The best programs for writing music

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Music writing software allows you to make the composition in a much simpler way, because they allow the user to quickly annotate choruses, delete errors and transpose sections with just a few clicks.

Many of these modern programs also allow you to take different approaches: for example, it is possible edit scores directly on your computer , or connect a MIDI keyboard and record notes as you play.

In recent years we have seen how a very specific feature of digital composition, namely the handwriting recognition .

Through this function, users can use a smart pen and a compatible touchscreen device to load the software and write directly on the digital staves.

The main utility is found when you need to compose while on the move , as the feature allows you to jot down your musical ideas on a simple tablet. The good news is that this feature is now widely available on top music writing software programs.

Major music writing services are equipped with more playback options , which allow you to test your creation on different instrumental arrangements. Clearly not all of them have the same quality (which in some is really very high).

Many of these programs are aimed at professionals, although an open source program called MuseScore . It is arguably the best free music writing software, although it is lacks some features , like the handwriting option we referred to earlier. However, if you don’t have a certain budget, MuseScore is certainly one very useful and effective tool , especially for those just starting to write music.

Clearly there are many too other musical writing systems that can help us. Let’s see together which are the main ones.

Notion 6

Notion 6 is the best music composition software that can be found on the web, equipped with all editing tools most important ones that can do for us.

This tool is also very adaptable and allows composers to enter notes using a MIDI keyboard , by playing virtual instruments on the screen or by inserting them directly on digital staves.

Thanks to a recent software update it is even possible to use a tablet and a smart pen to write your own score, as the program is able to recognize handwriting.

One of the most striking features of Notion 6 is the extensive library of instrument samples , which includes sounds by the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra, Neil Zaza and the Wooten brothers. The software also works well on Mac, Windows and iOs platforms, therefore anyone can start writing a composition on your home computer and finish editing it on your iPad or iPhone.

The layout of this program is really very intuitive , with a good arrangement of the tool palettes. A nice “gem” is that the developers are constantly updating and optimizing the program, so new features appear regularly on the interface.

Among the latest additions it is worth mentioning a wider range of reproduction instruments and even gods improvements to the synchronized video window , which allows you to watch a movie and accurately compose a piece that will suit you best.

Sibelius

Sibelius is an instrument that is primarily aimed at professional musicians, albeit its very easy to navigate interface it makes it easy even for those who are taking their first steps in composing.

Like Notion 6, this software is also regularly updated and optimized by a team of developers. Notion has however a range of instrumental sounds What is more striking is that there is no “video” window in Sibelius: in short, users of this music writing software cannot watch a movie and compose on it at the same time.

Without prejudice to these critical issues, we are faced with a truly impressive program, which allows you to enter notes with the mouse of a computer, a virtual piano, or via a virtual guitar keyboard , or simply by plugging a MIDI keyboard into your computer’s USB port.

The program also has great collaboration tools. When you finish a score, for example, it is possible press the share button on the toolbar to submit your work to the Sibelius cloud. The platform MediaCentral Avid will process it and send you a URL that can be opened on any computer with any web browser.

If you collaborate with another Sibelius user, you can still edit the score: anyone will press the Push button will go to save changes without generating a new URL or exporting a file.

Sibelius also has an accompanying app (albeit for a fee, ed). This app allows you to turn your iPad into a kind of notebook , in such a way as to use a smart pen to jot down notes.

MuseScore

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, MuseScore is free and open source music writing software , compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.

The particularity of MuseScore is just being able to include many of the same features and tools found in the best paid programs, despite being a free service.

Its interface turns out very clean and easy to navigate. The left side of the screen shows all the available input tools, while to the right of the score you can see information about the notes being entered. The connection of the MIDI keyboard takes place without any problem: those who do not have one can use it the virtual piano MuseScore to enter notes.

MuseScore is also capable of import MusicXML and standard MIDI files from other popular writing software. When the score is complete, you can export it as a graphic file, MusicXML file or audio file.

Instrument samples are not as realistic or dynamic as those of the best writing programs, including those mentioned above, but MuseScore certainly is an easy way to learn how to compose music without spending a single euro.

Noteflight

There are three versions of Noteflight, including the Free Noteflight Basic , which allows you to create and edit up to 10 scores.

