A short update today.
This week (and last week) have been busy with quite a few personal and professional projects!
Music Notation Software Review
Way back in 2018 I did a relatively short look at several different notation software options. I covered the big two (Finale and Sibelius) along with an open-source competitor (MuseScore), and one upstart online-only option (Flat.io).
Today I simply wanted to draw your attention to a recent MuseScore update that improves one of the big drawbacks – aesthetics.
The most recent major update – MuseScore 3.6 – was released in mid-January of 2021.
It contains many new features (the changelog can be found here), but the most notable are certainly the fonts. Leland is a new notation font, and Edwin is a new text font.
There’s a lot that goes into designing a notation font, and this 20-minute video does a great job of breaking down all the different considerations the go into it. This also has an interesting history of a notation program called SCORE that I’ve never heard of.
As an aside, SCORE does remind me of the text-based music notation software called LilyPond. LilyPond is distributed for free under a GNU General Public License, and has a very unique system of writing music using text. I’ve experimented with it a little bit, but it seems to be simlar to SCORE in that the learning curve is steep, but once you’re comfortable with the program you can be very efficient.
There are lots of other useful improvements in MuseScore 3.6 aside from fonts. Improvement in staff layout and beaming, and improvements in the export process all combine to make the resulting scores look much better.
You can see all the major improvements in this 4-minute video:
Right now I’m in the process of updating all my French horn excercises to use the new fonts and layout. For the curious, my 1-octave major scales are using the updated font, while my 1-octave natural minor scales are not (as of March 10, 2021).
If you’ve used MuseScore in the past and were disatisfied with the results, you should give it another look.
Those that are deep into Finale or Sibelious probably won’t want to switch, but if you’re looking for free, flexibile, and high-quality notation software, MuseScore may be the best option out there.