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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningComposition, Arranging and Theory(Moderator: zemry) Relative strengths and weaknesses of different music notation software programs
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Andrew Meronek

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« on: Apr 19, 2017, 09:44AM »

The title says it all, but I recently got myself forced into trying out something non-Sibelius after frying my motherboard. So, I'm hacking at Musescore. My observations so far:

For free software, there's more there than I expected. The various standard notational tools are fairly easy to get to, once I have started figuring out the interface. There are notable differences in the interface, so it took me a couple of days to figure out many of the quirks.

It is inferior software to Sibelius, but not to such a degree that it's "bad". It's decent.

I like the Sibelius note entry more, although to be fair, Sibelius' note entry is one of the best in the industry.

I really miss the great auto-collision avoidance in Sibelius, and the auto-part generation from scores.

One thing that I think is actually superior in Musescore compared to Sibelius is pitch-bending, which is handled a lot cleaner in Musescore, at least from an easy-to-use standpoint. Not a feature that most people would care about, though.
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:18AM »

What is "auto-collision avoidance"?

And how is Sibelius' part generation different from Musescore's?
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:28AM »

Having gone through several over the years, I have found that each has a steep learning curve and you lose facility unless you use it a lot.  My usual complaint about most of them (including Encore and Finale) is that they have awful note spacing -- placing the notes in the fraction of the measure they occupy (so a half note takes half the measure and 4 eighth notes take up the other half -- making them very hard to read).  Setting up untimed measures like cadenzas is cumbersome.  Most don't have a multi-bar rest.

But as you learn to become facile, you learn to deal with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the program.  Sibelius and Finale are well accepted by the "professional" community while Lilypond and Musescore are good ways to "get your feet wet".  Lilypond isn't even WYSIWYG.
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:31AM »

Now there is Dorico two. I use Sibelius from version 1.5, haven't tested Dorico yet.
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:46AM »

I stay relatively up to date with Finale.

It is known to be cumbersome for some conceptually basic stuff, but I see a lot of it finally being addressed over the last few versions. Like putting in rehearsal numbers no longer involves bizarre measure number region definitions and enclosure shapes and positional tweaking: they are now under expressions like dynamics.

I mostly enter with keyboard and mouse (actually trackball), not MIDI. So left hand on the number pad, right on the mouse bing bang boom. Copy and paste and modify to speed things up.

The parameters for page formatting remain a bit odd but once you get the hang of it you can make professional looking stuff quickly.

Basically: it's not quite as frustrating as it used to be!

 ;-)
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« Reply #5 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:54AM »

Searching music notation programs turned up a dozen or so products, only some of which I had heard of.

One caught my eye: Magicscore Maestro 7. Compared to Finale and Sibelius, relatively inexpensive.


Another program that has been rated very highly is Presonus Notion. Also not too expensive when compared to the big two.

I have not used either of these, but have struggled with Finale Printmusic and Musescore. I found the Finale PM enormously frustrating. Based on the comments below, it looks like not much has changed.

I don't see using such programs enough to justify buying the full Finale/Sibelius programs.

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« Reply #6 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:59AM »

My usual complaint about most of them (including Encore and Finale) is that they have awful note spacing -- placing the notes in the fraction of the measure they occupy (so a half note takes half the measure and 4 eighth notes take up the other half -- making them very hard to read). 

I prefer having things generally spaced for the beats, but Finale has a few spacing options that can be assigned to specific measures: beat spacing, note spacing, ...

Also you can individually nudge all score items, flip stems, manually widen measures, which is not fun but sometimes necessary if trying to squeeze some measures in to fit a part on a page.

I'm picky about my parts. Sloppy notation leads to wasted rehearsal time and performance gaffes. If something doesn't look right I dig in and find the notation tweak to fix it.

 Way cool
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« Reply #7 on: Apr 19, 2017, 11:04AM »

You are actually making my point for me.  There are tweaks and nuances in all of these programs.  I remember spending a few hours adjusting spacing of all the measures in an Encore chart and suddenly I tried to add a sharp (accidental) to one note and all the tweaks disappeared.  Grr.... >:(
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 19, 2017, 11:11AM »

I use Songwriter when I must rewrite a badly messed-up band chart so I can read it easier. It's fine for that and easy enough for me to get generally satisfactory results for my own use. But for rewriting a very complex chart; it's difficult and sometimes impossible for me to exactly duplicate the original notation. No complaints though. I'm getting my money's worth.

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« Reply #9 on: Apr 19, 2017, 12:38PM »

I've played with Finale full version, also the Notepad and Songwriter versions.

Noteworthy Composer was superior to the smaller Finale versions, having more capabilities and more intuitive interface. 

I tried Musescore and failed on the learning curve.  It will do everything the others do, but in such a different manner I couldn't get past it.  The reason for trying it was it will work on a Linux machine and NWC will not.

NWC used to be freeware though I paid for the upgrade.  Now I think it costs but is quite reasonable.  There is a demo version but it is significantly limited.   
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« Reply #10 on: Apr 19, 2017, 03:23PM »

What is "auto-collision avoidance"?

Automatically positioning objects in the score to not overlap with other existing objects. Text and chord symbols, for example. Saves a *lot* of time making scores look readable.

Quote
And how is Sibelius' part generation different from Musescore's?

Sibelius constantly generates parts as you write in the score, without having to do the extra step of telling it to "extract" a part or something similar. Effectively, they're instantly available once you create the score, and updates with every update of the score.

I was using version 6; I know both of these features were not available in many of the earlier versions.
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 19, 2017, 03:29PM »

Having gone through several over the years, I have found that each has a steep learning curve and you lose facility unless you use it a lot.  My usual complaint about most of them (including Encore and Finale) is that they have awful note spacing -- placing the notes in the fraction of the measure they occupy (so a half note takes half the measure and 4 eighth notes take up the other half -- making them very hard to read).  Setting up untimed measures like cadenzas is cumbersome.  Most don't have a multi-bar rest.

But as you learn to become facile, you learn to deal with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the program.  Sibelius and Finale are well accepted by the "professional" community while Lilypond and Musescore are good ways to "get your feet wet".  Lilypond isn't even WYSIWYG.

I may be going out on a limb here, but from what little I've seen of Lilypond, I suspect that it is potentially the best-looking of all of them, including via note-spacing. The interface is a pretty big hurdle, though, especially for people who don't have a software programming background. While I suspect that someone who does a deep dive into Lilypond can get pretty efficient with it, I also suspect that it has the largest learning curve before getting to that point, probably by a lot.
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 19, 2017, 03:39PM »

I have used MuseScore for about 4 years now, and it has done pretty well for me. Obviously there are things I dislike about it, but for a free software, it is very easy to use and has a surprising number of options for notation for expressions and extended techniques and stuff.

That being said, I'll probably be upgrading to Finale soon.
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« Reply #13 on: Apr 19, 2017, 07:38PM »

I may be going out on a limb here, but from what little I've seen of Lilypond, I suspect that it is potentially the best-looking of all of them, including via note-spacing. The interface is a pretty big hurdle, though, especially for people who don't have a software programming background. While I suspect that someone who does a deep dive into Lilypond can get pretty efficient with it, I also suspect that it has the largest learning curve before getting to that point, probably by a lot.

Having used word processors back when control characters had to be buried right in the text, and there was no WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) and little print preview, I found Lilypond refreshing  Evil

I had searched pretty hard for a reasonable way to make parts books of Christmas carols.  The most reasonable way I found was to create scores in Finale Print Music, extract parts, export as musicXML, then import the results into Lilypond via scripts.  The Finale part was tedius and time consuming.  The Lilypond part, after getting the first one working, was a one-stop operation. 

I'm just getting started with Musescore.  I can understand Tim's frustration with it. I know Tim is NOT a quitter, so it says a lot that he dropped Musescore.  That being said, I have yet to find anything easier to do in Finale Print Music. Each tool is, as Bruce noted, significantly different.

