How to Write Sheet Music on a Computer

By Peggy Epstein

Just try to imagine how much more prolific the old music masters could have been if they had only had today’s technology. Early composers had to laboriously write out the music, after first lining the paper and then hand copying all the parts. Today with a click of the mouse and a good notation software program, it is possible to do what a composer does best: write music. Even with a minimal amount of training and talent, it is possible to score a song in a very short period of time.

Open your notation software and get to know it, using whatever help resources it provides and whatever online user community there might be. There are many software programs available and some are even available for free on the Internet. Most of the programs available work in the same basic ways, but you should become familiar with the software you are using.

Set up your score. For sheet music you will need a solo staff and a grand staff for the piano part. Some programs will ask you if you want a solo with piano accompaniment, but with others you must click on the staff tool and double click in your score for each line you wish to add.

Drag to enclose the bottom two staff handles while the Staff tool is selected. Double click on the top staff handle. Click on “Staff” in the menu bar on the top of the screen and select “Add Group Bracket” from the drop down menu, and select the style bracket you wish to use.

Select the clef sign from the tool pallet and double click on the first measure of the bottom staff. The clef change menu window will appear. Choose the bass clef sign and click “OK.”

Choose key signature from your Tool pallet and double click in the first measure of your score and navigate up for sharp keys and down for flat keys to select your key signature. If you want your piece in the key of C, (no sharps or flats) you may skip Step 5.

Input your music. Some composers will write the melody first while others prefer to work by inputting the chords. For the purpose of this article, input your chords first. Select the speedy entry tool from you tool pallet and click on the top measure of the piano part. Write an eight-measure progression.

Follow the same procedures as in Step 6 and put your bass line into the bottom score.

Using speedy entry, click in the first measure of the top line and proceed to enter your eight-measure melody. When you have both the melody and piano accompaniment done for the first eight measures, you can copy and paste them into measure 9 through 16. This will give you the A-A of an A-A-B-A song. After copying the 1st eight measures, use the same method for writing the first A section and compose the B section in measures 17 to 24. Then paste the first A section into measures 25 to 32 and you have a completed song.

Choose the lyric writing tool from the tool pallet and click under the first note of your melody and proceed to type the lyrics into your music.

Select the “Page View” tool from the tool pallet and type in the title of your song and the name of the composer and lyricist. Your sheet music of the piece you have written is complete and ready for printing.

Tip

There are many options available in most music notation programs. The tips offered here are very basic and with a little practice you will develop methods for writing that will suit you and your style of writing.

Warning

Be sure and save your work frequently so if you run into problems you can go back to the last procedure and proceed from there.

Make sure you download the correct software for your platform. Many programs are written specifically for Windows, Mac or Linux

About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.