Piano World Home Page

Sibelius or Finale

Posted By: JessicaB

Sibelius or Finale - 12/17/12 02:29 AM

Which would you recommend for a budding composer who wants to write on a keyboard and have it transcribed. We have a limited budget. He uses sonar, but would love to work with a notation software to start the transcribing process.
Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/17/12 03:32 AM

oooooo... This is a tricky question and got me flamed sometime ago! wink

You see, Jessica, both are equally good. In fact there's also this little software: http://musescore.org/ (MuseScore) which is free and the exhibits of the resulting output are quite lovely, especially for one who doesn't need a professional output!

Now, I will repeat that both Sibelius and Finale are equally good in what they do. I used to be a Finale user since the late 90s and recently I started using Sibelius as well (for professional reasons), and I did realize that there were very very few things that the one software could do better than the other. It's mostly that they do things differently.

Personally, I'm not so fond of the music font Sibelius uses, but what the heck did I expect after one decade and a half of using Finale?!?! wink

HOWEVER, you should note that Sibelius has been in trouble recently: Avid (the mother company) fired ALL the UK based staff (which contained people working there for 15 years with huge experience, etc) and thus the future of Sibelius is nothing short of... uncertain. On the other hand Finale seems to also be in financial trouble. Shareholders are not happy and while traditionally coming out with a new version every year, suddenly this year they just skipped this process... And all this while MakeMusic (the company which makes Finale) bought Garritan (the company that makes sounds).

In other words, I'd say that for a budding composer the very best idea one could do would be to try out MuseScore and if he exceeds it's limitations then by all means move on to the next higher package. Until then I have a feeling that the inside quarrels, problems, nagging shareholders, etc will have cleared their place...
Posted By: Maxtor

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/17/12 03:59 AM

Finale Notepad should have a small pricetag to start with; I've bought three versions of it over the years. Notepad should be sufficient for most compositions. It takes a bit of getting used to (the triplets tool is not intuitive, for example). Also, I dislike how it changes the size of the measure as I add notes; it ruins the placement of lyrics or typed annotations.
I have had very limited experience with Sibelius, but I really prefered Sibelius. If it was the same price as Notepad, I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

The major lacks that I have found in NotePad are that I cannot change the key signature or time signature halfway through a composition. This can be very annoying when I try re-transcribing an existing work.

Also, if you are speaking of "transcribing" as in "he presses keys on the digital piano, and the software puts them into sheet music", some experimentation may be needed to see what gives the best results. Some software can be stricter with the timing that others - it's a huge annoyance to see a quarter note become a string of an eigth, a sixteenth, and a 32nd note tied together.
Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/17/12 04:34 AM

Maxtor: Keep in mind that the you're comparing the full featured software of Sibelius to the strapped off version of Finale (notepad)... None of the problems you face with notepad can be found in the full version of Finale.

And, btw...

There are trial version of both software (AND MuseScore of course) so sometimes a person must get their hands dirty to see which one he prefers... Just download both and have a blast for a month! wink
Posted By: ChopinAddict

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/17/12 05:22 AM

I started with Finale and switched over to Sibelius.
Posted By: JessicaB

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/18/12 04:21 AM

Thanks. Great advice. Trial downloads may be the best way to go. Does anyone know whether any of these programs will notate compositions made using Sonar?
Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/18/12 04:34 AM

[tech support non expert advice]


The general protocol with which the various digital instruments communicate is called MIDI! A file made with sonar can only work with sonar, and a file made with Sibelius/Finale will work only on them.

BUT there are a couple of things that you can do in order to transfer your music from one program to the next:

a. If you're looking to transfer a recording in Sonar to Finale/Sibelius/etc just save your recording in MIDI and then open that MIDI file with them. It will most probably NOT show any dynamics or other details, so there will be quite some work to do, but it WILL show the correct notes... somehow.

Keep in mind that the computers are as dumb as we make them, so a computer does NOT know which hands you used to play a melody or another. A single MIDI track will generate a single staff line in your score, so you will need to manually separate the hands inside Sonar first.

b. If you're looking to communicate between Finale and Sibelius there's the xml option, which hardly perfect, does the job some times: There's been quite some effort (which for obvious commercial reasons is not perfect) to make both software communicate with each other with a more meaningful way.

