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01.18.2019 – MuseScore 3

Years ago when I started into composing, my weapon of choice was Sibelius. Actually, to be totally accurate, I spent quite a lot of time fiddling around in an old program called Cakewalk before sticking with Sibelius at the encouragement of my first composition professor.

Pedantry aside, what finally drove me away from Sibelius after years and years of loyal service was the total overhaul of the interface after version 6. Far too many of the tools were moved from one menu location to another and I ended up spending a frustrating amount of time searching for them again. I also became aware of some unfortunate staff changes at Sibelius headquarters, and that was enough for me to return to MuseScore. At some point, I had given it a try, but the first version of the program was not refined enough to serve my needs. By the time I was ready to abandon the Sibelius ship, MuseScore was well into version 2. And what I experienced was a totally different program than version 1. Notation and layout tools were easy to find in the menus and note entry was a breeze. Since then, it’s been my tool of choice. The obvious bonus here is that MuseScore is a free piece of software. I have used it for a fairly diverse range of applications. I have written solos, string orchestra pieces, choral pieces, and I’m even finishing up a piece for full orchestra. While I have from time to time encountered challenges with no obvious solution or workaround (piano pedaling doesn’t work the way I wish it would and the options for measure numbering and time signature don’t quite meet my needs for my full orch score), it has been a real pleasure to use.

This takes us to the present. Version 3 of MuseScore has just been released. While I would love to jump in and offer my unequivocal support, my advice for now is to wait, especially if you have already been using version 2. Right now there appear to be some compatibility issues between version 2 scores and MuseScore 3. Scores created in v3 are also not compatible with v2. For now there don’t appear to be enough features to really warrant moving up from 2 to 3. And finally – and this may just be a glitch on my part – when I installed v3 on my home desktop, MIDI input stopped working for BOTH v2 and v3 (ironically I can still use MIDI input in Sibelius on that machine…)

If you have not used MuseScore before, I would say go ahead and get v3. Aside from the issues I mentioned above, it seems to be a slight improvement on 2, particularly in terms of automatic layout adjustment. But if you have scores from v2 and have projects you need a stable engraver for, give v3 a little time to work out the bugs. That’s my plan, anyway.



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