Considering of moving to Musescore from Finale-Sibelius

• May 4, 2021 - 19:49

I'm a professional composer, started out on Finale and after using that for about 15 years I moved to Sibelius now been using that app (current version 8.7.2) for about 8-9 years. Lately I have been reading post about the Musescore and the open source idea which I really like. I'm hoping to have some convincing input making me more into moving to Musescore.
As far as I can see the playback is possible to match those in Finale and Sibelius?
Workflow is comparable to Sibelius?
Engraver can look almost as professional as Finale/Sibelius specially when using the new font in version 3.6?
And the regular updates in Musescore as well the open source community is one thing to consider, af far as I understand?


Comments

As with any such matters, you'll find strong opinions on all sides of the issue. I would say probably the general consensus - although hardly universally agreed upon - is that MuseScore is the easiest to learn and use of the three (four if you include Dorico), but that it lags behind in the quality of the default playback - like MuseScore today is only as good as Finale or Sibelius were 5-10 years ago. So if that's especially important to you it could be reason to hold off, at least until MuseScore 4 comes along and with it the promise of better playback. As for the engraving, we get a lot of details right in ways that Finale doesn't, and are close to on par with Sibelius in many respects, but people with an especially critical eye may notice some quirks in the basic note spacing that can result in the need to play with measure widths manually a bit.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you very much for this igreat nfo about coming improvement of playback etc. I also noticed today when importing an .xml file of a .sib orchestral score that the note spacing in some bars were not very good as well as having some cue notes issues, so yes, maybe I should wait for the next upgrade before switching.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

Well, chances are pretty decent that the MusicXML import process itself is partially responsible for any really obviously issues in layout. The format just doesn't really capture all the information that would be needed to reproduce the original layout exactly, and the information that is present and honored during important often turning out to then be counterproductive, as the defaults of the two programs are different. I generally start out after any MusicXMl import by removing all system breaks (right-click one, Select / All Simialr Elements, Delete), also doing Ctrl+A to select all then Ctrl+R to reset manual adjustments that probably won't make sense anyhow, and a few other things to try to get back to a "clean slate". Then I can re-evaluate what new adjustments might be needed.

If you attach a sample MusicXML file - and maybe an image or PDF of how it looked in Sibelius originally - we can help.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

this is how it looks, a few pages just containing one bar, removing all system breaks (right-click one, Select / All Simialr Elements, Delete), also doing Ctrl+A to select all then Ctrl+R to reset manual adjustments didn't do it, although not sure I did it correctly, in sibelius if this happen I just use the arrow key to move the bar, it doesn't seem to work the same in Musescore though

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

The corruptions don't help, and unfortunately Sibelius' MusicXML export is known to be pretty bad in general. But could you maybe point to a few specific spots now where you wish to see the layout changed?

I can say there are a number of things going on that I'd want to clean up. One is that there seem to be a bunch of spurious frames - maybe the result of a failed conversion of a header? Probably best to just delete them all - right-click the first (title) frame, Select / All Similar Elements, then Ctrl+click the title frame to remove it from the selection, then Delete. Those frames are probably throwing off a lot of things.

I'd also recommend removing the existing page (different from system) breaks since where the pages naturally break in MuseScore won't necessarily match where they do in any other program. So again, right-click one, Select / All Similar Elements, Delete. Unless you find it helpful to keep the same page structure as in Sibelius, in which case you may need to reduce spacing to make sure certain systems fit.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

If I understand it correct in short (I diddn't follow the full thread; so if I misunderstand your request, sorry for it), one proper way should be to select the first measure of the system, extend the selection via ctrl+shift+arrow right until the the last measure of the same system, and choosing format->stretch->decrease layout stretch for this selection.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

Importing it into MuseScore reports lots of corruptions:

Measure 70, staff 1 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 2 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 3 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 6 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 7 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 8 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 12 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 13 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 14 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 16 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 17 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 18 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 20 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 21 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 22 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 23 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 24 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 25 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 26 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 27, voice 2 too long. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 32 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 33 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 34 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 35 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 36, voice 2 too long. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 70, staff 37 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 1 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 2 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 3 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 15 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 16 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 17 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 18 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 19 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 34, voice 2 too long. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 35, voice 2 too long. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 36 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 107, staff 37 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 1 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 2 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 3 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 4 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 5 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 6 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 9 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 15 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 16 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 17 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 18 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 19 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 20 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 21 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 22 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 23 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 24 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 25 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 26 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 27 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 28 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 29 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 30 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 31 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 32 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 33 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 34 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 35 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 36, voice 2 too long. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1
Measure 239, staff 37 incomplete. Expected: 49/64; Found: 1/1

Before doing anything else you'd need to fix those

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

was checking measure 70 in the original file, it looks ok, so this seems to be more complicated than correcting that bar, I also tried to Format -Layout increase or decrease etc, but not doing it, the score on Musescore has quite a few issues...also empty pages and cue notes not correct etc

I'm not a professional composer – just an amateur – but there was a time when I felt that I had money burning a hole in my pocket and I was ready to buy the top-flight version of either Finale or Sibelius. But first, I decided to look at various "open source" alternatives. Several of these were unimpressive ... but then, I stumbled-upon MuseScore. And, well, to make a long story short, "that money is still in my pocket!" 🤠

Of course, I don't have any of the particular considerations that true professionals do. Therefore, I really can't speak to the question of whether or not it would make professional sense for any professional to "switch." But I can certainly say this: MuseScore continues to do everything that I could possibly think of for it to do ... "and it does it with grace and style." It's really been a very long time since I have been more impressed with any software product, whether I paid money for it or not.

