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MuseScore is a free open-source graphical music-notation editor which is available for all three major operating systems: linux, Apple OS X, and Microsoft Windows. This is possible due to the use of the cross-platform graphical window interface called Qt.

MuseScore' user interface is an intersection of those found in Sibelius and Finale. All three notation programs have significant overlap in their user interface conceptualization and organization. But there are differences in how each of these programs behave, which hinders users' facility in more than one of these programs at a time. See the editor war between vi (a superior text editor) and Emacs (an inferior text editor). Notation editors are much more complex than text editors, so their wars tend to go nuclear, particularly since some of them are commercial.

Finale has been around the longest of the three notation editors, and has been dominant in the U.S. where it was originally developed. Sibelius was originally created for the Acorn computer in the U.K., and is now owned by Avid who incorporates it into their audio workstations. MuseScore is the new kid on the block, with development starting around 2002. Being the youngest commercial-grade general-purpose notation editor, it has fewer features and some rough edges; this is also caused by being free software. However, it poses stiff competition to the main commercial programs at the lower end of the market.

1 Exercises

  • Exercise 1: Note Entry and Lyrics
Basic note and lyric entry. You may need to use Ctrl+/ to transpose the notes by an octave at the start of the note entry.
  • Exercise 2: Octaves, Slurs, Fingerings and Text
A demonstration of how to add fingerings, slurs as well as dealing more with octave transposition during data entry on the computer keyboard.
  • Exercise 3: Chords
A demonstration of how to enter chords. Chords can also be entered by interval: Shft plus a number will add a diatonic interval below the current note in a chord. Alt plus a number will add a diatonic interval above the current note in a chord.
  • Exercise 4: Upper and Lower Voices
A demonstration of how to place multiple voices onto a single staff.
Description Exercise 1 Exercise 2 Exercise 3 Exercise 4
Instructions: musescore1.pdf musescore2.pdf musescore3.pdf musescore4.pdf
PDF file export: ex1.pdf ex2.pdf ex3.pdf ex4.pdf
Native MuseScore data file,
ex1.mscx ex2.mscx ex3.mscx ex4.mscx
Native MuseScore data file,
ex1.mscz ex2.mscz ex3.mscz ex4.mscz
MusicXML file export,
ex1.xml ex2.xml ex3.xml ex4.xml
MusicXML file export,
ex1.mxl ex2.mxl ex3.mxl ex4.mxl
Lilypond file export:
MIDI file export: ex1.mid ex2.mid ex3.mid ex4.mid
PostScript file export:
PNG image file export: ex1.png ex2.png ex3.png ex4.png
SVG image file export: ex1.svg ex2.svg ex3.svg ex4.svg
HE-AAC audio export ex1.m4a ex2.m4a ex3.m4a ex4.m4a

2 Links