Is there Software That Plays Music From Sheet Music?

I would like to have some music played from sheet. Is there a software program that does this? I’d be gratefil if anyone could let me know.

There’s programs which go some way to convert scanned music, such as Photoscore, with the result then usable as a midi source. The results can be variable, to say the least. Googling for ‘music scanning’ will turn up others.

The Wikipedia article on Music OCR lists a few programs, but I have no experience with any of them.

Do you mean you want to scan a piece of paper sheet music and have it played, or just write music on the computer in stave form and have that played? Because pretty much every music composition software package supports the latter, from el cheapo GarageBand knockoffs to Sibelius and Logic Pro.

Good point - if the latter, Musescore is perhaps the best free option.

It’s been a long time since I wrote any music, but what I did write, I never heard performed. It’s orchestral. Does the software you speak of permit me to enter the various parts that I’ve written for various instruments? When it plays the music, does it play several voices at once? Is it possible for me to convert my scores to computerized scores and then have them played? I could sort of hear what these pieces might sound like if played by an orchestra? Would I need to get a piano-type keyboard to hook up to the computer? As I say, it’s been a while. When I was writing music, we used things called pens and stuff called paper, and we often had to imagine how it would sound. What’s new?

Yes to all the questions except needing a piano keyboard. You can enter the notes by keyboard or mouse. It won’t sound very good – the way these things generally work is by recording a single note for each instrument and then extrapolating the others from that, and there’s a certain lifeless, synthetic feel to the music – but it’s better than nothing.

Yes. With software such as Finale or Sibelius, the notes are entered as conventional notation, with direct playback from the score.

Not needed for playback, that can go through the regular sound output, but a midi keyboard is the fastest way to input things. Here’s examples of what can be done with off-the-shelf software, in expert hands.

No modern sampler works off a single sample - some samplers that I use have every white note sampled at multiple volumes. Even Soundfonts available for free on the net (played through the free vsti sfz) contain multiple sampled notes per octave with volume layers, and sound really good. With a good score editor (Sibelius is considered the best from that point of view, but it is expensive) and decent samples, an orchestral piece will sound pretty good. I like NoteWorthy Composer, but development is pretty slow (considering I purchased it 15 years ago or so), but I use Rosegarden now, which is Linux only.

Of course, you can pay really big money for commercial orchestral samples (for something like the now discontinued Tascam GigaStudio, or the Native Instruments Kontact 3).


To give you an example of what can be accomplished relatively cheaply, here is a short theme I composed with GarageBand and their orchestral music instrument pack. They sample every note each instrument can play at multiple volumes, and extrapolate a few beyond the normal range. It sounds pretty close to a real musician playing, IMHO. I wouldn’t record a concerto with it, but it can be used to great effect for atmosphere or complimenting existing recorded music.

I ahve never tried musescore, (looks good) but anvil studio works well for me, with a few quirks

looking closer at musescore, its seems very good for simple sheet music input, but has limited facilities for multiple parts or voices. Anvil (also free) allows you to set up as many voices (lines) as you like with different instruments, and play them, but I find editing can be tricky. Essentially, musescore is more a sheet writer, and anvil tries to be a composer/sequencer/player as well

Take a look at MagicScore Maestro, it can do it. Quite an easy to use and powerful tool.