I can't use ANY of these without constant searches on Google.

And ANY of them beat the first notation tools I used in original IBM PC days. By a LOT.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 19, 2017, 08:28PM »

Dave, did you ever play with Songwright?  I started on that one only because it offered Alto Clef (nobody offered Tenor Clef back in those days!).  Also, it was one of the few programs that could output to a 9 pin printer (I'm REALLY dating myself now).  It came rushing back to me when I tried using Lilypond.
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« Reply #15 on: Apr 19, 2017, 10:50PM »

During the last 25 years I have used almost all notation software out there. The first was on the old atari st computer. I miss that one. The trend has been that most software especially finale and Sibelius has put in aspects that save time.

Still, no matter what we use, the most important thing to save time is to learn whatever software we choose to use.

We still have to write down music and I have seen some do it faster with a pencil!

The good things with software is we can save it and take it up later for easy do further editing. The bad things is software is so complex that we loose our main focus to be creative and write good music.

Oohh I miss my old atari, in fact it was not that bad. I think the music software just was called notator. It did the job.


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« Reply #16 on: Apr 19, 2017, 11:04PM »

I've become fairly proficient with Musescore.  It is capable and free.  For me the learning curve for it was not steeper than anything else, even those you have to shell out for.  It is much better than what was available 10 years ago, and will be probably better 10 years from now, but it's not perfect.  Neither is anything else, so price won my heart.
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« Reply #17 on: Apr 20, 2017, 02:24AM »

Unless something has changed with the free offerings recently, they aren't quite there yet when making professionally engraved scores and parts.  Finale and Sibelius both make it easy (in the case of Sibelius post version 5, very easy) to alter parts in place; so you can alter a score and each part within the score without creating different files. While that sounds trivial, it really saves a lot of work when you don't have to extract a full 20 parts when you write a big band score every time you want to print. 

Having briefly used Finale, it still seems that Sibelius is a touch more user friendly at the expense of being a touch less powerful than Sibelius; however, if most people are fine with the free offerings then certainly most people don't need those additional features from the Finale either.

If another program used Sibelius's style of note entry, I'd certainly give it a try. Sibelius licencing is totally over the top. Although every time I've called them it was resolved fairly quickly. But every time you defragment your hard drive it gets horribly confused and thinks you're trying to pirate the software...
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« Reply #18 on: Apr 20, 2017, 07:18AM »

Bruce,

Yeah... 9 pin printers!  I don't recall Songwright personally, but have vague memories of seeing things in Byte magazine :)

Leif,

Speaking of Byte, AND ease of use, I remember one of those geek magazines having a machine code program I could "peek" and "poke" in to my Timex Sinclair, then store on cassette tape.  IIRC, I could get one part at a time with that, on a 9 pin printer.  It was ugly.  How ugly was it? The printout was SO ugly that it was the only paper in the house the cat would NOT use if the litter box wasn't clean enough for her.

Comparatively, ALL the current tools are all strength and no weakness.

Matt,

I think you really hit the nail on the head: know what your final requirements and find out which tool gets there with the least grief. I suspect I COULD get better LOOKING output from Lilypond (I have full LaTEX-like control inside the program) but the time it would take would be prohibitive.  I could PROBABLY do things a little easier in Finale, but be a bit slow in note entry and part modification.  I could use the Libreoffice add-in to write method book-like stuff with Musescore, but have trouble doing big scores and parts.  It goes on.

Matt, your note about parts is what reminded me of the Libreoffice<->Musescore link.  It's nice to be able to write explanatory text with good formatting, then insert a supporting excerpt without straight cut-and-paste.  The difference here is as it is with score and parts: if I change the excerpt, or if I proof and find I NEED to change the excerpt, I can double click the spot in the Libreoffice document and get the excerpt up in Musescore.

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« Reply #19 on: Apr 20, 2017, 07:24AM »

My experience is probably not as varied as many posters here, but my Finale experience is pretty deep.

I've been using Finale for about 20 years now. There are many negatives: there is still no magnetic layout similar to Sib's (the anti-collision thing), the learning curve can be steep if you don't have time to devote to it (and don't watch the tutorials and read the quick start stuff) and it seems like every time I've gotten used to doing something a certain way, a new version will make that particular action harder to do. Certain actions I don't do very often I have to look up because the answers to many questions are not intuitive in the slightest, and certain actions that should be in the same tool will be scattered across multiple windows or tools. I could keep going.

So why Finale? Well, it's what I started with. It's become the industry standard and the majority of clients I write for prefer or require Finale. I have lost a small amount of work because I don't use Sibelius, one project in particular that I really wanted to be a part of, but not near as much work as I would've lost if I didn't know Finale. Finale has been paying a good chunk of my bills over the last 10 or 15 years. Finale "looks" right, has a ton of options and is designed to be "all things to all people" - although why it can't just be easier to use...

With the internet, looking up the answer to a finale problem is easier than ever provided you know what Finale calls a particular action. For example: the "Hide Staves" function. This is used to hide staves that aren't being used in a score, like 100 bars of brass in most orchestral works, or the bottom staff of a piano part when it's not in use. Finale used to call this "Optimizing Staff Systems" and it's function was located in the Page Layout Tool. I've never in all my years of writing heard it called "optimizing" except by other finale users. Later the idiots at Finale decided to change this function's name to "Hide Staff Systems" and put it in the Staff Tool - which makes more sense, but it took me 2 days (and multiple emails to MakeMusic/Coda staff who were utterly clueless) to figure this out and by that point the deadline had passed and I had to trim the empty staves by hand with a pair of scissors and use a xerox machine to make the parts look right. Stuff like this is why I absolutely hate Finale and would never hold someone's preference for another program against them.

If you don't have or don't want Finale, Sibelius is the next most often used by professional publishers. I'm pretty sure all of the ejazzlines in house published stuff is Sibelius (looks like it anyway) and I notice it used in plenty of books.

I got through a ton of music and books in a year and if I were hazarding a guess, 99% of what I've seen over the last several years is Finale or Sibelius.

Most of my students start with Musescore because it is free, but most of them end up switching to Finale within a year.

I've been hearing good things about Dorico.

Pretty much everything else I've tried I thought either had too steep a learning curve or not enough features and isn't worth mentioning.
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« Reply #20 on: Apr 20, 2017, 08:05AM »

The Exzaclee's review was right on the money and quite complete. I feel pretty much the same about Sibelius, though since sibelius 5 I'm having quite a few troubles due to latency...maybe I just have  buy an apple computer :-) The best combo regarding latency and midi input I ever had was sibelius 2 on a Microsoft desktop computer (fijutsu) with a Windows 98. The I had the awful idea to "upgrade" my desktop computer with Windiws XP. Bang, and I found out what latency is :-)

As far as layouts, spacing, mouse note input or note spacing features, I have no issues with Sibelius, so far it was worth the money.

When I was still on Sibelius 2, my music theory, history and counterpoint teacher, who run at the time a music publishing house (a small one) used finale. I remember he was quite comfortable with it, but just by looking on screen what he saw and how he was doing it felt weird to me.

Basically, if you want something really professional you get one of the two (dorico may join them in 2-3 years) and start learn and work with it. If not, you get one of the freebies, if that suits you enough.
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« Reply #21 on: Apr 20, 2017, 09:33AM »

I'd be curious to see some side-by-side of examples deemed professional-looking and not-professional-looking from these programs.

I'm not being sarcastic, I would like to see comparisons to get a sense of what the higher expectations are that are not served in some program.

My first contact with "professional" sheet music creation was an "Advanced Orchestration" course I took at UNT, circa 1985.  The teacher (a graduate music composition student) really offered no insights into the use of instruments for sound purposes. 

