Freeware I Love: Crescendo Music Notation Editor

Crescendo - freeware music notation app from NCH

As a composer and a musical arranger over the years, I’ve had to use software to create musical pieces. Software is neat, it’s archive-able (unlike my yellowed, dilapidated music notebooks), it outputs to PDF, and it’s easily editable. The problem is music notation software tends to be huge, bloated with features, and difficult to learn.

I’ve used Finale over the years and really, it’s not made for someone who just wants to come in and get the notes down quickly or spontaneously. It actually requires you sit down and spend time making everything just right. Part of it is: it’s a complete notation package that pros can use to output orchestral scores — this means it has to be able to handle and output EVERYTHING. The other reason why it’s such a behemoth is that it has a built-in MIDI engine so that you can hear what your score sounds like using MIDI instruments on your computer’s soundcard. Suffice to say, I don’t have that kind of time anymore. Which is why I haven’t touched Finale in 2 years.

So I went looking the other day for freeware composer tools and stumbled upon Crescendo, which is built by the geniuses over at NCH software (they make all sorts of useful goodies — some of them freeware). And let me tell you: I haven’t been this thrilled to find freeware in AGES. Here are a few reasons why I’m loving it so far:

  • Simplicity: It doesn’t have 25,000 menus and possibilities. All it has is note entry. Even a simple utility to add text or lyrics. How simple and easy things are, suddenly.
  • Note Input Shortcuts: Just like Finale, you can hit shortcut keys to change note or rest values. No need to keep clicking using the mouse.

There are some limitations however:

  • Text Limitations: You have to keep resizing any text you input. It doesn’t remember your last font size. In fact, you can’t specify a numerical font size and have to rely on manual resizing. You can’t even specify a font to use. Plus, you have no way to copy/paste text into the text box. Boo. Tough if you’re notating songs with lyrics.
  • No Musical Feedback: You better know what your music already sounds like because there’s no way to play it back using this software. However, if you already know your melody and know your notes, then it’s not a problem. It’s a notation tool after all not a COMPOSING tool.

Overall, I’m glad I did a search and found it. And I’m glad it’s freeware. Hope you can put it to good use in your music.

LINK: Crescendo Music Notation Editor

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