Music Writing Programs

Table of Contents

Tell Me About Writing Programs Encore
Cakewalk The Copyist Professional & QuickScore,
Rhapsody  MusicTime
Finale Logic
Mosaic.MusicEase Nightengale
Noteworthy Composer! Overture
 Sibelius Melody Assistant
Creating Finale examples for Word Processors Making a "Finale"  Chime Chart


Tell me about music writing programs.

Music editing programs vary widely in what they can do and how they do it. What works for one person may not work for
another. Instead of offering recommendations, this will only be a list of what is out there.

A site to compare various music editing programs:  containing notes on Finale, Finale Allegro, Overture, Score Writer, Nightengale, Encore, Musictime, Songworks II, Smartscore, Sibelius, Cubase Score, Emagic, Print Music. Many of the more expensive programs have discounts for students or church musicians. It is always worth asking.

A site to compare various music programs:   This contains notes on Finale, Finale Allegro, Overture, Score Writer, Nightengale, Encore, Musictime, Songworks II, Smartscore, Sibelius, Cubase Score, Emagic.

Sites for various music editing programs:  (List Prepared by: Paul Kinney, Composer in Residence. Detroit Handbell Ensemble)
Cakewalk, The Copyist Professional & QuickScore, Encore / Rhapsody / MusicTime, Finale, Logic,Melody Assistant, Mosaic.MusicEase, Nightengale, Noteworthy Composer!, Overture, Sibelius

. Cakewalk & Overture

. The Copyist Professional & QuickScore Elite  --    The pair have been renamed Music Write 2000

. Encore / Rhapsody / MusicTime

. Finale  --

Finale is seemingly most used, most complete, and possibly the most complex of the music notation programs.   This also makes it the most hated because it is complex.  It is a professional software program that allows multiple ways to input date, prints clean, either individual parts or complete orchestral score, and is acceptable by many publishers on diskette or by FTP.

The "off-the-shelf" versions cost over $500.00, but educational/church editions are available from suppliers at less than half the full amount.  The content is the same, the package is shrink wrapped rather than boxed.

Finale listserve.  Here's how to sign up_  You can interact with the Majordomo software by sending it commands
in the body of mail messages addressed to

Several people have created useful handbell files for Finale.  Some of these are listed below.  For some there may be charges, for others not.  Other listings  will be included if you send us information about them.

Bells Used Chart:

Handbell symbols:  Paul McKlveen

Creating Handbell Sounds:   finalebellsounds.htm

. Logic (From Germany, Mac only)

. Melody Assistant

I have been quite pleased with Melody Assistant -- $15 shareware from  Guillion  Brothers at

Does not do a lot of fancy scoring; but I am able to get multiple voices with a few tricks -- and transfer files between my PC and iMac with very little difference.  Yep, it is so cheap, I bought licenses for both!

There is a "big brother" application for $65, something about MIDI-input or such; but for simple arranging of scores, the little one is fine for me.  As long as I can hear what I wrote, I'm happy.  G.E. Ordun

. Mosaic (Mac only)

. MusicEase

. Nightengale (Mac only)

Sarah Prince writes:  This site looks the same as when I bought Nightingale in November 1998,
though it has a revision date of April 1999 ("view info" says November 1999).
It still offers Nightingale 3.0.    Like any of these (music writing) programs it requires a lot of practice....

Meanwhile says:   "Advanced Music Notation Systems, Inc., developer of Nightingale® Desktop
Music Publishing software for the Macintosh, is pleased to announce that it is now publishing Nightingale as well.

"For more information about Nightingale or  AMNS, or to order:
Fax 215-736-8237

.Noteworthy Composer!

Noteworthy Composer is very easy to learn.  Its graphical interface is quite intuitive and provides the user with many options for notating music, including the use of user-chosen fonts (for example, Paul McKlveen's handbell font).  NWC is also a powerful sequencing program.  It allows quite a bit of flexibility in your MIDI choices.  There is also a very active user community newsgroup willing to help you with any problems you might be having.  The software developer also participates in this newsgroup & maintains a "wish list" of new features to be added based upon user feedback.  While not (yet) as functional as Finale, if you need a way to notate things quickly and easily, NWC is for you!

