A Comparison of MuseScore 2, Notion 6 , Finale v25 and Sibelius 8

• Oct 21, 2016 - 17:08

I recently had a chance to compare MuseScore to Notion, Finale and Sibelius, and I can offer some comments on all these to anyone curious.

MuseScore 2 vs. Notion 6

MuseScore wins this hands down. While Notion has a better performance engine, with high quality sounds and VST support, it doesn't have the flexibility needed to produce professional scores. For example, cross-beam slurs have major problems. This is a common failing, but in Notion, there is no work-around because slurs can't be modified.


The interface feels clunky to me. Want to move the score? Use the scroll bar. Notion has items grouped in multiple palettes (as does MuseScore), but you can only view one sub-palette at a time. Double-clicking on a palette entry doesn't apply the tool to the current selection. For example, slurs are added one-by-one. And the slur tool will always prefer voice 1 over voice 2, so adding a slur to voice 2 when the two voices share the same starting and ending notes is difficult.


There are no small staffs. There is no way to create parts with multiple instruments.


Maybe I could use it just for performing a piece? The first piece I tried it on had a tremolo on a tied note. The tremolo ended with the starting note. The tied notes were silent.


While looking into tremolos, I noticed that two-note tremolos were improperly notated; the notes were drawn as though the tremolo were half the duration it actually was.


I could go on, but I didn't spend a lot of time exploring Notion. It's just not an option for professional use. Still, I will suggest you buy it. Why? Read on...

MuseScore 2 vs. Finale v25

I'd like to be able to say more about this, but I examined Finale only briefly. I imported an existing score. First, I noticed that I had to use the scroll bars to move the score—this always puts me off as it requires moving the mouse away from the area I'm working and locating the scroll bar and moving it carefully. Too far, and I've lost my context.


The imported score was full of collisions (not any worse than MuseScore). I was unable to find a tool that would automatically fix all the collision problems and that ended my interest in Finale. I just tried looking for this feature again, and it appears that it might be in Document Options -> Music Spacing—not the obvious place to look. And why wasn't collision avoidance turned on by default for an imported score? There may also be some plug-ins that resolve collision problems.


Not finding collision avoidance when I tried the software, my interest in Finale ended. I should have looked harder.


You can check out Finale with a free 30-day trial version. If you decide you like it, you can buy it for $300. This does not require academic/theologian pricing. The trick is to buy Notion 6 for $150 and then buy the Finale cross-grade for $150. I have no idea why they allow this.

MuseScore 2 vs. Sibelius 8

Sibelius feels very familiar, sort of like MuseScore's smarter, older brother. I can summarize the Sibelius review by saying that Sibelius does everything that MuseScore does, it just does more of it and better. MuseScore has slurs, Sibelius has bracketed slurs. MuseScore can select a contiguous region, Sibelius can select dis-contiguous regions. MuseScore can beam notes to notes. Sibelius can beam notes to notes and rests and beam over rests.


What makes Sibelius attractive to me is that they have addressed the tasks that eat up so much of my time in MuseScore. Slurs are drawn correctly (not through the notes!) and most collision avoidance is done live. Collisions for adjacent staves requires a batch command that adjusts the spacing of the staves in the system. Page breaks are automatically chosen and the algorithm is customizable. Cue notes are basically a copy and paste operation. Instruments can be merged with the "a2" notation used in professional scores.


I have a large score with 27 instruments and almost 500 measures. MuseScore does not handle this well—edits can take seconds to make, even with the Navigator turned off. Sibelius handles this score with ease.


Bottom line: Sibelius offers more features, reduces edit time and performs faster. The downside: it's $600. You can reduce this to $350 by purchasing Notion for $150 and then the cross-grade for $200.


Sibelius uses a ribbon interface. I will go through the tabs, describing just a few of the more interesting features of Sibelius.


The Paste function has variants for pasting as cues or as an alternate voice. When pasting a cue, the operation takes care of a number of details: transposing, sizing the notes, marking the notes as cues so they only show in the parts and labeling the source instrument. There is even a dialog you can use to define some options for the cues, in case you want something different. The Paste into Voice also automates what in MuseScore takes multiple steps.


MuseScore has a nice feature in that you can right click on an item and select more of the same in the score, staff or selection. Here, Sibelius is not quite as nice, but their Advanced Selection does offer all the options that MuseScore provides and more. I do wish this were in the right-click menu.


MuseScore 2 has a plug-in system that is fairly useless. I tried to write a plug-in once and gave up—there is no documentation, and things don't work as they are supposed to without elaborate workarounds (and even with them, what most plug-ins do well is crash). Sibelius, on the other hand, has a thriving plug-in community and the plug-ins actually work. Sibelius comes with a ton of plug-ins—each tab has its own set of plug-ins.

Note Input

Note input is very similar to MuseScore. There are some slight differences (the shortcut for a eighth note is 'e' and not '4'), but that's about it. Entry can be made using MIDI in step time, like MuseScore, but also by recording a performance, definitely not like MuseScore.


Cross-staff beaming works the same, although cross-beam slurs do not. Sibelius offers ways to explode one staff to multiple staves, reduce multiple staves to one (including with a2-style notation!), and even attempts to arrange some number of staves into some other number of staves.


Sibelius offers the double/half options that MuseScore 1 had as plug-ins and which are rather less robust plug-ins in MuseScore 2 (they generally crashed when I tried them). It will also do retrograde, invert and other note manipulations.


Again, Sibelius provides everything that MuseScore does and more. The MuseScore selections are pretty good, but Sibelius covers a more complete set. The list of symbols is huge!


Text styles are similar to MuseScore. One thing that confused me for a bit is that the style determines whether text is staff text or system text. The "Tempo" style is system text, the "Technique" style is staff text. I still haven't figured out how to tell which is which, but perhaps the point is that I don't need to.


Rehearsal marks have a lot more options and automatically get a letter or number when added. The sequences are automatically adjusted if a rehearsal mark is added or deleted. In MuseScore, you have to enter the letter or number and, if you add or delete one, there is a batch operation for re-sequencing them. Sibelius also supports using the measure number in the rehearsal mark; in MuseScore, you would enter the numbers manually and would also have to correct them manually if a measure is added or deleted.


I have been able to get by using SoundFonts in MuseScore. And the MuseScore folks are always saying that they view playback as a nice-to-have, used mostly as a way to aurally proof the music being created. Still, I have a set of higher quality sounds and I want to use them without a lot of work. Sibelius comes with gigabytes of sounds, but you can also use VSTs to access other sound packages. Using the sForzando VST, you can also use SoundFonts.


I'm still learning how to associate an instrument with a specific instrument and technique (e.g. violin pizzicato), but trust me that the interface is quite sophisticated with many options. Instrument sounds are arranged in a hierarchy, so that if you don't have a pizzicato sound for a cello, for example, you can fall back to the arco sound. The MuseScore method of creating some staff text and associating it with a style is clunky. In Sibelius, just mark a passage as "pizz." and it knows to associate it with the pizzicato sound for the instrument (or default to the base sound, if a pizzicato sample is not available).


Sibelius includes tools to work with video. I think Notion and Finale also support video. MuseScore has no support.


Sibelius and MuseScore both include variable page sizes, margins and page orientation. You can set the staff size in both, although in MuseScore you do this by specifying the staff space size, which needs to be multiplied by 4 to get the staff size.


Here's the best part of Sibelius for me: Magnetic Layout. When enabled, most collisions disappear and objects are intelligently adjusted (and you can adjust the rules that govern the adjustments). Collisions between staves may still occur. There is a batch mode operation that you can use to adjust the staff spacing in each system to avoid collisions. MuseScore aims to add something like this in version 3. If you don't want to use magnetic layout (why?), Sibelius will step you through the collisions so you can fix them manually.