[/tech support non expert]
Posted By: LoPresti

Sibelius or Finale - 12/18/12 05:17 AM

Hopefully it is not too late to ask if this “budding composer” of whom you write would like to:

1. Learn to compose music.
2. Learn a software program or two.
3. Play a keyboard, and have the playing produce sheet music that represents the playing.

Without knowing the real goal here, it is difficult to make recommendations.

Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/18/12 07:28 AM

I think it's No. 3, but as I've said before, any software is just a tool to a means. You don't get to learn composition by using finale (in fact it's a very bad idea to even try it)... No. 2 just comes naturally by dealing with the said software...

I think...
Posted By: JessicaB

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/19/12 04:00 AM

He has some background in theory (he has about the equivalent of semester of college theory), which is not the same as learning composition. But he does like to deconstruct the music he is playing. His piano teacher has encouraged him to get a notation software so that they can discuss ways to improve his pieces - and since he does not always have time to transcribe his ideas before he loses them.

Software programs do require training, but also just digging in and working with them. He had a 6 week class to get to know how to use sonar, but he hasn't used any notation software. He could hand transcribe his music if he wanted, but why not see if one of the notation software programs would encourage him to get it on paper. Then he can play around with it - get it critiqued, etc. We were thinking about this for a Christmas present since he has mentioned it several times throughout the year.
Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/19/12 05:16 AM

Does your boy like reading books? There are some invaluable books out there, that a budding composer will need for the rest of his life. Orchestration books (Adler, Blatter), 20th century harmony books (Persichetti (sp)), notation books (Behind bars (it's the title, don't remember the author right now).

If he likes reading, perhaps these books will come in handy.

Since he's a student (as I understand it), this means that he can grab the academic discount. Apart from the official 305$ price you get from the official websites (of Finale) there's other website that offer much greater discount: http://www.aabaca.com/coda.html (for example)... I'm guessing that the same applies for Sibelius as well. (Wrong... I couldn't find a much cheaper version of sibelius... Sorry)...

But I would recomend you getting him the books (any books) and MuseScore for now. He certainly won't be needing any of the professional featuers of Finale or sibelius, so it's a tad of a waste of money and time... :-/ for later on perhaps but there's always next Christmas.

Then again if he's asked for it... hmmm... What can a parent do?
Posted By: JessicaB

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/19/12 05:42 AM

He loved reading "Harmony" which I kept from my college days. So thank you for the book suggestions. We will check out MuseScore, too. Thank you, thank you!!

I would rather he spend his time and money on this than the alternatives (but he doesn't really waste time). And I love to encourage creativity (encouraging his brother at the same age in choreography has lead him down a very interesting and promising path). Encouraging isn't pushing either - there is a difference.

Right now, he has four or five compositions worth notating - one of them is really an experiment in melody manipulation and voicing. It really has potential. But he has lost a lot of ideas by failing to write them out. frown

Any way, thank you so much!
Posted By: Nikolas

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/19/12 07:37 AM

By all means...

But creativity and composing and notating can be done with a pencil and manuscript!
Posted By: Steve Chandler

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 12/19/12 11:12 PM

Hi Jessica,

I wouldn't worry too much about the ideas that get lost before they're written down. If they're good they'll come back and like the ad says, "He can just make more!" Sonar will produce a midi file which can then be interpolated by either Finale or Sibelius or possibly Musescore.

I will caution you not to expect perfect transcription of midi played by a human. In other words if your son plays his music into the computer it will not come out looking publisher ready because no human can play rhythmically perfect. It's easy to take out wrong notes, but cleaning up rhythm is never simple.

It's a process and he's young. He's also fortunate to have a supportive Mom.
Posted By: Amaruk

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/18/13 02:40 AM

Originally Posted by Nikolas
oooooo... This is a tricky question and got me flamed sometime ago! wink

You see, Jessica, both are equally good. In fact there's also this little software: http://musescore.org/ (MuseScore) which is free and the exhibits of the resulting output are quite lovely, especially for one who doesn't need a professional output!


