Your experience with music-notation programs

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Feb 18, 2013, 5:39:34 PM2/18/13

Hi, I'm totally ignorant about today’s music-notating programs, but it’s time to finally make the move.  Can you advise me as to the assets and debits of the programs you’ve used?  No doubt they all permit scanning-in of music, or playing-in of music by MIDI keyboard.  One thing I really need is freedom to make sufficient space for the vocalist’s words (including multiple verses) in between the staves, it must have that flexibility.  We are ready to purchase and are only awaiting your advice.

BTW:  Our music team consists of SATB, a keyboard, and a woodwind player whose synth can play any instrument. 
Thank you so much!

Bruce Kunkle

Feb 19, 2013, 8:42:20 AM2/19/13
I have a 12-year old copy of Allegro.  It will do what you want, but be warned, it can be difficult to learn and use.  I suspect that since my version was released, it has improved.

Allegro (from the makers of Finale) is capable of producing very polished, professional-looking sheet music.


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Frank Scales

Feb 19, 2013, 10:22:39 AM2/19/13
I own both Finale and Sibelius - and those who own either will probably side to their choice as being the best. I find them both useful and can't call one best over the other.

Either choice will have a learning curve - just know that going in. I find it best to use the software often, just like practicing scales. I recommend the shortcuts - because once those are under you belt, editing music becomes a very fast process.

Here is a quote from Ron Hess - Film Music Magazine  (it's older, from 2008 - both products have been updated several times since then).  It should at least answer a few of your questions.

"If you insist on specifics, Sibelius’ strengths include a slightly more authentic and traditional look to its output, but you might have to remind yourself to notice. Its playback algorithms sound a bit more realistic. And its structure holds somewhat greater potential for my personal holy grail of a completely touch-typed score, a boon for both the visually-impaired as well as anyone who truly thirsts for speed and efficiency. However, the company’s history does not make me confident that it has the vision to pull it off anytime soon. Part of its power comes from placing graphic symbols by hanging them on notes (not just by absolute spacing within the bar,) which often requires the use of the old invisible “dummy note” routine.

Finale’s strengths are a much deeper set of features and, consequently, more ways to get things done. If you’re willing to do the requisite homework with FinaleScript, third-party macro programs (to automate tasks and manage details,) and Finale’s seemingly bottomless pit of skills, you can get it to do most of Sibelius’s tricks, and a lot more.

Ultimately, any solutions to the “Less Filling!/Tastes Great!” software debate really hinge on defining what kind of user you want to be. If you relate to your software as simply a toolbox to accomplish a finite set of gigs, you will probably want one that is smaller, less complicated, and requiring less time and learning to accomplish those so you can get on with life’s other pursuits. If so, Sibelius might be your cup of tea. On the other hand, if you look to your software as a source of personal and musical power, then you must decide whether you are the sort who would rather take the time and effort to become Superman rather than Batman (superheroes both, but hardly interchangeable.) If so, Finale may satisfy your craving for power.

Either way, you’re in for an adventure. Make your choice and dig in!"

Feb 19, 2013, 12:09:43 PM2/19/13
Agreeing with previous replies!

I use Finale 2000. If I were still doing a lot of intricate scores, I would upgrade, but it isn't worth it at this point.


Dean Thomas

Feb 20, 2013, 12:20:09 AM2/20/13
The others have provided all the right words. Finale, Allegro, Musescore, Sibelius. All great programs, all with significant learning curves.

One thing you might want to consider is to
create a one page arrangement with a few twists and turns, and then convert that into a file in whatever program you choose. If you download one of the free programs, you'll find them powerful and with lots of features and a great prelude to spending the money for even more features. Use the sample downloads to play. I think that most right now are free and mostly just time limited instead of crippled.
Dean Thomas
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