Which is the best notation software for composing?


Vice Admiral of Notes, Dots & at times also Slurs
Sr. Regulator
Hi Robert,

The one you feel most comfortable with.
I'm using Finale for the major body of my work, but occationally use Sibelius when file-compatibility is an issue in a job. - For me Finale is the best, but I've also heard others saying they like Sibelius the best.
Sibelius might be a little easier to get in to, but it might also be it's weakness in terms of it being a little more bothersome to change specific things here and there... but again, I think it's a matter of preference. The prices are also comparable.
Have you used a notation program before?

Robert Spriggs

New member
Thanks corno,

I'm currently using a trial version of Mozart. I don't want to spend a lot of money if there are too many features that I'll never use - if I can get what I need from a lower priced software. I know Finale has a reduced feature version called PrintMusic which I have downloaded the demo of and will try it out probably tonight.

but occationally use Sibelius when file-compatibility is an issue in a job.

By this do you mean that you were given a project that was created in Sibelius so you need Sibelious to continue work on it, or that Sibelius supports more different formats?


Vice Admiral of Notes, Dots & at times also Slurs
Sr. Regulator
Yup - or if a project needs to be delivered in Sibelius.

Have a nice time testing.

Robert Spriggs

New member
I've made my decision. I'm going to go with Finale PrintMusic. It seems to be the best solution for under $100. It's file compatible with the full Finale, and the company will give you full trade-in value if you decide to later buy one of the higher priced softwares. So I can use it until I find it doesn't do everything I want, then I can trade up and I've lost nothing!

Robert Spriggs

New member
I forgot to mention, anybody can download Finale Notepad for free and try thier hand at composing with MIDI playback so you can hear the score right away.

Frederik Magle

Staff member
If you got the v.1.0, you can download the 1.4 upgrade here. I suggest possibly posting an ad on a buy/sell music-software classified site to buy the original version (sorry, don't know any such sites by try a google search).

I am assuming of course that you are not asking for pirated software, because that is strictly forbidden on this forum and results in immediate and permanent ban.

Naomi McFadyen

New member
Sibelius is the best for me- although I do not use it as a composition tool; cos that's bad- purely for playback purposes....
I've never used finale but havent heard much good about it to be honest from people that have.... however, I guess it depends on what genre you use it for and what your preferences are.... (I know Sib is expensive, but if you hunt around in the right places, and I don't want to encourage anyone here..... but you'll find cracked copies about.... Mine isn't cracked though, before you ask!! ;) )

However, as far as notation goes, you cannot beat Lilypond for it's engraving. Free program... amazing results.... I'm currently retypesetting all my publications to Lilypond format, which despight it's going to take a bit of time, it's very much worth the hard work and effort, which is worth it seeing as it's all published music.

If you're not sure what program out of Sib or Finale is best for you though, download demos from the websites and try them out first.... then if you decide to purchase you're not going into the 'unknown' and won't regret wasting your money....

All the best!


Well, I have always used Finale and that is the only program I know. It can do almost anything I want without too much effort. It was not always like that - in the early versions, Finale was clumsy and cumbersome but strangely, that all changed when competition entered the marketplace. All in all, I have not had any real incentive to switch to other programs.


New member
Sibelius does the job for me. I haven't used Finale yet but I'm quite comfortable using Sibelius. I've used encore and guitar pro before but I became much more productive with Sibelius.


New member
I've looked at Sibelius and Finale but prefer to stick to what I know;
Steinberg VST 5.1
It will do many other things ( midi, audio, sequencing, CD burning ) apart from fulfulling all my score needs.
The results are nearly professional, but that is NOT what i'm after.
It is NOT free alas.


Brad Stark

New member
Finale vs. Sibelius

I’ve used Finale for years, and although I’ve heard many people claim the program is hard to learn (steep learning curve, etc), it has never bothered me. But then again, I’ve probably made over 250 files to make scores of my own music, so that kind of experience gets you used to it.

I briefly tried Sibelius (for one or two weeks) and it felt pretty strange--even counter-intuitive to me. I’m sure I could learn how to use it, but I think Finale is very flexible and I feel confident I can pretty much do anything I want to with it in terms of notation.

I would understand why you have a hard time figuring out what program to use, I’m sure both Finale and Sibelius are fine in the end. However, as mentioned there are some other programs worth considering.


New member
please don't forget Overture. Not only is it for most people a good deal cheaper than Sibelius or Finale but it is both easier to use and, above all, it has by far the best instrument library support (complete VST host for instance) on the market if getting a realistic rendering of your music is important. With Sibelius for instance, you're pretty well stuck with GPO which isn't bad but there's much better out there.


New member
Sibelius gets my vote

After trying two versions of Finale, Logic pro and Sibelius for Jazz scores and composition, I find it the quickest to learn and output on. I have not nearly tapped the potential of the program.
I am looking for a used/discounted copy of Sibelius composing software. I am doing writing and arranging for Jazz groups and I find Sibelius the easiest to use. I could buy an older version and upgrade.
Any ideas?
All the best


I am using MagicScore Maestro, my friend recommended me and I'm quite happy with it. The interface is intuitive and though not being a professional I'm still able to create cool stuff with it.


New member
If you go to this link, you'll find an official review of what the experts consider to be the top ten notation programmes for their corresponding prices:


I'm not too sure I agree with it though. I have Finale, and the learning curve has been putting me off slightly. However, because I have Finale 2010, I was qualified to purchase Notion 3 at a very cheap price (£76), and that is very user-friendly. What's more it accepts midi and xml files from all other programmes so it can link up with your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation/Sequencer) and other notation programmes. I'm having a lot of fun with it at the moment.


Staff member
That's a nice link for comparison shopping ... thanks for sharing it with the community here.