12 Best Free Music Notation Software Apps

Here are the best free music notation software apps to transcribe melodies, craft harmonies, design sheet music, and even collaborate with fellow artists.

Want to know the secret weapon many modern composers are using? With so many tools out there, pinpointing the right one can be a real challenge. Improve your compositions with software built to understand and enhance your creative process. Check out the music notation software tools and be the maestro you were meant to be.

What Is Music Notation Software?

Music Notation Software is a digital tool that empowers musicians to transcribe, compose, and share their musical ideas. As writers use word processors, musicians use notation software to write down their melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. It offers a modern solution to traditional manuscript paper, providing precision, ease, and efficiency.

Best Free Music Notation Software Apps

I have included free music notation software apps that work for Windows and Mac.

  1. MuseScore
  2. ScoreCloud
  3. Sibelius First
  4. Dorico SE
  5. Soundslice
  6. Flat.io
  7. Crescendo Music Notation
  8. Musicnotes
  9. Noteflight
  10. LilyPond
  11. QuickScore Elite
  12. FORTE
Best Free Music Notation Software Apps
Best Free Music Notation Software Apps

Related: Free Music Production Software

Benefits of using music notation software:

  • Easy Editing: Change notes or rhythms without starting from scratch.
  • Instant Playback: Hear your compositions instantly to check how they sound.
  • Share: Send your music digitally to others without needing paper.
  • Templates: Use preset templates for different instruments and ensembles.
  • Collaboration: Work with other musicians on the same piece.

1. MuseScore

MuseScore
MuseScore

MuseScore is a top-tier music notation software that allows users to compose, playback, and print sheet music.

Perfect for music creators, this program is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  • Create, play back, and print sheet music.
  • Free music composition and notation software.
  • Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.
  • Transfer easily to and from other programs using MusicXML, MIDI, etc.
  • Write music for various instruments and ensembles such as piano, guitar, choir, orchestra, and jazz.
  • Open-source software maintained by a dedicated community.
  • Handy input via MIDI keyboard.
  • Integrated handbook for different MuseScore versions.
  • Share scores online or on MuseScore mobile apps.
  • Fast note entry with multiple methods, including MIDI.
  • Advanced transposition tools.
  • Offers style rules that can be applied across the entire score.
  • Customizable user interface.

Pros:

  • It offers a simple interface suitable for both beginners and professionals.
  • The software provides robust features for intricate compositions.
  • Wide range of instrument templates available.

Cons:

  • The features may be overwhelming for some users.
  • Open-source nature means potential for occasional bugs.
  • It may require a learning curve for those new to music notation software.

MuseScore | PC & Mac / Linux


2. Score Cloud Free Music Notation Software

ScoreCloud
ScoreCloud


ScoreCloud is a cutting-edge music notation software that instantly transforms melodies into sheet music.

It’s like having a personal translator for your musical ideas.

Within the ScoreCloud Studio, users can either play their tunes directly into the system using audio or MIDI or manually input them.

The platform boasts powerful editing tools tailored for those seeking endless creative possibilities.

A significant advantage of ScoreCloud is that it allows users to experience its full suite of features for free over a 10-day trial period.

Plus, there’s no need for any prior setup or click-tracks; the software captures music as you play it, making music notation a breeze.

  • Instantly convert songs into sheet music.
  • Allows audio and MIDI transcription.
  • Offers powerful editing tools.
  • Save up to 10 songs for free users.
  • Notates from microphone or MIDI.
  • Advanced polyphonic audio recognition technology.
  • Insert titles, lyrics, chords, and more with simple drag and drop.
  • Syncs across devices for seamless music creation.

Pros:

  • Translates music instantly.
  • No need for presets or click-tracks.
  • Intuitive editing and arrangement tools.
  • Suitable for both beginners and professional musicians.

Cons:

  • The free version limits users to 10 saved songs.
  • Some advanced features need an upgrade.
  • The free version includes watermarked printouts.

ScoreCloud | OS: Window / Mac


3. Sibelius First

Sibelius Software
Sibelius Software

Sibelius First is a leading music notation software designed to transform your musical ideas into crafted scores.

