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Notation Composer Review

This music notation software has more than 25 session templates and a text-based quick-start tutorial with screenshots to help you start writing and composing your own music.

Our Verdict

Notation Composer has all the tools you need to write and edit simple compositions.

For

  • The interface is easy to navigate.

Against

  • It doesn’t have a companion mobile app.
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Notation Composer has a good selection of score templates.

Notation Composer has a good selection of score templates.
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The startup screen in Notation Composer has tutorials to help get you started.

The startup screen in Notation Composer has tutorials to help get you started.
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Notation Composer’s playback features are easy to use.

Notation Composer’s playback features are easy to use.

This music notation software has more than 25 session templates and a text-based quick-start tutorial with screenshots to help you start writing and composing your own music. It imports and exports MIDI and MusicXML formats, so you can share your music with people who use other music notation programs. Also, it's compatible with MIDI instruments. The user interface has clearly labeled toolbars with a good selection of input tools for adding notes, rests, expressions and text to your compositions.

Before you add notes to a score, Notation Composer gives you the option to choose a premade session template, though you can build your own template by adding common and/or odd time signatures, the key, and how many measures you want to start with. Once the template is ready, name the song and save the template as a default if you tend to write music for the same instruments.

You enter notes on the staff using a mouse or a MIDI keyboard. Unlike Notion, this composition software doesn’t have virtual piano or virtual guitar fretboard input options. Notation Composer is one of the best programs we tested for adding lyrics to a score. When you copy the lyrics from a document file and paste them into a score, the software automatically lines them up with the corresponding notes.

Once you finish adding notes and lyrics to a score, Notation Composer can export high-resolution PDFs or graphic files to print out for other band members. It also exports audio files in popular formats like MP3 and WAV and uses the instrument sounds from its bank of soundfonts. The instruments don’t sound as good as those in programs that use sampled instruments, but they’re sufficient for getting a good understanding of how the composition sounds when played by real instruments.

Notation Composer is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux machines. There’s a free 30-day trial that gives you access to all the tools but adds a watermark to the score. A full license of the software includes a 60-day trial for the Band-in-a-Box plugin, which has more than 150 accompaniment styles you can add to any composition.

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Billy Bommer

When Billy isn’t testing audio products and writing reviews for Top Ten Reviews, you can find him at the top of a snowy mountain peak looking for fresh powder, or in a studio or live music venue working as a sound engineer and musician. He has been critically listening to speakers and using audio production software for more than 15 years in a recreational and professional capacity. He has been the Audio & Travel Writer for Top Ten Reviews since 2017 and does his best to make product recommendations based on his hands-on experience using these products in a real-world scenario.