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07.01.2011 – Online Score Editor: Noteflight

Noteflight online score editing software – http://noteflight.com

Years ago as online cloud document creation began to take off, I found myself constantly wishing for a portable online score editing solution. Well a couple of years ago I was lamenting this exact situation via facebook and someone responded with this site – Noteflight. At the time, it lacked a few things I had grown accustomed to on my big fat Sibelius workstation. But more recently, I have begun to regard this site as an indispensable part of my creative workflow. Due to recent updates, Noteflight continues to close the gap between itself and it’s more fully featured desktop counterparts. And it’s free.

Here’s why I love Noteflight right now: it is an ideal sketchpad. I consider myself quite old fashioned in that I am infatuated with paper and print and sketching in the physical medium, but this program does one thing my paper cannot – it is cloud based. No matter where I am now, as long as I have a flash capable and internet connected computer, I can access scores of varying degrees of completion. And when a score starts to get to the level completeness that I need to start formatting and editing, I can (if i haven’t already) export the piece as MIDI or music XML and import directly into Sibelius. Plus, their most recent update added the ability to input using a MIDI controller (a beta that I am proud to say I was invited to participate in). I can assure you that Noteflight is nowhere near being ready to replace Sibelius for me, especially as a self-published composer. But a subscription, which opens up more features and greater storage space, will set you back $50 a year. One of the most inhibiting steps along a young composer’s path is figuring out how to get your hands on a very pricey copy of the software that you need. Now for $50 (or free!) anyone can have access to some rather impressive notation/sequencing/engraving tools.

If I could have just one gripe, it’s that I wish there was more of a mature community with which to interact. The site has a social networking element to it which I think has the potential to make this a really amazing site, but most of the people with whom I’ve interacted don’t really seem to be on a very high level of discourse on the topic of composition. Additionally, you have the option (not mandatory) to share your scores with other users. This would be another great feature if I could find some people on there with constructive insights. I don’t have anything against the users who make the site like this, in fact it’s great to see so many people involved in composing, but many of them seem to be very young and without experience.

Regardless of my subjective complaint, the editor is fully featured and the community is friendly (and you don’t have to make any of your scores public if you don’t want to). I would highly recommend Noteflight.com whether you need an on-the-go bank for your ideas or can’t yet afford Sibelius or Finale and need a fully capable editor.