PROS / Music MasterWorks features easy note entry with the mouse and keyboard. You can also import and export standard MIDI files.
CONS / The software lacks many simple editing tools such as an eraser and standard Windows keyboard shortcuts for copy, paste and undo.
VERDICT / Music MasterWorks is fine for novices, but experienced composers might be frustrated with the lack of features they have to create professional-quality music scores.
Sometimes you get what you pay for. This does not mean that Music MasterWorks is not good music notation software. It just means that at a suggested retail price that is below average, you can't expect it to have all the tools and features you would find in the best notation software we've reviewed. While Music MasterWorks is a good music notation software program at a great price for beginners, it probably doesn't offer enough features for avid composers.
Music MasterWorks includes a text-based tutorial available from the Help menu that walks you through the basics of entering notes with the mouse and computer keyboard. Although it is nice to have, you don't really need the tutorial to understand how to enter notes with the mouse – you simply point and click. Unfortunately, the software doesn't have an edit pencil or an eraser, which makes inserting notes a little cumbersome.
The Edit menu has many of the functions that you would expect to find in music notation software, but it does not include the keyboard shortcuts you would expect, such as Ctrl+Z to undo a function and Ctrl+A to select all items on the page. Even the few Edit menu functions that do have keyboard shortcuts are not Windows standard. For example, instead of pressing Ctrl+C to copy selected items, this program uses Ctrl+Insert to copy items.
You can't notate a large number of instruments using this music composing software. There is no guitar notation option, automatic chord option or percussion option. However, you can play your score back using 128 standard general MIDI instruments. The program can take any WAV file and transcribe it to MIDI while notating the music. Music Masterworks also includes a unique feature called Voice-to-Note that transcribes notes to the staff when you sing them or play them on an instrument into a microphone.
Another unique feature is the singing analysis tool that records what you sing into a microphone and analyzes how close you come to singing the correct notes. Singing lessons couldn't be easier, and this feature is much cheaper than hiring a vocal coach.
We found a few issues concerning recording. If you are recording your notation from a MIDI keyboard connected to your computer, the program records the music before the notes are shown on the staff. This is not as quick or as convenient as real-time notation, which is available in other notation programs. The metronome works during playback, but not during recording. We also had to change the output settings when we wanted to hear our recordings, and then change them back to input more music.
The editing capabilities are average. Editing is limited to the typical mouse functions, such as drag-and-drop and note-scroll functions. The program offers a wide variety of keyboard functions that aid in the editing process, but you have to get used to the nonstandard key combinations with some of the keyboard shortcuts.
The tutorial is concise and to the point. The Help section also defines what each button on the palette does, so there is no guessing. The program even has a beginner's music theory lesson. The manufacturer also has an email address, a FAQs page and a phone number for personal customer support.
Music MasterWorks is an ideal program for someone who is just getting started in music composition. It's easy to use and doesn't include too many features. If you are looking for an advanced product, be sure to check out our other reviews of the best music notation software.