It offers desktop and mobile solutions for added flexibility and is ideal for those who want to compose, arrange, and publish their music creations.

Sibelius First enables users to create intricate, detailed music sheets with helpful tools, ensuring that even the most intricate compositions come to life.

It’s not just about creating; the software allows users to refine their arrangements and perfect the instrumentation.

Once done, showcasing your talent becomes a breeze – you can share your scores with a global audience through social media or online platforms.

  • Free-to-use music notation software.
  • Active plans receive real-time feature updates.
  • Comprehensive tools for crafting intricate musical scores.
  • Optimizes scores for performance and publication.
  • Sharing capabilities to social media and online platforms.
  • Integrated classroom tools for teaching music notation.
  • Converts scores into interactive versions to increase sales potential.

Pros:

  • Available for both desktop and mobile.
  • Always up-to-date with the latest features.
  • Allows sharing of compositions globally.
  • Robust tools are suitable for beginners and professionals.
  • Perfect for educators with classroom-specific tools.

Cons:

  • It may have a learning curve for complete beginners.
  • Some advanced features might require a paid plan.

Sibelius First | OS: Desktop & Mobile


4. Dorico SE

Dorico SE
Dorico SE

Dorico SE is a feature-rich, free music notation software designed for music creators looking to delve into digital composition.

It is an introduction to music notation with an intuitive interface and various functionalities.

  • Advanced printing options, including booklet and duplex printing.
  • Export capabilities in various formats, including audio (WAV, MP3)
  • MusicXML support for easy import/export from other software.
  • Comprehensive input & editing tools for efficient music notation.
  • Auto-engraving for professional score presentation.
  • Multiple playback tools, including MIDI input, chord track, and tempo editor.
  • Enriched notations, from bar numbers to advanced jazz articulations.
  • Efficient window management for a seamless workflow.
  • Incorporates four distinct modes: Setup, Write, Engrave, and Play.
  • Compatible with VST instruments and effects.

Pros:

  • Provides intuitive, easy note input methods.
  • Enables export of great-sounding virtual performances as MP3.
  • Part of the renowned Dorico product family, ensuring compatibility and quality.
  • Automatic engraving delivers a polished, professional appearance.

Cons:

  • Limited to writing for only eight instruments. For more, one needs to upgrade.
  • Some advanced features are available only in the paid versions.
  • It might have a learning curve for absolute beginners.

Dorico SE | OS: PC & Mac


5. Soundslice

Soundslice | Sheet Music Maker
Soundslice | Sheet Music Maker

Soundslice is a revolutionary tool designed for musicians to simplify and enhance their music learning experience.

Merging sheet music with audio and video recordings provides a holistic learning environment for any music enthusiast or professional.

  • Syncs music notation with audio and video for an integrated learning experience.
  • Enables click on the notation to jump to that part in the recording.
  • Offers a slowdown feature without altering pitch for easier learning.
  • Provides a looping function to practice specific sections repeatedly.
  • Features a user-friendly editor that supports tablets and touchscreens.
  • Delivers first-class tablature support, including various tab markings.
  • Combines slowdown, YouTube, and notation tools for efficient music transcribing.
  • Allows for direct imports from YouTube, MP3s, and other video files.
  • Presents a unique interactive notation experience combined with real performances.
  • Operates entirely in the web browser, eliminating the need for installations.
  • Facilitates easy sharing within the Soundslice community or keeping it private.

Pros:

  • Offers a seamless and unified platform, reducing the need for multiple tools.
  • Incorporates real human performances, adding depth to traditional sheet music.
  • Provides a friendly and touch-optimized interface for tablets.
  • Music Notation Software for iPad
  • Supports a range of file types, including MusicXML and Guitar Pro.
  • Enables free usage of its full-featured notation and tab editor.

Cons:

  • Relies on internet connectivity for full functionality, given its web-based nature.
  • Some might still prefer traditional methods of learning music over digital platforms.

