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Notation software thread, 2019 edition #2984846
04/12/19 07:40 PM
04/12/19 07:40 PM
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Josh Paxton Online content OP
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Having been a Sibelius user for about 15 years, I'm considering jumping ship. The obvious other contenders are Dorico, MuseScore and Finale. I used Finale before Sibelius, but haven't kept up with it since I switched, so I have no idea what it's like these days. I'm intrigued by Dorico's reputation as "what Sibelius would have become if it hadn't been bought by Avid," which I find highly appealing, but I'm open to other options as well.

Out of what's out there currently, what do you use, what do you like, and why? My primary uses are lead sheets and piano scores, though I occasionally do bigger ensemble scores too.

KC Island
Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Josh Paxton] #2984858
04/12/19 08:30 PM
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ElmerJFudd Online content
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Personally. I stick with Sibelius. I know it really well, it does everything Iíve ever needed and then some and there is a huge user and knowledge base for finding answers and explanations for stuff that comes up. If youíre really hot for better print quality, Dorico is worth a look. Iíve no reason to look at Finale, the feature set is very similar to Sibelius and Iím not interested in learning a new UI without a major feature reason. MuseScore is capable and cheap but what are the biggest selling points to invest in learning it? Iím not sure.

Some web based solutions like flat.io and Noteflight are a good call for the cloud saving, sharing and collaborating. But they arenít as fully featured and are not as slick to use. Workflow seems slower and more tedious than the older deeper developed software.

They pretty much all can generate and open midi files and hopefully musicXML files so pick one that you like and learn it well. For me, itís time thatís most valuable. Feature second, import export of standard formats, and print quality just has to be good.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: ElmerJFudd] #2984860
04/12/19 08:34 PM
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dongna Offline
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Very satisfied MuseScore user here. It does everything I need, and, well, it's free. I use it mainly for two-staff piano, with an occasional third staff (usually organ or some other keyboard). Don't use it for bigger ensemble scores, but it seems capable in that area.

If you have specific questions, please feel free.

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: dongna] #2984865
04/12/19 09:39 PM
04/12/19 09:39 PM
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David R Offline
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Iíve frozen my system at Sibelius 5. If I knew someone with the discs for Sibelius 7, Iíd upgrade to that. My university has the new Avid Sibelius with the monthly updates and its buggy as hell.

Iím very curious about Dorico, but it seems like engraving overkill for mere lead sheets. They were slow to add chord symbols & slash notation so I imagine that functionality is still lagging behind the rest of it.

I havenít seen great results from the MuseScore charts Iíve received as a player but I think thatís operator error more than anything else.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: David R] #2984878
04/12/19 11:02 PM
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Mark Schmieder Offline
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I could never get Sibelius to work well on a Mac, and found that almost everyone was sending me Finale files anyway, so that's what I bought (and I'm up-to-date), but I keep my eye on Dorico and await the day when it has the necessary features for film scoring etc.

The one I started on was Notion, now owned by PreSonus. The notation inside Digital Performer is about the best of any DAW, so I do use it a lot during early stages. I don't really use Notion anymore, but it does have some strengths for quick quality mock-ups of real notation (vs. MIDI).

Last year, I also bought Overture, as it can serve as a good in-between negotiator of files from other notation apps, given its wide support of file formats. Also, sometimes it's a nice change of pace due to its workflow.

I liked Encore's GUI but am not confident it ever completely got back on its feet as a long-term venture after the initial closure, even though the resurrected and rewritten app is a major step forward.

To my eyes at least, Finale has the most legible fonts -- though I haven't seen enough output yet from Dorico to judge.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: David R] #2984885
04/13/19 12:40 AM
04/13/19 12:40 AM
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Jonathan Hughes Offline
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Originally Posted By: David R
Iím very curious about Dorico, but it seems like engraving overkill for mere lead sheets. They were slow to add chord symbols & slash notation so I imagine that functionality is still lagging behind the rest of it.


Not at all. The chord symbols and slash notation in Dorico work great. The number of options it gives you for chord symbols is amazing, and you can also create your own. It's really well thought out. This video gives a rundown of many of the options for chord symbols: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvHrzMCcHwI

They can be set up as defaults once you have things the way you like.

