Simple software to print basic music?
June 20, 2016 2:36 PM   Subscribe

My teacher has helped me work out some areangements of public domain pieces suitable for use by an adult onset harper (me). My messy notation is holding me back. Exists there a simple program to let me enter my scrawly notes and produce a tidy, easily read sheet of music?

It's hard for me to get my hand positions correct when I'm straining to read the music. I know that Sibelius and other such programs capable of entering the music by midi exist, but those are WAY overpowered for my very-beginner needs. And I can't play consistently enough to get a clean recording anyway. I'm too engaged in other areas of my life to wrestle with anything other than any easy learning curve right now (and my teacher is busier than I am!). Looking for suggestions for a free or low cost program that will allow me to manually enter the details and get a nice clean copy of, for example, Brian Boru with my custom bass line ... or should I find someone to pay for this service? I have Windows, Mac, and ipad at hand.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My middle school students find Noteflight pretty easy to use- probably at least worth playing around with a free trial.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:46 PM on June 20, 2016

My son loves Musescore, and it's free.
posted by thatone at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wikipedia uses LilyPond syntax for their articles. Their help page has some easy examples to give you a feel for how it works.

If you wanted to, you could get a free WP account and make music there (in your user sandbox) to try it out without installing anything.

LilyPond is GPL/open source, and has a large user community. It can be used for professional level music engraving.

LilyPond is not WYSIWYG, it is rather a programming language that gets compiled into musical notation, similar to LaTeX. Lots of people find that to be a positive trait.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2016

I transcribed and arranged a bunch of music using NoteWorthy Composer, and it was very easy to get started. Adding lyrics or really weird syncopation necessitated checking the help files. I think there might be some special notational needs for harp (a glissando marking? fingering indications?), so you should check that any software you try supports this.

Since I've been thinking about taking up my tiny harp again, I checked the forum briefly; it looks like someone has made a tool for marking harmonics for harp. Fingering symbols are mentioned elsewhere, shouldn't be a problem.
posted by amtho at 4:16 PM on June 20, 2016

If you've got a Google Account, you could use
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:26 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a full-time composer and I only use Lilypond. It produces excellent, professional results. It does have something of a learning curve which could be perilous depending on how computer savvy you are coming in. Otherwise I second Musescore. It has a graphical interface and once you figure out to click on the "add note" button (I can't remember what it looks like but it took me too long to figure it out) the rest is pretty easy. While it might not produce professional quality scores without a lot of tweaking, it should be more than good enough for your needs.

And it's free and available for multiple platforms.
posted by bfootdav at 5:01 PM on June 20, 2016

Apple GarageBand can print a score, if you can play the notes on a (cheap) USB piano keyboard, and fiddle with the editing...
posted by ovvl at 6:22 PM on June 20, 2016

Finale Notepad is free, you can print, etc, just can't do advanced things with it.
posted by TinWhistle at 7:16 AM on June 21, 2016

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