Muse is news

In Spring of ’09 I shelled out money for a copy of Finale PrintMusic, after trying and rejecting several free music notation apps. Earlier this month it was working fine, but then I had to re-install OS X (first time in years I’ve needed to do that) and afterwards PrintMusic wouldn’t work — well, it worked, but it thought it was an unregistered (crippleware) copy and could not be persuaded otherwise. I contacted MakeMusic support and they told me PrintMusic 2009 is not supported for Snow Leopard; my problem is a known one, and it’s fixed in PrintMusic 2010. I was highly irritated at first, but then I looked at the chronology; while Snow Leopard was announced a few months before PrintMusic 2009 came out, it was not released until several months after. And the upgrade price for PrintMusic 2010 ($30) was not quite as high as I’d thought. So I’d just about convinced myself the lack of support was reasonable and the upgrade was worthwhile, but I held off on buying it.

And then today I learned about MuseScore, which has been around for a while — in some form since 2002. I took a look and was astounded. It’s beautiful, it’s capable, it’s cross platform, it’s free, and it’s open source! Why I didn’t try it out a year and a half ago I have no idea; I assume I didn’t find it in my research, but I don’t know why.

It even has a plugin that does tunings other than 12ET — in fact it reads Scala files — and it has a whole raft of accidental symbols and you can tweak the pitches of individual notes. Another plugin reads ABC. Crazy! Crazy good, but crazy! Apparently it doesn’t do guitar chords yet but that’s coming. (The current version number is 0.9.6, so it’s still officially Not Done.)

Anyway, I’ve only played with it a little, so I may still find some deal killer problem, but so far it looks like it’s the only free (or even cheap) notation/sequencing software I’ve yet seen that I find easy to use and capable of doing what I need. It very well may replace PrintMusic in my kit — and maybe Melody Assistant too. The article I found which led me to it is here and has many more details.

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