I found the program a little confusing at first (in particular, the way notes are input), but it's really enjoyable to use, and the output looks fantastic (I've never seen anyone else's charts that look as nice as mine (I think it's all been stuff from Finale or MuseScore). I tried Sibelius First (meh), some low end version of Finale (BLECH), and Notion (generally really nice, especially for the price, but it would do weird things that I couldn't figure out fairly regularly). I was able to take advantage of the competitive upgrade with Dorico, and wow, what a difference! I find it pretty logically laid out, and after a a few hours of use, reasonably easy to use. Occasionally I come across something I can't figure out, but a post to the official forum or the facebook group usually gets me an answer very quickly. Probably its biggest downside is that it offers SO MANY options for how you want particular things treated visually that it can take a while to remember where things are and a while to scroll through all the options to find what you want.

It may be overkill for lead sheets, but that's basically what I use it for. The newish Dorico Elements offers probably all the features anyone would need for lead sheets at a much lower price.

Last edited by Jonathan Hughes; 04/13/19 09:22 AM.
Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Jonathan Hughes] #2984899
04/13/19 06:13 AM
04/13/19 06:13 AM
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Paul Harrison Offline
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I use MuseScore for lead sheets and I'm very happy with it. I find it easy and flexible, and the results look fine.

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Paul Harrison] #2984909
04/13/19 09:53 AM
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How good are these programs at converting printed music/PDFs to MIDI? Is there one that is better than the rest at this job?

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: keyman27] #2984920
04/13/19 12:08 PM
04/13/19 12:08 PM
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Tom Williams Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyman27
How good are these programs at converting printed music/PDFs to MIDI? Is there one that is better than the rest at this job?
I tried it years ago with Finale, reading a scan from a hymnal. It worked better than I expected. The feature is also available with Finale's semi-pro level product PrintMusic (at about 20% of the price of full Finale); you may be able to test it with the free download.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Tom Williams] #2984934
04/13/19 01:40 PM
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ElmerJFudd Online content
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It depends what youíre trying to do. Convert a melody line for your sax player, or a piano Grand staff, or SATB & Organ, big band score, etc. And how detailed the parts are with symbols. Generally speaking the conversion from print via scan is shit. They use OCR which without fail makes many errors that you need to correct. And if you are fast with score creation in your software, ie. Sibelius, itís questionable if itís any quicker or less work than just scoring it from scratch.

I think AI will be the jump in tech that makes conversion accuracy a major jump. When the computer thinks like a musician and can play back a printed score in real-time with similar accuracy because it can interpret scores and intent. Then weíll have great conversion to and from sheet music.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: ElmerJFudd] #2984939
04/13/19 02:10 PM
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I'm happy with Musescore, but a) I'm cheap and 2) my use isn't extensive anyway. I do like the way it has been continually improved, and everything I've needed to do with it has been as easy as searching "musescore tied notes" or whatever I'm trying to do.

I would suggest to anyone interested in Musescore, Finale, Dorico, or Sibelius that they all let you try them for free so you can give them a shot and see if they work for you in the situations that you can think of (of course Musescore *is* free but I just wanted to mention it as well). I'm not saying that asking for experiences is wrong, I think it's useful to help you think of ways you might use the software that you might not think of while you're in the trial, deeper issues, etc. But I've seen people seem to forget they can try before they buy.


The great thing about music is that there's always something to learn. The frustrating thing about music is that there's always something to learn!
Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Joe Muscara] #2984942
04/13/19 02:46 PM
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Adam Burgess Offline
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Back in the early/mid 90s, I was on Finale 2.5 which was a pain on a 9Ē Mac screen. Better on a 14Ē LC II but ran sooooo slowly! Was easier to write by hand.

Been on Sibelius since 1.4, I think... now on Sib 8 and have been for ages. Yes, the UI (with duplicate dialogs and buttons that should be checkboxes etc) just seems to get worse, but I know the keyboard shortcuts for everything and it looks great to me.

