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Notation Software

 

If you would like to write and compose your own music, it is much easier to use a computer.  You have several options available:

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First of all, check out the website http://www.noteflight.com/, which is an online way to write music without installing a program on your computer. It uses Adobe Flash technology.  You will have to register and set up an account.

 

Another similar web-based notation program is flat.io

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The easiest free music notation software to download onto your computer is Finale NotePad. 

 

Finale NotePad Home Page   

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If you want to write out music using a free open-source program, check out MuseScore.  This program is more powerful and does more stuff, but it doesn't have as smooth an interface and requires much more computer knowledge to install and use. 

 

1. First you will want to download MuseScore. (Or try downloading here following the zipped folder instructions below.)

 

2. Then you will probably want to install a more complete SoundFont in order to have working sound.  Download Unison Sound Font in a Zip folder: choose "save" and remember where you save this folder.  Then open the Zipped folder and move Unison.sf2 out of the folder (and remember where you put it!)

 

3. To use Unison: Open MuseScore, then access the Preferences screen through the Edit menu.  Click on the I/O tab and check the box for "Use internal synthesizer."  Click the folder tab to the right of that box and find the Unison.sf2 file that you saved after the download above.  If you do it right, the path to that file should show up in that box.  Close MuseScore and when you re-open it, you should have a more complete sound set.

 

For more information on using MuseScore, read Tyler Starr's tutorial.

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If you get really serious, you will eventually want to purchase a better program. 

 

The biggest, most powerful, and most expensive programs are Finale and Sibelius.  I use Sibelius and like it a lot, because it can do anything I want and more.  Both Finale and Sibelius also offer less expensive versions of their product that still do a good job with basic notation tasks.  As a student, you may qualify for educational discount pricing.  Most of these products offer free demo versions so you can try them out and see if you like them.