Soundslice | OS: Online


6. Flat.io

Flat IO | Music Notation Online
Flat IO | Music Notation Online

Flat.io is a cutting-edge web-based music writing and composition software designed to cater to both composers and professionals.

Its collaborative features stand out, allowing multiple users to edit scores simultaneously.

  • Offers real-time collaboration with multiple users on various devices.
  • Comes with a comprehensive music notation suite.
  • Provides studio-quality instruments for realistic audio.
  • Features customizable shortcuts and instruments.
  • Allows offline work, with changes synchronized once back online.
  • Supports MIDI composition and intuitive note input.
  • Enables uploads from platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud.
  • Contains a guitar tablature editor with synchronized music notation.
  • Maintains a complete history, letting you revert to any previous version.
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android through its mobile app.
  • Supports imports and exports of MusicXML/MIDI files.
  • Offers automated score transpositions.
  • Allows advanced layout customization, from margins to note spacing.

Pros:

  • Facilitates seamless collaboration on compositions in real-time.
  • Offers offline mode to ensure continuous work, even without a connection.
  • Comes with a vast community of over 5M music enthusiasts for networking and feedback.
  • Provides native support for guitar tablatures.
  • Comes with a user-friendly interface and intuitive input methods.

Cons:

  • Limited to 15 scores for certain account types.
  • Some users might prefer desktop software over a web-based platform.
  • It might take time for traditional composers to adjust to collaborative features.

Flat.io | OS: Online Notation Software


7. Crescendo Music Notation

Crescendo Music Notation
Crescendo Free Music Notation

Crescendo Music Notation is an accessible software tailored for music enthusiasts to craft, preserve, and print their musical compositions effortlessly.

This platform allows users to jot down music for original tracks, scores, or soundtracks, ensuring the greatest control over music arrangements with its expansive toolkit and flexible layout.

Not only does Crescendo furnish an environment apt for crafting professional-grade sheet music, but it also has an array of features conducive to enhancing your writing experience.

  • Allows customization of clef, time signature, and key signature.
  • Enables
  • Addition of various notes ranging from whole to thirty seconds and rests.
  • Facilitates copying, cutting, and pasting of measures.
  • Permits text addition for titles, tempos, dynamics, and lyrics.
  • Supports MIDI music file generation.
  • Backs VSTi instruments like piano and violin.
  • Features adjustable pitch and note placement.
  • Introduces keyboard shortcuts for swift composition.
  • Allows for tweaking staff line positioning.
  • Provides printing options for finished musical projects or blank sheets.

Pros:

  • Simplifies the process of creating, saving, and printing compositions.
  • Boasts an intuitive user interface for uncomplicated notation.
  • Grants comprehensive control over musical arrangements.
  • Offers a broad spectrum of musical notation tools.
  • Provides options to export compositions or print physical copies.

Cons:

  • Some advanced features are limited to trial usage in the free version and require purchase after the trial period.
  • It might require some initial learning for those new to music notation software.

Crescendo | OS: Windows


8. Musicnotes

Musicnotes
Musicnotes

Musicnotes is a popular music notation software that lets music enthusiasts access, store, and perform with their sheet music across various devices.

Designed for utmost convenience, it provides immediate entry to an expansive, high-quality sheet music collection.

Whether you’re a budding artist or an experienced musician, Musicnotes ensures your sheet music is always within your reach, making practice sessions and performances seamless and efficient.

  • Compatible with iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices.
  • Grants access to an extensive sheet music catalog.
  • Allows instant organization with folder and set list creation.
  • Offers synchronization across all user devices.
  • Features instant transposition to adjust musical keys.
  • Provides playback functionality with adjustable tempo control.
  • Enables easy annotation using pen, highlighter, and text tools.
  • Simplifies the printing process directly from any supported device.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy access to a vast sheet music collection.
  • Facilitates efficient organization for performances and lessons.
  • Enables real-time key adjustments for pieces.
  • Accelerates learning with playback and tempo control.
  • Supports music annotation to customize performances.
  • Provides a consistent experience across multiple devices.