His expertise was the use of special ink and pens to manually create the notes on very special vellum paper. His hand-drawn scores looked exactly like the professionally engraved music you would expect to have plopped down on your stand if your were playing a classic of the standard repertoire. But imagine the time required!

I did not get an "A" in that class. Even though my final project was the only one from the class that the reading ensemble could get through without derailing on a fatal copying or transposition error or obvious misuse of the forces, i got a "C" because i just did a pencil score Bad dog.  No Biscuits. and not an pristine ink score on vellum.  Yeah, RIGHT.

I'm glad those days are gone.
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« Reply #22 on: Apr 20, 2017, 12:05PM »

Unless something has changed with the free offerings recently, they aren't quite there yet when making professionally engraved scores and parts.  Finale and Sibelius both make it easy (in the case of Sibelius post version 5, very easy) to alter parts in place; so you can alter a score and each part within the score without creating different files.
Maybe I'm not understanding you Matt, but in MuseScore you can alter the score and the parts will change in place, or you can alter the part and the score will change.  You do not have to delete and recreate the parts each time you make a change.
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« Reply #23 on: Apr 20, 2017, 12:25PM »

Quote
Unless something has changed with the free offerings recently, they aren't quite there yet when making professionally engraved scores and parts.  Finale and Sibelius both make it easy (in the case of Sibelius post version 5, very easy) to alter parts in place; so you can alter a score and each part within the score without creating different files.
Maybe I'm not understanding you Matt, but in MuseScore you can alter the score and the parts will change in place, or you can alter the part and the score will change.  You do not have to delete and recreate the parts each time you make a change.


Here's the relevant blurb from the MuseScore 2.0 Manual

Quote
Parts and score are "linked", which means that any change to the content in one will affect the other, but changes to the layout will not. When you have the parts created, they are saved along with the score (if you open the score you have tabs for the score and every part you created).

I don't think that functionality existed in the previous V1.3

If you changed the score You had to re "create" the relevant part

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« Reply #24 on: Apr 20, 2017, 12:44PM »

I remember a colleague of mine who always had some troubles when extracting parts from a full score in Musescore. I don't know if that was because of a software feature deficiency or because he didn't know the best way to do it. But such a glitch seems familiarly associated with Musescore.
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« Reply #25 on: Apr 20, 2017, 12:52PM »

I remember a colleague of mine who always had some troubles when extracting parts from a full score in Musescore. I don't know if that was because of a software feature deficiency or because he didn't know the best way to do it. But such a glitch seems familiarly associated with Musescore.
Extracting parts on the latest version is a simple thing.  I don't recall it being too tough in earlier versions.  That's not to say it wasn't, just that I don't remember it being so.
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« Reply #26 on: Apr 20, 2017, 12:57PM »

I don't think that functionality existed in the previous V1.3

If you changed the score You had to re "create" the relevant part
True.  The linked parts are a version 2 added feature.
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« Reply #27 on: Apr 20, 2017, 02:33PM »

The two sentences quotes were meant to be independent. I've yet to see a score that was publishable from any software other than Sibelius or Finale but I concede it is possible since I haven't really looked into them in the past year or so.

One thing that makes that easier is the feature I mentioned although if something now offers that it's definitely a step in the right direction. 
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« Reply #28 on: Apr 20, 2017, 04:40PM »

Again, I'd be eager to see examples of what is deemed unprofessional or unpublishable from the brand X programs.

I've seen a lot of "new music" over the years and played a lot of stuff published from nothing more than human copyist parts and I have trouble putting my finger on things that MuseScore would not be up to.

If you had brought out Musescore 30 years ago or even 20 years ago I think most people would have said, "This is what we needed! Mission accomplished!" and it's not like music notation has evolved into some new creature with batwings and gills since then.

 Don't know
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« Reply #29 on: Apr 20, 2017, 08:00PM »

The problem, Rob, is that the people who take work from people like Exaclee have their own typesetting software to program offset printers.  This software generally requires either a Finale or a Sibelius music file.  It can't read anything else.  If all you are doing is producing parts for your own use, any music program properly tweaked can produce decent output.
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« Reply #30 on: Apr 20, 2017, 09:35PM »

Sorry Rob, I'm in the middle of grading a ton of arrangements from students and I just got back from playing with the Temps, so I am not really in the mood to scan a bunch of stuff. Next time you're in town I'll pull out my students' assignments and show you what I'm talking about. That's more agreeable to my schedule than spending a half hour wrangling a scanner and highlighting spacing issues.

Musescore looks very similar to other engraving programs. The current version (which a guitarist who took my arranging class used last semester) looks very similar to the engraving style used with The All New Real Book series of real books (from the 90's I think?). It also looks similar to some other versions of sibelius. Older versions looked like Finale. The fonts used are similar to both programs, I'm not really sure how they are avoiding copyright issues to be honest.

I haven't used it enough (i.e., I haven't used it) to be able to tell you exactly what the program does or doesn't do to make it undesirable for use by publishers. I do know that none of the people I work for use it. I also know that many of my students who did use it had issues with formatting - getting spacing just right, getting proper phrasing (number of bars per system, etc....) and getting certain chord symbols seemed to be an issue. Whether this was user error or program weakness I don't know. Personally I don't care. I don't have the kind of free time to allow me to delve into new scorewriters, if I did, it'd be sibelius. Why? It isn't from some misinformed or heavily ingrained bias against musescore perse - hell, I recommend it to my students who don't want to pay for finale. It's because I've been using Finale for 20 years and it pays my bills. If someone wants to pay me to use musescore, I'll gladly download it and give you my impressions. If someone wants to pay me to upload examples and detailed analysis of why something is or isn't acceptable, I'll do that too although I'm sure there are others more qualified than me to do so. Until that happens, I can really only comment on my students' output and my clients' preferences.
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« Reply #31 on: Apr 21, 2017, 12:08AM »

Quote
The problem, Rob, is that the people who take work from people like Exaclee have their own typesetting software to program offset printers.

If it is about a file format that a publisher needs... I'm extremely skeptical. A modern printing house can't figure out postscript or pdf?

I can entirely imagine one backward printing house claiming it is so. When i worked in video I heard preposterous claims from video professionals about what you could and couldn't do with computer graphics so yeah, there may indeed be someone who's been in the business 100 years claiming MuseScore can't be used but... I'm skeptical about their claim.

Quote
I also know that many of my students who did use it had issues with formatting - getting spacing just right, getting proper phrasing (number of bars per system, etc....) and getting certain chord symbols seemed to be an issue.

 

Bars per system? Really?
Chord symbols? Are they in Chinese?

Don't know



Quote
Next time you're in town I'll pull out my students' assignments and show you what I'm talking about. That's more agreeable to my schedule than spending a half hour wrangling a scanner and highlighting spacing issues.

That's a long way for me to go to do a free tech support call.

You don't have time to present an example? I understand.

But understand that, absent any evidence, I concede nothing because last time we had this discussion here and someone actually defined a specific something that CAN'T BE DONE, they were wrong and after I made a video showing how easy it was to do this impossible thing their response was, "oh, well that's because you know how to use the program."  Yeah, RIGHT.


It's entirely appropriate for you to use a program you are familiar with and that does what you need it to do.

But telling me about about a program you don't use, based on "someone said ________"

... I remain skeptical.





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« Reply #32 on: Apr 21, 2017, 12:20AM »

Rob,

The problem is, that nobody wants to boder with new software, new settings, learning a new tool/software unless they are completely sure that this new thingy is going to simplify or speedify their work. So, if the publisher house have set your software up, it is an advantage. Otherwise is a setback. Switching format is not simple (especially for notation software) and doesn't guarantee that the new score will look just the same as the original. That doesn't mean that Musescore cannot be used, but it is a set back and a plausible obstacle and unjustified loss of time.
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« Reply #33 on: Apr 21, 2017, 02:32AM »

If it is about a file format that a publisher needs... I'm extremely skeptical. A modern printing house can't figure out postscript or pdf?

