MuseScore, A Free Open-Souce Music Composition And Notation Program

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I’ve been an active proponent of Finale Notepad since its inception and “birth” into the computer world.  I was very disappointed by Finale’s self-reported “exciting news” about the product and their subsequent charge of $9.95-$19.95 US for their latest version of Finale Notepad 2009.    Although, there have been a couple of fair freeware music notation programs, most notably Musette a French software initiative for PCs and Rosegarten for Linux, until my latest discovery of MuseScore, I was not very happy with what would be available for people or schools, financially crippled, to use as a Finale Notepad Replacement, nor did I know of many good alternatives.

Presenting MuseScore:


I am thrilled to say that the folks at MuseScore have not only stepped up to the challenge, but I believe that this open-source music notation program, in time, will come close to the level of notation excellence achieved by both Sibelius and MakeMusic with their programs (Mark my words!).   This program could not have “emerged” at a better time as musicians and educators are clammering for a new alternative for their “simple” music notation needs at no cost.  While I do legally own copies of Sibelius 5 and Finale 2008 as well as have both of these software programs in our Music Technology lab at the college, you can bet I will also now have copies of MuseScore on them as well, not unlike my copy of Audacity that resides with the amazing shareare Goldwave and payware Adobe Audition.

MuseScore in a nutshell via bullets:

  1. Cross Platform (Linux and Windows) and GNU GPL
  2. WYSIWYG editing
  3. Wizard Setup funtions
  4. UNLIMITED number of staves
  5. 4 voices (or parts) per staff
  6. Easy and fast note entry with mouse, keyboard or MIDI (Note: Windows users, I’ve talked to the people at MuseScore and the MIDI entry will be available very soon!)
  7. Import and export Music XML
  8. Automatic note head positioning
  10. Cross Staff beaming ability
  11. Unlimited time and key changes
  12. Pickup note measure supported
  13. Slur editing
  14. Unlimited Lyrics
  15. Unlimited Chord names
  16. Grace Notes
  17. Part extraction
  18. Plugins are supported!
  19. Midi/XML/PNG Export
  20. Mixer function
  21. Soundfont capable
  22. Partial interpretation of Expressions and repeats

A great comparison of MuseScore to Finale Notepad was performed by David Bolton. This comparison goes feature by feaure and you will find that MuseScore is literally “heads” about the competition.

The end result of all of all of this is an ABSOLUTELY incredible open-source music notation program that is free to use, distribute, and modify!.   This project is TRULY an endeavour that we need to support in whatever way that we are able to. 

I was able to get some of the specifics from Thomas at MuseScore that explains why I’ve never found this amazing software before now.  In a forum discussion, I was asking about the development of the program and some other questions related to having one of the MuseScore developers on an upcoming podcast and he provided some very interesting development facts about the software:

  • MuseScore development started in 2002 by Werner Schweer as a spin off of Muse, for Linux only
  • It has been ported to Windows at the end of 2007 and has been downloaded over 20.000 times since then
  • Since the 0.9.3 release at the end of September 2008, MuseScore is downloaded over 200 times per day
  • The website has been made public at the end of August 2008 and has been translated into 5 languages since then

So you can see that this, literally, has only be available, in earnest, since the end of August 2008.  With this software now become publically known through sites and reviews like MusTech.Net and no-doubt others will follow -you can BET that this software will become a STAPLE, and “household word” for musicians all over the globe!  (Did I mention to MARK my words! :) )

Please join the folks at MuseScore in getting the word out about this amazing open-source free music notation alternative.  Join in on the discussion at their forums and contribute in anyway possible to the success of this software.   I know I will.  What are your thoughts?

MuseScore English:

MuseScore Handbook (manual):
MuseScore Forums:
MuseScore Development:
MuseScore RSS:


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Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018.  As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.

He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association,  a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website

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