Music 252

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Music 252: Introduction to Music Notation Software

Music 252 is an introduction to music notation editing on computers, with a focus on the Finale and Sibelius programs. Students interested in learning only one of these two programs may take the class for one credit. No prior experience with these programs is required or expected, although being able to read music is. In addition, free alternatives to these two commercial music editors will be surveyed.



The class meets from 10:00 to 11:50 a.m. on Fridays in Braun Music Building, room 128, during the Fall 2010 quarter.

Fall 2010
1 Sep 24      Finale 1: Simple Note Entry
2 Oct   1 Finale 2: MIDI Entry
3 Oct   8 Finale 3: Scanning/MusicXML
4 Oct 15 Finale 4: Editing
5 Oct 22 Noteflight/MuseScore
6 Oct 29 Sibelius 1: Computer Keyboard Entry
7 Nov   5 Sibelius 2: Midi Entry
8 Nov 12 Sibelius 3: Editing
9 Nov 19 Sibelius 4: Editing 2
10 Dec   3 Non-interactive: Lilypond/ABC/Guido



  • 1 or 2 credits, Letter or Pass/Fail
  • 1 credit: come to 5 classes & do final project (Typically Finale section or Sibelius section).
  • 2 credits: come to 10 classes & do final project.
  • Grading:
    • 50% class participation
    • 25% homework
    • 25% final project
  • Final project:
    • Typeset 10 pages of music, your choice, my approval
    • Preliminary project submission 12 noon, 2 December
    • Final project submission due by 12 noon 10 December


Due in class one week after assigned.

  1. Enter three songs from Teton Sioux Music by Frances Densmore using the computer keyboard with Simple Note Entry in Finale. List of songs can be found on page xiii. The first song is on page 67. Choose at least one song which has triplets (tuplets) to try and figure out how to enter tuplet rhythms (i.e., search the manual from the help menu).
  2. Input a page (or less) of simple music of your choice into Finale using all three input methods presented in class so far (Simple, Speedy, HyperScribe). Be able to discuss at the next class meeting: Which method works best for you (as a novice user of Finale)? Which method would work best if you were equally familiar with all input methods?
  3. Scan at least two pages of printed music of your choice and process with SharpEye (preferably using batch mode). Save the extracted symbolic data as MusicXML data and load into Finale for final cleanup and printing. Extra Credit: Input the same music with one of the input methods presented in class (using the computer or MIDI keyboards). Is scanning or manual entry faster for the music you selected (speculate on the differences between novice and expert points of view).

Class resources

  • Finale Tips -- Tips for doing various things in Finale to avoid searching through the manual a second time...


  • Classes:
  • Software:
    • Finale homepage: commercial music notation editor.
    • Sibelius homepage: commercial music notation editor.
    • MuseScore homepage: free open-source music notation editor.
    • Noteflight homepage: online free/subscription music notation editor.
    • Lilypond homepage: free open-source music notation renderer.
    • ABC plus project: musical data format designed for folksongs, with basic polyphonic capabilities that can be graphically rendered with abcm2ps.
    • Guido homepage: musical data format with an online graphical renderer (Noteserver).
    • SharpEye homepage: Music scanning program.
    • MusicXML homepage: Music data format for transferring music notation information between programs.
  • Other notation software not covered in the class:
    • SCORE wikipedia page: professional music typesetting editor (covered in Music 253).
    • dmuse: IDE for music/text data editing and notation rendering of musical data in the MuseData format.
    • MUP homepage: shareware graphical notation renderer.