I can entirely imagine one backward printing house claiming it is so. When i worked in video I heard preposterous claims from video professionals about what you could and couldn't do with computer graphics so yeah, there may indeed be someone who's been in the business 100 years claiming MuseScore can't be used but... I'm skeptical about their claim.

 

Bars per system? Really?
Chord symbols? Are they in Chinese?

Don't know



That's a long way for me to go to do a free tech support call.

You don't have time to present an example? I understand.

But understand that, absent any evidence, I concede nothing because last time we had this discussion here and someone actually defined a specific something that CAN'T BE DONE, they were wrong and after I made a video showing how easy it was to do this impossible thing their response was, "oh, well that's because you know how to use the program."  Yeah, RIGHT.


It's entirely appropriate for you to use a program you are familiar with and that does what you need it to do.

But telling me about about a program you don't use, based on "someone said ________"

... I remain skeptical.



Exzaclee has a ton of experience seeing the results of student work created by MuseScore.  He's telling you firsthand about some of the goofiness he's seen turned in as assignments and what his students said when questioned.  It's not as though he's only spoken to a couple of guys, or read some stuff on the internet.   (Or slept overnight in a Holiday Inn Express.)

I used MuseScore in Zac's class and I know darned well "Exzaclee" how picky he is about notation.  And the two areas Zac mentioned, chord symbols and bars per line, were issues that I had to address manually in MuseScore.  The delivered chord symbol xml file supports a variety of different input/output styles and it's easy to make a mistake by switching midstream in a set of changes.  You can either look for this before submitting your work, or hand edit the XML to allow multiple inputs but only a single output for each chord symbol.  And, there is no automatic process to set the number of bars per line.  That's a manual process that I do after I finish my entry.

There are other idiosyncrasies and annoyances, but as many have noted, those exist in all products.  Zac uses Finale because it makes him money.  (Having played his stuff, I know why.)  I use MuseScore because I'm cheap.  :D  Fortunately, after using it for so many years, I was able to do what was required for his class.  But, I pity the noob who thinks they can download MuseScore and hammer out a big band chart over a weekend. 

Thank goodness we weren't required to do any hand notation for his class.  You know the old saw about giving 1,000 monkeys typewriters.  Well, my manuscript looks like the output of a thousand monkeys using pencils... :/

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #34 on: Apr 21, 2017, 03:15AM »

Asking one to disprove a negative is an exercise in futility. It isn't that people are stuck on what other people are telling them; although that coudl be true in some circumstances.  It doesn't take much perusing of the score distribution portion of their website to find poor examples of engraving. The page is replete with inconsistent spacing, bar numbers per stave, and font issues just to name a few problems with some of the engravings.  Is that because they're free and/or done by those without any professional experience? Or is it because Musescore is incapable of engraving? Maybe one or the other, but probably some combination of the two.

If you peruse those samples and don't see anything wrong with them, then MuseScore is probably a-okay for your purposes. 

On the other hand, if you want to be a professional engraver,  then it might be more difficult to use. Even this thread on their forums acknowledges that virtually all publishing houses require Sibelius or Finale files. Whether that is because MuseScore is incapable of doing the task is irrelevant in this case. Network effects cause current professionals who had no other choice at least up to fairly recently are much more likely to use Sibelius or Finale. Knowledge transfer is going to be much quicker and higher quality teaching something that is known whether or not there is an actual qualitative difference between the open source offerings and Finale or Sibelius.

And then there are the increments between those.  So at the end of the day it boils down to what you need to produce and how you wish to learn the programs.  If you want to do it at zero monetary cost to you and learn everything on your own or from advice on their forums, etc. then the open source offerings are your only option. If you want to make money off of your engravings, you'll likely need to choose one or the other. If you want to take lessons with someone, they can probably still teach you - as Exczaclee has indicated he has - albeit in a limited manner as the knowledge transfer will primarily be about the substance of the engraving and not specifically how one actually performs it.
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« Reply #35 on: Apr 21, 2017, 05:06AM »

What I'm hearing, in animation terms,
Musescore = Blender
Finale & Sibelius = 3ds Max & Maya & C4D


(This may not make sense to anyone but Rob, and he'll probably point out why this isn't a good analogy, but anyway.  :-P )
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« Reply #36 on: Apr 21, 2017, 05:11AM »

What I'm hearing, in animation terms,
Musescore = Blender
Finale & Sibelius = 3ds Max & Maya & C4D

and Lilypond = OpenSCAD. 
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« Reply #37 on: Apr 21, 2017, 05:38AM »

What I'm hearing, in animation terms,
Musescore = Blender
Finale & Sibelius = 3ds Max & Maya & C4D


(This may not make sense to anyone but Rob, and he'll probably point out why this isn't a good analogy, but anyway.  :-P )


  Good!
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« Reply #38 on: Apr 21, 2017, 06:55AM »

If it is about a file format that a publisher needs... I'm extremely skeptical. A modern printing house can't figure out postscript or pdf?

Rob, a PDF or postscript file is NOT a finale file (or .sib or XML or...). It can't be edited like one. I assume you understand this; if not maybe you should stop responding and just read along for a little while. We're not talking about a publisher's ability to print a pdf file. This statement is entirely unrelated to the topic at hand, which I assume at this point is still "Relative strengths and weaknesses of different music notation software programs" but seems to be transforming into "Why Do Music Publishers (and other related parties) prefer Finale/Sibelius?" You can be skeptical all you want about my own personal experiences, which I am relating here, but you don't have to be so %#$%#$% rude about it. Do you not understand or are you calling me a liar? Why do you feel the need to turn this into a debate? That's not what this is. I'm relating my experiences here: if you have observations that run counter to mine that's fine. Present them.

I can entirely imagine one backward printing house claiming it is so. When i worked in video I heard preposterous claims from video professionals about what you could and couldn't do with computer graphics so yeah, there may indeed be someone who's been in the business 100 years claiming MuseScore can't be used but... I'm skeptical about their claim.
Your analogy needs quite a bit of work. I don't think any publishers are claiming musescore can't be used, at least I haven't heard of any doing so. What I do know is that with certain projects I've been involved in, I was specifically requested to use Finale, or I was specifically requested to use their Finale template to produce scores/parts/lead sheets, etc.  One job in particular that I really wanted to be a part of (involving one of my heroes) I could not participate in because I didn't use sibelius. These particular publishers/writers/arrangers use what they use because it is what they are familiar with, and I assume because it is what works best with whatever equipment they use. Just like with the rest of us, time is money and they probably don't want to take the extra time to learn how to use an inferior product. Even if the product is supposedly just as good, why spend all that time learning something that is "just as good"? If you like, you can call them and ask.

Bars per system? Really?
Chord symbols? Are they in Chinese?
If you don't understand why these things are important or why spending inordinate amounts of time getting them right is undesirable, I don't know what to tell you. There are professional standards. I have to adhere to them. It's really simple, do you lack understanding or are you just being purposefully obtuse?
That's a long way for me to go to do a free tech support call.
If I had a nickel for every time I contacted Finale (or whatever company owned them at the time) with a question their free tech support couldn't answer, I'd be rich... okay, I'd have a dollar, but still. I've sent more than a few emails explaining to their tech support how i solved a problem. I am so thankful for the forums they have now. So much more efficient now finding answers...
You don't have time to present an example? I understand. But understand that, absent any evidence, I concede nothing because last time we had this discussion here and someone actually defined a specific something that CAN'T BE DONE, they were wrong and after I made a video showing how easy it was to do this impossible thing their response was, "oh, well that's because you know how to use the program."  Yeah, RIGHT.
I'm still not sure exactly what theory you are wanting me to prove. Am I supposed to prove that there are differences between Finale and Musescore that you can perceive that justify why Finale is preferred? I'm not even sure that you would be capable of noticing the differences judging by your previous responses. Also, to add to your apparent confusion, I would have to post other evidence as well: the amount of time it took to produce the files and the relative skill level of each user. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, Rob - you're obviously not the target audience here. Use what you want, it doesn't hurt my feelings. I don't have that luxury. I like to eat. Whatever other threads you have been involved in don't change my experiences and doesn't change the fact that the great majority of publishers aren't using Musescore. Doesn't mean they won't be in the future, but again, that's not what this thread is about. Obviously your own aversion to Finale is due to the fact that you don't know how to use the program. You also don't understand many of the apparent issues currently being discussed.
It's entirely appropriate for you to use a program you are familiar with and that does what you need it to do.
Rob, I think that sometimes you don't actually read anything people post, you just skim it, find something to get indignant about, and start firing away. It's a shame because you seem to be somewhat intelligent and capable most of the time. But then you get this condescending tone and I just can't help it...