Like MuseScore, you can add system and page breaks. Sibelius, as usual, contains more options than MuseScore. The most important option is automatic page breaks. In this mode, Sibelius will try to find the best place for a page break using a set of rules which you can modify.


Sibelius has its own version of MuseScore's general and text styles. The styles cover a wider range of customization and these can be exported and imported. I have yet to make much inroads into this section as the default settings work pretty well.


Sibelius and MuseScore handle parts very similarly—the differences are cosmetic. Some useful features that Sibelius adds are the ability to apply a setting to the "open" parts (parts placed on tabs in the main display area) and the ability to copy the part layout from one part to another. MuseScore is limited to changing one part or all parts.


Sibelius can create versions of a score and then show you a side-by-side comparison of two versions. The score can also be annotated and highlighted, and you can add comments. With MuseScore, versions can be manually created and annotations can be added as text, but Sibelius just makes it easier. In MuseScore, there is no way to compare two scores.


This section also contains a bunch of plug-ins to check to proof various elements in the score.


Like MuseScore, the score can be displayed as pages (in various ways) or as a continuous strip. As usual, Sibelius has a large set of options for which things get displayed and which are not. It even provides various rulers.


The View tab can be used to display various panes. One of these is the "Ideas" pane, where you can store snippets of music. I had proposed something like this for MuseScore, at one point. The way I store theme ideas now is by just pasting them at the end of the score I'm working on (with some empty measures before and in between ideas). As it clutters up the score, I tend to discard ideas that, with Sibelius, I would keep.


In MuseScore, I was spending a lot of time fixing slurs and resolving collisions. And by a lot I mean hours and days focused on editing. The editing process reached maximal pain as I tried to edit the large score I mentioned earlier. I imported this score into Sibelius and, in a short time, I was practically done. And that was with being a new Sibelius user. Since I am still learning, my time now is spent on deciding how I want the score to look and how best to do that with Sibelius.


After I had done a lot of the work, it occurred to me that the conductor might want me to include cues. Cues are very time consuming in MuseScore. Adding them after a part has been edited will require the part to be re-edited. In Sibelius, a cue is done with a copy/paste as cue operation. There's even a plug-in that will suggest places which need a cue. Once added, magnetic layout will prevent most new collisions, automatic page breaks will re-paginate appropriately and, any inter-staff collisions can be fixed with a single click.


I already had rehearsal marks in the score. With a few clicks, I changed them to use use bar numbers.


I would rather spend my time composing than editing. Needless to say, I purchased Sibelius. If you don't have the $350 for Sibelius (or $300 for Finale), go with MuseScore. Notion is only good for getting a discount on Sibelius and Finale. MuseScore has taken me a long ways and it's unlikely that I would be composing music today if MuseScore 2 hadn't come out. Thanks to MuseScore, I had my first professional performance of my music last Saturday and I will have a symphonic suite performed by a local orchestra in May.


If you're starting to compose music, you can't go wrong with MuseScore. If and when you get to the point that you find yourself editing scores a lot, then consider Sibelius or Finale.


Hi freixas, thank you very much for taking the time to write this up. It's very insightful.

I'm happy to see that with the goals we have set for MuseScore 3, the issues you faced with MuseScore being slow and not performing anti collision detection will be addressed. You can follow up the developments via https://musescore.org/en/news

That's a great and honest review. With time, I believe we will close most of the gap, starting with smart layout in MuseScore 3.

Let me add a couple of things

1. I believe MuseScore supports more or less the same beaming option that Sibelius except beam over a line break. Beam over rests and to rests should be working in MuseScore 2.

2. MuseScore upgrades, like the software, are free. One will probably need to pay a couple hundreds more to get the next version of Sibelius, Finale or others. Of course, if one makes money out of engraving/composing, it's fine but one needs to know that it's not a single fee.

3. MuseScore is not only free as in free beer. It's also free as in free speech. When you buy “Sibelius,” you really only buy a licence to use it.. When you download MuseScore for free, you get a licence to use it, modify it, distribute it to others.

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

@lasconic: Since you brought up pricing, I should let people know what they are in for with Sibelius.

If you just want version 8 + updates for a year, it's $350 using my trick. You can use it as long as you want.

If you want to keep updating, you pay $90 each year after the first year. If you don't pay the $90 and 30 days go by, you then have to buy Sibelius at at the regular price.

They also have a subscription model of $20/month.

The 10-year cost of owning Sibelius is $350 + 10 * $90. = $1250, ($125/year or ~$10/month).

The 10-year cost of getting Sibelius by subscription is 12 * $20 * 10 = $2400, ( $240/year or $20/month).

Obviously, the cost of MuseScore and MuseScore upgrades is $0.

MuseScore 3 is going to be a lot better than 2, but Sibelius is not going to sit still. However, I believe there is a point at which a notation program is so good that "improvements" are irrelevant. MuseScore has time to catch up, because it can take as long as it needs to reach this end point. It's aiming for a fixed target, not a moving one.

This fixed target is different for each composer. For some people, MuseScore 2 is already there, for others, it may be MuseScore 4 or 5. The only place where MuseScore has a weakness is in using VSTs for performance. If you are unable or unwilling to include VST support, then (for some set of composers) you will never match the commercial offerings.

Regardless of any feature gap, MuseScore is important as an entry point to composing. I would not be a composer today if not for MuseScore. I had no plans to ever be a composer and it was only when I was playing around with MuseScore that I learned that it was something I could do and that I could do well enough that people wanted to perform the music I wrote.

In reply to by freixas

Actually, Sibelius may well do little more than sit still - the programming team responsible for making it what it is today were all let go a couple of years ago, and from what I understand the maintenance of the product has been outsourced (? not sure of the current status).

The team that did most of the Sibelius development is now working for Steinberg, creating a brand new application called Dorico that they hope to release by the end of the year. Based on what we know of it - which is quite a lot, because the lead develop posts a regular blog on the subject (http://blog.steinberg.net/) - it will likely be very very good, but also priced similarly to Finale or Sibelius. I expect this will become the main commercial alternative to Finale in the very near future.

Also, FWIW, MuseScore can as far as I know use VST's, you just need to do so via JACK. So those composers who enjoy dealing with that aspect of sound synthesis do have that option if they want.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Actually, Sibelius may well do little more than sit still - the programming team responsible for making it what it is today were all let go a couple of years ago, and from what I understand the maintenance of the product has been outsourced (? not sure of the current status).

Hmm... I did some research. Sibelius 8.0 was released in June 2015, 8.1 in January 2016, 8.2 in March 2016, 8.3 in May 2016, 8.4 in June 2016, and the version I bought, 8.4.2, in August 2016. Each increment in the secondary number added new features. There were also a number or tertiary version number increments and these provided fixes but also added minor new features.

So, whoever is working on Sibelius is not currently sitting still and they appear to have gone to a rapid-release model.

I saw Dorico's release. You can view a detailed feature list.

The first thing I looked for was parts from voices and any mention of the a2 merging style used for the wind instruments in orchestral scores. I saw nothing for either, but it's a big document and I haven't tried the software. I notice that they tell you that some of the features won't be available for months. Some are basic things, like repeat endings.

The pricing is interesting. It's a little less than Finale or Sibelius at $570, but you can crossgrade for $430 by buying Notion. Using the crossgrade trick, Finale is $300 and Sibelius us $350.

Also, FWIW, MuseScore can as far as I know use VST's, you just need to do so via JACK. So those composers who enjoy dealing with that aspect of sound synthesis do have that option if they want.

