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Hello, gentle persons. I'm retired from a religious vocation and am re-entering the music world on a new level. As a young man I used to write songs; nothing complicated, just a melody line, lyrics, and some chord changes. Back then (40+ years ago) I did it the old fashioned way, by hand. During my career I performed a LOT of music(of all sorts), both vocal and instrumental, but gave up composing. Now that I have more time and an abiding love for music, I would like to try my hand at writing songs again (not sacred music, but ballads and maybe some blues).

Here's what I'm hoping for__I have a digital piano, a Kurzweil Mark-Pro Onei (my son bought for my 60th birthday). I know it has a USB connection and can be jacked into a computer. Is there a freeware program of some kind that will allow me to play something on the piano and translate it into notation? I'm sure this is old stuff and perhaps covered in many threads, but for someone like myself who is only moderately computer literate, I really wasn't even sure just how to search for what I want. I would appreciate any help you can give.

And please bear in mind I don't speak much "techno talk", so please keep it simple. Thanks ahead of time for the help!
 

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You might try something like "Band In A Box". It can be used as a great writing tool. It is very simple to input chords and it will also do some printing. However, the printing is fairly restrictive. If you just want to make quick "lead sheets" of your tunes that include the melody, lyrics and chord changes, it will do the trick nicely. It's not free but it is fairly inexpensive. The quick input and the wide varitey of "styles" available make it a fun interface and you can be up and going in no time. I've always used a "midi" connection but I'm pretty sure you Kurzweil will also have that.
 

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I started with Notion Music’s “Protégé” as an entry-level music notation software. I liked the results and found the interface intuitive (i.e. it didn’t take long to be functional in the program). The program lets you compose, playback (w/ good instrument sampling from London S.O. musicians), add lyrics and print out lead sheets. Their website has a little marketing video which can be accessed at this link. http://www.notionmusic.com/products/protege.html

It lists for $69.95 (typical price at places like Amazon) but my Google search turned up a Musician’s Friend price of $59.99. It was $99.99 when I bought it a few years ago and well worth it.

I can’t remember the musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) capability (i.e. the input for your Kurzweil) of the program as I quickly upgraded mine to their "Notion" product. If you do an Internet search for “Music Notation Software” you’ll find many other products. I think most people here use “Sibelius” and “Finale” products. The software manufacturer websites should have a “contact us” link that will allow you to submit any questions.

I hope this helps. Good luck.
 

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I think Sibelius Student Edition might suit your needs (I'm no expert, though). I do know you can get it on a trial so you wouldn't have to pay without knowing it's right for you. Eventually you do have to pay though (but it's not a huge amount, unlike some of the "pro" level software).

http://www.sibelius.com/products/sibelius_student/index.html

Actually that musescore thing mentioned in the previous post could be pretty good. I just downloaded it myself. Thanks Alto Ten.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, guys! This was all immensely helpful. I'm going to check out the programs mentioned and see what looks best for my needs. I really appreciate the input!
 

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Thanks, guys! This was all immensely helpful. I'm going to check out the programs mentioned and see what looks best for my needs. I really appreciate the input!
Late last year, I downloaded the Music Maker software from Finale. This is one of their entry level programs. In previous years I had on my old comp Finale Notepad which used to be free, but now has become 'unfree', but never took the time to learn it. Well this time I locked horns with the Music Maker notation software, and after a steep slope and a stuggle up, I got to being able to write out scores on it. Slightly cumbersome, but manageable. Beats writing by hand, which is something I really suck at.

Both Finale Notepad and Music Maker will give you the basic tools for a modest sum of money. Other programs, especially Sibelius stuff, cost substantially more to rather expensive, for my taste.

So, if you are after something inexpensive, why not try those? Like the Sibelius, it's a free 30 day trial. The nifty thing about Finale and Sibelius, is that you can play back and hear what you have written, and assign different voices to it from you computer or a soft synth. So you can hear immediately what you arranged and see if something doesn't sound quite right, and make changes as required. I never did have much luck with entering the notes in real time. I'm not that shabby of a pianist, but the software just doesn't seem to take in the notes with the right time divisions, maybe due to lag or some other technical reason.

PS. I did one quartet arrangement within the 30 days, which is harder than it sounds, learning curve and all. Then I let the trial period lapse, as I don't forsee doing any writing for the time being. Besides 2010 was ending, and there was surely a new version coming out in a couple of months..
 

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+1 - works well for what it sounds like you want to do. Nice prints too! And, oh yeah, it was mentioned before, but once more for emphasis - it's free.
+2 on Musescore, I have been using it for years, and now it is finally version 1.0 and very full featured... Here is a nice comparison between it and Sibelius... MuseScore vs. Sibelius

And here is a nice tutorial on creating Lead sheets with Musescore. Creating Lead sheets with Musescore
 

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I've just started trying out MuseScore - looks pretty good to me (especially for free). It's encouraging to hear that others are having good results with it.
 

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"Sibelius First" would perhaps be a good choice but I'm not sure how accurate it is going to be without extensive editing. I don't think there is an easy answer.

I have used it the other way around, to turn music scores into midi. It did work pretty well for this as long as the score was clean.
 

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I've just started trying out MuseScore - looks pretty good to me (especially for free). It's encouraging to hear that others are having good results with it.
Stick with the Musescore. I have been using it for a couple of years, and dealing with the bugs was easily offset by the cost of the product and how often they updated it. The latest version is pretty stable and powerful unless you are doing some really complex stuff like this guy... MuseScore 1.0 and the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto
 
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