I started using MuseScore recently and I love it! It is available for Mac's, PC's, and Linux!!

My guess is that it takes quite some time to outgrow it (I am just starting out myself) and by then I am sure it has evolved further... smile
Posted By: Exalted Wombat

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/19/13 11:59 AM

http://scorecleaner.com/ does an enormously better job of turning two-handed keyboard playing into useful notation than either Finale or Sibelius. It's only got rudimentary score layout functions, but will export Music XML to MuseScore.

Most important, there are functioning time-limited demo versions of all the programs we've been discussing (except MuseScore, which doesn't need one! Just grab it now.) Try them.
Posted By: Mark Polishook

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/19/13 01:40 PM

the best way to learn how to compose is: COMPOSE. the best eay to learn how to use notation software to transcribe the (subset of) ideas that you can play is: use the software to transcribe ideas. because in this case the ONLY ideas you'll capture are the ones that you can play and which lend themselves to transcription w/software. depending on all minds of things some find one way more engaging than the other.

notation software: use musescore until you find it doesn't do something essential that you need. musescore is some respects may be a better choice thian finale or sibelius or other such things. you could also google lilypond and try that. it'a totally different approach ...

but back to composing: if you really want to learn how to capture musical ideas almost directly at the source use paper and pecil. if you want to add another layer and put something in between add in a keyboard. if you want to add another layer that take you further from the idea and the source add in notation software. OR. if you just want a fun, engaging experience that doesn't worry too much definitions AND which encompasses stuff from composition, performance, music technology, etc - then by all means use musescore. etc.

i think you can tell that i'm drawing clear differences between composing, performing, and using software. but not saying at all that one way is better than the other. the path that gives you the most engaging musical experience really is the one want - at any stage. it's the engaging experience that leads to the next level ... that next level might be specific studies in composition, performace, music technology - or some combination of all of them. and these things do overlap and complement each other - which is why in the beginning stages they can appear to be all the same.

hope this helps!

Posted By: prenex

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/20/13 03:47 PM

I'm having a little problem with musescore. The delete key deletes the last thing I just did, not where I put my cursor. Is there a way around this?

Sorry, I'm such a luddite, be patient with me please.
Posted By: prenex

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/21/13 12:25 AM

Figured out the above. I can enter one measure of two groups of triplets. But the next measure musescore thinks it's in 2/4.
Posted By: madgman

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 01/23/13 03:00 PM

Hello JessicaB
I use Sonar for midi and audio recording and, after having recorded 9 tracks for a musical, I am in the process of extracting the midi tracks into Sibelius First to produce a 'simple' vocal/piano score...the score facilities in Sonar are just not good enough, as I am sure your son found out.

I tried Finale first (I think the version was called Allegro - it cost around 100GBP) , but just couldn't get on with it - so I have been trying a demo version of Sibelius First (approx 90GBP) and find it a lot easier. That's probably just personal taste. However it seems that Sibelius is often the standard notation software used in the UK in Education.

The thing I advise your son to do is to make sure that the midi tracks output from Sonar have had the note timings and durations quantised otherwise he may have to spend a lot of time correcting the assumptions that Sibelius (or any notation software for that matter)will make.

As a previous post suggested, download both demo versions and try them out for a month.

Regards from snowy UK

Posted By: JasonRain

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 03/21/13 01:27 PM

Finale Notepad should have a small pricetag to start with

Runescape Gold|wow gold|Buy RS Gold|Buy Runescape Gold
Posted By: Polyphonist

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 04/10/13 03:39 AM

I always feel like these discussions/arguments about Sibelius, Finale, and possibly other music notation softwares are usually quite pointless. Sibelius and Finale are the two best out there, and there is never going to be a consensus on which is better than the other; they are both very good. This thread should have been done after the first few posts.
Posted By: Chris Goslow

Re: Sibelius or Finale - 04/12/13 06:34 PM

Originally Posted by Nikolas
By all means...

But creativity and composing and notating can be done with a pencil and manuscript!

Too true. Doesn't negate the value of notation programs, yet I think it's important that people not over think this. The most important thing is that he be able to notate. I would say just get started with whatever seems like the best choice at the moment
© 2017 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums