The 10 Best Music Notation And Composition Software (2023)
Music notation software has made the composition process a lot easier, allowing you to digitally create, edit, and print sheet music easily.
Music writing software programs can be extremely helpful tools for composing software and writing music. No matter your skill level or experience, there is a music writing software program out there that will fit your needs.
1. MuseScore 4
Available for FREE on Windows and Mac OS, along with a great visual interface, MuseScore 4 is a top choice for many music writers and composers.
That’s just the start – its easy access to input tools and in-depth information on the notes make it even better. It also allows you to import MIDI and MusicXML files. Additionally, MuseScore 4 includes samples to try out or integrate into your compositions.
- Free download
- Easy to use
- Easy import/export
Known for its easy-to-use and wide range of templates, Sibelius can kick-start your imagination when you are stuck in a creative rut.
The software offers various versions, including a free version, a paid sixteen-instrument version, and a paid full unlimited version, providing users with several options to choose from. It also provides a cloud option for storage and sharing purposes.
Sibelius First is suitable for composing music with up to 4 instruments, making it more than sufficient. Plus, with the latest update, Sibelius integrated AI technology into the software, allowing you to compose and input chords into your score impressively easily and quickly.
- Easy to use and enter notes
- Easy composition sharing
- No graphic image score saving
- The limited version is priced affordably
Noteflight is a user-friendly music notation program that provides a smooth performance. It is suitable for both songwriters and composers and offers various features that allow customization. The program is compatible with devices like iPhones, Windows, and Android.
Noteflight provides an online platform allowing users to share their compositions and collaborate in real-time. Its compatibility with learning systems like Google Classroom makes it an advantageous tool for students and educators.
Noteflight has a free version that you can use to create up to 10 music scores with basic notation features. You need a paid subscription for unlimited access and a set of premium tools for notation, editing, and playback. Additionally, the program has an online community that facilitates discussions among its users.
- Free and Remote use
- Easy sharing
- To get ‘unlimited’ features, you need a paid subscription or lifetime license.
4. QuickScore Elite Level II
The QuickScore Elite Level II allows for unique audio and MIDI editing to give the users room for creativity. The latest update is compatible with the VST plugin and instruments.
The QuickScore Elite is great for recording, synchronization, playback, and audio mixing, which makes it a creative hub for all kinds of music notation and alterations.
- Extensive editing options
- Easy edit and record
5. Notion 6
Notion 6 is an extremely compatible and accessible software supported with the MIDI device. It allows swift input of MIDI notes from your keyboard and virtual guitar/piano.
A wide instrumental library, exquisite design, and composition-friendly interface make it a winning performer that too without an intrusive manual.
Although the software is a little on the pricier side, the investment is worth it if you are serious about music writing. Artists like the Wooten brothers and the London Symphony Orchestra have chosen this software for their recordings.
- Very good editing options
- Comprehensive platform
- Extremely detailed
6. Finale PrintMusic
The Finale PrintMusic is another application that offers splendid features, which include easy navigation, note entry tools, and editing options.
Nicknamed the ‘Human Playback,’ the Finale PrintMusic provides instrumental playbacks that are very close to reality, like strings, percussion, and horns.
There are two software Finale provides. The first one is Finale Printmusic, which comes only for Windows and has limited features compared to the second software called Finale. Finale is compatible with Mac and Windows and has more music composition, editing, listening, and sharing options. You can upgrade PrintMusic to Finale anytime you want.
- Supports PDF, graphic files, and MP3 with easy exports
- Affordable price for Printmusic
- PrintMusic is only available for Windows
7. MagicScore Maestro 8
MagicScore Maestro is another writing software application with a good arsenal for notation, editing, and composing.
It also offers virtual piano as a top-notch feature, editing velocities, and many templates. MagicScore Maestro 8 also contains shortcuts for easy accessibility. You can either buy the full software license for lifetime access or subscribe monthly, quarterly, or annually.
- Save scores to Audio Files
- Fast input tool
8. Dorico Pro 5
Its professional design and easy-to-use interface are impressive. Furthermore, Dorico Pro 5 provides a smart layout and instrumental adjustments while you write and compose with a vast playback library of almost 1500 sounds.
There are options for Dorico SE, Dorico Elements, Dorico Pro, and Dorico for iPad. SE and iPad are the free versions, which allow you to write music with up to eight players. Elements is the first paid version and allows users to compose and arrange music for ensembles of any size. If you want full-featured, completely professional music notation software, there is the Pro version, which comes for the highest price. For
- Best automatic engraving
- Piano roll MIDI editor
- Import and export to and from other programs via MusicXML, MIDI, PDF, etc.
- DTP page layout
9. Denemo (Using Lilypond)
Denemo is a free music notation software that works with Lilypond music engraver to enter notation and transcribe scores quickly.
You can use your computer’s keyboard, a MIDI keyboard, or an instrument through a mic plugged into the computer and play music, and Denemo with Lilypond will transcribe the notation to the sheet. It is a great program to learn notation for beginners. Also, it is a great tool for seasoned musicians to transcribe music in a quick and easy way.
- Free to use
- Great score transcription
- Useful for beginners as well as veterans
10. Forte 12
Forte 12 sports a highly intuitive interface and workflow that makes writing music a breeze. The software also includes a companion reader app in addition to the new and improved music ribbon at your disposal that includes every editing that you will need from start to finish.
The software also allows varied note inputs such as your computer keyboard, MIDI keyboard, or virtual piano. Forte 11 offers basic, home, and premium versions, whereas the first one is more suited toward beginners, while the last one is more for musicians with advanced skill sets.
- Incompatible with Mac OS
- Smooth workflow
- Well designed interface
Limitations of Music Writing Software
Music notation and composition software have revolutionized the way musicians create, edit, and share their music. However, there are still some limitations to these tools, and they’re best used as an automated assistant where possible.
Keep in mind that music notation and composition software are reliant on your musical skills to some degree. While these tools can simplify the process of creating and editing music, they still require an understanding of music theory.
Music notation and composition software programs can be useful tools for composers to write and organize their musical ideas. These programs offer features such as easy navigation, note-entry tools, and editing options that can aid the composition process. While some of these programs may have a high price tag, they can be worth the investment if you are committed to music writing.
With numerous options available, it is important to find the music writing software that meets your specific requirements. Fortunately, this list provides a useful starting point for selecting the program that suits your needs.