Cons:

  • Annotation is unavailable on Mac and Web applications.
  • Not all sheet music pieces are transposable.

Musicnotes | OS: PC & Mac / iOs / Android


9. Noteflight

Noteflight | Write Sheet Music Online Free
Noteflight | Write Sheet Music Online Free

Noteflight is an innovative online music notation software designed to assist music creators in crafting, viewing, and listening to professional-grade music scores straight from their web browsers.

This platform offers an intuitive notation editor that is tailored to be both user-friendly and versatile, ensuring music enthusiasts can produce top-quality scores regardless of their location or device.

  • Online music writing is accessible via a web browser.
  • Produce professional-quality music scores.
  • Offers a comprehensive Music Library, inclusive of Premium Content from Hal Leonard.
  • Enables users to play, modify, and have access to Premium Content.
  • Allows purchase of music for downloading and printing.
  • Option to sell original compositions and arrangements through ArrangeMe.
  • Noteflight Basic permits the creation of up to 10 scores.
  • Basic notation tools and formatting options are available.
  • Facilitates public sharing of scores.
  • Ability to view and take part in groups.

Pros:

  • The web-based platform ensures access from any location or device.
  • User-friendly interface caters to both novices and professionals.
  • Rich music library offers a variety of choices.
  • Allows monetization through selling personal compositions.
  • Provides a free version with essential features.

Cons:

  • Noteflight Basic limits users to 10 scores.
  • Advanced features may need a premium membership.

Noteflight | OS: Online


10. LilyPond

Best Music Notation Software
LilyPond | Best Music Notation Software Apps

LilyPond is a powerful music engraving software dedicated to generating top-tier sheet music that mimics the elegance of traditional engraving.

Originating from the desires of two musicians to overcome the generic appearance of computer-generated sheet music, this software produces scores that allow performers to focus on playing rather than struggling to read them.

LilyPond provides scores with a strong, balanced, and refined appearance reminiscent of the best classical music engravings.

  • Emphasizes the beauty of sheet music akin to hand-engraved classics.
  • Processes text input, which contains explicit score content details.
  • Built-in safeguards against tweaks, making changes transparent and reversible.
  • Text files are robust, human-readable, and resistant to corruption.
  • Version control management for scores offers infinite undo/redo capabilities.
  • Automated formatting minimizes manual tweaking, ensuring optimal layout from the start.
  • Seamlessly integrates music with texts in platforms like LaTeX or HTML.
  • Accessibility features cater to those with physical disabilities or visual impairments.
  • Diverse editing options allow for tool flexibility based on user needs.
  • Scripting language Scheme empowers customization and extension.
  • The command-line tool nature enables integration with other applications.

Pros:

  • Mimics the aesthetic appeal of engraved music.
  • Customizable with built-in scripting options.
  • Open-source nature promotes community development and collaboration.
  • Suitable for both individual music creators and professional users.

Cons:

  • It might have a steeper learning curve compared to graphical-based notation software.
  • Requires understanding of text-based input for optimal usage.

LilyPond | OS: Linux / PC / Mac


11. QuickScore Elite

QuickScore Elite
QuickScore Elite

QuickScore Elite is Sion Software’s leading music composition software, specially designed for Windows.

It is renowned for its sophisticated combination of music notation, sequencing, MIDI, and audio capabilities.

  • Music notation, arranging, and printing capabilities.
  • MIDI and audio sequencing and recording.
  • Preset score templates for various instruments and ensembles.
  • Virtual keyboard, guitar controller, and MIDI keyboard input options.
  • Real-time audio recording with microphone.
  • Ability to extract notes from audio streams or. WAV files.
  • Automatic accompaniment and harmony generation.
  • Full integration of Score, Piano Roll, Audio, and other editors.
  • Inbuilt QuickAudio editor for detailed audio edits.
  • FluidGM soundfont player inclusion for high-quality instrument sounds.
  • VST plugins support expanding software functionalities.
  • Built-in audio mixer for creating custom sound mixes.
  • Compatible with all sound cards and MIDI interfaces on Windows PC.
  • Comprehensive musical symbols set for detailed notation.
  • 6, 5, and 4-string tablature notation support.
  • Proofing tools to check for out-of-range notes.

