When J.S. Bach wrote down his compositions over 300 years ago, his first task was to get hold of some expensive paper.
He then took his special gadget where he could stick 5 ink-filled feathers in at once to draw the staff in one go. Only then could he turn to actually writing down the music, careful not to make any mistakes that would be extremely tedious to erase.
Later composers had ready-made music paper at their disposal and jotted down the notes using more modern devices.
Nowadays, in the 21st century, people do almost everything at the computer, including writing down music. Gone are the days where composers needed stacks of staff paper to write and rewrite their creations. Although there are still many musicians who prefer writing their initial drafts on paper and then putting it into the computer, the trend is clear.
The equipment for writing music on the computer varies. You can keep it simple and type in the notes using the normal computer keyboard. For more speed you can attach a Midi piano keyboard that enables you to get whatever you play on the piano transcribed into the score.
So if Bach had to battle with feathers and dripping ink, today's composers need to spend time learning how to operate computer notation programs that could end up being just as time consuming...
The biggest names in the music notation software are Sibelius and Finale. These programs were launched at around 2006 and opened up many possibilities for composers and arrangers.
A couple of years later other software program operators came up with simpler, less expensive products. Many of the programs offer a free trial period or a free amount of scores before purchasing the program or paying a monthly fee. Most of the programs need to be downloaded, but some (like Noteflight) can be used online, without having to download anything at all.
The program I mostly use is MuseScore. This is a popular,free, open source program that is constantly upgraded and has a big user community forum. You will find plenty of MuseScore tutorials on YouTube that will help you along the way.
Is it worth making the effort of learning how to type music?
If you are happy playing written music and concentrating on interpreting it you don't need to bother with a notation program. If you enjoy improvising and creating music for the moment without holding on to it, you are also fine.
If however you would like to write down musical ideas for pieces you come up with or arrangements you make for yourself and others, being able to print the music is a huge advantage. The notes are clear and you can correct the score easily if you printed a wrong note. You can also get the program to play your score back to you so you can detect any mistakes.
Once you get your creative muscle activated the ideas will begin to flow. If you give yourself time regularly to make up music and write it down you may discover that you have something to say, and seeing your musical ideas printed out will make them accessible to others too.
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