Pros / This software has a convenient layout.
Cons / It doesn’t have a virtual piano for inputting notes.
Verdict / Notation Composer has a clean user interface, but it’s missing the advanced features the best programs we reviewed.
This music notation software has a simple, text-based Quick Start Tutorial in its user guide to help you get started working with music. However, we found it odd that the tutorial seems to emphasize how to open and modify existing MIDI and karaoke files rather than how to create your own musical scores. Instructions on how to create a new song aren’t even mentioned until page seven of the tutorial.
That said, Notation Composer is still a relatively easy-to-use program, and you can find every tool you need on the main page. Unlike higher-ranked products, such as Sibelius First and Finale PrintMusic, this software doesn’t include templates. But you can save a project as a template to use the next time you want to create a similar song. You can also choose from a list of pre-made MIDI files to import into your score to customize.
One of the program’s nice, readily accessible features is its mixer. In the window view, you can click next to each staff to select the specific instruments you want to hear. You can even change the volume of each instrument you hear during playback.
Of the programs we reviewed, Notation Composer has the best solution to the problem of adding lyrics to a musical score. It’s easy to copy and paste lyrics into your song, and the software automatically lines them up with the corresponding notes. However, it doesn’t have a virtual piano, which would make notes easier to enter. Instead, you have to use your mouse or a MIDI keyboard to add notes to a score.
When you first open Notation Composer, you can choose to create a new song, search the internet for MIDI files, or open an existing MIDI or Notation Composer file. When you browse the internet for MIDI files, you can search for songs by music style, artist or composer, or instrument.
Using this software, you can export your songs as MIDI, Karaoke and MusicXML files. However, you cannot export a song as a graphic file. While you can export songs as MusicXML files, we could not find a feature that would allow us to import MusicXML files.
Notation Composer is great music notation software program for people who write music as a hobby as well as those who are interested in manipulating existing MIDI files. It’s missing some of the more advanced features found in the best music notation software we reviewed, but it has enough tools to make basic scores to share with your fellow musicians and composers.