Pros:

  • Versatile, catering to both audio and notation needs.
  • Award-winning software with consistent acclaim.
  • User-friendly interface, making it accessible for beginners.
  • Broad compatibility with various file formats.
  • High-quality instrument sound output.
  • Multiple editor types that are interlinked.
  • Customizable, allowing users to add their symbols and graphics.
  • A comprehensive set of tools for professional music creation.

Cons:

  • It might seem overwhelming for users new to music software.
  • Requires significant storage and memory on the computer.

QuickScore Elite | OS: Windows


12. FORTE

FORTE
FORTE | Music Notation Program


FORTE is a free music notation software designed to help both new and experienced music creators.

With an intuitive interface, the software offers a great starting point for those new to digital music notation and valuable tools for more seasoned songwriters.

  • Quick and easy input for notes, accents, chords, clefs, and ornamentation.
  • Option for one or two staves for solo or small ensemble compositions.
  • Built-in metronome to ensure accurate timing in your scores.
  • Import capability for a variety of file types.
  • Provides a single stave feature.
  • Allows for two distinct musical voices.
  • Option to include one lyric verse per stave.
  • Supports multiple time signatures
  • Incorporates system sound for playback.

Pros:

  • FORTE is user-friendly and designed for quick learning without lengthy tutorials.
  • It’s 100% free, offering a no-risk opportunity to experiment with digital music notation.
  • Ideal for new composers to gain confidence in digital music writing.
  • Enables seasoned songwriters to draft simple lead lines, solos, or duets.
  • Teachers can use it to teach reading music or introduce composing to students.

Cons:

  • FORTE Free provides limited access to the full range of FORTE features.
  • It might not be suitable for complex compositions with multiple instruments or voices.
  • Advanced users may find the free version limiting and need to upgrade to FORTE Basic or FORTE Home for more features.

FORTE | OS: Windows


Tips for Using Music Notation Software:

Here are some basic tips to help you get started.

  1. Start Simple – Familiarize yourself with basic tools before diving into advanced features.
  2. Keyboard Shortcuts – Learn them to speed up the notation process.
  3. Regular Backups – Save your work frequently to prevent data loss.
  4. Take Advantage Of Templates: Use pre-existing templates for common musical setups.
  5. Customize Layouts – Adjust staff spacing and page settings for optimal readability.
  6. Use Tutorials – Many software options offer in-built tutorials or online resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is music notation software?

Music notation software allows you to write, edit, and share sheet music digitally. It is a tool that composers, musicians, and music educators use to notate and arrange music.

What are some popular music notation software apps?

Some popular music notation software apps include Sibelius, MuseScore, ScoreCloud Studio, Dorico, LilyPond, NoteFlight, Sibelius Ultimate, Notion 6, and MusicJot.

Can I use a MIDI device with music notation software?

Yes, most music notation software offers MIDI support, allowing you to connect and use MIDI keyboards or other MIDI devices to enter notes and control playback.

Is there any open-source music notation software available?

Yes, LilyPond is an open-source music notation software that produces high-quality sheet music. It is free and can be customized to create professional-looking scores.

Can I share my music scores with others using music notation software?

Yes, most music notation software allows you to share your music scores in various formats, such as PDF, MIDI, or MusicXML. You can easily send your compositions to other musicians or music educators.


I hope you found this list of free music notation software tools helpful. These fantastic apps are designed to elevate your musical journey, making notation a joy rather than a chore.

Dive into the world of seamless composition and let your creative spirit soar.

What do you think about these tools, and do you have any favorites?

Mark V.

Written By Mark V.

Mark Valenzuela is a professional blogger, entrepreneur, and educator with more than 15 years of experience in music production. In 2008, Mark founded Hip Hop Makers, a top resource for aspiring music producers and beatmakers. He specializes in content on music production, software, gear, and free music resources. Committed to empowering creators of all levels, Mark continues to inspire and help music creators pursue their dreams.

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