A follow-up to my last post, now that the news has had some time to settle…
The future of Finale’s parent company is in question. Sibelius’ main development branch is closing down. Both of these facts have shaken up the music notation world as of late, and regardless of what happens with these applications, one thing is clear: users are losing confidence in MakeMusic and Avid.
I’m posting here for a couple of main reasons: updates, and alternatives. As far as I know, there has been no real update on MakeMusic’s buyout offer. Avid has stated a few times (including here and here) that they intend to continue supporting Sibelius, but wants them working closer to their other software devs in CA. There is a Sibelius support group website (of sorts) that’s popped up, and if you’re worried about the future of Sibelius, I encourage you to visit, read, and consider signing their petition and/or taking other action as you deem appropriate.
However, in the event of disaster on both fronts (Finale and Sibelius are both axed), I also want people to know that there are alternatives. Of course, in this worst-case scenario, you can likely continue to use your software – just don’t expect updates. But you also have a few other solutions that you can check out at no cost:
- MuseScore - cross-platform, open source, and free. Not without its bugs and quirks, but the development team recently released a minor version update (1.2), and in my experience it is a very stable program. http://musescore.org/
- Noteflight - cloud-based notation that uses a Flash engine. Some downsides, such as requiring access to the internet to use it, but this web app is fairly sophisticated. To access all of the features, there is a subscription fee, but a basic account is free to try. http://www.noteflight.com/
- Lilypond - this is perhaps the most complex, but most powerful, solution. If you are a coder (or understand markup / code), you may just get into this. (Confession: I’m getting into this.) It’s different not doing things with a GUI, very different. But, the music you can produce with it is crisp, clear, and just really nice. http://lilypond.org/ - DEFINITELY read their Manual. A lot.
As I mentioned, I’m in the process of learning Lilypond, but am on hold for the moment thanks to a web development project. I teach MuseScore as a Finale alternative already, and we will be test-adopting Noteflight this year for its ability to integrate with our Blackboard LMS (a very cool feature). I really have nothing bad to say about these applications, other than that Finale / Sibelius are definitely more sophisticated, just because they’ve been around longer. Who knows where any of these three products will be next year, in 5 years, or beyond – but if Finale and Sibelius become dead weight and don’t see any more significant upgrades, it’s only a matter of time before something else steps up to fill the void.
Anyway, that’s it. More news on this, as well as my experience with Noteflight and Lilypond, eventually.