Best Software for Music Notation

05-15-23 10:53 PM By Kevin Lynch
Music notation software is an essential tool for composers, arrangers, and musicians, and knowing how to use them is a must for anyone serious in the music industry. It allows them to create, edit, and share sheet music quickly and efficiently. With so many music notation software options available, choosing the best one can be a daunting task. In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the best music notation software options available. These are in no particular order and aren't ranked! Each software brings with it their own challenges, strengths, and weaknesses.

1. Sibelius
Sibelius is one of the most popular music notation software options on the market. It's a comprehensive and powerful program that offers a range of features for creating, editing, and sharing sheet music. Sibelius is known for its intuitive user interface and its ability to handle complex musical arrangements. We think of Sibelius as the Microsoft Word of music notation and it is very user friendly. It also offers a range of sound libraries and plugins, allowing composers to create high-quality mockups of their compositions and edit them in batches. Sibelius also has mobile apps so you can edit your scores on the go. They also have features like score versioning and the ability to share your files with other artists.

2. Finale
Finale is another popular music notation software, and one of our favorites, that has been around for over three decades. It's known for its extensive features and flexibility, making it a superb choice for composers who need to create complex arrangements. Finale offers a range of tools for notating music, including chord symbols, tablature, and drum notation. It is a staple in the musical theatre industry and the sheet music publishing industry. It also offers a range of new plugins and 3rd party add-ons to improve and speed up your workflow. In Finale 27, there is a new feature which allows you to share your Finale project within the software to other users. 

3. Dorico
Dorico is a relatively new music notation software that has gained popularity in recent years. It's known for its clean and modern interface and its focus on ease of use. One unique feature of Dorico is its ability to automatically create a conductor's score from individual parts.

4. MuseScore
MuseScore is a free, open-source music notation software that offers a range of features for creating and sharing sheet music. It's known for its user-friendly interface and its ability to handle simple to moderately complex musical arrangements. MuseScore allows you to export XML files so you can share them with other collaborators, arrangers, music directors, and orchestrators. The only pitfall for MuseScore is it's limited and almost non-existent page formatting and customization of page layouts. This is a great piece of free software for those who are starting out but we do not recommend using MuseScore for larger works or projects with longevity. Finale also offers a free version of it as well called Finale NotePad.

5. Notion
Notion is a music notation software that is known for its focus on integration with other music software and platforms. One unique feature of Notion is its ability to integrate with popular digital audio workstations, such as Logic Pro X and Ableton Live.

In conclusion, there are many music notation software options available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, MuseScore, and Notion are all excellent options for creating, editing, and sharing sheet music. Choosing the best music notation software will depend on your specific needs, budget, and experience level. Be sure to try out different options before making a final decision.