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Opinions on Music Notation Software


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I've always used Finale, but haven't used it heavily in a while. I hate trying to compose in the piano roll though. I'd like to get some opinions on good music notation software.What are you guys using? :)

When it comes to composing certain types of music, I really do feel a lot more comfortable using notation instead of a piano roll. I used to use Finale but I got really tired of using two pieces of software to finish a particular song. Being a Mac guy, I ended up moving to Logic which has built in notation and it's working out rather well for me. As far as I know, Cubase is the only major DAW for Windows that has built in notation like this unless you feeling like moving to Pro Tools.

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I am also using Mac products, so this is good news. I wanted to buy Logic anyway, and this gives me another reason to do so. Thanks for the input!

Doing notation in it definitely took some getting used to when coming from Finale. Certain functions took me a while to get used to but I'm very glad I switched over. I was previously started out a piece in Finale and then bring it into Reaper. While I do love Reaper, Logic just fits much better into my work flow. The plugins that come with Logic are fairly decent but I'm mostly using Melba Production plugins for the bread and butter type stuff and I use VSL for all the orchestral work. I'm still doing the majority of my electronic music in Reason.

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I personally find Sibelius to be really convenient and intuitive. This is only for sheet printing, however; I write and produce music using a piano roll and virtual instruments.

My only problem with Sibelius right now is that it's owned by Avid and they haven't been doing so hot for quite a while. As far as writing with notation, I learned to read music many years before I even saw a piano roll. So, my brain is just kind of wired to visualize things that way. If I'm writing orchestral music, the ability to have notation in my normal DAW setup is better work flow compared to when I was using Finale. Yes, you can use virtual instruments in Finale but it's a mess putting it all together. My life would be much simpler if I could visualize certain types of music when using a piano roll but it always ends up slowing me down.

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I write in Finale and then perform from that score to record into the DAW. I don't see the point of writing in the DAW when I'd just need to rerecord everything anyway to get the performance correct, and I'd much rather write with (and perform from) proper notation software than a piano roll or a stripped-down notation view. This also helps me separate writing from recording/editing from mixing, which I find significantly improves my workflow.

Working in my favor, though, is the fact that I compose/orchestrate with only a piano patch and no automated playback. It doesn't matter to me that Finale's playback is inconvenient and doesn't sound good, because I don't use it.

If anyone's looking for a Finale/Sibelius alternative, MuseScore is free and reasonably fully-featured, although when I tried it maybe a year-and-a-half ago the note entry process was nowhere near as easy as it is in Finale, so I kind of lost interest in it. (MuseScore only allows you to enter notes by setting duration with the computer keyboard and then hitting a MIDI key to enter the note, whereas Finale allows you to hold a MIDI key and then hit the duration on the computer keyboard to enter the note, which is superior because it allows you to also noodle around on the MIDI keyboard without entering notes or having to change tools.)

EDIT: I really wish I could justify pen/staffpaper hand-notation for anything beyond basic sketches, but it just takes too long and is harder to perform from. There's a charm and personality (and, if done in ink, a confidence) to a hand-written draft that no computer-notated score can match.

Edited by Moseph
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Believe it or not, in terms of ease of use, Guitar Pro actually works pretty well. I've had more experience with Sibelius and Finale than it, but out of the three, I had the easiest time with it. Can't recall why exactly; it's been a while since I've had to notate anything on staff.

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Believe it or not, in terms of ease of use, Guitar Pro actually works pretty well. I've had more experience with Sibelius and Finale than it, but out of the three, I had the easiest time with it. Can't recall why exactly; it's been a while since I've had to notate anything on staff.

I vote for guitar pro as well. I've used that software for years and it's amazing.

Though Guitar Pro 6 is awful in my opinion. Stick with 5.

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