Yes, Rob, it is entirely appropriate for me to use a program I am familiar with. It is also entirely appropriate for me to do exactly what my employers request. I have this thing called a house. It's currently keeping me dry while it rains cats and dogs outside. I pay for this house with money. Employers pay me money. If I don't do things the way they want them done, I get no money. No money, no house. No house, I catch pneumonia and die. Tough world we live in, bro.
But telling me about about a program you don't use, based on "someone said ________"
... I remain skeptical.
So what exactly is it you are skeptical of, Rob?
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« Reply #39 on: Apr 21, 2017, 07:51AM »

I don't know if it's relevant, but I work for an engineering department.

When we contract a design, we require it to be AutoCAD V13.01a.  (I'm not sure what version we're currently on, but you get the drift.)  There are lots of equivalent CAD programs just as good if not better, but we're only willing to pay for that product.  If you don't have it, and want to bid on our job, buy it.  If you can beat the competitor's price by using Microstation, forget it; contracting will reject you as unresponsive. 
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« Reply #40 on: Apr 21, 2017, 09:00AM »

I'm not being sarcastic, I would like to see comparisons to get a sense of what the higher expectations are that are not served in some program.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Since my Sibelius crashed with my motherboard, I can't provide Sibelius 6 score examples currently, but I can provide Musescore, which serves in an emergency pinch.

Does someone have a good, troublesome musical exerpt (in the public domain) that we can have some people here recreate using some different softwares for comparison?

Also, along the lines of the current thread discussion: people are forgetting about PDF format of music, where if a publisher accepts that, it makes the choice of notation software purely cosmetic and a practical choice only of the person doing the engraving.

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« Reply #41 on: Apr 21, 2017, 09:08AM »

I pity the noob who thinks they can download MuseScore and hammer out a big band chart over a weekend. 

LOL

That's exactly what I'm doing . . . but I guess I'm not exactly a noob in general: I consider myself pretty good at writing big band jazz, plus I'm a controls engineer, so figuring out software is a good chunk of what I do anyway.
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« Reply #42 on: Apr 21, 2017, 09:17AM »

Do any publishing companies accept PDF? My impression of the industry is they want the actual files that generated the score such that they can do stylistic editing.

Also check out the musescore forums. There seem to be several threads about the topic. You'll likely get better responses about how that particular software works and the relative quality achievable of the software. If you want to see what it's capable of, youd want to check over there since they're devotees of the software for the most part. If anyone can engrave properly, it would be them.

Of course, the link I posted earlier contains samples ... though they might not be made by people who know how to use the software properly.

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« Reply #43 on: Apr 21, 2017, 09:40AM »

I think also to compare MuseScore to Finale is somewhat like comparing a Jean Baptiste trombone to a Shires.  You can play all the notes (in most cases) but when it gets to the higher levels of playing the Shires will outshine the Jean Baptiste.

Not to say MuseScore is a lousy program.  It isn't.  It is a good entry level and it's cheap.  It gives output that's good enough for many applications.  But it's not Finale and if the client wants Finale that's what you need to provide.
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« Reply #44 on: Apr 21, 2017, 11:22AM »

i would suspect that the output of musescore, in the hands of someone who really knows the software, is good enough. i assume that the issues i've observed are due to user error, but then again, i really don't know. looking at some of the stuff on the link Matt K posted before, some of the note spacing looks off. on the other hand, judging by some of the work my students produced, it is capable of doing a good professional quality lead sheet so it stands to reason that it can do other stuff just as well. it seems to have come a long way since the first iterations which looked suspiciously like a finale 2000 (or 98) copy but clunkier.

Some of my students from when I first started teaching still use musescore (or did last I talked with them or saw their work) and they produce nice, legible work that I'm sure would be perfectly fine for self-publishing. Most of my recent and current students  who started on musescore have switched to finale or sibelius.

Do any publishing companies accept PDF?

Depends on the job, the company, etc. With some smaller publishers (mostly publishing on demand types) I'm hired because they don't have an engraver, orchestrator, arranger, copyist or transcriber on the payroll. For this type of job usually a PDF is all I need to provide, but often they'll want the Finale files in case they need to do anything with them in the future [sidebar: at this point they usually shop around for someone cheaper, find them, aren't happy with the work they did, contact me and try to lowball me to cover their losses... and so the cycle goes.] With some publishers, they require a particular scorewriter because their computer and printing equipment is set up specifically for that so they want the files - when I use my personal printer, printing quality is better from the finale file than it is from a PDF and margins seem more true. Some clients provide me with a template I have to use so that when/if they have to go in and edit things later it's much easier - the templates will often have a ton of shortcuts programmed in that help with this as well, in addition to the specific layout they want.

For a recent job I had this request:

Please use the enclosed template (this was a Finale 2012 template, i believe setup and modified from the setup wizard but I'm not sure.)
Machine must support the following:
Handwritten font (Broadway copyist) in Finale 2012 or later
Title: Helvetica 26 pt
Subtitle: Helvetica 18 pt
Composer: Helvetica 16 pt (Proceeded by "Composed By")
Lyricist Helvetica 14 pt (Proceeded by "Lyrics By"
Arranger: Helvetica 12 pt - (Proceeded by "Arranged By")
Score/Part Information: Helvetica 18 pt (Include doubles under primary instrument/part name.)
Copyright: Helvetica 10pt, please use text inserts provided for copyright information.

Chords: Use ma, mi, dim, mi7(b5) for half dim, put all alterations in parenthesis. We will no longer be using ∆, -, etc... [I was cheering for that, I lobbied for that before because doing "∆" in the Broadway copyist font is a pain in the butt.] Do not use maj or min, this takes up too much space. (again, I was happy about this.)

Show key signature on first line and at key changes only. (I personally hate this. I really, really hate this, but the checkbook gets what the checkbook wants.)

Please do not alter any of the pre-programmed metatools or short cuts (see enclosed attachment for details.) [They had some nice short cuts programmed in that saved me a bunch of time at the end.]


Another useful thing about Finale is the sheer number of exercises and educator files it comes with, not to mention the pre-existing templates which are often publishing-worthy from the get-go. Still, it is a PITA to learn how to use (and still very expensive). If you already know Sib pretty well, just get that. Or musescore if you like it...
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« Reply #45 on: Apr 21, 2017, 11:42AM »

That makes sense. I know when I send PDFs out I'm not always satisfied with the result when it gets printed, but I've also published precisely 0 things. All of my arrangements are for groups I'm in, so there are as many different qualities of print job as there are people in the group I wrote it for.  :/ If I want it to look nice for posterity's sake, I'll print everything myself and get everything taped up myself too.

