Notation programs

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Bach5G
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Notation programs

Post by Bach5G » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:40 pm

This comes up from time to time. I’m wondering if there’s anything new out there.

Musescore - free.

Finale/Sibelius- the standard, but expensive for a hobbyist.

Printmusic- Finale light, buggy and last updated in 2014.

Presonus Notion was well regarded and not too expensive.

I need enough staves for a big band arrangement.
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Matt K
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Matt K » Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:23 am

Dorico also seems to be gaining ground. It is developed by the team who built Sibelius prior to their acquisition by Avid. It's also fairly pricey. There really isn't anything in between free and professional. Though I will say that MuseScore released v2 sometime last year I believe and it is leaps and bounds above v1. People seem to be able to come up with some really professional looking stuff in it; I don't know if you can be a 'pro' and use it (in the sense that publishing companies might not accept it) but for your purposes it would be quite fine. LilyPond is another free alternative that some people seem to like but it doesn't seem to be nearly as robust to me as MuseScore though I also haven't used it in awhile so I don't know if its likewise improved since I last did any serious testing between the applications.

I still use Sibelius because I have a perpetual license for 7.5 and it's what I'm familiar with. I purchased that license around the time the acquisition happened... so when 7 came out I believe. Feels like at least 5 years but I could be wrong about that. I qualify for an academic license so it was like $250 or something... or $50/yr. For me, that price is worth it although I've been switching over everything to Linux recently and I'm not a full-time musician (or even part time :wink: ) and so I have been tempted to export everything I have in XML format and just go for MuseScore. Sibelius has always given me license issues that are really annoying when I just want to sit down and write.
DutchGuy
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Re: Notation programs

Post by DutchGuy » Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:24 am

I use Sibelius, because I know how it works :)
I honestly haven't even tried the other ones available. Not for long anyways.
The main reason I chose Sibelius was that it had (and still has) the option to easily scan sheet music (or import PDFs) and import that into Sibelius to edit. It's a paid plug-in though (photoscore). This makes it expensive to use, but worth it for me. There are student licenses and 'light' plugins available as well.

There now is a free one with up to 4 instruments, a regular one at 5 dollars a month or 109 forever, and then there's the ultimate for 20 a month or 560 forever. The plugins I mentioned is Photoscore, available in 'lite' for about 70 or 'ultimate' for 229.

I use it mostly for arranging stuff. Scanning very old archived files, and make new and up-to data versions of that. Changing small parts in existing parts, moving stuff around in the scores. Sometimes even just fitting a part onto 1 page or making it landscape instead of portrait. That kind of stuff. It's REALLY useful if you don't have to rewrite the whole score or part first.
SimmonsTrombone
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Re: Notation programs

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:06 am

I use Overture by sonic scores. It was called Encore 20+ years ago, became part of Cakewalk, and then reverted to the original coder, Don Williams. He just did a major upgrade a year or so ago so that it will do almost anything a full audio program will do. There are also less inclusive versions.
https://sonicscores.com/
cozzagiorgi
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Re: Notation programs

Post by cozzagiorgi » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:04 am

I use Sibelius First. A good compromise for me and "only" 100 usd if I remember right.


Here is a comparison chart with the full blown sibelius http://www.sibelius.com/products/sibeli ... mpare.html

The major disadvantage is you can have only 16 staves. But if you write 3 voices on one stave you can still write for full orchestra.

And if you really want to have one voice per staff you can find people on fiverr who can arrange that for you.
Bassbonechandler
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Bassbonechandler » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:34 am

I happen to be lucky because I'm a student and got finale for $90ish instead of $400. I know how to use finale so I don't really see any point in trying anything else.
timothy42b
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Re: Notation programs

Post by timothy42b » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:39 am

I still use Noteworthy Composer. I'm on 1.75, and they're now up to 2.75, I guess I should upgrade someday.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Notation programs

Post by AndrewMeronek » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:52 am

I'm a Sibelius user. I used Musescore for big band last year a couple of times, mainly to check it out. It's fine for generating parts from a score, but the version I had didn't really produce good looking scores; just pragmatic. The parts looked fine. I understand that there has been a major version upgrade since then, though.

Sibelius does produce great, professional looking manuscript in parts and scores, but other programs can do this too. From what I've seen, the big advantage of the expensive software, and what makes them expensive, is the fairly high quality audio mockups you can create from scores. If you know what you're doing, MIDI playback is fine, but for people who don't know how to properly orchestrate (or for non-musicians who need to get an idea of what a piece of music will be about) those audio mockups are invaluable.
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Mikebmiller
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Mikebmiller » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:36 pm

There is a fairly new web site called Noteflight.com which has a free version or a paid version that is $8 a month or $50 a year. Jim Nova told us at STS that this company had been acquired by Hal Leonard and would hopefully be selling his Star Wars arrangements soon.

As far as how good it it, I have no idea.
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ExZacLee
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Re: Notation programs

Post by ExZacLee » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:09 pm

I use Finale exclusively. It is not the easiest program, it is not quick if you're not fluent with it, and frankly the MIDI mockups suck (I'm not a fan of Garritan at all). As far as making professionally engraved parts, though, I don't think it has a competitor. It is the "industry standard" for a reason - you can do anything with it. You just need to get fluent. Given the plethora of online videos (free and paid) and third party manuals, it's soooooooo much easier to learn now than it was when I started with it (Finale 2000 was my first version.) You just need to invest time, which you're going to do with any notation program. I've seen on forums where people complain that they have to use MS paint or Adobe PDF or something to edit it after they're done - that's not necessary in 99% of cases, you just have to know how to do what it is you want to do.

