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.
closed as off topic by random♦ Nov 25 '12 at 4:21
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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.
(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
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.
I highly recommend using LilyPond, but with an auxiliary editor that makes editing more convenient (a little bit closer to WYSIWYG):
If your requirements are moderate, maybe NoteFlight is for you - it's a free online music notation editor.
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