Iím tempted to get a fast (read: cheaper) Windows machine as my 2011 MacBook is about dead, but the shortcut thing is honestly a big reason not to. My fingers are so used to the crazy modifier key clumps...

I tried Dorico for a while and I guess with a bit more time with it, Iíd probably quite like it. But Iím halfway thru quite a big project... tried importing an XML from Sibelius and it didnít really get that much right. Iím half guessing itís Sibeliusí fault by the error messages, though. Canít remember exactly what they were...

As Joe says, you can try them all for free.

(and, everything Iíve seen done on MuseScore looks dreadful... just my opinion!)

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Adam Burgess] #2984960
04/13/19 04:47 PM
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I'm a Sibelius user, so I can't really help on that front, but if you said what things are frustrating you, or a problem, or what you're looking for it might help the others to give you more specific feedback.

Jerry

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Josh Paxton] #2984961
04/13/19 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted By: Josh Paxton
Having been a Sibelius user for about 15 years, I'm considering jumping ship.

I can't offer advice about what software to use, but I'll point out that you didn't say what it is about Sibelius that's motivating you to "jump ship." Maybe that's on purpose so as not to start a long tangential thread. So I'll stay general and just say that in my experience, notation software is probably the hardest to get comfortable with. Music copying is not my vocation; I only use my sw sporadically and am constantly having to refer to the manual or go online for hints or to solve issues. Most times it's faster to use a pencil on manuscript paper Ė but the point is of course to have a beautiful looking chart which nixes that option! Anyway, I'm wondering: after 15 years of using it, I presume you've travelled a hefty portion of Sibelius's learning curve. Are you really that bugged with it that you'd consider climbing a new one? I use an earlier version of Sibelius and definitely run into some frustrations, but accept that as part of the deal with this kind of software. I know in advance it's gonna take me more time and probably a few google searches to get my chart done. I think someone once said "acceptance is the first step..." smile

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: jerrythek] #2984963
04/13/19 04:51 PM
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I use the demo copy of PDFtoMusic for conversion of scans. They have to have been produced with known fonts from the top notation apps, but it does a remarkable job of pulling in the main data so that you can work with it in a proper notation app. I didn't buy the license because it's like OS9-level macOS LAF and not too stable on that platform so not worth my investment and risk in case it actually doesn't work in its full-feature version (the demo is limited to single-sheet scans, but you can run it multiple times to cover each page).

Where is Finale's scan reader function? I did a lot of searching before I resorted to trying to find a dedicated app for that purpose. It doesn't help that the scanner part of my Canon printer stopped working a year after I bought it, but other people send me scans of scores of lead sheets that they want revoiced.

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 04/13/19 04:53 PM.

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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Mark Schmieder] #2984978
04/13/19 06:46 PM
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Sibelius uses a companion application called Photoscore. OCR tech.
https://www.neuratron.com/photoscore.htm


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: ElmerJFudd] #2984979
04/13/19 07:19 PM
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I've been using Sibelius First for ten years now. It's not perfect and sometimes it gets on my nerves, but it mostly does what I need it to do.

I sure as s--t don't want to have to learn another application to achieve the same results.

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Adam Burgess] #2984980
04/13/19 07:30 PM
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dongna Offline
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Originally Posted By: Adam Burgess
(and, everything Iíve seen done on MuseScore looks dreadful... just my opinion!)

You're certainly most welcome to your opinion and I have no reason to try and convince you otherwise. But if you're basing it on MuseScore version 2 or prior, version 3 was a significant update that drastically improved the default layout. I just mention this for the benefit of the OP.

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Mark Schmieder] #2984982
04/13/19 08:01 PM
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I use Finale. They closed their nice support forum a few years ago and replaced it with a not-so-great disorganized forum. Other than that though I've been pretty happy with the quality. Tried Sibelius (version 7 was current then) back when I was shopping around. But my teacher used Finale and we needed to co-work on some stuff so Finale it was. All these programs have a huge learning curve, I'm not sure if one's really better than another. But aside from the pricing, Finale is nice overall.

Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder
...