JACK might be a VST solution for the handful of MuseScore users who have the technical savvy to get it going and connected with MuseScore, plus are willing to delve into the Instruments.xml file (to get to all the articulations you might own). I tried installing JACK and configuring it to work with MuseScore and my DAW—twice. It never worked for me. And it's a pain to install and use. You might be able to say, yes, MuseScore can use VSTs through JACK, but if you have to be an audio engineer to install and use it, it's not a solution. And even if set up, will it use my trill sample? Will it know when to use the half-step trill vs the whole-step trill? Will it change dynamics on a single note? Integration with VSTs requires a lot more than just wiring up a few ports.

To my way of thinking, if you need some music-scoring functionality that’s going to cost you $1,250.00, then it is (to you) simply a cost of doing (your) business.   You pay the price, deduct it on your next year’s income-tax return, and think nothing of it.


But this comparison, to me, most-especially reinforces one point:   MuseScore is damn good, (ahem ...) and getting better.   There is always room for “another great tool” to do music scoring, but MuseScore can count itself as a full-fledged peer among their august company.

If you truly need a particular thing that one of the commercial products (alone) can do, or if (say) you are working on a project that has standardized itself around one or the other of them, then, so be it.   “Tools for the Job” and all of that.

In reply to by mrobinson

Hey, I think MuseScore is great and all, and we should all cheer it on, but there are scary comments in this thread that should be set in perspective.

Sibelius is not $1,250. That's a ten year cost. You could arbitrarily double the number by increasing the time scale. It's $350 if you buy Notation first and then crossgrade. Apparently, if you can qualify for a crossgrade to Notion, you could drop the cost to around $275.

You can use this program forever (or, at least, until none of the drivers work and it won't install on some future version of Windows or Mac). You don't have to upgrade. If it does the job for you, you're set, and $350 is all you pay.

The second item is that I looked into Avid's support of Sibelius. There are comments elsewhere about Avid losing the entire development team to Steinberg and that Sibelius development may have ceased. They did lose the team to Steinberg in 2012. But Avid has a new team (I believe they are in Canada) and the team has been busy. They have gone to a rapid-release model, with each release adding a small set of features. News of the demise of Sibelius seems exaggerated.

The software produced by Steinberg, Dorico, bears some examination by the MuseScore team. It reflects a second-generation approach to notation by a team with a good record for their first-generation product, so it's interesting to see what they opted to re-do. I noticed that they have a flexible multiple-movement/song approach, that they support cross-beam slurs (it's nice someone does) and that you can paste into tuplets and even let them cross measures.

The more important improvement—and one I can't really verify—is "perfect" engraving, which goes beyond collision avoidance. I may have to download a trial to see how it compares with other programs. If anyone gets motivated to try it, please post samples and comparison shots.

Avid did not "lose" their development team to Steinberg. They terminated the entire development staff and outsourced Sibelius' development to programmers in Ukraine. Steinberg then hired the original Sibelius development team to develop a new product, the newly-released Dorico. The Sibelius user community has been largely unimpressed with further Sibelius development. The Ukrainian programmers are now history. Supposedly a better Canadian team has replaced them.

Avid has also gone to a software rental model. Old users such as myself had the option to buy a perpetual license for $89, but unless we renew this every year, we lose access to support and any new versions, including bug fixes. For new users it's much worse--they are renters. If they stop paying, Sibelius reverts to demo mode where it can no longer save files. I am opposed to this on principle.

Avid says it is committed to Sibelius long-term. There are some indications that this is true. However, it is having general business trouble. Some of its behavior regarding Sibelius has made me think that they bought it as a cash cow to shore up the company's financial position. Or worse, perhaps just to milk dry. After which, who knows what will happen to Sibelius?

All this is why I began exploring alternatives to Sibelius, despite years of use.


I think that the original poster sold Notion short. It is more of a composition program than an engraving program, and it is very easy to use. The playback is very good, and includes articulations and legato that some other programs don't. It costs much less than the Big Two, and crossgrade options can make the price even more attractive.

My circumstances are such that ease of use and facility in note entry is more important than being able to micro-tweak every element to perfection. I want to compose, not engrave. I use a computer so it can take care of things like that. As long as the output is reasonably attractive and easily readable by a practical musician, I'm happy.

The following link sums up the trade-offs we must make when we pick a notation software program. I found it very useful. The author knows all the major notation programs intimately.

I am keeping my eye on MuseScore development. With the collision-avoidance features slated for v.3, it could be viable for me. And in general, I like the open-source concept. But as things stand today, I'm leaning towards Notion as my alternative to Sibelius. This week, anyway. :-)


By the way, MuseScore 2 can beam over rests. Just select the rest, and then double click the "Beam middle" feature under the beam properties in the workspace.

Anyway, MuseScore was a life saver for me, it did save me a lot of money b/c I considered getting Finale. Now, I know that getting Finale would've been a big mistake, due to all the bells and whistles that don't make sense and all that. Nowadays, though, MuseScore is lacking a handful of things I actually need. Sibelius and Finale have a "Crop Mark" feature in which, you can center an octavo sized sheet of paper on a letter sized one, and the print will contain crop marks. MuseScore doesn't. That feature is important to where I'm going with Music sheet music creating. Plus, many of MuseScore's ways to do things, I just find a little bit annoying now. I'm considering moving over to either Sibelius or to Dorico (Dorico was done by Steinberg after Avid let go of the old Sibelius developers. Steinberg hired them and then Boom! Dorico was born). Have you tried Dorico? I would love to hear your thoughts on how it compares to MuseScore.
Yeah, the only reason why I haven't quit using MuseScore yet, is because I'm waiting to see how MuseScore 3 turns out. If it can't meet my needs, then I'm switching over. I hate to make it sound as a "you have one more shot to prove yourself", but I'll say it nicer. "You can do it, just try".

In reply to by Elwin

Hi Elwin, there is not a single product which will fulfill all your needs. So please check out the others and use what works out best for you. Follow your dreams and use the right tool for you to achieve them. Just know that we are listening and that your feedback will always be valued. Good luck!

In reply to by Thomas

Thank you, I appreciate it. I'll definitely recommend MuseScore if I ever run into a beginner who wants to make sheet music, but can't afford Finale or Sibelius (Which, both have flaws that's keeping me from getting them, Finale's note input and Sibelius's support system and licensing). I may settle for Dorico, but I'll wait and see.

In reply to by Elwin

It's great that MuseScore is available free for everyone. As a product, I'm sure it will get better over time.

I switched to Sibelius and can't imagine looking back. For me, it's mainly because of the automatic layout. For my work flow, this is essential enough to justify the expense. I then paid even more money for NotePerformer. I now spend most of my time composing and almost no time tweaking slurs or generated audio.

In addition to automatic layout (which MuseScore 3.0 will supposedly have), there are a bunch of other features which are pretty nifty. Dorico sounds even better, but a lot of Dorico is currently vaporware, with some of the missing chunks being pretty significant.

If money is an issue, get MuseScore—for many people, it's sufficient. The other products are pretty pricey, so the investment has to make sense.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

I'm sure you have some stuff working and that it will be fun for some people to download a nightly and start trying to figure out what is and isn't included. I have no interest in doing so. Once you're done, I'll be happy to take a look. Until then, it remains "supposedly" to me.

Now, if you had a complete and up-to-date list of what is and isn't fully working, I might be more willing to try a nightly. Feel free to point me to the list, if one exists.

In reply to by freixas

The thing is, if you wait until it's done, then it will be too late to give input on the design. We rely on feedback from users to help shape the course of development. If you want to have a say in how things turn out, we would need feedback sooner rather than later.

