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Are you the next Mozart? Do you want to pen the next global hit for your band? Perhaps you’re trying to get your head around music theory 5 Best Sites to Learn the Basics of Music Theory 5 Best Sites to Learn the Basics of Music Theory Are you someone who loves music? Use one of these great sites to learn a little bit more about what makes music what it is. Read More ? If so, you need some tools to write sheet music.

Thankfully, things have moved on a bit since the days of Mozart. You don’t have to write your masterpieces by candlelight with a quill; you can create it all digitally.

Sounds great. But how do you do it? Which apps should you turn to? In this article, I’m going to summarize the seven best tools for writing your own sheet music. Keep reading to find out more.

1. MuseScore

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

MuseScore is a standalone app; you’ll need to download and install the software. It’s free to use. In my opinion, it’s the best app on this list, but your perception may differ depending on your usage requirements.

It possesses all the essential ingredients you’d want from sheet music software. There’s support for unlimited staves, your compositions can have unlimited length, you can boost its power using plug-ins, and it all looks fantastic. While it lacks some of the advanced features you find in paid apps like Sibelius and Finale, it is more than adequate for most users.

Additional features include user-defined keyboard shortcut, and the ability to drag note modifiers and performance markings.

Download: MuseScore (free)

2. BlankSheetMusic

Available on: Web app

If MuseScore rivals expensive paid apps in terms of features, BlankSheetMusic is at the other end of the scale.

Quite simply, it’s an app that lets you add some basic musical symbols to blank sheets and print them. You cannot add your own notes. If you want to print off reams of music sheets to write on manually, this is the best tool.

You do have some limited options to play with. You can add a range of clefs, tabs, and staffs, and adjust your paper size, margins, and rotation.

When you’re ready, just click the giant Print icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

3. LilyPond

Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux

LilyPond is the brainchild of two musicians who wanted to create “beautiful” sheet music. As such, the app focuses on style as much as substance.

Unlike some of the other apps in this list, LilyPond does not rely on a drag-and-drop interface for adding notes and musical symbols. Instead, it uses text input; it’s more akin to a programming language How to Choose the Right Web Programming Language to Use How to Choose the Right Web Programming Language to Use Why should certain languages be chosen over others in any given scenario? This article will provide a checklist of questions the programmer should ask in order to choose which language to use. Read More . It might take some getting used to if you’ve spent a lot of time working with more traditional sheet music tools.

The best thing about using text files for your music is they are future-proof. They’re harder to corrupt Access & Recover Corrupt Office Files with These Tips Access & Recover Corrupt Office Files with These Tips Your important document is corrupted and you don't have a backup? Not all is lost! You can try to repair the file or find a backup you didn't know you had. Read More , and you’ll always be able to open them, even if the parent software eventually dies.

Download: LilyPond (free)

4. Musink

Available on: Windows

Musink is a relative newcomer. It lets you create sheet music and MIDI files.

To use the app, just click which note you want to add and where you want it to appear. It adjusts note and rest durations automatically. To make life easier for you, it also has a selection of free templates. They have pre-defined note-sizes, page margins, and title fonts.

Drummers will appreciate the app Learn To Play The Drums With These Websites & Tools Learn To Play The Drums With These Websites & Tools Who doesn't love a skilled drummer? Beats are the heart of music and a great beat by a great drummer can absolutely transform the spirit of a song into something transcendent. I've tried learning how... Read More . It has tools specifically designed for the instrument. They include flams, sticking, and ghost notes as well as special layout rules.

Musink also offers paid version. It introduces the ability to import MIDI files, record from MIDI devices, a customizable metronome, music playback, advanced publishing options, and more. It will set you back $60.

Download: Musink (free)

5. Musette

Available on: Windows

Musette isn’t as glossy as some of its competitors, but don’t let that put you off.

Using the app is easy. Click where you want to add notes, beams, chords, staffs, or braces, then select your note from the menu. It doesn’t have auto-adjustments, you will need to reposition items and fine-tune note spacing manually.

It also has lyric support. You can add lyrics Add Song Lyrics To iTunes With TuneTEXT [Mac] Add Song Lyrics To iTunes With TuneTEXT [Mac] One of the benefits of the Internet is being able to locate song lyrics in a matter of seconds. Who doesn't like singing along with an artist from time to time? Well, with Apple's iTunes,... Read More and music together into single files ready for other users to download and share; lyrics will even align with the music automatically.

