Recommend Notation Software

Can anyone recommend their favorite software for writing out transcriptions with notation and tabs?


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Hey @colinmort nice to see ya around the forum again! Can you clarify what you are wanting to do?

Are you wanting to create sheet music? For this I use Logic Pro X, because I can play a melody in with a keyboard, quantize/fix MIDI, and then adjust in the score.

If you’re on a Mac, Logic Pro is $200 which is really cheap for what a robust software it is.

In my experience, the #1 industry standard for creating charts is Sibelius, followed by Finale.

Any of these are going to have learning curves.

But if you’re just wanting to add tabs to an existing piece of sheet music, I recommend doing it the old fashioned way… with a pencil!


Hi Luke,
Thanks for the response
I was talking about something like Sibelius or Finale but maybe a less expensive version. MuseScore looks like it is free, but I wasn’t sure if it was really free or worth it. I’ll probably try that and move to one of the other two.


If you are looking for harmonica specific tabbing software then you can look at harpingmidi. It does a nice job in generating blow and draw patterns for different harmonicas.

For creating sheet music, I use lilypond. This software is free and can create staff notation as well as midi file. MuseScore is good but keeps sending too much ads.


Hi @colinmort, for me personally the following combo works well:

Transcribe: I use it to slow down recordings and figure out tabs for them. Download Transcribe!

MuseScore: I use it for actual scores, or for starting to study a song from a MIDI-file. There’s a harmonica plugin for MuseScore 3 that’s quite handy. GitHub - musescore/harmonica_tablature: Harmonica tablature plugin for MuseScore

This works best for me as I don’t read sheet music per se and don’t need anything too complicated. I basically only use them to figure out songs and get some form of tabs that work for me. I find the learning curve on these to be very acceptable.


Thanks for those recommendations.


@Chatty welcome to the forum! Thanks so much for your input! Noted about the ad’s on Musescore (I’m guessing they have a paid version to eliminate that?)

@colinmort yeah one of my former students really loves Musescore for making charts (and it’s FREE.)

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harpingmidi is a really cool little program. Actually quite hitech the way it processes the transpositions. I can see it being very useful if you have original scores you want to tab as it does it for you.
Its actually simple but younger people only used to apps that require no computer knowledge and very little thought might find it difficult to use.
Thanks for the tip.