noteflight. I now proudly, and quite comfortably, use it daily.
One thing is for sure, it is definitely worth every penny. 😉
MuseScore is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and even has Android and iOS apps for reading music on the go.
Visit musescore.org to learn more.
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