How to Create Sheet Music

Music Notation Software & Engraving

The first step is to get the music floating around in your head down on paper or digital format. You can either get a music notation program and input the music yourself, or write it out by hand and hire a professional to engrave it for you.

Music Notation Software

Music notation software is a program that enables you to create and print sheet music through the process of inputing notes on a musical staff using your mouse and keyboard. Inputting notes using a MIDI keyboard or scanning existing sheet music is also possible.

Finale and Sibelius

Finale and Sibelius are the two industry standards of music notation programs. Professionals will use one or the other. Which program you choose is really up to your personal preference. Both are excellent programs which cost around $600, and are available for both Windows and Macintosh. There are cheaper versions of each with less features that are available, with Finale having a lot more to choose from. Try not to go below $100 or you’ll start risking not having the features that you’ll need to notate and publish your music. If you’re composing full orchestral scores then you’ll need a full professional version. If you’re composing something small like just a piano with vocals, then using a cheaper variation will be enough just as long as you don’t get too elaborate. Discounts on the professional versions are available, but are only available to students and educators. Once the music is complete you can print it out on paper or save it as a PDF file.

Lilypond

Lilypond is a text based notation program, which means you type in a code to produce your music instead of clicking on images. It’s more similar to a programming language like HTML than a traditional graphical score editing software like Finale or Sibelius. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu Linux as a free download on their website.

Save as a PDF

Once your music score is complete you will need to save it as a PDF file. You need your sheet music in digital format so that you can publish and sell it online. For Windows users you will need some sort of PDF Printing software, so that you can save your music notation file as a PDF. Macintosh users just need to click “Print”, click on “PDF” on the bottom left, then click “Save as PDF”, then click “Save”. Ubuntu Linux users just need to click “Print”, click on “Print to File” at the top, then click “Print”.

PDF Viewer/Editor

Now that your sheet music is saved as a PDF file you’ll need a PDF viewer in order to view it. Windows users will need to download a Free program called Adobe Reader. There are fancier programs out there that allow you to convert, combine, and edit PDF files. One of them is called Nitro Pro.

Engraving

Engraving is taking hand-written music, inputting it into the computer, and printing it out so that it can be more easily read by musicians. If you don’t want to buy a music notation program and input the notes yourself, you can write your music out by hand and hire a professional to engrave it for you. A few companies that offer this service are: Broschinsky Music, Note Smith Music, and DI Music. Prices will vary depending on how many pages the song is and also how many instruments there are. Once complete they can send it to you in PDF format.

How To Write A Song

How-to-Write-Song-Lyrics-300x300How to write a song is a problem that can be solved in numerous ways. A song is art and there are no hard and fast rules. Yet, if you play ten songs for 1,000 people and let them vote, one or two would probably emerge as the clear favorites. What makes them “good songs?”

A good song can begin with the idea or song concept. What’s it about? What’s the story? The more unique it is, the better. One possibility is to take an old phrase and twist it into something no one has ever heard before. “He has friends in high places” is a commonly used phrase. “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” was a title twist of that phrase that went Billboard #1 for Garth Brooks and launched his highly successful career.

Sometimes it’s the overall idea of the song rather than the title itself that makes the song unique. Or sometimes it’s a musical hook. a catchy melody married to a title in such a way it’s extremely memorable. “Lord I Need You” isn’t that unique of a statement. But Matt Maher married that phrase to a melody that soars, making it very popular both on Contemporary Christian radio as well as during Sunday services in many of the 450,000 Christian churches in the U.S. and even worldwide.

How to write lyrics is your next issue. It’s actually the part that often practically happens by itself. Once you have your idea and title the verse lyrics should start to come to you. That’s your initial draft that will almost surely need refining. Weed out cliches and replace them with fresh ideas.

Most songs have a chorus section. The chorus sums up the point of the verses, usually repeats 3 or 4 times verbatim, and it’s where the title appears at least once if not several times. Don’t let it go on too long, keep it concise. It should be distinct in nature from the verse. One easy way to achieve that is to give the chorus longer or shorter note values. If your verse is rapid fire, draw the words out longer in the chorus sections.

Some songs also have a short section known as the bridge and how to write a bridge is yet another simple task: it’s one or two lines, mo more than four lines, that are clearly distinct from either the verse or chorus and provide a little relief for the listener… “Oh something different here!” Lyrically it may offer an opposing viewpoint or strengthen it.

How to write a melody? Music? If you’re not a musician it may be best to let a musician write the music. Find your Elton John and you’re in business. But if you do believe you can write melody you can always sing it a capella (no accompaniment, just you singing) and let a song demo service find and supply the chords and arrangement that supports your melody. Most services will even write music for a lyric under a “work for hire” agreement.

Packing and Storing Musical Instruments

Many musical instruments are valuable pieces of equipment, others are simply treasured for sentimental reasons rather than having any intrinsic value, but all different types of instrument have one thing in common with each other: they are fragile and can easily be damaged or even broken irreparably during moving either whilst being transported or whilst in a storage unit.

Pianos typically range from instruments of little monetary value such as an old upright which has seen better days and will never again be tuned to concert pitch but on which your children are learning to play, right through to the very best quality grand pianos such as a Steinway that can cost substantially more than the average year’s salary for some of us and played by the very talented professional musicians, with every other type of piano in between. You might wonder why anyone would want to put a valuable piano in storage but if, for example, you have been temporarily transferred overseas by your employer then it would be unfeasible to transport a delicate instrument like a piano and expect it to arrive in a new country (perhaps one with a completely different climate) in good musical condition. So sometimes storage is the only feasible option even for a cherished instrument.

But moving and storing an instrument such as a piano so that no cosmetic damage is done but also, much more importantly, that no musical damage is done is a very delicate task. Pianos are especially troublesome to transfer into storage because they are heavy yet also fragile at the same time.

You may decide to use the services of a specialist piano mover who will have moving equipment designed specifically for pianos and will be able to deal with all types of piano including standard uprights, baby grandsand also grand pianos. A professional piano mover will be experienced in the techniques used to prevent disturbing the mechanics of the piano and also be able to avoid damage to the outer case.

But not all instruments are as large and cumbersome as a piano and many musical instruments have their own hard cases and need no additional packing. Although, other instruments might have soft cases such as guitars or violins. The best option for packing and storing small instruments is to try and buy a hard case where possible but if this is not possible (for example, in the case of exotic foreign instruments or unusual antique instruments) then place the instrument in its soft case, if you have one, and carefully wrap with bubble wrap and place inside a sturdy cardboard packing box.

If you own a number of stringed instruments such as cellos, violas or violins, there are special storage racks available for these types of instruments to store, protect and transport valuable stringed instruments. The instruments are kept safe during storage and transport to avoid scratches or other damage to the body of the instrument and many racks have wheels so can be moved easily into its new home or self-storage unit.