MuseScore, Lilypond, and Dorico User Reviews

As part of the music notation software survey (see post Music Notation Software User Reviews), I collected comments from 16 MuseScore users, 5 Lilypond users, and 5 Dorico users.  The comments from respondents who allowed me to publish their feedback are below.

MuseScore, Lilypond, and Dorico User Reviews

I think you will find these comments quite interesting; some reinforce the ideas of strengths and weaknesses of these programs, and others offer new perspectives.  Most users agree that MuseScore is great for beginning musicians and for music that isn’t extremely complicated.  The reverse is true for Lilypond, but those who use it attest to the ability to create beautiful engravings.  Dorico is thought of as the modern day tool that is rising quickly to the top, for its ease of use and functionality (even though some features are lacking).

Take a look and see for yourself!  These are unedited comments.  Some respondents referenced their previous responses in these comments, so they may say something that doesn’t seem to directly address the question.  In order to preserve anonymity, I have left these as-is, i.e. out of context to the respondent’s prior responses.  The result is that while almost all of the comments make sense, some are a little out of context.

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Section 1: What MuseScore Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About MuseScore

Section 2: What Lilypond Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About Lilypond

Section 3: What Dorico Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About Dorico

What MuseScore Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About MuseScore

In all, most users agree that it is the best value–a free program that can create great results for beginning, and many experienced, musicians.  Users say it is easy to use, but lacks playback functionality/quality and is more of a stepping stone to the big names (that aren’t free).

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Please comment on your experience with MuseScore

Musescore has served me very well in several of the projects I’ve undertaken. Yet it lacks something that I can’t put my finger on that I’m hoping to find with finale.
Musescore is easy to use and does the job; however, it’s open-sources nature leaves holes in terms of professionalism and esteem, as well as playback, something important.
Playback could use some work.
Pretty useful, but often has problems when using extended notation.
University assignments and song writing
I find Musescore easy to use mostly, but there are some awkward steps when inputting notes going into/out of edit mode. Generally an exceptional software considering it’s free.
~4 years
Excellent and easy to use.
Absolutely the best, free common notation software that I’ve used. The limiations are inarguable, though. Most common features are easy to use, but some non-elementary elements are hard to find or non intuitive to use. Modern notation is bery limited, but there apparently is a wide selection of plugins online.
muse score is excellent for its price (0) but comes short in terms of features
Having community choirs access scores and be able to learn their vocal parts through an MuseScore group, on the MuseScore app is terrific.
Overall very good
Pretty positive, fairly easy to get the hang of.
pretty good, especially considering it’s free

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What do your friends/fellow musicians say about MuseScore?

they think its a good place to start as its free and easy to use
Many of them also use musescore, and they have neutral opinions of its arrangement availabilities which is its only use for them.
It’s nice, but output sounds are not enough in quality.
They reckon it’s pretty good.
Good as it is free
Have not asked
Musescore is a great piece of software, and it’s free!
Don’t know any musicians who have used it yet.
Good enough for basic and intermediate writing, but lacks of many interesting features.
they like it because it is free, and has a fairly robust template, also is easier to use than Lilypond and a couple of others.
they dont use it
It transforms what non-reading community singers can do to help themselves learn a new piece.
They do like it as well.
Its alright, but there are better/higher end programs out there.
it’s a great free software

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What Lilypond Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About Lilypond

LilyPond users and their peers acknowledge that it is a hard program to learn, but for many it is very fast and effective to use once they get the hang of it.  It has no playback functionality, so some users use other programs for MIDI mockups.  They like that it is free to use.

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Please comment on your experience with Lilypond

I really like the look of Lilypond. Once I learned it, I’ve been able to input music just as quickly (perhaps more quickly) than I did with Sibelius. Lilypond is for engraving only, though — it is not intuitive for composing-at-the-computer. I’m finding opportunities where I may need to score at the computer and move MIDI files into Reason or Ableton, so I may go back to Finale or Sibelius for some projects.
Worth the effort
Does a great job
Coming from a world where LaTeX is the gold standard for document preparation, Lilypond was a very natural fit for music notation for me. It isn’t for everyone, at least not without extra front-end GUI tools… but for me, computer-keyboard entry matters much more than mouse or MIDI entry does. (My previous software, Mozart, was also chosen largely on the ease of typing in music – it justly calls itself “the music processor”, analogizing word processors.)
I love using it. It’s incredibly powerful and gets me farther down the road to a well-engraved score much faster than with other apps.

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What do your friends/fellow musicians say about Lilypond?

“It’s too hard!” “What, it’s all text?”
Great for engraving
Tough to learn unless you have decent technology skills
It’s a niche choice that some of the ‘pros’ don’t take seriously, but the output is clean and beautiful, and the price is perfect.
They think it does amazing work, but they feel it’s too much programming for their taste.

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What Dorico Users Think, and What Their Peers Think About Dorico

These users and their peers are excited about Dorico, but are hesitant to arrive at a final verdict until more features are released.  It is worth noting that between the time of the original survey and now, Dorico version 2 has been released.  This may change the opinions of users and their colleagues if I were to run this survey next year.

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Please comment on your experience with this software

Dorico, while not up to snuff on features with Finale and Sibelius, is much easier to refine parts once they have been entered. The process of entering notes is much different, but can be customized to really enhance the program overall. I’ve been enjoying using it and while there are a few things where I have to pull Finale back out, I think that it has the most potential out of all the current programs on the market.
Fantastic support, fast growth, astonishing lack of bugs compared ot other leading program(s)
it is the first software that allows an output similar to the finest art of engraving
Dorico: only at version 1, but the thought put into it, the intelligent layout, the overall use of it makes it the software I intend to use for the foreseeable future. I especially like the playback possibilities with numerous sample libraries. Popovers are brilliant.
I was using Finale professionally from 2011 until 2017. It got the job done but was always a frustrating and hair-pulling experience. It still doesn’t have “real” support for cues in parts. It’s buggy and slow in daily use. It consistently moves dynamics that are linked in the score/parts when you’re not looking, so no matter how carefully you set everything, the final printing invariably has something wrong.

Switching to Dorico made me enjoy the editing/engraving process. For the first time I didn’t feel like I was fighting with s program that hated me. In short, they’re still adding features but each one that they DO add is miles ahead of the competition.

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What do your friends/fellow musicians say about Dorico?

Not a lot. I was one of the first ones to jump in and really start using it professionally.   I think everyone around me is simply waiting until the program gets more recognition for what it can do, and receives its Version 2 update.
They like it, although some are not using it as the main software due to some missing features.
Through forums I discern that most people with an open mind love Dorico and see it as the notation software to use going forward; the whiners are going to whine.
From what I’ve seen, the majority of people who try it come away impressed. The biggest issue people have is when they need a feature that doesn’t exist yet.

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