Where to Get Software To Write Music, To Scan or Manage Scans, and Manipulate Audio Files

This page will provide locations where you can get the various types of software members use to scan their own music, to manage their scans, or to manipulate their audio files.


Academic Superstore

If you are a student, staff member, or faculty member of an accredited school, you can qualify for the academic pricing on most software. This is significantly less than the retail price.


There are other stores that offer academic discounts as well (use a search engine to find them), and frequently the software manufacturer will offer academic discounts directly. The advantage to dealing with Academic Superstore or one of the other discounters is that you only have to submit your credentials once, and you'll qualify for all the discounts.


If your group has qualified with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation (and I highly recommend you do), you can obtain "donations" of software (and hardware) for an administration fee that is a mere fraction of the retail price. For example, you can get Adobe Acrobat Pro for $45, or the entire Adobe Creative Suite for $170; Microsoft Office Pro admin fee is $20 per copy.


To qualify as a non-profit, the organization must not exist to make profits for the stockholders. Officers and employees of the organization MAY be paid. Use a search engine for "501(c)(3)" or see the IRS website guidance here.


It will cost $350 to $500 to apply for this status (depending on your gross annual receipts) and can take up to 9 months to be approved. But it's worth it.


Notation Software

NOTE: (no, that's not intended to be a pun, so stop groaning.) The software titles listed below are the music notation programs we know about. We will put more info about each here as we receive it.

  • Finale notation software: The Finale Site. Top version retail, about $600. Academic and lesser versions available. Versions for PC and Mac (Need a review)
  • Sibelius notation software: The Sibelius Site. Top version retail, about $600. Academic, competitive upgrade, and lesser versions available. Versions for PC and Mac (Need a review)
  • Noteworthy software. Site. $49 for top version. Windows, 32-bit. (Need a review)
  • Notion 3. Site. $249. Windows and Mac. (Need a review)
  • Musescore. Site. Freeware. Windows, Mac, and LINUX. (Need a review)
  • Lilypond. Site. Freeware. Text-based (not graphical) engraving program. Windows, Mac, and LINUX. (Need a review)


Audacity Audio Editing Software

This is totally free, open source software, and will do an amazing spectrum of things with your audio files. It will allow you to record multiple tracks, edit existing tracks, convert audio formats, add effects, and this just scratches the surface. Available for PC, Mac, and LINUX.


March 16, 2012 - ANNOUNCEMENT: Audacity 2.0 has just been released.
Audacity® is open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
It is easy to use, and available for Windows®, Mac®, GNU/Linux®, and other operating
Audacity is free software, developed by a group of volunteers and distributed under
the GNU General Public License (GPL).
You can use Audacity to:
    Record live audio.
    Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
    Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
    Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
    Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
For those with access to Spotify, or any other music streaming service, Audacity enables you to record anything that is playing through your sound card.
For more information, or to download the program and help files, go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/


Here's more information about Audacity from our members:


Hank R asked: A friend sends me drop box files of band recordings which are not separated. Is there software which will separate the (files) so I can make an individual recording or mp3 on itunes?

Arnie answered: Yes there is, and it's both an excellent program and free. You can't beat that combination. AUDACITY.

Al L added: I second Arnie’s opinion. I’ve transferred hundreds of cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes to MP3s using that program. Well worth paying for, although they give it away!

Robin says: I use it for transferring all my Vinyl and cassettes into MP3 and digital recordings. It is great and it cleans up the crackles.

Gary LM adds: It does a fair job at removing the hummmm of that annoying ceiling fan too :)


ClickRepair, DeNoise, Equalizer

These programs are produced as shareware by AUDIO RESTORATION. Shareware means you get the full version as a trial, but you're on the honor system to pay for it if you use it. They are cross-platform, meaning they will run on Windows, Macs (must install the free JAVA runtime), and LINUX machines.


ClickRepair and DeNoise cost $A40 each or $A70 for both; you need to send them a request by email (see the website) then they will send you a PayPal request for the correct amount in your currency.


Equalizer is freeware.


Their site says: This site has information on capturing your records as digital files, removing intermittent noise such as clicks and crackle and reducing continuous noise such as hiss, hum, rumble, vinyl noise, and equalization. And of course, there is information about software for achieving these restorations.


Group member Marc says this about them:


I have found that ClickRepair, DeNoise, DeNoiseLF and Equalizer by Brian Davies, which runs on Mac, Linux and Windows, while not free is much better than Audacity, bringing professional levels of cleaning of signals from LP, EP, 45s, 78s, tape, etc. Details at http://www.clickrepair.net/ which gives examples. The Percy Grainger is particularly impressive. If mp3's your thing then I wouldn't say it was worth it but if you like full fat sound, then I don't think you can find a better value solution.

Usual disclaimers. I'm just a very satisfied user.



TRANSCRIBE - for writing transcriptions from audio files

Transcribe is a program to help you write transcriptions of audio files.


From group member Gary: "...it is, I think, of interest to those here who may be trying to create or fix arrangements by comparing to available recordings (video or mp3). ... Version 8.31 is now available for PC, Mac, and LINUX. (Editor's note: the link in the title above will take you to Gary's review of the software, which tells you what it can do, complete with screenshots. From this review you can purchase this software through one of Gary's affiliate links. This means Gary will make a small commission on the sale, but the software won't cost you any more than if you bought it directly. We're fine with that.)


This is from the website for the software:


Transcribe! offers many features aimed at making the transcription job smoother and easier, including the ability to slow down music without changing its pitch, to analyse chords and show you what notes are present, and the apability of adding markers and textual annotations so you can easily navigate around the track. Transcribe! also has a piano keyboard displayed on screen which you can click to play reference notes.
It is important to understand that Transcribe! does not attempt to do the whole job, processing an audio file and outputting musical notation or midi - this would be nice, but is a currently unsolved research problem.

The spectrum analysis feature is very useful for working out those hard-to-hear chords, but you must still use your ear and brain to decide which of the peaks in the spectrum are notes being played, which are merely harmonics, and which are just the result of noise and broad-spectrum instruments such as drums. If you have never worked out even a simple piece of music by ear then Transcribe! will probably not help you, but if you do sometimes work out recorded music by ear then Transcribe! can make the job a lot quicker and easier.

From group member Clark: "Transcribe is one of the best programs that I've ever used. I was prepared to stop doing transcriptions because they're so tedious, but this program has allowed me to continue doing them. ... Transcribe is a program that helps you transcribe recordings to paper. It allows you to change the tempo, pitch, volume and zoom in and out of a graphic display of the recording. It will guess the chord, pitch of the current location and show the overtones of the note. All the paramenters are controlled by convenient sliders that allow parameters to  change quickly. All these features make it much easier to figure out the notes, chords and rhythms."


Group member Jim says: "I agree 100% - been using it for years!!"


Group member Massimo adds: "Transcribe is a terrific program. I use it for almost everything."


More to come as we receive well researched and well-written submissions.


Please click on any of the links at the top of the page for more information on any of the listed topics.