Tuesday, July 26, 2011

MuseScore 1.1 released, lots of improvements for jazz

In an earlier article, I wrote at length about MuseScore, the free and open source notation software. The short version for those who missed it: I said that MuseScore can do almost everything that Finale and Sibelius can do, and I predicted that, despite a few minor limitations, it would completely replace Finale for me.

Since then, I have become more personally involved in the MuseScore project. I haven't done any actual programming - at least, not on the core application itself. But I have contributed some plugins, templates, and other configuration files, I have worked on one of the fonts, and I have helped with the documentation. So I no longer qualify as a completely unbiased observer.

With that said, today, MuseScore 1.1 is released. While it is mostly a bug fix release, we have managed to make some significant improvements with respect to creating jazz charts.

Two of the areas I had mentioned in my previous article where MuseScore needed improvement were in entering chord symbols in places where there are no notes and in creating slash notation. Both of these have been addressed in version 1.1. In addition, the new Jazz Lead Sheet template creates great looking charts right out of the box. An enhanced version of the MuseJazz font allows you to get a handwritten look for titles and other text markings as well as chord symbols. You can also select from a wider variety of chord symbol styles, and it is easier to customize these styles further.

I had written a tutorial on creating lead sheets in MuseScore 1.0, and I have now completely rewritten it for version 1.1. The new tutorial is in two parts: The Basics and Advanced Topics. If you hadn't already checked out MuseScore before, or if you had looked but had not gotten very far with it, now would be a good time:


Here, for example, is the lead sheet I created for the advanced tutorial:

There are more exciting things to come in the MuseScore world over the next few months, and I plan to be sharing those with you soon!