Where is Finale's scan reader function?
I did a lot of searching before I resorted to trying to find a dedicated app for that purpose. It doesn't help that the scanner part of my Canon printer stopped working a year after I bought it, but other people send me scans of scores of lead sheets that they want revoiced.


They removed it in Finale 25, (unfortunately the previous versions are 32-bit so once I'm forced to update to Mojave I'm screwed - $600 on 2014.5 and now I'm supposed to pay HOW much more?!) supposedly due to copyright issues.

Last edited by Mighty Motif Max; 04/13/19 08:08 PM.

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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Mighty Motif Max] #2984998
04/14/19 01:35 AM
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No wonder I couldn't find it. :-) So much for RTFM. :-)


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Mark Schmieder] #2985068
04/14/19 04:54 PM
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Finale user for over 10 years. Coming from Sibelius when I was in university. It took a while to understand the UI, not super user friendly. But once you get it and memorize keyboard shortcuts the workflow is pretty good. Using a midi controller to enter notes helps a ton.


Ian Benhamou
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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Ian Benhamou] #2985227
04/15/19 01:40 PM
04/15/19 01:40 PM
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MuseScore 3.1 user here. Just to add, like I did in the previous discussion of notation software, MuseScore is now a part of the UltimateGuitar empire and has already shown us the way of the future.

"Free"? Yes. But that would not explain why I spent just over $40 last November to to "Pro". For what we saw as the complete feature set of the completely free MuseScore a few years ago is now part of a tiered system. For "all" the features, a subscription is required, for the standard (who determined what "standard" is, I know not) features, you can remain at the "free" level.

My point is not to say "Stay away" (as you can see I am still a user and probably will be for a long while), but to point out that sometimes things change, albeit slowly, and we come to our senses after we have been enticed by the four letter eye magnet and realize the reality of life: Nothing is absolutely "free".

As for the scores being of varying quality, I have seen some that were a little punk and some that knocked my off the bench, but why am I here? It is notation software, not score download supreme. So, as a program it works very well for me. As a source for other's work, meh.

Last edited by Desert Rat; 04/15/19 01:42 PM. Reason: grammar police...me

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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Desert Rat] #2985268
04/15/19 04:15 PM
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dongna Offline
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Originally Posted By: Desert Rat
"Free"? Yes. But that would not explain why I spent just over $40 last November to to "Pro". For what we saw as the complete feature set of the completely free MuseScore a few years ago is now part of a tiered system. For "all" the features, a subscription is required, for the standard (who determined what "standard" is, I know not) features, you can remain at the "free" level.

I'm not sure who you gave $40 to, but I'm not aware of any tiered system of which you speak. I just checked the web site, and it clearly states:

Quote:
There is no demo, trial or limited version of the open source MuseScore software. There is only one version, which has no limitations and can be downloaded for free from musescore.org.


Furthermore:

Quote:
...we have decided to let Ultimate Guitar acquire the MuseScore company. Ultimate Guitar has pioneered a successful model for working with music publishers, and all MuseScore users will be able to benefit from this. Additionally, there are more resources now to take on the next steps and turn MuseScore into the online destination for sheet music.

Of course, it is important to all of us that the open source nature of the MuseScore project is preserved. Therefore we would like to emphasize that the MuseScore notation software remains open source and that all code contributions will continue to be made under GPLv2. We are fully committed to make MuseScore 3 and all future releases happen and we will continue to make them available for free to the world.


Of course we shall see what in fact the future holds...

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: dongna] #2985300
04/15/19 06:59 PM
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Jonathan Hughes Offline
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Musescore Pro is $49 per year:

https://musescore.org/en/node/268268

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Jonathan Hughes] #2985312
04/15/19 08:51 PM
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I don't think Musescore Pro is necessary at all if you're just using it to make scores. I think Musescore Pro is all about sharing online, having online access on all your devices, etc.

https://musescore.com/upgrade?feature=gopro


The great thing about music is that there's always something to learn. The frustrating thing about music is that there's always something to learn!
Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Joe Muscara] #2985319
04/15/19 10:23 PM
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With my over 3,000 Sibelius lead sheets, lesson handouts, arrangements, and transcriptions completed, I doubt I will ever jump ship. Using version 7.0


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Jazz+] #2985360
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Mark Schmieder Offline
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Has anyone ever actually received Sibelius scores from anyone else?