Because there is no specific precise plan for exactly how it will eventually work, and because there have not been that many people willing to test, there is and can be no complete list of what isn't working yet. But there is the issue tracker where you can see the known issues.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'd actually be more than happy to test out issues, I just need to know what issues to test out. I did download nightly builds before I got my laptop, however, I didn't know what needed testing and all that. One thing that would help would be to maybe have a pinned forum post that lists what issues have been made, and what needs to be tested and all that, and have the people who are testing give formal reports about the testing and all that.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

I did not mean testing necessarily problem areas when I wrote the comment. I meant something around this area. "Hey, we just finished developing this feature, and it needs to be tested. Hey, this had an issue, and it has been solved, mind testing it? We need people to test out the whole program. Here's a check list".

In reply to by Elwin

This is just my perspective, and others may disagree, but I think testing is less important for putting the latest feature through its paces and much more important for catching bugs in completely unpredictable places, which can pretty much only be discovered at random.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Ok, I'll bite and disagree. Both kinds of testing are valuable. You've just picked the testing that doesn't require you to document. :-)

Look at it from my point of view. I download a nightly, start doing something and the whole system screws up. I spend hours narrowing down how to reproduce the problem and generate a useful bug report only to find out later that it was a minor bug in some subsystem that's used by everything else and that took two minutes to fix once someone noticed it. The bug is gone the next night. I'd prefer to test an occasional alpha release that at least had some regression testing. I'd also want a list of all known problems—trying to derive this list by looking at the issues list is best done by one person who then provides the list to everyone else.

Bugs can occur anywhere, but I'd still like to know what's been added that the developers feel is working the way they want. I might have a score lying around that would make a great test case for a new feature. The classic experience is having a developer add some new feature, test it thoroughly and hand it to a noob, who then does something the developer never expected and the code crashes. In this scenario, it helps for the noob to at least know about the feature.

And yes, if you have a million monkeys working on a million computers with a million nightly builds, eventually they will find all your bugs—it just doesn't seem like the most efficient way of doing this. All testing strategies catch only a percentage of all bugs. A strategy that relies entirely on "random" testing seems really limited and inefficient.

Finally, a nightly build that has some unknown set of features is not a big draw; put out an alpha release with a list of new toys to check out and you might get a lot more interest.

Or course, I'm completely speculating about how anyone else might think. This is just the way I think—there are probably a few others who think the same way.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, I understand your argument, Marc.

From my attempt to become a MuseScore contributor, I learned that there is almost no documentation of anything in the source code and if there were any documents covering future development, I never saw any. Everything seemed to be in heads of the main developers over in MuseScore headquarters. And while everyone is very friendly, welcoming and willing to answer questions, trying to learn to code for MuseScore by asking questions is a super waste of time. After beating my head on this wall for a while, I gave up.

It's a similar situation when you ask people to test something without having the discipline to document what's included. It's great for the cowboy programmers who don't want to document, not so nice for the tester. I download a nightly, try something out and see a problem. I spend some time writing up a bug report only to find out later that it's a known problem or just an area that hasn't been implemented yet.

Of course, documenting nightly changes would be a tremendous amount of work. I'd suggest that the developers produce occasional alpha builds with a complete list of changes from the production MuseScore, expressly for the purpose of gathering input from the community. Nightlys are better for seeing if a specific bug is fixed or working directly with a developer on a specific feature.

All this just applies to me. It would be especially hard to convince me to make a big effort in testing MuseScore as I am now using Sibelius and it would be totally altruistic effort. I might be willing to spend time on a documented alpha. If there are people who have the time and interest in testing undocumented nightlys and wading through issues lists, more power to them, but it sounds like you aren't getting a lot of volunteers and using that to justify not making an effort to document the changes. Seems like a chicken-and-egg kind of thing.

In reply to by freixas

There is a very small team of people working on development. If we stopped to document every change, development would grind to a standstill. That's the unfortunate fact of life in small open source projects. The upside is that because it is open source, people who are motivated to help can contribute - by helping code, helping document, and helping test. This is one of the major strengths of open source projects - you don't benefit with Sibelius etc. Anyhow, that's just one of the tradeoffs.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Understood, Marc.

However, I think if there's one thing that programmers are better at than anything else it's finding creative reasons for not documenting anything. :-)

I can't speak for the world of open source projects or even for any of the people who might be motivated to help develop MuseScore. All I can say is that I am a skilled programmer who was motivated to help and who changed his mind after finding little internal documentation. It wasn't the crew: they were friendly and very patient in answering questions. Having to ask question after question to learn how to properly code for MuseScore is not a pleasant way to learn the system nor very efficient for the developers.

I may be the common case or I may be an anomaly. It may be possible that there are few developers because of the lack of documentation (so as to be a self-fulfilling prophecy) or it may be that the best documentation in the world might make no difference. I believe it would have made a difference to me.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, Marc, I saw this. Great start—this is about 1% of what's needed.

I still remember a time on the developer's chat space when you were begging the home team to give you some documentation on some of the new algorithms for 3.0. I wish I had saved a transcript of that. If you had to beg for documentation, things were pretty bad. In any case, it shows you probably understand what I'm talking about more than most.

In reply to by freixas

Since I'm the great complainer, I thought I'd go ahead and download a nightly and see what's up.

I started it up and downloaded an old score, the one that drove me to Sibelius. Since there are now supposed to be great automatic layout features, I generated a part for each instrument and took a look.

Ok, I'm seeing all sorts of the same issues I had before. There are tons of collisions, even with slurs, which I thought might have been one of the things that would have been done by now. So, what's going on?

* Some auto-layout is working, some not. I have no idea what is done and I'm not going to go through the issues list to try to reverse-engineer, which of the problems I'm seeing are just parts of MuseScore 2.1 that haven't yet been updated to their final 3.0 glory or whether I'm seeing bugs the developers missed.

* OR it could be that auto-layout is working, but I'm not enabling it. I poked around the menus and preferences and didn't see anything about auto layout. The Inspector maybe? Nope, nothing obvious.

* OR maybe it only works for new stuff. I tried a case that I know screws up the slurs. Nope, works just as badly as before.

So if I'm supposed to just do random stuff to find things that are broken, I see tons of broken stuff. But it looks like it's all broken just like in MuseScore 2, so maybe it isn't anything I need to report. But I keep hearing that auto-layout IS working in the nightlys, so maybe I should. Or maybe I need to enable something somewhere, so I don't really have bugs unless they stick around after I enable something.

A web search for MuseScore 3.0 reveals mostly articles a year old. There may be some hints somewhere in various forum topics. So, what exactly do the developers expect me to do with the nightly? Write a new score? Unlikely, as I might lose all my work. Edit an existing score? OK, but since my time is valuable and nothing I do will result in any retained work, what exactly do I waste my time on? Maybe I do a lot of note entry and find everything is just like before, That's boring and it may be an area that doesn't have any changes and is heavily exercised by the developers, so the odds of running into a bug are pretty low. If there's something no one has had a lot of time to spend on, or that has just been heavily modified, wouldn't that be a better way to spend my limited time?

I really don't know what the developers are hoping for, but this has to be one of the most inefficient ways to do it.

So is there any automatic layout that is working? I mean, I have Issac Weiss telling me "There's no "supposedly" about it—check out the work that's already been done in a nightly build". So I checked and it still looks "supposedly" to me. Actually, it looks like nothing has been done at all.

In reply to by freixas

Yes, there is quite a bit working, but it's very much a work in progress. Best to discuss specific issues in a new thread devoted to the exact things you are seeing. If you've loaded an existing score, it may have manual adjustments already applied and those may be interfering with some of the new collision avoidance features. Best to get a sense for how things work by starting from scratch.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Thanks, Isaac.

I tried it. I saw the slurs shift positions slightly. Everything that was messed up is still messed up (with regards to collisions), including the slurs. In a new file, I tried a simple slur case which I knew would mess up in MuseScore 2 and it still messes up (C5 - C6 - C5: the slur goes through the stem of C6).

