Pros / The interface is easy to navigate.

Cons / It doesn’t have a companion mobile app.

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

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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Specifications and Benchmarks

Music Features

Ease of Use
Chord Names
Guitar Chord Diagrams
Guitar Tabulation

Operating System Compatibility

Operating System Compatibility
Windows, Mac

Editing Features

Multiple Tool Palettes
Volume Mixer

Input/Output Features

Virtual Piano Note Entry
Audio (WAV, MP3)
Graphic (BMP, GIF, JPEG)