Music Notation Software

I’m looking for an inexpensive software package for writing words and music to songs. A cursory examination of the internet reveals a product called ‘Finale’ which does everything I need (and a great deal more) but which costs $545.00. I’m looking for something much cheaper. Free would be perfect, but shareware that’s $20 or so is okay. I suppose the max would be $50.

Features that are important to me are: 1) multiple staves, so different instruments or voices can have their own staff; 2) good-looking printing; and 3) ability to incorporate lyrics with the music.

I’m assuming that a MIDI playback and reasonable editing capabilities are included as basic functions.

Features I don’t care about: 1) music capture; and, um, 2) I guess that’s about it.

Minor considerations: Guitar tablature would be a plus, but it’s certainly not required. And I’d like to avoid the Great Satan of Redmond if I can.

Anyone have any experience or sources they can point me to? I’d like to be able to download it rather than buy a CD if I could.

Thanks in advance.


I only do minor musical stuff, but Noteworthy Composer may be worth a look.

You can download a shareware version and/or order a full version for $39.

They have most of the features you asked for, although I don’t know about lyric features, as I only do instrumentals.

pluto, mail me at


I’ve used a Windows product called Cakewalk which was pretty cool. It does everything you want. Dunno who makes it though.

I use Encore myself. It was made by Passport Designs, but they were bought by GVox. Although Encore can be expensive, they also make MusicTime Deluxe, which is like Encore’s little sister. It sounds like MusicTime would do what you want pretty well, and it goes for around $40 I think. I don’t really like Finale, but a lot of people use Cakewalk when they are sequencing because it’s easy to change dynamics and stuff to make it sound more realistic. All at the expense of notational useability, in my opinion. Encore and MusicTime couldn’t get any easier to use, though, so I’d recommend one of them. Go to for more information.