. Overture

. Sibelius
Sibelius has a reputation as one of the easiest music notation softwares to use.  It includes handbell
templates with our software. A scanning program  is built in, allowing existing sheet music to be recognized by the software program. You can export notation examples as a graphic for use in word processors for service sheets etc. Training all over the country in how to use the software, and you can download a trial version to use.

Paul Kingsbury wrote:  While I have not yet tried it, there is a free music-notation package called Lilypond (  It doesn't look to be as intuitive as other packages, in that it doesn't have a wysiwyg graphical interface (but there's mention of a graphical interface available elsewhere as a front-end to Lilypond).  But, it is free and available for both Windows and Linux machines.

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Making a "Finale"  Chime Chart.

From: "Valerie W. Stephenson"

The note heads for chimes are diamond-shaped.  I do my chimes used chart differently than Cecil.  I "add" the chart when I'm pretty near the end of the composing process and into page layout.  I just click the staff tool, then click below
the main staves one or two times, depending on whether you have just a few chimes or if you're using both treble and bass clef chimes.

Select the clefs you need. Create a group if you wish and you can choose a different bracket for that chart.  Enter your notes.  Optimize the whole thing so the extra empty staves disappear from the rest of the piece.  This way the "size" of the chime chart remains in that first measure domain and matches the size of the HUC.  This is overally simplistic and I've probably skipped
a few steps, but hope that helps get you started.  LV

Creating Finale examples for Word Processors

Question:  I am a grammar school Music teacher, and want to create small, example measures to illustrate key signatures, note values, and note reading for my students, then export the examples to a Clarisworks word document to create worksheets and quizzes.

Charles Maggs responds:  The only way I know of to do this with Finale is to create an Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) file rom the document(s) you want to export.  This is a feature that has been in Finale for quite a while (my old Finale 3.5 forWindows, ca. 1995, has this capability), so you should be able to do this with the version you have.  I would not be surprised if there was another way to do this in Finale, though . . .

To export one page of a Finale document to an EPS file, you can do the following:

1.  After you've opened your Finale file and before you do anything else, make sure you have a PostScript printer selected as your printer device (for example, an Apple LaserWriter).  If you don't have a PostScript printer, read the notes in the next section and then come back to this step.  If you're using a Mac, you probably have a printer that is PostScript-capable -- continue on to the next step.
2.  Under the [File] menu, there should be an option titled [Compile a PostScript listing].  Select this option.
3.  In the window that comes up after selecting the option in the last step, you should see a window that has an option somewhere that reads [EPS File of Page ____], where the underlines represent a window for you to type in the page number you want to use.  Click on the radio button for this option and then enter the page number you want (probably 1).
4.  You will probably want to make sure the [Include Fonts in Listing] option is checked.  You may also need to make sure the [Include TIFF] option is checked, but try it without first.
5.  After clicking on the [Compile] button, the program will prompt you for a name for the EPS file to create and the folder or subdirectory to save it in.  Enter/select the information, then click on [OK].

You should now have an EPS file that you can import into your word processor program!
To set up a "fake" PostScript printer under Windows 95/98, you can do the following:

1.  Click on the [Start] button in the task bar, then select [Settings], then [Printers].
2.  In the window that comes up, click on [Add Printer].
3.  When (if) prompted for a local or network printer, select [Local] and then continue.
4.  When prompted for a printer manufacturer and model, select a printer that you know is a PostScript printer.  I usually select [Apple] for the printer manufacturer, and [Apple LaserWriter] for the printer.
5.  When prompted for a printer port, select [FILE:].  You don't want to select a real printer port (e.g. LPT1:), because if you ever try to print a document with this printer active, you will get a pile of pages out of your printer that look like gibberish.  This way, the gibberish will wind up in a file that you can erase if you want.
6.  Accept the rest of the defaults, then go back to step 1 of the previous section.

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Copyright ©  1999  AGEHR, Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 14, 2000.