MuseScore is the world’s most popular music notation programme, and what’s more it is completely free!
MuseScore is essentially like the other well known notation programs like Finale and Sibelius, but unlike these it is open source software. That means that not only is MuseScore free on your PC and Mac, but the source code is also freely available, and anyone who wants to can download it, modify it and redistribute it freely.
One of the most powerful things you can do with MuseScore is to input scores from PlayScore 2, the music scanning app for iOS or Android. This means that if you have printed music, or you have found a PDF score online you can scan it in with PlayScore 2 and then send the results to MuseScore. Essentially you can go from paper music or PDF to an editable score in seconds.
MuseScore also gives you access to an amazing online score library (musescore.com).
MuseScore has an intuitive layout which is great if you’re new to music notation software. With visible sidebars and all the standard music and note input symbols right there on the screen it is surprisingly easy to pick up. However, inputting notes with a mouse can be time consuming. So, as with the other score editing software we’ve reviewed, you can enter notes by hooking up a MIDI keyboard or using MuseScore’s on screen keyboard.
MuseScore is always improving and the latest release (3.6.1) has big improvements in editing and formatting. If you have used MuseScore before there are now significant improvements to engraving, spacing, and automation. There’s also an incredible variety of instruments to choose for your scores, from alto guitars to xylophones!
MuseScore – Open Source Music Notation Software
Another great thing about MuseScore is that it’s open source, meaning that you can instantly share your scores with a community of over 2 million users. Once you’ve composed or orchestrated your music, you can upload it to musescore.com, a repository with hundreds of thousands of free scores, from Broadway musicals to classical chamber music. They are available to view and download in various formats (e.g., PDF, MusicXML, MIDI, MP3).
Musescore for iOS and Android
Musescore.com also has a free iOS and Android app but you can’t notate music in it as it’s mainly designed for score viewing and playback. However, users can unlock optional paid subscriptions of musescore.com along with free trial periods. Benefits of these subscriptions include: ad-free browsing, additional mixing tools, advanced sharing options and accessing viewers’ analytics.
MuseScore Guides and Tutorials
If you get a little unstuck, there’s a comprehensive forum and handbook any users can contribute to, so you’ll definitely find some handy hints. In addition, you can enrol on “Mastering MuseScore.” This is an online, self-paced video course created by a developer at MuseScore and it takes you through the essentials of the programme.
Download PlayScore 2
The App That Sight Reads Sheet Music.
Bearing in mind all of the above features, it’s no surprise to see why MuseScore has earned its place in today’s music notation software market. It’s an easy-to-use yet effective resource, catered for the growing demands of online music scoring and distribution. If you’re on a tight budget and want to create, share and download scores for free, MuseScore does the job.