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I'm taking a music composition course and it's highly recommended we grab some software for music composition, the two most popular being Sibelius and Finale. They aren't overly pricey, as both have student versions, but I was wondering if anyone knew of some good free music composition programs.

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closed as off topic by random Nov 25 '12 at 4:21

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5 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Check out MuseScore http://www.musescore.org/

Its terrific and open source.

EDIT: Sept. 2011: http://musescore.org/en/download

Edit: No Longer in Beta, and very useful.

EDIT: As Open Source implies, this is a collaborative effort. It has a fantastic group of developers and wonderful support. It is being translated into many, many languages and is available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Highly recommended.

(I am not a part of this product except as a user).

EDIT: Here is a comparison of MuseScore and Finale Notepad. This is a MuseScore site. http://musescore.org/comparing-musescore-and-finale-notepad-feature-feature

EDIT: Beta 0.9.6 beta 2 released: http://prereleases.musescore.org/windows/

EDIT: 0.9.6 released http://musescore.org/en/node/6002

Edit: 1.0 released.

Edit: Getting better and better.

EDIT: Update: 1.2 released:http://musescore.org/en/musescore-1.2-released

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Looks great, checking it out now, Thanks! –  Evan Sep 24 '09 at 21:53
    
Please post your impressions. Regards. –  Xavierjazz Sep 28 '09 at 5:15
    
Unfortunately even the recent version (0.9.5) is way too unstable. Sometimes the file gets corrupted so I lose my work. But it's an effort worth mentioning, and by far the most mature among its alternatives (Canorus, Denemo). –  thSoft Feb 4 '10 at 12:52
    
@thSoft - Version 0.9.6 is now released - much more stable. –  Xavierjazz Feb 25 '10 at 20:12
    
1.0 and getting better! –  Xavierjazz Apr 8 '11 at 11:37
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There's also Lilypond, which is to Finale/Sibelius what Latex is to Microsoft Word - you write music in a text file as a series of notes and run it through the Lilypond processor which converts it to a PDF & MIDI file. It's now quite mature and produces beautiful music.

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+1 So many thanks for mentioning LilyPond! It handles literally all aspects of musical notation, lays out the score automatically the optimal way, and is free and cross-platform software. –  thSoft Feb 4 '10 at 12:53
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I'd just like to point out that while it is beautiful and I love using it, it's got a really painful learning curve. –  Babu Dec 9 '10 at 16:35
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I highly recommend using LilyPond, but with an auxiliary editor that makes editing more convenient (a little bit closer to WYSIWYG):

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If your requirements are moderate, maybe NoteFlight is for you - it's a free online music notation editor.

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free up to a point –  rogerdpack May 1 '11 at 2:31
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Musink is an excellent free music composition application I use. It's Windows only and really easy to use (less clunky than Sibelius or Finale). Very quick to write with, creates PDFs, PNGs, MIDI files etc. Free download from http://musink.net

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I think the question has been deemed off topic as "a shopping or buying recommendation" (though you mention free download!) and though a useful answer I think we should discourage off topic questions. –  pnuts Nov 25 '12 at 6:03
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