I'm sure you did something for automatic layout, but I still don't have any idea what you've done. When I have the time, I'll search for a better thread to attach these comments to or start a new one for automatic layout.

BTW, creating new stuff from scratch would be nice, but who's going to take the time to lay out a complex score just for testing? And if one sticks to simple stuff, one would miss a lot of potential problems.

In reply to by freixas

Not sure what you mean about the slur - the case you mention works fine for me in 3.0 builds. But FWIW, most of the work done has been in the area of avoiding collisions between notes and dynamics or other text elements attached to notes, also adjusting space between staves as necessary. As mentioned, though, it is a work in progress. It is by no means completed, nor does everything that is in place work perfectly.

Here is an an example:

2017-07-18 21_43_14-MuseScore 3 (3.0.0 unstable)_ Untitled.png

In reply to by freixas

Well, the college I'll be going to uses Sibelius (thank goodness it doesn't use Finale). I'd probably get that for now, however, I've heard that for Sibelius 8, I'll have to buy it yearly, or pay a yearly fine or else the software will revert back to demo mode and all that. Is that true? I'd prefer just buying it one time, and I'll have what I paid for until my computer crashes permanently.

Hello freixas and all.

Thank you for this thread, it is very interesting, informative and helpful.

freixas, I am glad to hear that you have found a tool that seems very much to suit you. You will always be welcome back :).

I use MS for writing charts and while there are things I would change, I find it very adequate. I am not aiming (at this time) for publishable engraving.

Thanks to everyone, especially the core MS team who have come so far so fast, and picking up speed.

Best wishes,

Jul 14, 2017 - 19:16

This reads like an advertisement for Sibelius! If you glance at their web pages you see examples of cross note beaming and other layout goodies. LOL There are some of us here that prefer traditional notation but for whom it isn;t the end- all. For me, it is an entrance into midi and from there to audio. I do it without a keyboard controller since I am not a keyboard player. The idea that I can score AND record music is a joy. (BTW, Finale told me that v25 was for professionals. Please! It is marketed everywhere for "students.") I would be more inclined to make a donation to Ms.

After using MuseScore for about a year, and building up quite a few large-ish scores, I took about a 6 week diversion to re-evaluate a couple of other products. In the end I purchased Sibelius 8.6, but am still a bit disappointed with it. There are a number of issues with Sibelius that MuseScore doesn't have. I also spent a couple of weeks in Dorico.

The main reasons I went looking were twofold. Firstly, as my scores grew in size, I found the slow-down in MS to be very painful. I'm working on a high end C++ dev machine as well, it's not a slouch. Secondly, publishers prefer Sibelius or Finale, and I have to submit my work as part of licensing requirements, I don't know if they will accept MuseScore files.

So, before I purchased Sibelius, I took a look at Finale as well. I was really put off by Finale's basic navigation issues. The shift-scroll was wired up backwards (shift scroll down went left instead of right), and the archaic UI. I didn't spend long with Finale.

So I bought Sibelius and struggled with it for a while. These are the things I tripped over.

1. Movements. My music is a bunch of ballet suites with multiple movts. In MuseScore, you can add section breaks (which reset bar numbering, suppress courtesy key signatures, and time signatures etc) and add frames for titles. In Sibelius it's a many (about 8) stage hack. Since I was importing music, I had to delete the key and time signatures and re-add them suppressing courtesy ones. Making a bar a section break is a pain in the neck. You can't suppress courtesy key sigs you can only hide them, and they still take up space. So getting this all satisfactory was a real pain in the backside and very time-consuming.

2. If you have a cello line say with 2 voices, one should be pizz and the other arco. Well Sibelius can notate that but not play it, it will be all pizz or all arco. They suggest if you want to hear the difference to put them on separate staves, as Sibelius can only do 1 midi channel per stave. In MS, you can easily assign the voices to different playback styles.

3. If you have say another cello line in 3/4 with voice 1 in dotted minims and voice 2 with crotchets, well the note heads are drawn on top of each other. They suggest manually adjusting the offsets on every note to get around this or use a 3rd party plugin (really??? what does that say about Avid's commitment to Sibelius and their customers???). They should just fix this bug. In MS this just works properly.

4. If you have a crescendo over say 8 bars, forget trying to put it in as anything other than a hairpin. If you want to use line-based cresc, you have to define it first, then you can use it for notation, but it won't do anything in playback. In MS, this is just an option on the particular hairpin.

5. Playback. To set the playback position you have to select the note, then hit 'y'. Otherwise it will play from where it was last at. MS option is by far the best for this, select the note and hit the space bar. (Even Dorico is a pain here, you have to undock the transport and choose the play from selection button).

6. Zoom with mouse. It zooms from the currently selected item (non-standard UI), NOT the mouse pointer position. So, select a note, go searching for something to zoom in on, scroll off to the side. Decide, "I need to zoom in", ctrl mouse, oh damn, you're scrolled back to the selected note and you have to go searching for where you were again.

7. Hairpins. All the imported ones were the wrong size and showed as collisions, I had to delete and re-add them all. Same with trills.

8. The Ribbon. Sorry, but in my opinion the Ribbon is the worst design mistake ever made by any software company. MS did a lot of usability studies with it, and forced it on us in Office, and many other apps (but notably NOT in Visual Studio thankfully or I would have to give up software development). The ribbon is OK for simplistic apps with not much depth of features. But it really SUCKS for apps where you are doing anything with more than a couple of options, such as notation. Sibelius uses a ribbon to its detriment. Because the ribbon takes up so much space, you end up with ridiculous situations like:

* the style picker gets half the ribbon, but the edit styles "button" gets an incognito 16x16px glyph.
* because there's no room for everything to have a vast amount of space in a ribbon, a large proportion of the functionality is in dialogs or hot keys or the numeric keypad.

Overall the Ribbon makes things worse (more clicks to get anything done), context menus are much better. Until you learn the hot-keys.

Now, I don't want to appear ungrateful. There are a lot of things about Sibelius to really like. Adding an octave above to an entire passage is a single keypress.

Being able to drag staves up and down on a page is awesome (MS implementation of this is buggy BTW). Sometimes I ended up fighting against the collision avoidance however, especially with rehearsal marks. You try to drag things around, and they don't go where you drag them to until you ctrl drag them or turn off magnetic layout for that item.

In the end, the thing that drove me to start looking again after several weeks in Sibelius, was the notehead overlap problem. Then I remembered Dorico.

Now Dorico is a new product, only version 1.1 at the moment. But it's very interesting. It's not without quite a few faults, but since it's such a young product, and unlike Sibelius it appears they listen to their customers and make changes accordingly, we can forgive those for now. They are obviously taking the attitude that they want to rethink everything and do everything the best way possible.

The set of rules for how things are notated by default is quite staggering. About 20 rules just for how and when accidentals should be shown. Many scenarios that were not handled at all in Sibelius or MS have specific rules (or several) governing their behaviour and rendering in Dorico.

Unfortunately Dorico made a bit of a hash of my imported scores (exported as Music XML from MS). It shifted a bunch of stuff around (notes even, dynamics and hairpins), stripped many annotations (very problematic!). Some of this is bugs, some by design. But they are very responsive.

Dorico is also fairly slow with large scores. So many rules to apply to lots of objects.

So Dorico doesn't work for me at the moment but I'm optimistic it will improve quickly and become the best option.

Anyway, thought you may be interested. Sibelius needs to pull finger and start fixing bugs people have been reporting for years.