It was the one I "wanted" to like when I first investigated in the early 2000's, if only because Sibelius is one of my three favourite composers. :-) And initially (at that time) I thought it had a better interface and was more intuitive, but over the years, it seemed to get less reliable on the Mac every time I'd download an updated demo, and the rendering just didn't seem as good as Finale's, and then Finale made some improvements that finally made it faster to work with. The final straw was when it got folded into the Avid camp and then essentially abandoned (sort of), then I think subscription only.

Anyway, back to whether any professionals actually use it, being SF Bar Area means I had a built-in bias due to Michael Tilson Thomas always being very vocal about it being his tool. So it came as a bit of a surprise when literally EVRY competition I entered, contract I got, partnership or collaboration or received scores, from people at any level of the music business (even hobbyists), was Finale. I have yet to receive a Sibelius score from ANYONE, after all these years. Several prominent directors of local Bay Area church music programs tell me "no one uses it or takes it seriously".

Surely that can't be true, as I think sales are on par between the two biggies? But Finale probably has one special built-in advantage -- especially since getting bought by Garritan (or was it the other way around?) -- and that is that it seems to be what is used and taught in well over 90% of schools.


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Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Joe Muscara] #2985371
04/16/19 07:17 AM
04/16/19 07:17 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 3,267
Australia
Markay Offline
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Markay  Offline
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Posts: 3,267
Australia
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
I don't think Musescore Pro is necessary at all if you're just using it to make scores. I think Musescore Pro is all about sharing online, having online access on all your devices, etc.

https://musescore.com/upgrade?feature=gopro


The Musescore acquistion by Ultimate Guitar has been discussed here before. Briefly, Ultimate Guitar used Guitar Pro, a software program primarily designed for guitar notation for online playing of the extensive library of propriety files created in Guitar Pro that have the GTX, GT5 or GT4 suffix.

I suspect, but dont know, that the acquistion of Musescore has enabled Ultimate Guitar to have own their own online player of these files and others created in Musescore. Charging for the Pro version, or an Ultimate Guitar subscription, means they can afford to pay royalities to all the copyright owners of the available songs.

This means that ongoing development of the free version of Musescore is assured and the copyright owners get something via the Pro version or online player each time a shared file is used in that environment.


MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P
"Music is a journey. We are all at a different stage in that journey." James Morrison, Australian trumpet legend
Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: Mark Schmieder] #2985376
04/16/19 09:41 AM
04/16/19 09:41 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,571
Groningen, The netherlands
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RudyS Online content
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RudyS  Online Content
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,571
Groningen, The netherlands
Originally Posted By: Mark Schmieder
Has anyone ever actually received Sibelius scores from anyone else?


I think 80% of the professional musicians I know, use Sibelius.

I myself use Musescore, as I mostly do lead sheet kind of stuff..


Rudy

Re: Notation software thread, 2019 edition [Re: RudyS] #2985411
04/16/19 12:01 PM
04/16/19 12:01 PM
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 411
New Jersey
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Franz Schiller Offline
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Franz Schiller  Offline
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New Jersey
I have been writing for some small ensembles lately, and use have a workflow that utilizes two pieces of software. I start by doing most of my writing in StaffPad (yes, on Microsoft Surface, I hate Windows, but its worth it just for this one program), and then I bring it into Dorico to finish it.

I have a number of friends and colleagues who use Sibelius. Dorico has almost totally caught up. There are just a few things it cannot do, such as demonstrate glissandi, scoops, and portamenti, though it can notate them. Otherwise, the mockups (midi plugins) sound a thousand times better than the awful Sibelius sounds.

Also, Dorico is very capable using "Flows" where you can have different pieces, or ideas, or whatever, all inside a single project. It is very flexible.

The learning curve is a bit steep, but the tutorial videos are so good, that it's easy to get up to speed quickly. The engraving options are awesome, which is perfect for when you need to be mindful of page turns.

Just my $0.02.

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