Off topic, although tangentially related:I think the future - to the extent live music still is played - someone will eventually build something that can be used to edit and display on the fly. SO to that extent, musescore or some other open source program may ultimately take over the market because of its 'free' (as in free speech) XML file type. I love playing stuff from my tablet over lugging around a box of music. But perhaps that's for another thread.
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« Reply #46 on: Apr 21, 2017, 12:48PM »

I'm still of the mind that "you get what you pay for" and , for that reason, am relectant to commit to Musescore. But I can't justify buying Finale, Sibelius or Domico. Hence, my interest in one of the less expensive and less robust packages.
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« Reply #47 on: Apr 21, 2017, 01:06PM »

If you need Finale comparability at a lower price and don't need all the features of finale, you could look at PrintMusic by Finale.  It's only $120 and has the great feature of being able to input  from scanned material.
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« Reply #48 on: Apr 21, 2017, 05:51PM »

If you need Finale comparability at a lower price and don't need all the features of finale, you could look at PrintMusic by Finale.  It's only $120 and has the great feature of being able to input  from scanned material.

At one time I had several of the lower featured Finale versions.  I forget which ones - Songwriter, Notepad, Printmusic? 

Anyway, I decided to use it to notate something I was playing for a musical, and having trouble reading that handwritten script.  I can read clefs all day before I can decipher some of that stuff.

I was doing fine until the first key change, which doesn't take long in a musical.  Dropped in the key change, the whole piece changed.  Say what?  Read the manual.  There was no way to change keys within a piece.  I guess I could have worked around it, did multiple pieces and used a scissors, but it wasn't worth the effort.  I went back to Noteworthy. 
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« Reply #49 on: Apr 21, 2017, 06:07PM »

In Encore I had to highlight a section of bars and change the key in it.  There was a reversal after the section ended.  I wound up with a few dozen reversals to get rid of after trying it a few times.
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« Reply #50 on: Apr 21, 2017, 06:21PM »

I have an old version of Printmusic and an unfinished arr't of a D Ellis piece.

Nuff said
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« Reply #51 on: Apr 21, 2017, 06:30PM »

At one time I had several of the lower featured Finale versions.  I forget which ones - Songwriter, Notepad, Printmusic? 

Anyway, I decided to use it to notate something I was playing for a musical, and having trouble reading that handwritten script.  I can read clefs all day before I can decipher some of that stuff.

I was doing fine until the first key change, which doesn't take long in a musical.  Dropped in the key change, the whole piece changed.  Say what?  Read the manual.  There was no way to change keys within a piece.  I guess I could have worked around it, did multiple pieces and used a scissors, but it wasn't worth the effort.  I went back to Noteworthy. 

If that was ever an issue with Songwriter, it no longer is.

...Geezer
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« Reply #52 on: Apr 21, 2017, 10:52PM »

Personally, I've found the other finale versions (songwriter, printscore, etc...) useless. Doesn't mean someone else can't get value out of them, I just can't.
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« Reply #53 on: Apr 22, 2017, 12:10AM »

I think we have to consider there is a difference \ line between professional use and personal use. We can't compare what most of us do to what Exzaclee do in his work. Two different worlds.

Anyway I think the development of software has made life easier for all of us. Both for us that read and the writers.  Still I think people with a pencil often are more creative. I feel the computer take away some focus from me. But I'm not the most creative in first place.... :)

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« Reply #54 on: Apr 22, 2017, 05:06AM »

Personally, I've found the other finale versions (songwriter, printscore, etc...) useless. Doesn't mean someone else can't get value out of them, I just can't.

If I was doing your work on your level, I would want THE very best tools for the job as well. Otherwise, why pay for and learn something that would be largely wasted? It depends upon what your intended usage is. For some of us, paper and pencil is still quite sufficient for a lot of small & quick things. It's where I sometimes start, before going on with a little bit more formal notation.

For me, sometimes the biggest advantage of the simplest program is ensuring I get the proper number of beats per measure and/or the ability to change the key signature with one or two clicks. How's that for simple use of a basic notation program? lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #55 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:03AM »

So far, we have from the ones mentioned basically 3 that are worth the effort.  Leaving cost out of teh consideration right now the order of preference seems to be:

1) finale
2) Sibelius
3) MuseScore


Does anyone have any experience with Encore, Notion, Overture or Score?  Where might they fit into the scheme of things?  Any others of note?

Of course you can get the full blown version of finale for only $250.  First buy Notion ($100) then buy the upgrade from Notion to finale ($150).  Then you will have both Notion and finale and save yourself $350.
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« Reply #56 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:07AM »

If I was doing your work on your level, I would want THE very best tools for the job as well. Otherwise, why pay for and learn something that would be largely wasted? It depends upon what your intended usage is...

Excellent question.  Let's take a side-trip into the biking world.  Decades ago when I was in that business I faced folks every day who asked why they should buy from me when they could get a perfectly good bike for less than half the price at K-Mart.  Why pay for something that would be largely wasted?

This boiled down to a self-fullfulling prophecy.  These folks thought the seats and position and ride would be uncomfortable, and did not want to spend much just to find that out.  The result was that they paid top dollar.  They paid 1/2 as much for a bike they never WOULD ride.  If they had paid more they would have been riding every week.  In the course of a year or two, cost-per-ride tilted totally to the "more expensive" bike.

I worked with Finale Printmusic for a while.  I should have gone straight to the more costly full version.  I always found out that something either could not be done, or took hours to fudge, JUST when I really needed output for an upcoming event.  

I do NOT believe any of these programs have reached Microsoft Word status yet.  For the last ten years of my technology career that program was the bane of my existence.  Regular as clockwork new versions would come out with features I did NOT need, sometimes clobbering features I DID need.  I would have been much happier with a simpler version that worked faster and correctly all the time.  

Until these programs reach that level of "maturity" I think we need to not just what we intend FOR NOW but what we can reasonably expect.  Going to transcribe some vocal music for quartet?  Going to put together some flexibility exercises?  Going to make up some parts BOOKS (not just individual parts?)  Or, do you favorite groups need such things, but not have anyone who can/will do it?  if this might be you, then the cheaper versions can be a problem.

Or you can use open source, which does NOT put out much in the way of crippled versions, but will likely keep playing catch-up.

On a fixed income, I'm going the open source route.

But the full versions of all the programs mentioned here are all GREAT!

This is a problem I would LOVE to have had back when I had to put together tunes for my big brass ensemble.

Aren't we lucky to have this embarassment of riches!
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« Reply #57 on: Apr 22, 2017, 07:21AM »

So far, we have from the ones mentioned basically 3 that are worth the effort.  Leaving cost out of teh consideration right now the order of preference seems to be:

1) finale
2) Sibelius
3) MuseScore


Does anyone have any experience with Encore, Notion, Overture or Score?  Where might they fit into the scheme of things?  Any others of note?

Of course you can get the full blown version of finale for only $250.  First buy Notion ($100) then buy the upgrade from Notion to finale ($150).  Then you will have both Notion and finale and save yourself $350.

I think that Dorico is soon to be included in that list. I used once Encore, but wasn't impressed by. True, I did not make any efforts to learn the program. I never had any experience with the other 3.
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« Reply #58 on: Apr 22, 2017, 07:27AM »

Dorico - a Sibelius spinoff - looks like it's going to be expensive.
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« Reply #59 on: Apr 22, 2017, 07:32AM »

Like I said in my first response, Finale is a PITA to use. I don't recommend it for people who are just wanting to fiddle around with a notation program. Andrew (the OP) isn't just fiddling around, so the requirements of the fiddlers wasn't what I was addressing. I was addressing the needs of the hobbyist, student and professional that's going to be needing to get practical use out of a program.

My main requirement for recommending anything boils down to one issue: time. That's why I don't recommend finale to fiddlers. Fiddlers don't have the time to devote to getting any real use out of the program and are likely to be the same people griping about how hard it is to use because there is a steep learning curve.

