Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Just another MuseScore Monday


Today I want to tell you about MuseScore.  MuseScore is a music notation program, a way of generating sheet music.  It can turn my nearly illegible music manuscripts into crisp legible sheet music.  Here’s an after (I’ll spare you the before):


MuseScore is free.  It is well-documented.  There are even video tutorials available.  And it’s free.  They wouldn’t mind a donation though.  It’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

It’s a remarkably versatile program.  You can input notes from your computer keyboard or a MIDI keyboard.  You can include guitar tablature and drum notation.  You can produce scores for multiple instruments.  You can add all kinds of musical details (dynamics, repeats, key and time signatures) just by dragging and dropping them into the music.  And you can play back what you wrote.

You might be saying, “So what?  I don’t write my own music.”  Fair enough.  Here’s the cool part.  Whatever score anyone else makes available in this format can be seen and played on your computer.  There is a large community of people creating MuseScore documents for a wide range of instruments, from piano to viola to English horn to voice.

This includes the folks at MuseScore themselves.  They have made available the Open Goldberg Variations and Open Well Tempered Clavier.  The sheet music for these works by Bach is now available, free, to anyone who wants it (MuseScore format, PDF, MusicXML, MIDI, mp3).  They have also developed new score-following software that highlights each measure as its being played.  There are apps for iOS and Android so you can carry around your favorite scores and play them.

Got kids?  Turn them loose on MuseScore and let them create their own music.  If the little ones get heavily into the 32nd notes, it might sound like an 18-wheeler running over fire hoses, but who cares?  They’ll get a giggle out of it, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll create a sweet little tune.  If they come away with the idea that music = fun, all the better.  While you’re at it, try making some tunes yourself!

Ok, I know I’m being a fangirl, but here is another reason to love the folks at MuseScore.  The Open Goldberg Variations score has been made available in Braille.  MuseScore plans to continue its efforts to make more sheet music accessible in this format, and is developing software to convert music files into Braille.  They plan to offer this conversion service for free.

So visit the software site at and the music sharing and app site at (The Angry Birds Theme in Baroque Style? Pretty cool). And if you write and upload something nifty, let me know!


5 thoughts on “Just another MuseScore Monday

  1. Sounds terrific, Chris. May I have your permission to send these last two notes along to the Choir?




  2. Hi Chris,

    There used to be some controversy about MuseScore and its sponsors over a site called PianoFile. Allegedly the organization either allowed, or actively promoted, conduct that might be considered copyright theft, and there is a claim that PianoFile “sponsors” MuseScore. This is one of the reasons I never added MuseScore to my roster of tools. See, eg, the comments to this lovely positive review of MuseScore: The attacks appear to be primarily from one guy.

    I just surfed over to the site and found that it seems to have been renamed, but I don’t know much else about it.

    Have you come across any references to this controversy, and if so what have you found?

    MuseScore originated as a Sourceforge project and that usually means software well conceived by good folks.


    • I fear MuseScore may now be like the public official who is asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” No answer exonerates, and doubt lingers.

      HOWEVER, I found no substantiation of a connection between MuseScore and any copyright infringers. In fact, MuseScore CEO Thomas Bonte addressed the issue of copyright infringement in comments on’s Community Guidelines specifically tell users “Don’t share anything publicly that you don’t have the right to.” They state that they will ban users who “consistently and/or deliberately break the rules,” and have published a procedure for reporting copyright infringement.

      In short, I think they’re trying to comply, and they are doing a lot of good work. But every garden has its weeds.
      I plan to do a follow-up post on another free music notation product whose free version has become available again for more recent platforms, Finale Notepad.


      • Well, this is very good news -I’m glad this discussion is leading to further vindication of Musescore. It does seem as if virtually all the heat is coming from one person (and he’s been silent for awhile, it appears).

        As a Sibelius user, by the way, I love Finale notepad. Sometimes people give me their scores in Finale format and I am asked to do something with it in Sibelius. Finale Notepad allows exporting to MusicXML, which is a markup language for musical scores. So the export imports easily into Sibelius.


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