Here is the list of best free Music notation or score softwares around the web. Though these softwares can not compete in most of the cases with sheer amount of editing power, in depth notation features and a great sounding audio engine and usability; of some of the best commercial available softwares in the market. But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a score transcribing softwares and likes freebies which can actually work. This list will provide you with fully functional and good to get work done score writing softwares.
1. MuseScore :- MuseScore is one of the best free score software available on the market. It provides all features you need to start transcribing your music. It is compatible with many operating systems including mac, windows, linux and FreeBS. MuseScore offer note selection, note editing, page formatting and inputing text option and more. MuseScore has its built in audio playback engine which can play the score. It can open MIDI, musicXML, and a few proprietary save formats. In exporting apart from printing and saving in its own MuseScore file, It can also export the score to various non-MuseScore files, such as PDF, MusicXML, MIDI, and various audio and image formats. The Best thing is you can score for as many as instrument you want no limitation in number of voices/instruments allowed. MuseScore provides very good getting started video and a detailed handbook.
2.Finale NotePad :- Finale Notepad is truncated version of Finale which is one of the top notch notation software. Finale Notepad is limited to eight staves. It can export and open Notation Files, MIDI, and Music XML. It is has very less features compared to other free notation softwares. But its user interface is well organized and looks more good. In terms of playback capability, Finale NotePad’s playback engine has 128 instrument sounds built and provides a cool Human Playback feature which try to plays notation with the nuance and expression of human performers. Finale NotePad also offer some video tutorials go get you started.
3.LilyPond :- Lilypond is more like programming language rather than user interface based software. In LilyPond music is written by typing text rather unlike any other notation software by dragging notes from a graphical toolbar and placing them on a dynamically refreshing score. At first it can look complicated and not user friendly. But it offers a very extensive score transcribing capabilities like unlimited instruments and ability to write texts apart from notes. It opens and exports PDF files. LilyPond provide very good documentation to learn how to use this software and start transcribing music in text based environment which might look alien to many people.
4. Denemo :- Denemo is a free notation software which uses the LilyPond music engraver. Music can be typed in at the compute Keyboard, or played in via MIDI controller, or input acoustically into a microphone plugged into your computer’s sound card. Its note input method is unique. You can use numeric keys as your rhythm instrument, you play in a phrase or two of the music using the number keys to indicate the note durations; and playing the phrase a second time a instrument selected for that stave it adds the pitches to the rhythm. So You have to play the right notes in the right order, but your timing can be as sloppy as you like. It provides importing from MusicXML, MIDI, and LilyPond formats, printing full score or parts, exporting to MIDI, Ogg, Wav, LilyPond(parts or score), PDF and Png formats. It also has very good starting tutorial videos and documentations.