The cheap versions finale seem designed to get you into the big product. It's all good until you find you can't perform some basic function with the touch of a button, or add a key change, or some other function that takes 2 seconds in the full program and takes 20 minutes to an hour to perform in the cheaper version.

If you want to go "cheap" finale, get Musescore instead. Musescore has most of the features you'll need to produce scores, and it'll take less time than it might in one of the cheaper versions of finale. Musescore is better in pretty much every way than printscore, songwriter, and all that garbage.

You want a professional level scorewriter with all the functionality of finale but a little easier to learn? Get Sibelius.

College student? Find out what software they use at your school. Some schools might use multiple platforms - in that case, find out what your composition, theory and/or arranging teachers prefer.

Hobbyist? Find out what your church uses, or other musicians in the band you play in most, or whatever - this way you have someone you can ask questions of. If you find yourself using your scorewriter once a week or more, it really needs to be a good one: (Finale, Sibelius, Musescore, Dorico). Notice there are some other full featured score writers I haven't mentioned because they have a steeper learning curve than even finale and finding people who use them who can help is difficult.

I'll re-iterate, my own personal preference is based upon what I need to work. I feel that the other half of my argument has been largely mischaracterized, however. Finale is NOT the only game in town, and one doesn't need to drop that kind of money on a good scorewriter. I'm not here to shill for Finale, they couldn't pay me enough. I just recommend getting a scorewriter that is actually capable of handling scores, whether you go the expensive or cheap route. A version of finale that is stripped of many of its useful features is going to cost time in the long run, time that would be better spent learning how to use a full featured scorewriter, whether that be Finale, Sibelius, Musescore, Encore, Score, Dorico, or whatever one prefers.
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« Reply #60 on: Apr 22, 2017, 07:46AM »

Like I said in my first response, Finale is a PITA to use. I don't recommend it for people who are just wanting to fiddle around with a notation program. Andrew (the OP) isn't just fiddling around, so the requirements of the fiddlers wasn't what I was addressing. I was addressing the needs of the hobbyist, student and professional that's going to be needing to get practical use out of a program.

My main requirement for recommending anything boils down to one issue: time. That's why I don't recommend finale to fiddlers. Fiddlers don't have the time to devote to getting any real use out of the program and are likely to be the same people griping about how hard it is to use because there is a steep learning curve.

The cheap versions finale seem designed to get you into the big product. It's all good until you find you can't perform some basic function with the touch of a button, or add a key change, or some other function that takes 2 seconds in the full program and takes 20 minutes to an hour to perform in the cheaper version.

If you want to go "cheap" finale, get Musescore instead. Musescore has most of the features you'll need to produce scores, and it'll take less time than it might in one of the cheaper versions of finale. Musescore is better in pretty much every way than printscore, songwriter, and all that garbage.

You want a professional level scorewriter with all the functionality of finale but a little easier to learn? Get Sibelius.

College student? Find out what software they use at your school. Some schools might use multiple platforms - in that case, find out what your composition, theory and/or arranging teachers prefer.

Hobbyist? Find out what your church uses, or other musicians in the band you play in most, or whatever - this way you have someone you can ask questions of. If you find yourself using your scorewriter once a week or more, it really needs to be a good one: (Finale, Sibelius, Musescore, Dorico). Notice there are some other full featured score writers I haven't mentioned because they have a steeper learning curve than even finale and finding people who use them who can help is difficult.

I'll re-iterate, my own personal preference is based upon what I need to work. I feel that the other half of my argument has been largely mischaracterized, however. Finale is NOT the only game in town, and one doesn't need to drop that kind of money on a good scorewriter. I'm not here to shill for Finale, they couldn't pay me enough. I just recommend getting a scorewriter that is actually capable of handling scores, whether you go the expensive or cheap route. A version of finale that is stripped of many of its useful features is going to cost time in the long run, time that would be better spent learning how to use a full featured scorewriter, whether that be Finale, Sibelius, Musescore, Encore, Score, Dorico, or whatever one prefers.


Perhaps it is for you on your level. It isn't for me on my level. Then again, as an example, I know several guys on this Forum who swear by  Band-In-A-Box for note entry. I, instead, swear at  it. And it might possibly be the same with various notation apps. Dif'rent strokes.

So how is one to know what is right for their  particular needs? Take an edumacated guess based on what you read here and elsewhere, pony up and find out, I suppose - just like anything else.

If I read Boneagain's post right, I believe he advocates buying the best and growing into it as a cost-savings measure in the long run and to minimize the frustration of coping with that which does not serve very well in the first place - on any level.

...Geezer
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« Reply #61 on: Apr 22, 2017, 08:30AM »

Boneagain's comparison is that if you plan to spend a lot of time on your score writer you may reap benefits from the more capable (and expensive) product.  I can certify that if I don't spend a lot of time writing music even the free score writer is expensive (in my time).  But if I am constantly writing music for others to play getting familiar with a decent score writer is a help.
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« Reply #62 on: Apr 22, 2017, 08:39AM »

Perhaps it is for you on your level.
I'm not sure what you're replying to... What you've highlighted is that Finale is a PITA - and even beta testers I know would agree with that statement.

So how is one to know what is right for their  particular needs? Take an edumacated guess based on what you read here and elsewhere, pony up and find out, I suppose - just like anything else.
I addressed this in my previous post. If something wasn't addressed there, ask a question more specific to your needs and you may get a more specific response that pertains to you.



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« Reply #63 on: Apr 22, 2017, 08:52AM »

Good discussion.

I'm hoping someone will weigh in on Notion. Some good reviews and not too expensive.

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« Reply #64 on: Apr 22, 2017, 12:34PM »

I think that Dorico is soon to be included in that list.

Dorico may eventually carve out a share of the market, but given the laundry list of basic functions (such as chord symbol support (and slash notation), voice swapping, and offsetting rests to avoid collisions, cues, and fingerings, to name but a handful) that aren't yet implemented, I think it's a stretch to view it as a viable alternative to Finale and Sibelius in the near term future.
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« Reply #65 on: Apr 22, 2017, 06:37PM »

A very interesting topic because it so happens that I am at a stage where I am looking for a really good notation program, mainly for small band arrangements although I do the odd big band arrangement from time to time. Frankly, in recent years I have spent more of my time on improving my playing and my notation software is a bit out of date.

I am probably one of those that Geezer was referring to when he said "I know several guys on this Forum who swear by  Band-In-A-Box for note entry". IMO, It is certainly a faster mouse entry method than any of the proper notation programs, because you do not have to select the length of the note you are entering - the next note or space entered does that. Good! However, most of the other notation entries in BiaB are a PITA, which is a shame because a few years back they started to improve the program in that respect, even starting with an auto-collision avoidance that Andrew likes so much. However, all of that seems to have 'gone by the board' when they started to market mainly as a music backing program for the one-man-band strummers. Since then they seem to have abandoned the mainly jazz types who were using it for backing tracks for practice and for Lead Sheets for small jazz groups. A great shame because it still is the best backing track program and, if you know what you are doing and perhaps prepared to make a few manual entries on the finished score, it is still good for small band arrangements and lead sheets. I actually think the PG Music change in emphasis for the target customer is a big mistake by their marketing department and that the original users are a much bigger segment of the market. Speaking as a marketing type, you understand. :D Also, the changes they made for the new market users have introduced some very unwelcome bugs for us older users. Mind you it still makes great backing tracks and saves arrangers a lot of time by having such things as automatic two/three/four/five part harmonising of section parts, automatically generated rhythm parts and solos etc. I used to do all my big band arrangements in BiaB, convert them to midi, and then drop the result into Sibelius or Overture 4 for the final score. They even made that easier by eliminating the need to convert to midi, offering file conversions that the proper notation programs liked better.