Noteflight Learn , designed specifically for educators, is able to synchronize with Google Classroom and other well-known learning management systems. Finally we also have Noteflight Premium , one of the cheapest premium music writing options to be found on the web.

It is not possible to download this software, but the online platform allows you to log into your account from any computer: all you need is an Internet connection.

The toolbar is customizable and includes everything you need to create and edit simple arrangements. Noteflight also allows you to import and edit MIDI and MusicXML files from other music writing software. Some problems are found with too complex compositions, which slow down or even block the online platform.

The Premium version is definitely a better choice if you make regular use of the writing software. The audio recording function allows you to add audio segments to any score and 85 built-in instrument sounds. Furthermore, with the Premium subscription you can have access to the marketplace, where it is possible to sell and market finalized compositions.

The program volume mixer is easy to use and proves to be a useful tool in order to obtain adequate correction of all audio levels  before exporting an MP3 or WAV file to share with other musicians.

Final PrintMusic

Finale PrintMusic has a very intuitive workflow and an easy to navigate interface. This software offers an impressive array of input tools notes and editing palettes, all very simple to use.

The user can enter notes using the mouse of their computer, or with one MIDI keyboard or a computer keyboard. Once this is complete, you can listen to your composition with the function Human Playback , which plays our music using one of hundreds of built-in instruments, including strings, horns and percussion instruments.

Finale has a very comprehensive list of shareable output formats. Furthermore, this software produces high quality printable files as well as PDF and graphic files. With this tool it will be possible to produce an MP3 file to share an audio version of our finalized score.

Finale is the most recognized name in music production software because it is easy to use and has a great selection of writing tools: its PrintMusic software is designed specifically for those taking their first steps in this field.

Strong Home

Forte has two fantastic apps that we can define as complementary: one of these scans the scores using the phone or tablet camera , while the reader app opens and plays compositions from the desktop app with mobile devices.

Both are free and available for Android and Apple devices. The desktop application, from the point of view purely aesthetic , it’s not as eye-catching as some of the other programs we’ve mentioned in this article, but it has all the tools you need to create simple or complex arrangements.

Notes can be entered using a MIDI keyboard, virtual piano, or your computer keyboard. While entering notes, Forte tracks the number of missing counts from a measure and automatically adds the appropriate pauses to speed up your workflow.

Forte also has a mixer that allows you to control the volume and panning for each instrument. When the composition sounds perfect, you can also proceed exporting the MP3 or WAV file to share with other musicians.

The best music writing apps

There are also some music writing applications, though they are not as performing as the programs that we have been able to describe in this article.

These apps, in fact, are designed for smaller screens and for less powerful devices, therefore they are unable to provide many features. However, they can turn out to be gods useful tools , especially if you need to dial on the go. Let’s see which are the most popular ones.

Master

Simple and intuitive, this app allows you to insert notes, changes and rests on digital staves. Useful for students or absolute beginners, Maestro offers over 100 options of instrumental reproduction, all of good quality (and this is not an obvious aspect). It is mostly free, although only the paid version allows you to do without advertisements. With Maestro it is possible export your creation as an audio or image file.

Notation Pad

Available on iOS and Android devices, this app is undoubtedly a very useful tool to annotate musical choruses and quick compositions.

Zoom tools and a clean layout make for navigation smoother than Maestro , although the advertisements make the experience less engaging. Piano playback is free, but if you want to hear your song played by other instruments, you have to pay.

Symphony Pro

Available exclusively on Apple products, this app is not free but is still a fairly useful tool. Among its most interesting features we find above all handwriting recognition, as well as the ability to add and edit notes by tapping the score.

In addition, Symphony Pro also comes with MIDI import options. It does not have all the features of full software packages , but it can act as a good middle ground.

StaffPad

This smart app is capable of turning messy annotations into real compositions. Using a smart pen and a touchscreen device it is possible to write notes directly on the staves: the software will then transform everything into a composition formatted in the correct way.

StaffPad is certainly not the cheapest app in circulation, but it is probably the one that manages to make the most accurate handwriting interpretation tools available to users.

Those who are looking for an intuitive app can certainly see it as a good option, even if there are some critical issues , such as not working with MIDI keyboards.

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