Superb Music Notation Software That's Powerful And Free

If you've never come across music notation software before, think of it as a word processor where the blank pages contain staves (those sets of 5 parallel lines), onto which you compose music by placing notes.

Unlike conventional paper-based composition, using a software package means that your music looks better and is easy to edit.  Even more importantly, each note is played through the PC speakers as you position it, and you can play the whole piece (or a selection of it) any time via the built-in sound library.

Professional composition software such as Sibelius and Finale are pretty costly, but Finale also makes a free product called Notepad available.  Although it's limited to allowing you to compose for only 8 instruments, it's still more than powerful enough for just about every amateur musician.  You can even import MIDI files downloaded from the internet, to edit and play.

Finale Notepad is a free download from and is a 97 MB download.  It runs on all recent versions of Windows and, according to my up-to-date copy of Sophos, is free of viruses and malware.





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by keithr386 on 31. December 2012 - 16:20  (104132)

Another vote here for MuseScore. In fairness, I have not tried Notepad lately, but MuseScore is an excellent free product.

by vandamme on 31. December 2012 - 15:43  (104129)

Finale Note Pad is the last software I paid for. Now on Linux, I prefer MuseScore (it's cross-platform).

And for the guitar player who just wants chord sheets, there's Chordii, where you type in the chords inline with the lyrics, and it formats it with the chords on top of the lyrics. Simple but saves a lot of time.

by musicwms on 31. December 2012 - 14:33  (104128)

MuseScore is a great free and open source alternative with many more features that Finale NotePad. No registration required!

by bwoods on 1. January 2013 - 17:53  (104148)

MuseScore looks like a superb piece of software.

by bwoods on 31. December 2012 - 12:38  (104125)

So pleased that you are sharing NotePad on Gizmo. As a Finale user for 23 years, I can say that NotePad is a great value! "Free" is not necessarily a "great value" unless it is a quality product. NotePad is. Sometimes I am surprised at how many features NotePad has for being a very watered-down relative of Finale.

This is an excellent tool for those just wanting to get that chart down or to use for students to learn their music. Just have them install NotePad on their PC or Mac and they can practice the chart you provide and they can slow down the tempo as needed. Same for your garage band members.

by gosham on 31. December 2012 - 10:33  (104122)

For US addresses only - to registrate you must select "country" from the list (as "Sweden") but if the country is not "US", you are unable to select a state which is a required field. Kind of Moment 22.

by whrgizmo on 1. January 2013 - 0:36  (104136)

Actually not only for US addresses.
There's a glitch in the form.

Here's how to do it:
FIRST select country as US and select a state (I selected New York).
Then go back and select your own country.
Now all the states in your own country are available.

I went back to select Australia and all the Australia territories were there.
I was able to register with my OZ details.

by mchldpy on 31. December 2012 - 7:10  (104116)

thanks for this.
does anyone know of a free s/w that will tell you what notes or chords are being played from a wav or flac or mp3 file, besides nch's twelve keys

thanks again,
michael clyde

btw - if this only reads midi files i'm guessing there is a free pgrm to convert popular formats to midi,
maybe somebody knows a good one and can save me the trial and error syndrome

michael clyde

by bwoods on 31. December 2012 - 12:33  (104124)


From the MakeMusic website: "NotePad can open files made by the entire family of Finale software as well as import MIDI and MusicXML files created by hundreds of other products."

It is very difficult to convert to MIDI, import into any notation software, and get a quality result. It is best to convert to MusicXML and then import into Notepad.


by Geekomatic on 31. December 2012 - 3:55  (104112)

Hi Rob,

Need to add that you have to register to get the download.

Also, warn that you need to click the download button on the upper-right of the main screen that your link takes you to (there's also a "downloads" link at the top of the page that is confusing).


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