2012 marks the reemergence of one of the big names in free sheet music creation software, Finale Notepad 2012. This product, in addition to several other free sheet music writing tools make it easy and very inexpensive to get started writing music at any level of ability. However, not all of these programs are created equal, some of them lack features that others provide. Which one should you use? Read on to get our suggestions on the best free sheet music creators available.
For those that just need a simple, point and click way to create sheet music take a close look at the previously mentioned Finale Notepad 2012. After being a paid music notation software product for several years Notepad returns to its roots as a free download. The major benefit of Notepad 2012 is its heritage and upward compatibility. Finale is arguably the most well known and popular music writing software program available. If you find you need something more powerful, upgrading to a more robust version means you can still use the music you wrote in Notepad. However, Notepad is very stripped down compared to its siblings. Notepad has no support for MIDI input so all notes are entered using the mouse and keyboard. It also limits you to 8 staves and only one verse of lyrics. Still, for the price Finale Notepad 2012 is a great sheet music creator that bears consideration for any novice musician.
For those that need a little more flexibility and power when writing sheet music on the computer the free Noteflight system is a good middle of the ground option. Noteflight, unlike other sheet music editors, is totally web based and stores all of your sheet music files on its servers. This means that you can access and edit your scores from anywhere in the world with Internet access. The tool set and abilities of Noteflight are similar to those available in Notepad 2012, but they provide a slightly more robust set of articulations, dynamics, and other features. You still will not be able to use MIDI controllers to enter notes though. For that you need to move up to the big name in free music creator software, MuseScore.
While Notepad and Noteflight are good starter programs for people without a lot of demands, MuseScore is the king when it comes to fully featured, free sheet music writing software. MuseScore is an open source project and is maintained and updated by dozens of programmers all over the world. The capabilities and features of MuseScore continue to evolve and improve with each new version release. It does everythng that the others do, plus real time MIDI note entry and a vastly superior set of macros and other features that make customizing your music a fairly easy task.
While there are other sheet music creator programs out there the three free ones mentioned above are probably your best bet and at that price it can't hurt to give them a try.