Like Musink, a paid version is available. It adds support for grace notes, transposable guitar chords, configurable percussion staves, and editable line widths. It costs $35.

Download: Musette (free)

6. EasyABC

Available on: Windows, Mac

EasyABC is an open-source sheet music creation tool. The app is designed to work with ABC files that will play through your system’s soundcard.

It covers both abcm2ps and abc2midi, and lets you import MusicXML, MIDI, and Noteworthy Composer files. It also makes exporting a breeze; MIDI, SVG, and PDF are supported.

On the Windows version, you can record songs Listen to & Record Free Internet Radio With Audials Listen to & Record Free Internet Radio With Audials Want to listen to Internet radio and record songs for free? Want a solid podcast player? Try out the Audials app for Android. Read More from MIDI directly in the app. Sadly, the feature is not yet available on the Mac release.

Lastly, it has some tools that can help you create clean ABC code. They include fixing uppercase/lowercase notes, easily adding note durations, and an experimental “do-re-mi” mode.

Download: EasyABC (free)

7. Noteflight

Available on: Web app

The Noteflight web app is split into three different tiers: Free, Premium, and Learn.

The free version lets you create up to 10 different scores which you can then share with friends and embed on web pages. You can print your creations, create music on mobile, and connect with other musicians and composers.

The Premium version lets you create unlimited scores, support for 85 instruments, and real-time transcribing from MIDI instruments. It costs $49 per year. The Learn edition is aimed at schools. It costs from $69 per year and adds activity templates, unlimited classes and groups, and content libraries.

Which Apps Do You Use?

I’ve shown you seven of the best apps and sites for writing sheet music. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, and each will appeal to a different subset of users.

Now I want to know what you would add to this list. Which apps did I overlook? What makes them so good? And more importantly, which service do you use when you’re feeling creative?

As always, you can leave all your opinions, input, and suggestions in the comments box below. And don’t forget to share the article with your friends on social media!

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  1. Joe
    July 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I am using Encore Notation (from Passport Music Software, passportmusic.de) now for over 20 years and I am very happy with it. Everything I ever needed was possible with this so easy to use software. In between (some years ago, as no Encore updates had been available) I also tried Finale and Sibelius, but they have not been that easy to use. So I always found my way back to Encore Notation Software.

  2. Khniya
    December 23, 2015 at 1:08 am

    This great stuff

  3. Anonymous
    March 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    How am I going to do Nyan Cat's theme?
    (Hint: I haven't downloaded it yet)

  4. cristian
    January 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    It is quite difficult to edit ,takes a lot of time.Sorry,do not like it.Too complicated.

  5. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    March 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    My only issue with Noteflight is doing pickup notes, it doesn't handle them the way the sheet music shows. I'm trying to turn written work into sheet music on a program so I can listen to it.

  6. Chronic Alibi
    January 27, 2010 at 3:50 am

    I prefer Guitar Pro to Noteflight because it's faster, there's a Realistic Sound Engine, and even drum notation.

  7. WillF
    December 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    The SheetMusicEditor (#2) loses all credibility with the backwards noteheads, but Noteflight blows me away!

  8. Ken
    December 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Noteflight looks quite sophisticated, actually (I'm surprised something of this caliber is available for free, as a web app).

    However, "Noteflight allows you to compose the most complicated songs" is only true if, by "most complicated", you are limited to pre-20th century music.

    Three things I look for in a music notation app:

    1. Can it do meter changes? If not, it's worthless for any music after around 1910. Noteflight can.

    2. Can it do tuplets? Noteflight can do some, and the documentation notes that a future release will allow better tuplet support.

    3. Does it do microtones? Well, almost no music notation software does that - Finale (for $599) can, sort of. But there is a new notation called "Sagittal" that allows just about any microtonal music to be written. I know of no software that does that yet - but in the 21st century it may be crucial.

    • Simon Slangen
      December 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm

      While we're looking at free applications, Scala supports microtonal notations, but misses a lot of other features that Noteflight offers.

      It's hard to find good musical notation software for free - as you mentioned, most suites cost several hundreds of dollars. I realise that Noteflight is an exception, even for freeware in general, and it occasioned me to write this article. It's sad, because the first two 'solutions' hardly reach the same caliber as Noteflight does.

  9. Larry B.
    December 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Sibelius is, by far, the best. Not free, though. It's incredibly fast and I've been using for about 7 years now... there's nothing I can't do with it.