For now I'm back working in MuseScore :)

In reply to by Adrien de Croy

Nice to have you back, and thanks for the comments! My sense is that all programs cvan get the job done but will have minor annoyances. Everyone can decide for themselves if it's worth the time / trouble / expense of trading one set of annoyances for another :-)

Regarding the specific things you like better about MuseScore compared to Sibelius, it is especially gratifying because I remember the discussions leading to several of those things being implemented (and in a couple of case I think I probably implemented them myself). Again, to me this is one of the great strengths of open source software - good suggestions from users get discussed with developers on the forums and very often end up being implemented. Sometimes users become developers just to get their favorite suggestions implemented.

Dorico will indeed be an excellent choice indeed at some point. I have great faith in what they are doing and in the people doing it.

It's nice to have choices!

PS Thanks for the hint on how to get playback to start from a selected location - when I work with students using Sibelius, I can never figure that out!

In reply to by Adrien de Croy

1. Movements. Yes, this is done poorly. There is a plug-in that helps with this. I have pieces with multiple movements and with time signature and key changes. I haven't seen any extra space problems. I can now manage this without much effort, but I agree that it's a hack, not a well-thought out feature.

2. A cello line with two voices? This is something I haven't seen (but that's not saying much). I understand a flute stave that combines two instruments (and it's not done with voices). In any case, I can accept that Sibelius does it poorly and that I'm unlikely to ever run into the problem since I would probably write for cello sections (one stave with the occasional divisi) or individual cello lines (for chamber pieces).

3. Yep. Ugly.

4. I was curious, so I defined a dashed line with the text "cresc." at the start and then used the playback dictionary to make it play as a crescendo. This worked. It even works on a single held note, which I believe MuseScore 2.0 doesn't support (maybe 3.0?).

5. Agreed. Big pain. I hit "p" for "play", though. I submitted a complaint about this.

6. Agreed. I run into this all the time. There is something I vaguely remember that is similar in MuseScore, though. I believe that if I enter note entry mode without some position selected, it goes off somewhere that is not useful. If there is no selection, it would be better if MuseScore defaulted to the last selected position.

7. Try this: export a MusicXML file in Sibelius and then re-import it. You would be lucky to have the imported version even close to what you start with. This is really bad and MuseScore is clearly superior.

8. The ribbon doesn't bother me (anymore), but a big failing of it is that it doesn't teach you the keyboard shortcuts. You have to pull out the list of shortcuts, which is NOT the best way to learn them.

Marc is correct—one chooses the software that creates the least pain. In my case, the lack of automatic layout in MuseScore created tons of work, particularly when I created master scores with variant parts and then created multi-instrument parts in various combinations. Having to fix the layout problems is bad enough; having to fix them over and over in the parts drove me to Sibelius. Hopefully, 3.0 will end that problem (supposedly already working in the nightlys).

I can add that Sibelius is terrible with cross-staff slurs and cross-beaming only works on chords, not notes—that was a surprise when I wanted to write a single arpeggiated chord across two staves (yes, there's an ugly work-around, and MuseScore has its share of those).

In reply to by freixas

1. thanks for the pointer, I might take a look for this. I even found it hard to get the spacing around the movt title to be consistent in Sibelius, whereas it's simple with a vertical frame to do so in MS.

2. This is for sectional parts, where half the players are playing a different rhythm to the others, so you have to notate it using voices. Pretty common in Russian Ballet music to have simultaneous arco and pizz as well :)

3. Yes, there's really no excuse. Apparently there are no devs left on the Sibelius team, they are all working for Steinberg now or something.

4. I'll have to try harder. Easy enough to define the line (although they REALLY should have had one baked in already). Need to find where to make it act as a cresc.

7. To be fair Sibelius did pretty well with the import from a MuseScore XML file. Dorico made a bit of a dogs dinner of the end of it (1st 3 movts were fine, last one was a bit munged), but most importantly stripped any unrecognised annotations, which is a serious problem because now I would have to fully manually cross-check with the original and add a lot of human errors while I'm at it.

8. I always hated the ribbon. When they (MicroSoft) put it into Explorer it was a sad day. I think it's particularly telling that the software they used to develop software does NOT use it. Maybe they tried to float the idea and got shouted down by all their devs.

Yes, I also found the manual tweaking of slur and dynamic, and start of hairpin position was the main source of pain, and the slow-down with larger scores. When it takes 2s to drag a text item you can't get anything done in any reasonable timeframe.

I'll look forward to the extra pain around those areas in Sibelius.... thanks for the warning.

In reply to by Adrien de Croy

Ok, a hint on making that crescendo work:

Go to the Notations tab and open the Lines dialog.
Under Staff Lines, select the dashed line, then click new.
In the Line dialog, Change the name of the line to something like "Cresc", add the text you want and make sure the line is "Right of symbols/text"

You probably knew all that. Now, go to the Play tab and select the Dictionary.
Select Staff Lines.
In the Lines list, select the newly created line.
On the right, select "Play crescendo or diminuendo".
Click OK and you're done.

A hint at creating movements:

Use a Layout / Special Page Break at the end of each movement.
Using the Inspector and with the ending bar selected, enable Section end.

For me, this makes the first page of every movement have the same layout.

I don't know the rules for Russian Ballets or whatever. For woodwinds, parts are combined using special 1, 2 and a2 markings (all in one voice), OR two voices OR split into separate staves when things get hairy. Check out https://musescore.org/en/node/107781#comment-488101 and some of the discussion below that. There is no easy way to do this in either MuseScore or Sibelius, but at least Sibelius can do an a2-style batch merge. Using this approach, you could have pizz and arco playback by "simply" separating the staves when this occurs.

It is a misconception that all the developers are gone. Sibelius is being actively developed. New features show up every couple of months. Often, they aren't the features you really want, but yes, it is being worked on.

I also didn't have too much of a problem importing MuseScore MusicXML files into Sibelius. Sibelius seems to do much worse importing its own exports!

If you have additional problems, you really should ask in the Sibelius forums. Using a MuseScore forum to tell you how to use Sibelius seems a little awkward. :-)

In reply to by freixas

Actually as an indictment on how hard Sibelius is to use, I actually gave up on this.

I could define the line no problem.

But it will be a cold day in hell before I could figure out how to get it to display UNDER the stave.

I edited layout settings, and magnetic settings to no avail. So, back to hairpins

there are a lot of hidden attributes that you don't get to know about, and which are copied when you derive a new style. So if you pick the wrong one, you're hosed.

But yes, doing Sibelius support on a MuseScore forum is er cough... well um

I agree with you about Sibelius as the most stable to work with over long periods of time, but I very strongly disagree with you about Notion as Inferior to Musescore. In my opinion this is just about flat-out wrong.
1) Notion can play full VST Orchestras absolutely great. Orchestras like the sampled libraries from London Symphony Orchestra and IK's Miroslav Philharmonik. It seems to me that Musescore users are not even familiar with this option and therefore compare Notion at a way lower level ignoring it's superior features. As far as I could find out Musescore cannot play sampled orchestras and the included sound library is very basic not remotely where Notion's professional sounding libraries are.
2) Note entry with Notion is light years ahead of Musescore. With Musescore it is not intuitive at all compared with Notion which is as easy as it can get except for the hickup it has for adding more bars which is cumbersome in Notion.
3) Neither Musescore or Notion can create extensive notes and text documents integrated with the worksheet. This makes it difficult to work with in instruction where you want a live document with both text editor and notation that can be played by the reader. A huge drawback and I wonder if the developers of Notation ever taught music else it would have been incorporated from get go. Sibelius is way better in this regard. I dont see this either in Musescore.
4) Musescore is free which is great and the support is GREAT. Notion on the other hand is +150USD and the support SUCKS! in my opinion. All the wrong way round. In this regard Notion gets a zero and Musescore gets A+. Ever since Presonus bought Notion it all went down the tubes by my experience. Pre Presonus it was perfect software for me and perfect support. So in this regard Musescore wins hands down

To Summarize:
If Musescore learn from Notion and
a) adapt its easy notation entry and drop the current cumbersome non-intuitive entry,
b) support full orchestra VST's and full orchestral scores
c) can playback FULL orchestral scores (say 30 instruments) on e.g. 24core machines (Which Notion cannot do..it chokes on multicore at some point which is disappointing for commercial software) and
d) can create integrated text and playable notation instruction documents
Musescore will go a long way to trump Sibelius and Notion. But I definitely dont see that Musescore is better than either of Notion or Sibelius at this stage in a professional setting, but if the developers can take a hint they can surely make that change along these lines to make it obviously the better option.