In reply to by mrobinson

I agree that MuseScore is good and some professionals use it. It is also getting better -mostly, gradually.

However, I think that many serious professionals still prefer Sibelius or other tools. Partly it's what they're used to, but I think there can be advantages in some situations - for example with time critical tasks.

The major issues appear to be:

  1. Time taken to get some things done.
  2. Quality of the finished layout

and for some
3. Quality of audio generated etc. - which can often be addressed by feeding out Midi into a DAW.

A lot also depends on how a composer organises his or her workflow. Some work exlusively with notation, some work exclusively with piano rolls, synthesisers and DAWs, and some work with both notation and other tools depending on need - and move their work between the various tools - not necessarily in only one direction.

You should be able to try MuseScore by importing files either as Midi files, or as MusicXML files from Sibelius or other notation tools. There are similarities between MS and Sibelius - though I hear that there are also some significant differences which affect some users.

For amateurs and students MS is almost a no-brainer, as it is free to use, will support many staves and mostly works and is good enough. The free or cheaper versions of other tools are usually too limiting, though students will probably be able to get a good discount on some versions - but not always the most powerful version of the other notation tools.

In reply to by dave2020X

Here's a few additional thoughts.

I own Sibelius 7.5.1. I'm working with MuseScore because someday Sibelius won't work on some future version of Windows. I compose as a hobby, and am really only concerned about playback. Not the score. I'm not interested in the expense or learning curve of a DAW. So there's that.
If you compose for real players, then you use playback as a reference. The sounds MuseScore uses will suffice for this.

However, there are things I miss.
Where selecting instruments in the mixer in Sibelius was a process of working through organised menus, MuseScore has one long list of all the sounds. Sure you can type the first letters and you might get close. That is if you remember the exact name of the instrument. Let's see... was that Horn, or French horn, or Solo Horn. Scratch that last one. There is no solo horn in the default sound font.
The mixer is up for a revamp in the next major release. Except that you can add several different fonts to the mixer, all of which have there own instrument order with their own names. I hope for the best.

Adding lines like rit or accel will have no playback effect. Though there is a plug in.

If you want to add a measure or 4 at the end of a piece , you can't just select the last measure and hit "R". You use an append tool.

You can't add a quarter note on beat four in a measure that has a whole rest. You have to fill in rests for beats 1-3 first.

Music.xml from Sibelius will look different in MuseScore. But if you open that same mxl in Sibelius again, it will also not look like the original score.

Interestingly enough, the solo violin in MuseScore has vibrato. Sib. 7 has no vibrato on the solo violin. I was unable to find out if later versions corrected this. As I understand it, at least the early V 8 used the same sounds as V 7.

There are tricks to getting good playback in both programs.

The vast majority of things work pretty much the same between the two. If you are looking to produce a score and parts to hand to real players, MuseScore will certainly do the job just fine.

Plus there is excellent help here on the forum.

In reply to by dave2020X

Thank you, yes I really wish it was time to switch to an open source program but I feel its a bit too early, I send my orchestral works and chamber music works to be played by orchestras so playback is used for a reference aIthough needed to sound ok. Also I think there is too much job having my library of sib. and finale music transfered via .xml to look ok, I left Finale long time ago, but could get a copy from my job, was trying now to see how it acts when importing .xml from Sib, but I find the learning curve is steep, it really feels so complicated compared to Sibelius although I remember its a matter of learning meta tools etc, anyway the community here seems so helpful, thanks again.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

MuseScore isn't complicated. Just different. Just like any program new to you, you have to spend some time in Not really complicated, just different. You do have to spend some time in the manual. I know people who stay with Finale because Sibelius is too complicated.

Reference recordings.
I trust that you don't set up a score and let Sibelius chose the instruments. Default sounds are the least musical.
Playback from MuseScore can be made acceptable. But just like any platform, the best way is with a DAW

In reply to by dave2020X

hank you, yes I really wish it was time to switch to an open source program but I feel its a bit too early, I send my orchestral works and chamber music works to be played by orchestras so playback is used for a reference aIthough needed to sound ok. Also I think there is too much job having my library of sib. and finale music transfered via .xml to look ok, I left Finale long time ago, but could get a copy from my job, was trying now to see how it acts when importing .xml from Sib, but I find the learning curve is steep, it really feels so complicated compared to Sibelius although I remember its a matter of learning meta tools etc, anyway the community here seems so helpful, thanks again.

