Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Grand Finale: Music Notation Software Revisited


After my paean to MuseScore last week it was pointed out to me that I had neglected to mention another music notation program that is available for free, Finale NotePad.  Finale NotePad is easy to use and has many of the same features as MuseScore.  It is available for Windows and Apple computers.

Finale NotePad was the first program I used when I started writing music.  To be honest, I can’t remember exactly why I switched over to MuseScore.  It may have been that the program was not available at the time for the platform I was using.  It is a versatile program and is easy for a beginner to use.  Should the need to notate more complex music arise, Finale has a family of products at a variety of price points.  I would say MuseScore and Finale NotePad are like two flavors of ice cream; only you can decide which you like best.  So give them a try, and let us all know what you think.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention two other products.

LilyPond is free software for music engraving.  It is open-source software, meaning, if you know what you’re doing, you can modify the program itself.   The method of entering notes is text-based—no dragging and dropping notes here.  So the programmers among you might find this an interesting choice.

Sibelius is a software product widely used by professional composers.  Avid, the company that produces Sibelius, has a family of software products to meet the varying needs of musicians.

I can’t let you go without some music!  In thinking of suitable finales, I couldn’t help but think of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony.  Here is a great flash mob video of Ode to Joy.


5 thoughts on “Grand Finale: Music Notation Software Revisited

  1. Hi, Chris-

    Very helpful, and thoughtful. I wondered if you’d checked out what we call the “baby Finale and baby Sibelius” programs. NotePad is widely used. I’ll pass your note along to the Choir, in case anyone is interested in doing notation. No reason to get the full programs if one isn’t a pro composer or arranger, as you say. I had a grad. theory student who used Lily Pond, and it seemed cumbersome and not beautiful in result, but he liked it, as a computer nerd. Oh- can you please resend me the blog on theory (rudiments) programs? I have a young comp. student who might well benefit from one of those. Thanks! Have you discovered any good programs (interactive) for ear-training and sight-singing (=reading)? The little study group starting in the fall might well find one of those useful- it’ll include rudiments, ET, SS and some analysis and writing, eventually. Love to have your suggestions!

    See you on the 9th?

    Thanks and hugs-



    • I did use Finale NotePad at one time, but I have not personally used the “baby Sibelius” program. I know of a few apps for ear-training and sight-singing, but would like to test-drive them before commenting on them. Stay tuned!


  2. Wonderful flashmob too- that one has been going the rounds for ages, and it’s always wonderful to see it again- almost gives one hope for humans…




  3. Chris , Thank you so much for putting out this information. It is great to have a recommendation from someone who knows these programs. I have been looking for a simple notation and playback program to notate my compositions for some time. I used to use a plastic notation template and and notate by hand. Thanks Again.

    Joanna Boales


    • Joanna, you just made my day! I’m so glad this information is useful to you. Regardless of the program you decide to use, I think you’ll find it makes notation easier and faster (and in my case it also became legible). Best of luck with your composing!


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