PROS / This software provides a well-designed layout with plenty of features to help a novice user.
CONS / There is no virtual piano.
VERDICT / Forte notation software offers excellent notation features that are generally simple enough for a beginner.
Editor's note: A newer version of this product is available. The manufacturer lists the new version as offering the following features: 16 staves, drum notation, and 12 different noteheads. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the Music Notation Software reviews.
Forte notation software comes in three options: Forte Premium for advanced and professional composers, Forte Home for experienced users and Forte Basic for intermediate and beginner users. The manufacturer’s website includes a detailed features comparison chart to help you decide which version is right for you.
The most common music notation tools and features are displayed automatically when you start the application. The music ribbon atop your score includes everything you need to add notes, accents, dynamics, lyrics, accidentals and chords to your score.
The Music Palette makes it easy to enter notes with the mouse. To enter notes, select the duration from the Notes tab on the Music Palette, then click on the appropriate line on the staff. The music ruler will appear around each measure that you enter notes. This is to help you add notes exactly where you want them to be added.
Rests are also added automatically around notes placed on the score. Some of the other programs we tested require you to specifically select a rest and then manually place it on the score. You can also add notes using your computer's keyboard. Under the Help tab, you can view the layout of notes and how they correspond to the keys on the keyboard.
This music notation software allows you to record your music in real time or step time by playing a MIDI keyboard attached to your computer. The notes are automatically added to the score in the proper locations and with the proper durations as you play.
We were disappointed that Forte does not include a virtual piano for note entry. We have found the virtual pianos in other music composition programs to be very useful and fun to use.
Forte Home lets you import MIDI and MusicXML. This notation software also allows you to export your songs as MIDI and MusicXML files, so you can share them with other composers who may be using different notation composition applications. You can also save your songs as a JPEG, TIFF or EPS files.
When you have mixed all your tracks just the way you want them, you can export the entire piece as a WAV or MP3 digital audio file so you can listen to it and share it with your friends. However, the program does not include features for recording audio files.
The tabbed layout of the Music Palette is very convenient and allows you to quickly and easily select the exact tool you need to add that special flourish to your composition. It’s really nice to have all the tools and features you need available in one location. All you have to do is click the appropriate tab in the palette to access the tool you need to add slurs, text, accidentals, guitar chord diagrams and so on.
Forte Home is easy to use and has many of the tools necessary to get you composing quickly, but it does not include a virtual piano or audio recording capabilities. However, if the Home version is not to your liking, there are several other versions of Forte to choose from. Whatever version you choose, you'll find Forte's composition software to be comprehensive and easy to use.