Sibelius is probably closest as far as available competitors that produce professional results in a reasonable user interface, but it's part of AVID now and they got rid of the original programmers and it's by subscription so I can't recommend them anymore. The MIDI mockups in sib sound a little better and it's capable of sounding great if you want to get under the hood and tweak it. Many of my colleagues use Sibelius, and most professional engravers use Finale and Sibelius (or are at least skilled enough to work in both) as those two are the most commonly used by publishers, composers and arrangers. I don't use both, and while that's only cost me work on one project, it was a project I really wanted to be involved in.

Dorico (made by the old Sib guys) has promise, but I'd wait a few more versions to see if they get everything together before I plopped down the money on it. A lot of people in the engraving community are excited about that one. I think they're working out a bunch of the requirements that jazz/commercial/studio engravers need so maybe I'll try it out in a little while, but I honestly don't see a reason to switch instead it just blows me away.

Most other pro level programs seem to involve a lot of programming and/or busy work to get them the way you want, so I don't mess with those.

As far as free stuff, MuseScore is king of the free programs. Many of my students use it and have produced pretty good results, but not quite the level I expect for professionally engraved parts (although this admittedly could be due to user error and not limitations of the program.)
Bach5G
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Bach5G » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:45 pm

Noteflight looks interesting. Subscription means no huge initial investment. I think I’ll give it a try.
imsevimse
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Re: Notation programs

Post by imsevimse » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:52 pm

I have had a look at Finale and tried to use it but I thought it was to difficult. It took a lot of time. Sibelius 6 was at the time a good and easy program to use. I choose Sibelius and learned it pretty well. Then Sibelius 7 came. The sounds were much better but unfortunately they changed a lot of other things too which I think was sad. It started to look much like Finale. Maybe they wanted to attract users from Finale. To me it lost the charm of being an easy tool. I still struggle with the most basic things in Sibelius 7 because most menues are changed. In the old version I knew how to solve things but in Sibelius 7 I felt like a newbe. It lead to I rarely do anything nowdays but I guess even Sibelius 7 is old by now.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Matt K
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Matt K » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:02 pm

imsevimse wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:52 pm
I have had a look at Finale and tried to use it but I thought it was to difficult. It took a lot of time. Sibelius 6 was at the time a good and easy program to use. I choose Sibelius and learned it pretty well. Then Sibelius 7 came. The sounds were much better but unfortunately they changed a lot of other things too which I think was sad. It started to look much like Finale. Maybe they wanted to attract users from Finale. To me it lost the charm of being an easy tool. I still struggle with the most basic things in Sibelius 7 because most menues are changed to look like Finale. In the old version I knew how to do most things. It lead to I rarely do anything nowdays but I guess even Sibelius 7 is old by now.

/Tom
At least you can search for stuff in the top right corner. (E.g. if you can't remember how to do slash cords, you can type chord and it'll give useful suggestions. At least.. I think they're useful :shuffle:
Cmillar
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Cmillar » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:25 am

Here's a great review of Sibelius and how it's evolved since version 7.5 on 'ScoringNotes.com':

https://www.scoringnotes.com/tutorials/ ... -features/
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Finetales
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Finetales » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:36 pm

I'm still using Sibelius 7.1.3, which was the last version before 7.5 and (if I remember right) the last version the old developers were responsible for. I started with Sibelius 5 and didn't have any trouble adjusting to 6 and then 7. I also use NotePerformer with Sibelius, which really elevates the MIDI playback to another level. It's several orders of magnitude better than the default sounds and anything else I've ever heard from a notation software.

I have Sibelius 8 at work and there are definitely some nice improvements, but not nearly enough for me to feel the need to fork over the cash. I just checked out the Sibelius website and now they're apparently calling the full version "Sibelius | Ultimate" for some reason. I'm most certainly not willing to pay $400 to upgrade to it - I wish they sold a cheaper upgrade to 8, but I guess that ship sailed.
JasonDonnelly
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Re: Notation programs

Post by JasonDonnelly » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:23 pm

I am by no means a "real" composer or arranger, but MuseScore does everything I need it to do.

To be fair, 90% of the stuff I notate will only ever be read by me, so it doesn't matter too much what I use. But I have managed to make some sleek looking engravings that fooled professors into thinking I use Sibelius...
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mwpfoot
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Re: Notation programs

Post by mwpfoot » Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:11 pm

I've used Finale forever and make well-formatted parts with it, and it has gotten progressively better and better, but man, I just had a show due and the MIDI went sideways ... the only way i could get playback going this time was export to MusicXML, import, and fix everything that got bashed in the translation to/from "generic". There's a gremlin loose in the v25 MIDI code, I swear.

Also in the midst of figuring that out I deleted the Piccolo staff, surprisingly easy to do without much feedback in the Score Manager, but thankfully that's maybe the 2nd easiest part to recreate on the fly (Glock being #1), still ... c'mon Finale.

Also every time I do marching percussion parts with playback I feel like I'm reinventing the wheel. The new "transpose percussion" feature is a huge help sound-wise, but the notation itself is still ultimately hand cobbled into the forms preferred by the bands I'm writing for. I should probably start fixing myself by creating new templates for my various groups in v25.

So yeah, it's great stuff that is occasionally awful and I continue to pay them for the pleasure because ultimately it's the real deal and it's probably my fault.

:evil:
sungfw
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Re: Notation programs

Post by sungfw » Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:18 pm

JasonDonnelly wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:23 pm
But I have managed to make some sleek looking engravings that fooled professors into thinking I use Sibelius...
Not a very high bar, in my experience. :twisted:
Savio
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Re: Notation programs

Post by Savio » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:50 am

I use Sibelius, the reason is I get it free at work. This Musescore looks ok. Free, and feels a little like Sibelius.

Leif
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