My 2c from my experience.

In reply to by retnev

My original comment from a year ago is still getting responses! And MuseScore is still at version 2 (but 2.1) and Notion is still at 6.

Perhaps retnev could detail exactly how Notions note entry works. This might make it easier for people to discuss. I find that "intuitive" is often what you're used to. I don't remember Notion's not input being easier than MuseScore's, but it's been a while.

Even if Notion has great note entry and fantastic playback, it is still a lousy package for me and probably for others. It automates layout, which is nice, but doesn't provide an option of adjusting basic elements like slurs. That ends it's usefulness for me.

The approach in most other notation programs is to lay things out automatically, but allow the user to adjust the things the program doesn't get right. As I vaguely recall, Notion allows some adjustments, but not for slurs. I noted some other key features missing—I don't doubt you can notate some music, but it has too many weaknesses (and serious bugs—really, they can't get a tremolo right?) to merit consideration as other than a toy.

MuseScore may be painful to use at times and it's lousy at performing music, but it's not a toy. You can lay out professional scores.

In reply to by freixas

What is "intuitive" different than your "the interface feels clunky" ? ... about as subjective as the claim. Notion NEVER feels clunky to me. Musescore feels seriously "inadequate" to me, but that is as valid and questionable as feeling Clunky. Pedantics is not going to get us anywhere. I gave some compelling reasons why this review was a bit hyperbole against Notion in favor of Musescore.
Another point in case. You mention that "maybe I can use it as performance" . That shows me that you never worked in depth with Notion and that the quite negative view might be lack of exposure. Notion was developed for performance primarily and you seem to be unaware of the original scope of Notion. So it will be generally obvious that you would misinterpret the direction they took with the software. So it is a bit unfair to run it down like that. You probably haven't used Notion with Miroslav. I think your view will change if you do. The Musescore sounds are really amateurish and unusable compared to Notion. I must be blunt. What does it help your notation is absolutely perfect but your instruments you use to play it back are basically a high school orchestra and doesnt even have dynamic vectors or can handle ornamentation natively. The cheap pitch shifting and synthetic digitally created ornamentation doesnt cut it against something like Miroslav with Notion or Notion's built in sampled London Symphony. If Musescore is more accurate as a typesetting program then so be it. So is LaTeX, which is arguably an even better typesetting solution if you are really serious. I see Musescore primarily only as a typesetting application and not even remotely performance.
Everytime I had a problem with Notion (as the ones you mentioned) the developer always had a solution and it was usually something I misunderstood. What you mention in your review is in my opinion generally just unfamiliarity with the second level of notation input. It is not a completely flat system. Now with the original Notion developer gone, and Presonus owning it, I guess it wont be so easy to find out to get help when you are stuck which makes me look at applications like Musescore. Just crazy that the paid for applications has less support than the free ones.

The sad thing is that Musescore can beat Notion at its game easily with only a few more relatively straight forward additions like allowing professional VSTs for instruments. If that is done in multitasking fashion so the orchestra can be run on a multicore system, there will be very little competition from any of the others.

In reply to by retnev

You can already use MuseScore with VST's of your choice via Jack and your favorite DAW, if playback is sufficiently important to you. it is true this is not the main focus of the program. Unfortunately, the effort required to make the sorts of improvements necessary to be a serious competitor on that front are pretty enormous and would take much attention away from the more important notation features, but still, see my other recent response - we 8are* actively taking steps as we are able to.

BTW, while LaTeX is indeed a fine typesetting package, to my knowledge none of the packages dealing with music are anywhere near as sophisticated in capability or rendering as MuseScore. However, change to LilyPond and now you have a point :-).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you for the clarification. I will try Musescore with Jack+VST's sometime. If that works fluently I will be more than happy as Notion (as good as it is) has some problem only being able to work with certain processors (curious) and not with large servers. As you can remember, is there any memo or part of a manual that deals with Performance in detail you can direct me to. It will be really great if I can get Musescore to work with my Orchestras. If I understand you correctly, multitasking the orchestra instruments will be the purpose of the DAW? I need to ask as I have no clue how you interface with the VST's, so if I understand it correctly I need to make sure my DAW can run multitasking on e.g. a 24-core machine. Large orchestras choke a dual or 4-core processor fast.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, I know you make this claim repeatedly. It's your standard answer when anyone complains about the lack of VSTs. But it's not true. I did want to use MuseScore with VSTs and I couldn't get it to work with my favorite DAW. And I tried twice, a few months apart. And I found the crib notes from someone who got it to work.

In any case, there is more to using VSTs than piping signals to a DAW. The Sibelius Dictionary provides a reasonable interface for translating music to sounds in a way that supports multiple articulations. Can MuseScore tell the DAW to switch to a staccato sample? Can it know when to create a trill and when to use a sampled trill? Can it enable a VSTs legato toggle?

You just managed to get retnev to believe MuseScore can actually match Notions performance capabilities when, in fact, even if one could get the Rube Goldberg approach of MuseScore/Jack/DAW/VST to work, it still wouldn't be in the ball park--it would just sound better than MuseScores native sounds.

In reply to by freixas

Wise words on this thread from Thomas as usual, but I did want to confirm something you are saying here: indeed, there is much more to good playback than merely being able to use VST instruments. I was not trying to mislead anyone, and I explicitly tried to be clear about that when I said the work required to really compete in this area would be "pretty enormous". But since the specific desire for VST support was expressed, I wanted to clarify that this much is already possible - and if you're having trouble, feel free to start a new thread and ask for help. But as you correctly note, even if you get that going, that still does not really come close to doing what is needed to have top-notch playback in terms of handling of articulations, dynamics, etc.

BTW, getting back to Thomas' suggestion: as you may be aware, MuseScore 2.2 will have direct MIDI out capability, no more need for JACK. So feel free to try a nightly build of that and see how it works with your favorite DAW, and report back in a new thread, or in the existing thread on MIDI out in the Development forum.

In reply to by retnev

Retnev: Right after I said "the interface feels clunky," I actually gave several concrete examples to illustrate. As far as I can tell, you haven't given a single example of how Notion's note input is superior to MuseScore. I personally do not remember feeling that Notion's input system was better than MuseScore's, but it's been a year since I even looked at Notion.

If you'd like MuseScore to change their note entry system to something else, you would be better served by creating a new post with a clear title and then explaining how you think MuseScore input should work. If you just wanted to state your thoughts on Notion vs. MuseScore, you certainly have the right, but some details would be useful for anyone else reading the thread. What are the features of Notion that make its note input so much better than MuseScore's (or the inverse, what is wrong with MuseScore's input vs. Notion's).

In reply to by freixas

It is clearly demonstrated that your review is horribly biased and that you didnt understand the scope of Notion to be able to make the claims you did. I stand by what I said. I think you do a disservice to Notion with such uninformed bias and in the end you will do disservice to prospective users who actually know how Notion works and can only shake their heads about what they read. This kind of attaboy bias in the end rubs of badly on Musescore. Next time actually try to use software before you blast it to pieces. Regarding your questions about Notion 6. Buy Notion 6 Read the manual and before you pull out the guns contact Presonus regarding the issue you have.