I never was very much at home with Sibelius and when I upgraded with the purchase of Sibelius 7, they lost me completely. I found it much too difficult to use and went back to using Overture 4. I always liked that program a lot but until reading this topic had not caught up with the fact it had changed hands. It is now what I think Ellrod was calling Sonic, but I do not see how that is a spin-off of Sibelius. Overture was originally Cakewalk Score Writer and the program writer left Cakewalk to start his own software company. They still have a lesser program called Score Writer. Are they going to change Overture to Doric? Like I said, I am a bit out of touch and was even surprised to find the old Overture website no longer exists. I did notice they are up to Doric Overture Version 5.2 and I wonder how much they have changed it from the Version 4 that I like so much and still use from time to time.

I do not think that I have contributed anything much to this discussion and you can tell that I am very much betwixt and between. But I just wanted to indicate that this is all very interesting and I really want to know what people on this forum are now using; particularly the professional arrangers - although I have no aspirations in that direction. I just think their judgement is probably better because they have to take a greater number of factors into consideration. A steep learning curve is another problem for me, of course. Yeah, RIGHT.

I certainly like Sonic Scores claimed strategy: "Listen to our customers, develop the products they need, and keep the products simple and easy to use." An ideal marketing strategy for any product! Way cool


I don't know if it's relevant, but I work for an engineering department.

When we contract a design, we require it to be AutoCAD V13.01a.  (I'm not sure what version we're currently on, but you get the drift.)  There are lots of equivalent CAD programs just as good if not better, but we're only willing to pay for that product.  If you don't have it, and want to bid on our job, buy it.  If you can beat the competitor's price by using Microstation, forget it; contracting will reject you as unresponsive. 

How are you going with BIM Tim? :D

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« Reply #66 on: Apr 29, 2017, 01:56AM »

More observations about Musescore. I'm working on a big band-type chart.

Creating a score layout is slightly odd; I'm not a huge fan. I really got used to Sibelius' ability to go in and out of a transposing vs. untransposed score, which Musescore technically can do, but it's not instantaneous and a bit of work especially with a score of a large number of instruments.

Altering a pickup measure at the very beginning of a score is IMHO handled pretty well, for those times when I change my mind about how a piece starts. That's actually something I wished were handled a bit more easily in Sibelius, at least up to version 6 which I had.

Musescore forces me to start filling in empty measures from the left side; there doesn't seem to be an ability to very quickly add a note to an arbitrary point later in a measure without first filling it with rests. That's not really a big deal in simple time signatures like 3/4, but can get a bit note-clicky with measures of larger subdivisions like 12/8. I'd recommend stashing some unused measures somewhere around the beginning of a score with rests of different divisions for copy-paste use later to help with this.

Musescore has some ability to instantly transfer score updates to parts, but the algorithm does *not* catch all changes. Therefore, a good visual scouring is highly recommend. Well, it is anyway even with the established notation softwares, but it's much more important in Musescore, and there will be more "tweaking" to get parts to look right than in Sibelius.

While Musescore doesn't have auto-collision-avoidance, it does have the ability to directly enter spacing variations via number input, if you're willing to track down where such things are in the interface. I think this is more Finale-inspired than Sibelius-inspired, and it's a convention that I like in some ways, although the ability to generally click and drag more things in a score (to adjust things like staff spacing) would be nice. THat said, plenty of things *are* click-and-draggable.

Chords in slash notation are handled fairly well. In particular, I like how the chords are left-aligned with the left edge of the slash symbol they are supposed to align with, as opposed to defaulting to something like being left-or-center-aligned to the center of a slash. (Sibelius 6!!!)

edit:

Concerning scores, one big whiff I've found is the inability to have different spacings between staves on different pages of a score. Changing a stave spacing, as far as I can tell, always applies on every page. That can really be a big problem if you want to make a score look professional.
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« Reply #67 on: Apr 29, 2017, 02:35AM »

Andrew I use Musescore but am not sure what you mean about moving between transposing and non-transposing score. I use the Concert Pitch button near the upper right corner to move the whole thing in and out of concert pitch. Alternatively, use Control A to highlight the whole score and then use the transpose drop down to change key to whatever you require. In the latter case you need to check for some reader unfriendly accidentals and double sharps etc which I prefer to write enharmonically a simpler way. Is this the sort of issue you meant or, more probably, have I misunderstood the point?
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« Reply #68 on: Apr 29, 2017, 03:58AM »

Andrew I use Musescore but am not sure what you mean about moving between transposing and non-transposing score. I use the Concert Pitch button near the upper right corner to move the whole thing in and out of concert pitch. Alternatively, use Control A to highlight the whole score and then use the transpose drop down to change key to whatever you require. In the latter case you need to check for some reader unfriendly accidentals and double sharps etc which I prefer to write enharmonically a simpler way. Is this the sort of issue you meant or, more probably, have I misunderstood the point?

Aha! Thanks!
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« Reply #69 on: Apr 29, 2017, 04:55AM »

So how is one to know what is right for their  particular needs? Take an edumacated guess based on what you read here and elsewhere, pony up and find out, I suppose - just like anything else.

If I read Boneagain's post right, I believe he advocates buying the best and growing into it as a cost-savings measure in the long run and to minimize the frustration of coping with that which does not serve very well in the first place - on any level.

...Geezer

Sorry for the late reply.
Bruce got my meaning closest.  If what you buy hobbles you so badly you don't want to work with it (by lack of features) you've wasted more money-per-use than a more expensive product.  But I was NOT advocating "The Best" but "most likely to meet YOUR coming needs."  And that is pretty much what this thread is about (as you note in the first quoted sentence."

BTW: "opportunity cost" SHOULD be a big factor in anyone's choice.  For Zac that includes jobs he cannot get because the customer won't accept a certain format.  For folks like me it's time I can't spend practicing because I'm dubbing around with software that makes me stand on my head to get things done. 

For me, at the moment, Musescore is hitting a nice point in MY functionality/feature/cost balance.

Everyone makes his or her own balance.
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« Reply #70 on: May 01, 2017, 05:30AM »



How are you going with BIM Tim? :D

After many years of talking about it, we are about to launch our Buildsoft estimating system in the US. Look out for it!

In 2005 we started requiring a BIM model to accompany the design for major construction.  Most of them were delivered in Revet.  We have built a library of files, but <sigh> have never opened any of them.  The design department does have hopes for the future.  We are doing pretty well building the required GIS layers in ESRI. 
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« Reply #71 on: May 05, 2017, 02:14AM »

Given the comments about Musescore it might be worth knowing that it has been updated.  I have not yet tried the new version but here is what their site says about the main changes:

•New note input modes allow you to play music on a MIDI keyboard in real time and have MuseScore transcribe both pitches and rhythms, either using the built-in metronome or your foot pedal to keep the tempo
•New input mode to allow entry of rhythm first, pitches later
•New command to rewrite rhythms to show beat divisions according to time signature rules
•New and improved commands to change duration of existing notes while in note input mode, including adding and removing augmentation dots
•Synthesizer improvements, including updates to the default SoundFont and better support for SFZ format
•Ability to upload audio to MuseScore.com along with your score, so others can hear your score with your chosen SoundFont or SFZ
•Improved historical tablature support, including lute bass strings
•When changing instruments mid-score (e.g., from flute to clarinet), the transposition is now handled correctly
•Improved selection controls, including the ability to select notes of the same pitch, duration, or notehead, and the ability to select or deselect all element types in the Selection Filter
•New command to swap selection with clipboard (simultaneously paste to and copy from the selected range)
•More controls: ability to reorder score tabs, customize pause length of breaths and caesuras, add/remove brackets on accidentals, set MP3 bitrate, add page breaks when creating albums, include fingering in tablature staves
•New and improved templates and instruments, including various marching bands and percussion ensembles, a general percussion staff, more standard clefs for basses, additional ethnic instruments
•UI improvements in Staff Properties, New Score Wizard, Edit Drumset, and other windows
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