In reply to by mrobinson

thank you, yes I really wish it was time to switch to an open source program but I feel its a bit too early, I send my orchestral works and chamber music works to be played by orchestras so playback is used for a reference aIthough needed to sound ok. Also I think there is too much job having my library of sib. and finale music transfered via .xml to look ok, I left Finale long time ago, but could get a copy from my job, was trying now to see how it acts when importing .xml from Sib, but I find the learning curve is steep, it really feels so complicated compared to Sibelius although I remember its a matter of learning meta tools etc, anyway the community here seems so helpful, thanks again.

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

I have considered switching to Dorico as it has different features sadly missing in MuseScore.
But I won't do that for the following reason : using Dorico, or Sibelius or Finale implies all your work is saved in a proprietary format that can become unsupported.
MuseScore is sort of proprietary as well but probability of being still supported in the coming 30 years is much higher (without speaking of the cost as all other ones are dropping perpetual licence offering)

In reply to by frfancha

yeah that's a good point indeed. Wish Musescore could read my xml scores a bit better though and the engraving to look better too, bar numbers so thick etc, but I maybe should check more carefully, the one I try to import is a 25 pages wind band score, so a bit complicated, but still I need those to be readable etc

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

Bar number appearance can be changed if the default is not to your taste via [Format]>[Style]>[Text]>[Bar number] where you can select whatever font and font style is available on your PC. The appearance of most score items can be customised in the same way. Once you have the appearance you like, you can save those style settings and load to any other score.

It costs nothing other than time to investigate what MuseScore can do. Like most programs it is easy to get acceptable but not excellent results if you just use the default settings. But to get the most out of it you need to customise things to look the way you want and MuseScore has a lot of settings to tweak. Admittedly some of them are hidden rather deep and some are tucked away in unexpected places but once set it is just as easy to use customised settings as defaults.

In reply to by SteveBlower

thanks, yeah I suppose after spending time learning those customised settings it would look professional, right now I'm awaiting my job decision if they will upgrade to the latest Sibelius or not, I might get a negative reply and I'm considering trying to move over to Musescore either way, could anyone here send a sample of orchestral score with pretty complicated stuff a few pages, convincing me that Musescore has same capabilities as Sibelius or Finale or at least almost the same, that would strengthen me

In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks a lot!!I have been listening to half of the score, and this is just what I needed to see and hear. I won't normally write more complicated that rather less, mostly. Thanks for sending this, regarding playback, since I have accepted Sibelius playback, do I need a DAW and expensive sound libraries like Vienna etc, let me know, as i mentioned it's only used for reference for myself and when sending to the orchestra of course if it's sounding better than Sibelius its a bonus bit that lecvel is still ok for me, so let me know more about the DAW too

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

thanks, yeah I guess I have to study the handbook I realize that, what I'm looking for is the easy way sibelius playing back,(even though the sound is not so good but to me acceptable), hopefully when I have installed the SoundFonts it should work the same in Musescore, I mean when I select a wind orchestra template, it should be set from the beginning

In reply to by Shoichi

you are right, I just noticed that now...my original score in pdf didn't show those cue notes for the conductor, hmm, that's a lesson to learn, I shouldn't set -cues notes only visible in parts but also in score otherwise the conductor doesn't notice them, thanks for letting me know this

In reply to by Shoichi

thanks again, well the more I digging deeper into Musescore, I get more convinced to move, however I have tons a sibelius and Finale files that need to be batch processed to .xml, i'll etc, and a few composing projects ahead, so still not fully convinced doing this move now, but I feel I'm gonna do it soon, I really support the open source etc

In reply to by stefantrumpet1

Some observations.

Musicxml is not 100% dependable, even in the platform in which it was created. I opened a score I created in MuseScore. Export as an mxl. Reopened in Musescore and there are subtle differences. Nothing like pages missing, but still, not exactly the same.
I opened your file in my version of Sibelius. My 7.5.1 is older than yours. There were several mistakes in the score. They may not be in the original, but they are there in mine. I cannot export another mxl because of them.
I tried several different export settings from Musescore to try to get an mxl that would load into Sibelius and in turn export out of Sibelius as mxl. Almost any settings but the default worked. But still had long measures and empty pages. Some produced a title page. Which I suspect your original has.
Load your file back into Sibelius and see if percussion notes starting in bar 17 are on their lines.

Playback. Sibelius-34 GB vs MuseScore-less than 1 GB of sounds.
Amazingly enough, it is possible to get good enough playback from MuseScore. But, just like Sibelius, you have to resort to some slight of hand. I have been greatly surprised.

Your biggest problem will be trying to work with all your past scores. On one hand, do you really need to. If you have pdfs of score and parts and a recording, do you need more? I realize that for a composer, a piece is never really finished.

In reply to by bobjp

Thanks a lot I just woke up. Yes I agree my problem is to get older scores look the same without too much job. Still I want them archived as they are in Sibelius and finale for further use.by the way I imported one more yesterday noticing barlines was invisible on pages with shifting bars one after another otherwise it looks pretty much the same and the bar lines on most pages were there . That’s weird..I’ll look into the playback thing soon too thanks a lot

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