Music composition software allows you to create original compositions via your Mac or Windows PC or laptop. You no longer have to painstakingly write out a song sheet by hand – and then photocopy it to share it with other people.

A good music composer program should provide you with all the tools you need to compose a simple or highly sophisticated score. It should have a user-friendly interface. It should be flexible in terms of how notes can be inputted. You can use it to notate your lead sheet, guitar tab, band chart or orchestral scores.

There are many good music creation programs you can turn to. Here are three top-rated composer softwares for PCs. Each will help you realize your inner Mozart or Beethoven. They all have a user-friendly interface.

They come with affordable prices. Their functionality will suit the needs of novice, intermediate, and expert musicians. You will be able to easily input your notes and judge your progress accurately via a realistic playback mechanism:

Top-Rated Music Composer Programs

Finale Music Composer Software

Finale Music

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Finale has been in business for nearly three decades. Its music notation software is often acknowledged as the industry standard.

It has a reputation for making the best value-for-money softwares. It offers a very flexible interface that you can use to adjust measures, notes, key signatures, and other score elements.

PROS:

  • Flexible note entry. You can input notes a MIDI keyboard, mouse or computer keyboard. (You will need a microphone to record vocal performances.) You can also scan existing sheet music and import various file types.
  • Good sound library. It includes orchestral effects and instruments from four Garritan libraries. This includes the Garritan Personal Orchestra, World Instruments, Jazz & Big Band and Instant Orchestra.
  • Additional features. The 2014 edition comes with several innovative features. This includes Linked Parts, Music Educator Resources, Smart Shapes, Band-in-a-Box Auto-Harmonizing, MicNotator, Video Support, and Tempo Tap.
  • Functional updates. This edition will please longtime users with its various core improvements. It has a new audio engine, Macintosh Cocoa support, percussion enhancements, and minimalist new interface. The latter includes updated palettes, playback, controls, mixer, icons, and backgrounds.
  • Ease of use. The 2014 edition will be user-friendly to existing Finale users. It will also be hospitable to first-timers.

CONS:

  • No 64-bit support. Many professional sample libraries require 4 GB RAM or more. (These libraries feature sound samples from large orchestras) This requirement can only be met by 64-bit applications.
  • Affordability. The academic edition can be purchased at under $300 from Amazon. This makes it the most expensive high-quality composer app for PCs in this review.

Conclusion

This is a time-tested, user-friendly, and well-received recording software. It will be suitable for most music teachers and composers. It also offers a solid starting point for beginners.

Sibelius First 7

Sibelius First 7

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The Sibelius First 7 describes itself as the “fastest, easiest way to write and share music”. This app certainly stands as one of the best music composer software options in the market.

The Sibelius First series is a more streamlined version of the full-featured Sibelius 7 (which costs over $500). It should satisfy the needs of nearly every music maker, from aspiring to professional songwriters and composers. It is compatible with Mac and PC users.

PROS:

  • Flexible note entry. You can add in notes via a MIDI keyboard, a mouse, a computer keyboard, or the virtual piano. You can also import files via MusicXML interchange, transcribe audio (AudioScore), or scan existing printed sheet music (PhotoScore).
  • Affordability. The Sibelius First 7 can be purchased at under $130 from Amazon.
  • Beginner-friendly. It comes with Score Starter templates that will keep your ideas flowing in several genres: rock, classical, funk, jazz, pop, reggae, Latin, country, choir, and blues.
  • Ease of use. The full-sized virtual piano keyboard makes music composition breezy. The copy and paste functions allow you to easily modify multiple notes at once. The Sibelius First 7 also allows you to communicate with your bandmates or co-songwriters via virtual sticky notes.
  • 64-bit capacity. This is a 64-bit application that will allow you to access over 4 GB of RAM. You can work with the full repertoire of professional sample libraries.
  • Additional features. The Sibelius First 7 is equipped with time-saving tools like Magnetic Layout.
  • Ease of sharing. Once you are satisfied with your composition, you can easily share your score with the world by exporting it to your iPad. You can also share it directly to YouTube, SoundCloud, and Facebook.

CONS:

  • Not versatile. This song composer software cannot export scores as graphics files or MusicXML.
  • Storage requirements. This music composer app for PCs will occupy approximately 500MB of your hard disk space.

Conclusion

This is a great music notation software as long as you intend to create your compositions within the framework of 16 staves.  It is affordable and user-friendly. It accommodates experienced and novice musicians and composers alike.

Finale PrintMusic

Finale PrintMusic

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Finale PrintMusic has all the basic features that you expect from a good music notation program. It comes with guitar chord diagram creation, guitar tabulation, chord names, manual step-time entry, multiple tool palettes, and a volume mixer.

PROS:

  • Versatility. You can enter notes through a keyboard, MIDI, or scanner. You have can your score appear as handwritten or engraved symbols.
  • Affordability. This is a real money-saver if you do not need the advanced features found in the full version. You can buy a second-hand version at under $100 from Amazon. Or, you can opt for a new one at under $150. The full version of Finale costs $600. (Do note that the full version can only be operated by Windows computers). This makes the Finale PrintMusic a far more affordable and versatile option. As long as you can notate within a 24 stave framework, it will serve as a good fit. It is compatible with musicians and composers of all experience levels.
  • Good sound library. It comes with a free software synthesizer with 128 plus instrument sounds. The Human Playback feature also gives the playback a more human touch.
  • Additional features. Scroll View displays your score horizontally. This allows you to see a larger portion of your score at a time. You can work more efficiently without having the scroll down the page so often. Editing features include a volume mixer and multiple tool palettes.
  • Ease of use. Users will find a formidable rate of note entry and editing palettes at their fingertips. However, these have been designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. A tooltip appears over each tool when your cursor hovers over it. This time-saving innovation eliminates the need for browsing for answers online. You also do not need to comb through the manual. You can print and export your sheet music as graphics and MIDI files.

CONS:

  • No advanced features. It omits the more advances capacities that you can find in the full version. (E.g. a virtual piano for more precise note placement).

Conclusion

This is a highly affordable and user-friendly music notation software. It fits the purposes of a wide range of composers, teachers, arrangers, students, and amateur to professional musicians.