In reply to by retnev

Hi everyone, let's all reserve our energy to help improve the upcoming 2.2 release. Think about one thing you really like to see improved and focus on that. Make screenshots or a video to explain the issue and propose how to make it better. Alternatively jump into the issue queue and help testing some of the improvements to make sure they are really working well. Check out this page https://musescore.org/en/handbook/musescore-22-hit-list

In reply to by retnev

I would agree that "intuitive" is a hopeless subjective term - what seems intuitive and simple to one might seem confusing to another. Personally, as a person with pretty extensive experience using a variety of different notation programs over the past 30 years (!), I have found the iPad version of Notion to have one of the most confounding note input interfaces. Maybe I'd feel differently about the desktop version, but the point is, it's definitely subjective. MuseScore's note input system interface is extremely similar to that used in Sibelius, and that's definitely saying and worth something in itself.

We also have one of the best facilities in the business for incorporating notated into examples into text documents (between the image capture tool and the extension for LibreOffice), although indeed, there is no live playback with this. That is something I am very interested in continuing to work on, also on making these documents more accessible to blind musicians.

No doubt that Notion currently has a better story with respect to playback, though. That hasn't been our focus, but do see the discussions going on right now about developing a new soundfont, and also other playback improvements coming in the next major release of MuseScore.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

How does Notion's Ipad version compare with Musescore's "Ipad" version ?
I would guess the latter doesnt exist and Notion at least have that functionality ?
You would be right that the Notion desktop version is better, but at least Notion has an Ipad app and Musescore doesnt even have it. So it is a bit of a stretch to beat up on a competitors product that exist and complain about it when you own product doesnt even have it.

In reply to by retnev

As someone who has trodden on a few mines with Sibelius + VST lately, even the ability to use a VST is only a very small part of the picture if you want good rendering. Without proper articulation, whatever you render will sound like a toy.

MuseScore isn't really a rendering app, the sounds are mostly to help ensure you get the notation right. It's primarily for notation. I didn't find the note input to be clunky, but I also haven't tried Notion. I find musescore note entry a bit easier than Sibelius (which I now use), as having to tab through the numeric keypad overlays is tedious in Sibelius.

But I've bought a few VST and none of them do anywhere near as good a job as NotePerformer out of the box. Dealing with soundsets is a major pain in the neck. The Soundset project has some soundsets for some more popular VSTs but the ones I have (which I really liked the string sounds for, such as 8Dio and Kirk Hunter) don't have them, and making your own is a big undertaking. I understand the problem they are trying to solve, I just wish some of the other VST makers would make something specifically for Sibelius that was as easy to use as NotePerformer. It seems like if you want to get an extra 5% sound quality you have to do about 100 times as much work, and the kind of work that a computer really should be able to do.

I agree, that Musescore is a pretty good, light-weight scoring tool. However, sometimes I need something that will play the arrangements with a more accuracy. Sibelius is pretty good for this. Notion 6 has better sounds. However, the articulations aren't very accurate or pretty sounding. In fact I wish Sibelius had better sounds. That is why I use a few different scoring tools. I write for film and on a budget, you might want to use the scored instrument as they are and add other VST's in a mixing program. For very large scores, Sibelius is King. Finale is too clunky. Musescore is great for small pieces, maybe piano /flute, just for sketching, perhaps.

Wow, this is great analytics! Thank you and looking forward to seeing the comparison of MuseScore 3 with actual software in the market ;)

The most interesting part is the collision detection. It was one of the main advantages of Sibelius over MuseScore 2 in the post and now is available in MuseScore 3.

In reply to by Anatoly-os

All said, regarding others, however how much I like musescore;
Musescore can never ever come even remotely close to Notion for performance. Just forget it. When it gets to running full symphonies Musescore has no options. No contest. Musescore has very primitive sampled instruments where Notion has ultra realistic full symphonies.
Just forget it.
If someone tells you otherwise they havent tried it or own it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I wasted a lot of time on SoundFonts—they are fine for playing around, but not for anything serious. I've got tons of them.

As for DAWs, I spent (wasted) many hours following detailed instructions for connecting MuseScore 2 to my DAW with absolutely no success (and I'm a software engineer!). As I recall, the process involved installing and configuring a piece of byzantine nerdware called JACK. I'm sure some people got it working, but it's not a practical solution for non-techie composers or even some techie composers.

There is a qualitative difference between the ease and quality of something like Notion (compose and play out of the box) and MuseScore. It's like saying that mice and elephants are pretty much the same because both have four legs and a tail.

Note that I am only critiquing the performance quality of MuseScore 2. MuseScore 3 may be a whole new ballgame—I don't know. It was certainly possible to lay out some nice scores and that may have improved a lot with MuseScore 3.

Well, it escapes me how someone writes a comparison between two products by starting out "I don't know too much about the other product (Finale), What? To be able to appear at least somewhat credible, you should have a great deal of experience with working with the products you are comparing. Don't you agree? Or at least sit together with two people each being specialized in one of the programs you are comparing and let them give their insides.
Your article is completely useless to me. I have been using Finale as a professional engraver for over 25 years and wanted to see if it is worth paying 150 Dollars for an upgrade every so many years, when Musescore is free. Well, I learned nothing from your article that would help me make that decision. Sorry to say!

In reply to by tgmusic1

Indeed, but also, this article is two years old, and a ton has changed since then anyhow.

Better to maybe just download MsueScore for yourself and play around, Then if you have questions, feel free to ask here (actually, better to start a new thread).

Personally, at this point I think MuseScore actually exceeds Finale in some pretty significant ways in terms of the default layout, but there are still some advanced customizations and non-standard notations that Finale has better support for. I say this based on familiarity with older versions of Finale, but nothing I've seen suggests the default layout has improved as much as MuseScore's has over the past few years, and I assume they wouldn't have removed some of their more advanced customizations.

For most people, these differences are irrelevant. For a professional engraver, it's likely to be a two-edged sword. The better default layout in most cases will save you time, but you might also be relying on some of the advanced customizations that MuseScore doesn't offer.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm new to Musescore. First off I have only a small idea of what goes into making a program like Musescore. I am sure many long hours have gone into it. I want to say THANK YOU! I believe that many who use this program on a daily basis are so appreciative for all of the hard work. I hope that good karma comes around to you for all of this.

Since I own Notion 6 build 6.5.470 64 bit on a PC, I looked up the comparison to Notion and this thread popped up. My reason for looking at Musescore was to have the capability to export XML to midi though Notion may also do this as of the recent update.

No program does everything so it is good to have programs that fill in the gaps. I think a few points need to be made about Notion 6 coming from a slightly different perspective. I am a part time composer who makes lots of different kinds of music. I began simply playing ideas into a recorder which later became a DAW which then later became a bunch of DAWs and a bunch of sampled instruments many times over. I almost NEVER wrote the notation first. Instead I play in ideas to a DAW. Sometimes I found I needed notation for other musicians and I read notation ok hence my search for notation software.

NOW- knowing what I said in the above paragraph it is really a great thing that Presonus Studio One DAW shakes hands well with Notion so that I can record any ideas I can imagine and have them all beautifully appear as notation in any way I please. This is HUGE for someone like me. I can play in a composition and have printed music in my hand the next minute for all parts. I understand that Dorico is similar using Cubase. I haven't tried that program. Even though I can do this, I most often simply make the music and it goes online. The listener doesn't care if there is notation or not. If I were selling music to orchestras, then yes there is a need for it.

Juts a different perspective and way of working.

Wow, great article! Exactly what I was looking for! And a good honest overview. You didn't have to tell me how to buy the other programs for cheaper, but you did!

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