Music notation programs

Last Updated or created 2022-11-17

I play several instruments, and know a lot of tunes by heart. But for some instruments i’d like to have a music sheet in front of me.
When playing new tunes or from my old stash, i need it on paper also.
And when i do, I’d like my music nicely printed and in the same style.

So i’ve been using multiple programs and tools to get a result i can live with.
I’ve got a huge collection of pipe and folk tunes, but whenever i decide that i’m going to play it more often then i’m going to re-create the music sheet.
The musicsheet will be printed and put in a folder. But also as PDF wil be placed in my calibre server, with i use to provide my tablets and phones with a digital version.
For automatically generating a PDF musicbook i’ve written some scripts.
These PDF’s i can use with my DIY bluetooth page turner.

For my bagpipe tunes i started a long time ago with a dos version of Bagpipe Music Writer. Getting a decent result from your printer was a b*tch. But it was do-able.

Several other programs i’ve tried but few stuck.
CelticPipes, Ceol Mor, Bagpipe (French), MusicTex, Lilypond for example.
I don’t like to click a symbol and place it on the bars, i like typing .. so i’m a little biased.
For midi and printing multi bar/staff music i also used Cakewalk Pro.

So i’ve been using the following software:

ABC Music notation :

X: 1
T:After the Battle of Aughrim
R:Polka
M:2/4
K:ADor
E2A2 ABcd | e2d2 c3A | B2G2 GFGA | B2AG E2D2 |
E2A2 ABcd | e2d2 e2ag | e2d2 BedB | A4 A4 :|
|:\
a2e2 e2fg | abag e2fg | abaf g3e | dedB G4 |
a2e2 e2fg | abag e2d2 | B2e2 d2B2 | A4 A4 :|
  • I use this mainly for Whistle and skeletal melody lines for Uilleann pipes (no ornaments)
  • Bagpipe IS possible but hard and ugly.
  • Multiple voices (harmony) is possible.
  • Chord names can be places above bars, as well as vocals.
  • I’ve made scripts with headers and footers to get the same output result.
  • Creating the music is typing the notes and ornaments in a text file.
  • Little chords for guitar mandoline are also possible.
# Edit/createing a abc music file
vi musicpiece.abc ; edit with plain editor
abcm2ps musicpiece.abc ; convert to ps
ps2pdf14 Out.ps musicpiece.pdf ; ps convert to pdf
Also EasyABC i use occasionally

Bagpipe music:

I still use Bagpipe Music Writer, but the free Player, which is a full version also. (Long story)
Using wine on linux it is usable.



In the past i made a virtual machine which could be controlled by a web form and some CGI scripts.
I could paste a “bmw” score in a webform which would be send to the virtual machine, a BMW program would be started, printed the tune as a PDF that was send to the website again.


For a long time i also had a abc music to PDF convertor on my website.

I like the way of writing the tunes .. just type abbreviations of ornaments to print.
When you know these you are faster than using a mouse!

& sharpf sharpc
I!	hdbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16			gg Fr_16 El_16 Dl_8
!	dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbhg HG_4					tg Fr_16 HAl_8 'ha
!	hdbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16			gg Fr_16 El_16 Dl_8
!	dbb Br_8 'b LAl_16	gg LGr_8 'lg dg Bl_16					dbhg HG_4					tg Fr_16 HAl_8 'ha			!t

There is no way to write harmonies.
In the past i’ve been using a pdf editor to merge music bars and align those by hand.
I’ve stopped doing that. I just print 2 versions.
Sometimes i use MuseScore for harmonies and multiinstrumental sheets

I wil post my MusicBook compiler here, when i’ve cleaned up the code.