For hundreds of years, music notation has been the universal standard when it comes to writing down your music and getting your ideas on paper. In today’s world, it is more crucial than ever to be familiar with music notation; to be more specific, music notation programs. While both of the two industry-standard notation programs, MakeMusic’s Finale and Avid’s Sibelius, can usually accomplish everything the average musician needs and more, it is still important as music technologists and educators to have a working knowledge of both. You never know which program your future school, studio, or other place of work might have licensure for.
While Sibelius may be the metaphorical “the new kid on the block” when compared to Finale, it has still managed to grow into a comparable score writer to MakeMusic’s product; in fact, Avid claims that Sibelius is the best selling notation program in the world, with “hundreds of thousands of users in one-hundred countries.” I have Sibelius 7 on my computer, and, while I have nothing against Finale, I feel more comfortable with Sibelius because I have simply spent more time with it. Generally speaking, the average consumer usually feels that Sibelius is easier to learn from the start and less confusing than Finale. The image below is an excerpt from a short lead sheet I made in Sibelius this semester for my Contemporary Harmony class.Finale
Although Sibelius purports to be the most popular score writing program in the world, Finale can do many things that Sibelius cannot (it usually just requires overcoming a slightly steeper learning curve). Again, it is important that we be familiar with both programs. That way, we are more marketable assets when being reviewed as candidates for employment and are better prepared for any challenges we may face in the field.
If you’re looking for a notation program without having to pay forward, MuseScore is a great open-source program that offers many of the same features as Sibelius or Finale. It may not be as streamlined, or receive the same support, as its paid counterparts, but it certainly gets the job done without breaking the bank.