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Lightweight Music Scoring Software

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by TroyK, Nov 22, 2017.


  1. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I let me Sibelius version get old enough that I don't have an upgrade discount. I'm remiss to spend on a full version, but notice that they've come up with a cheaper, light version (Sibelius-first) that I think I could get by with. I used Finale PrintMusic for years prior to. I've got friends who use various freeware, that I never liked.

    Checking in to see what the consensus might be. Based on a search it seems like it's been more than 5 years since we've had this discussion.

    My needs:
    Mostly scoring my original compositions as jazz lead sheets.
    Occasionally lyrics
    Need to be able to transpose for horns
    I liked that in playback, Finale would play the chords behind the melody. If Sibelius does that, it's not as simple and I never made it work. I can live without it, but hate to.
    I don't do midi-entry

    What I've never liked about both Finale and Sibelius is that they think we're all scoring orchestra parts, so they want the instrumentation et al. Normally, I'm just trying to create a lead sheet in the concert key, then I transpose it to Eb, Bb, and bass clef, so everyone has chords, melody and form in their register. Something else I've gotten used to, so I can live with it, but I would prefer something simpler.

    Most of my charts are in .sib format at this point, so ideally I could convert them, but it wouldn't be that hard to recreate them and it might help me clean a few things up.

    So, what say ye?
     
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Subbed... I've been using Finale for nearly 10 years so I'm interested to hear the recs.
     
  3. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    Ithaca/Seattle
    I've never used Sibelius First, but it looks like it would be what you want.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    What version of Sibelius are you on? I'm in the same boat but Sibelius 6 does everything I want and need. I think Sibelius first is a great choice for where you are - I'd probably be happy with it if I didn't already have 6. I will never use Finale again, for any reason... personal at this point.

    The students at the U. use a number of free programs like Noteflight and Musescore. They talk about how convenient they are, but when they turn in projects they are often writing in things by hand that their program either couldn't do, or that they couldn't figure out how to do without wasting a ton of time. Life is too short for that.
     
    the_Ryan and Tom Lane like this.
  5. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    Ithaca/Seattle
    Noteflight is notoriously really bad.

    Musescore has gotten better, but it's still not in the same category as Finale or Sibelius
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  6. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I was on 5 or 6, they won't honor my upgrade and the main computer that it was on crashed.
     
  7. Matthijs

    Matthijs

    Jul 3, 2006
    Amsterdam
    I used First, but upgraded to 7 (or 8 I forget). I think First would work for what you want, but I never found a way to get around making a full score with several parts. I sometimes use the piano as a "lead sheet" part and add transposed horn parts and print them out seperately. As far as I remember it was possible to add lyrics and chords in the horn parts too. I ran into some limitations in the playback and printing options and fell for an upgrade offer in a moment of weakness.
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Yeah, they were a great company until they were bought by Avid, who shortly after the economic downturn laid off/fired their entire development team. Avid is the same company that bought and then completely ruined M-Audio, so I was not going to upgrade on principle unless I absolutely had to. I wish I could help you get the program you had back up and running - Sib6 is an incredibly stable platform. One of my better students uses Sibelius First and really likes it. Two of our composition faculty at the U use the latest version of the full program and like it a lot.
     
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  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    ....so, given those things...are we sure it's a better choice than Finale?

    I downloaded Musescore2 because it was free and said it could read in .sib files, but so far I haven't been able to get it to do that.

    Surprising something hasn't emerged in this space. If Sibelius displaced Finale and Avid ruined Sibelius, it seems there's an opportunity, especially if all of the original Sibelius developers need jobs.
     
    clclark likes this.
  10. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    Ithaca/Seattle
    It does exist, but unfortunately they're still rolling out some advanced features. I'm not sure how well it does lead sheets because I don't know anyone who uses it in person.

    Dorico – The future of scoring

    Insert personal/OT rant here:

    At this point, I've spent close to five years on Sibelius 7.1 and while it has its issues I'm able to do everything I need and I'm too lazy to try to relearn another software.
     
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    $600 is a bit of investment for my needs. Ironically though, it looks like they would accept my Sibelius upgrade and drop me down to $250, even though Avid won't.


    I get the learning curve. I'd be okay with a switch if it was a good one. Again, my needs are pretty simple, though I am really anal-retentive about layout and precision of my notation. My brain works a certain way and I can't deal with the software putting things where and in ways that I don't want them to be.

    I signed up for a 30 Day trial of Sibelius First. We'll see how I connect with it.
     
    the_Ryan likes this.
  12. I have used must for staff notation. Transposing keys and clefs is very easy. I used finale in my undergrad and I think that musescore is incredibly more intuitive to use. I haven't used either to a great extent and it's been a while, but last I needed something, musescore more than met my needs. I should add that this is from an educator's perspective, so I don't use all the bells and whistles that finale or sibelius have to offer. I also haven't tried lead sheets, ymmv.
     
  13. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I ended up buying Sibelius First. It works. It's already frustrating me, but it works.
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I would love to hear your thoughts on the way it frustrates you, especially as I still use Sib6. Anything you add may help me make good recommendations to students.
     
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'm just getting into it and I'm sure I could build a long list. If you look at the lead sheet I uploaded to another thread last night (and I would LOVE for you to, Chris) you'll see that I wrote "copyright 2017" at the bottom. This was after 20 minutes of trying to enter the copyright symbol and searching and discussions on how to do so. There is an item in the text menu for the inserting the copyright and all the instructions say to click on it and it will insert it. It creates a text box there, but doesn't put the symbol in. I tried entering the ASCII code (which I shouldn't have to do), but it wouldn't take it. So, around 11:00 I just said "whatever" and typed out "copyright".

    Stupid detail, not related to music, but a really basic feature that should work. Things like this seem to happen all the time and did with Finale too back when I used it. At the end of the day, the price point was right, it works for what I need for it to, despite aggravations and the .sib file format is a common one among people I collaborate with.

    I would have happily used something lighterweight, (not built to score orchestras) and could have done without medi interfaces and things if it been easy to create scores with, transpose, and generate horn parts, etc. but nothing I demo'ed was better. I always eventually adapt to whatever I use in the end and I will to SF as well.
     
  16. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I really like Crescendo by NCH software. The only thing it doesn't do well is lyrics. I was charting my own original compositions in minutes with it. The note entry is far better than Finale (which I own). it is free, although they encourage a $50 payment if used for commercial purposes -- but there is no restriction on the free download and no means of determining if anyone is using it for commercial purposes or not. You can export as PDF and as an image, I believe, and change fonts etcetera. Really, really good!

    Check out the free download -- the note entry is its strong point. You enter notes using the same logic you use in MS Office products etcetera. I liked it to much I paid the $50 even though it was unecessary to encourage NCH software to continue investing in its development. The cool thing is after you put a note on the staff, up pops a very efficient popup menu with articulations, accidentals, clefs, key signatures -- there is no searching for stuff in illogical places like in Finale.

    I wish it had MUSICXML exporting. Because I could see myself using its note entry to get the chart into Crescendo, exporting it as a MUSICXML file, and then importing that XML file into Finale.

    Music Notation Software for Writing Music Score

    By the way, I tried our MusicEase, MuseScore (open source), Dorico, and a few others (one had Power in the title), and none of them came even close to the intuitive note entry and formatting of Crescendo. Check out the link above to be charting intuitively in minutes....(and I'm not on the payroll at NCH either!!! Just a very dedicated user).