MuseScoreby thomas updated August 25, 2012
Free music notation and composition software

Software Details

Create, playback, and print sheet music for free. MuseScore is open source music notation software that runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux, and is available in over thirty different languages. It features an easy to use WYSIWYG editor with audio score playback for results that look and sound beautiful, rivaling commercial offerings like Finale and Sibelius.

Features supported by MuseScore include:

Unlimited score length
Unlimited number of staves per system
Up to four independent voices per staff
Score creation wizard and templates
Automatic part extraction and transposition
Repeats, including segnos, codas, and measure repeats
Dynamics, articulations, and other expression markings, with playback support for most
Custom text markings
Lyrics
Chord symbols
Jazz notation, including lead sheets, slash notation and a “handwritten” font for text
Swing and shuffle playback
Mixer for instrument levels and effects
Percussion notation
Early music notation
Cross-staff beaming
Import of graphics
Custom key signatures
Additive time signatures
User-defined score styles

Most elements in MuseScore are laid out automatically but can also be positioned manually. The capabilities of MuseScore can be extended via plugins, and the growing repository on musescore.org contains many plugins submitted by users.

MuseScore includes a set of sounds that reproduce common instruments (as defined by General MIDI) without taking up a lot of disk space or memory, but you can also substitute any SoundFont you prefer for a wider variety of sounds or for more realism.

MuseScore can import and export MIDI and MusicXML files, and it can also import from Capella and several other programs. MuseScore can export to PDF, PNG, and other graphic formats, to WAV and other audio formats, or to Lilypond for an alternative layout and print option.

MuseScore can upload scores directly to the score sharing site musescore.com. Program support is provided on musescore.org.

Requirements

Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7
MacOS X 10.4 and above
125MB hard disk space required for software download and installation.
1024 by 768 pixels or higher screen resolution.

Reviews

1
Just as good as the big boys
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Musescore is a music scoring program along the lines of Finale and Sibelius. This
program allows you to enter notes and rhythms at the click of a mouse, or via a MIDI
device.

Installation was very easy as a binary was available. Overall, during the install process, everything worked.

The first thin I noticed when opening MuseScore was that there is a “connect” function that takes you to their networking site. Be aware that if you are within a school network, access to that site may be restricted (it is in Hawaii).

The score setup process is almost identical to Finale and Sibelius. You have prompts to enter song information (Title, composer etc.), instrument lists, key and time signatures. After that, you are free to create.

Note input can be done via mouse clicks or via MIDI input. I tested the input with an M-Audio Oxygen 49 and everything worked great! You can even enter chords via the keyboard. To enter rhythms, you can use the number pad on your keyboard e.g. 5 is a quarter note. There are also different articulations, and ornamentations available. These articulations and ornamentations are “drag and drop” easy to use, and allow you to tailor your piece to your needs.

The playback function works well, and the print layouts look professional. Different plugins such as creating lead sheets are preloaded, and more can be found on their website.

Overall, this is a great piece of software. This is perfect for any student, teacher or enthusiast to get started composing. It offers almost all of the features of the commercially available software at no cost. The features that aren't available (video sync, audio file import) are discussed in the user forum, and may hopefully be developed by the userbase. This is a solid 5.