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 Wednesdays in Braun Music Building, room 128, during the Fall 2012 quarter.

Fall 2012
1 Sep 26      Finale 1: Simple Note Entry
2 Oct   3 Finale 2: MIDI Entry
3 Oct 10 Finale 3: Scanning/MusicXML
4 Oct 17 Finale 4: Fine Detail Editing
5 Oct 24 Noteflight/MuseScore
6 Oct 31 Sibelius 1: Alphabetic Note Entry
7 Nov   7 Sibelius 2: Midi Entry
8 Nov 14 Sibelius 3: Editing
9 Nov 29 Sibelius 4: Editing 2
10 Dec   5 Non-interactive: Lilypond/ ABC / Guido / muse2ps



  • 1 - 2 credits, Letter or Pass/Fail
  • 1 credit: come to 5 classes & do final project. (typically Finale section or Sibelius section).
  • 2 credit: come to 10 classes & do final project (both Finale section and Sibelius section).
  • Grading:
    • 50% class participation
    • 25% homework
    • 25% final project
  • Final project:
    • Typeset 5-10 pages of music, your choice, instructor's approval.
    • Preliminary project submission 12 noon, 3 December.
    • Final project submission due by 12 noon 12 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 a MusicXML file 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)?
  4. Typeset two of the example lines of music given in this PDF file (not including the one done in class, of course). See hints. Alternatively, choose an equivalent amount of music of your choice and my approval to do.
  5. Typeset 1/2 to 1 page of music in Noteflight and MuseScore (either the same or different music). Email a link to these scores in your Noteflight and MuseScore accounts. Also, transfer data from noteflight or MuseScore via MusicXML into Finale and print the music in Finale.
  6. Input a page of music of your choice into Finale with alphabetic note input.
  7. Input a page of a Chopin prelude using MIDI keyboard entry in Sibelius (only notes with no extra musical symbols).
  8. Add all extra musical symbols to the music entered in the previous homework (slurs, dynamics, ornaments, articulations, layout, etc.).

Class resources


  • 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 (muse2ps, command-line implementation).
    • MUP homepage: shareware graphical notation renderer.