Handling the Basic Needs of Scoring

dvd in handIn the music notation software inexpensive category you find good packages for the causal musician needing to score a few songs without a lot of the extra tools provided in the larger more expense packages.

For the most part enough features are provided to accomplish 95% of what you will need to do with a notation program.

I’ve used one of these packages very effectively for many years and a majority of the scoring I do to support the site is done with this level of program.

Scan down or click on one of these titles to read more.

Notation Musician – midi to sheet and more

MakeMusic Finale Songwriter

GenieSoft Scorewriter

Inexpensive Music Notation Software

Notation Musician by Notation software (windows only)

notation musicianNotation Musician is a package priced at $38 for converting midi files (your own or others) to sheet music. Many packages claim to do this, but this software is dedicated to it.

The software has features for adding lyrics, playing parts for any instrument, create fake sheets, chord charts, and other features. It’s sister product is a full version with additional features called Notation Composer which offers scoring and composition.

Version 2.6 was released in June 2010 and adds some additional features for better accuracy and readability of transcribed scores. Some optimization of the program now has quicker file handling and editing. We all know how frustrating a slow update can be. There are a few other improvements and you should check them out at the product page at Notation Musician.

MakeMusic Finale Songwriter – Notation Software (Mac and Windows)

Finale SongWriter is perfect for songwriters, band and choir directors, church musicians, students and other musicians. It is in the under $50 category and you can usually find it for about$40.

Finale SongWriter lets you hear your music play back, print sheet music, share songs with the free downloadable Finale Reader and save MP3 files for your iPod.

As a basic package you will not spend a great deal of time learning the software. That’s a good thing because you can spend your time scoring and making music.

The basic feature that make Songwriter usable and easy are the ability to click notes onto the staff and hear their pitches drag notes up and down to find the pitches you want. You can play a MIDI keyboard and see the music appear instantly, import and export MIDI and MusicXML files, and add multiple lyric verses.

Some features

Songwriter has the basic ability to change tempo, transpose to any key, type in a chord name to hear how it sounds and see its guitar fretboard, work with automatic drum grooves/styles, and add automatic harmonies. These are great features the older programs at this level do not have.


You can print great-looking sheet music, save MP3 files, hear your songs on your computer. It comes with a professional software synthesizer and over 128 sounds and no hardware required. I’m not sure about this one but they have a feature to use Human Playback to make songs sound like they’re performed like live musicians, I’m doubtful, but I might need to upgrade to check this feature out.

Technical Requirements

Music Notation Software Inexpensive category requirements for hardware and software are still on the greedy side with around 250 MB for RAM and HD space. You can check Check current pricing here: MakeMusic Finale Songwriter.

SongWriter requires that you authorize the software within 30 days after installation. You are allowed to install SongWriter on one operating system.

There is going to be a small learning curve to get up to speed, but a little experimentation and menu trials will get you there quickly.

Geniesoft Score Writer 4

Scorewriter is a simple to use, although a little frustrating at times, notation program. The improvements in SW4 version have helped the interface become more user friendly. I use this one quite a bit and find it does a decent job for the causal user.

As with any of the low end programs they all have quarks that you have to get used too. Once you get the hang of using them it’s likely you will get fairly fast at producing your scores.

GenieSoft Score Writer is an affordable notation software that makes recording, editing, arranging and printing your music easy and fast. Typical enter is on-screen with your mouse or computer keyboard, or record a MIDI performance. Score Writer’s has a fairly intuitive interface and the editing tools are good. Symbol palettes can be put right out in front of you, so you spend time composing music instead of searching through menus.

It is good for band and small orchestral arrangements, lead sheets, choral parts or even simple notation examples, such as I’ve used in this site.

You control all notation elements with the mouse or computer keyboard. Text handling functions make it easy to add or edit lyrics, page text, measure text and rehearsal marks. Move staves on the page with a click of the mouse — even resize the music on the page. This package sets at the Music Notation Software Inexpensive range and is affordable for the features provided.

At Amazon: GenieSoft Score Writer 4

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