Seeking professional standard music notation software that's accessible

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macOS & Mac Apps

hello everyone, first i want to introduce myself. my name is DharmaPutra. I am from Indonesia. please help me find professional software maker notation. I have used logick pro to create a midi file. but I am worried that the result of the notation is bad.

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Submitted by thetrumpetking on Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hello. My name is Wayne Pearcy and I teach in a program for blind students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Your best option for music notation software is Sibelius 5.25 on the PC. Unfortunately, there’s no good notation solution for blind and visually impaired people on the Mac at this point. You can email me off list with any other questions. My email address is jpearcy@berklee.edu.

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Sunday, November 12, 2017

Try the dancing dots website. I believe they have software that will turn a certain format logic Pro X midi file into sheet music. They can do it for you, or you can do it yourself if you have their software , or at least that’s what I recall. Good luck!

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Yes that’s correct. There is no good solution on the Mac for music notation unfortunately. Sibelius gives you a lot more power to create a professional looking score that you can hand out to cited musicians than the Dancing Dots software. The advantage of Dancing Dots of course is that you can print out music in braille or view it on a refreshable braille display.

Submitted by Remy on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Great questions, and I have one more. I can't quite figure out printed sheet music, and have no way of learning braille music. I'm wondering if there's a way to have sheet music read with a screen reader? I'd think it would be possible at this point, but haven't come across much information. I understand Dancing dots has something called lime...something, but it's incredibly expensive. I don't mind paying a little, but nearly $1000 is a bit much.

Submitted by dharmaputra on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hello thetrumpetkimg,
regarding your answer about sibelius, I assume that the sibelius is for windows. has the newer sibelius been accessible?

Submitted by DJX on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I think 5 is the latest accessible version, if I remember correctly, Dan wrote scripts for it. I think work was started on later versions, but not sure if something solid was developed.
I know some people who use SONAR to make decent scores, but you have to be very specific when programming the MIDI. It can be done to a certain degree, but a dedicated music notation software like sib would probably sute best if complex scores are required.

HTH, DJX

Submitted by dharmaputra on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

if sibelius for windows can be used by visually impaired, why mac user not so?

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Yes that’s correct. Sibelius version 5.25 is really the only accessible version. There are some limited limited accessibility features in Sibelius version 7.5 using NVDA, but it’s not good enough for us to feel comfortable teaching it to our students at Berklee. . Again, there is no good notation solution on the Mac.

Hi Remy,
With Sibelius you can arrow through your score, and Jaws will read exactly what you have written. This includes note names, duration values, as well as any dynamic markings or articulations attached to a note. You also have the option of moving bar by bar or going to a specific bar in your score. This also includes selecting as well as cut, copy, and paste. Lime will do many of the same things, but Sibelius has a lot more powerful tools that a professional composer would need. We generally don’t show lime to any of our blind students unless braille music is going to be a major part of their workflow.

Submitted by Remy on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thank you for that description. I took a look at it and it does sound very helpful. Especially being able to scan sheet music. The USD 900+ price tag however? A bit much for a lowly hobbiest with more raw talent than actual musical skill. I think it would help in learning to actually read music though. I really do appreciate the subscription plan. Though again it's unfortunately in US dollars. I'm already paying USD 29 for the EastWest Composer Cloud. Though I guess it would be easy enough to halt one subscription to use another. One question though. Does this work in conjunction with a Digital audio workstation, or does it stand alone? I Use Reaper, and I see this was made by Avid. Just want to ensure I wouldn't need ProTools, because that thing is not accessible on the PC. Unless things have changed.

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

In reply to by Remy

Yes, Sibelius is standalone software. I’m not sure if the subscription plan would actually be of benefit to you, since you cannot update Sibelius beyond version 5.25. I would call Avid and talk with them about this. If you purchase a copy of Sibelius, you’ll have to downgrade it anyway in order to use the accessible version.

Submitted by Remy on Thursday, November 16, 2017

That's really too bad if I can't use the subscription. I'll have to talk to them. Which version is the accessible one? Is it the 5.5 or a later one? I unfortunately can't shell out a thousand for this, as helpful as it might be.

Submitted by DJX on Thursday, November 16, 2017

Here's what the Sib Access page says:

"Sibelius Access V5 is a set of Sibelius plug-ins and Jaws scripts to enable visually-impaired users to gain access to the popular Sibelius music notation program from Avid. This current version is designed to be used with Sibelius V5.2.5 and will not work correctly with any other version. The software was developed by Dan Rugman..."

So version 5.2.5 is the only version to use.
There were other beta scripts for 6.2, but I don't know if those are still around/available or how good they are since they were never officially released.

HTH, DJX

Submitted by dharmaputra on Thursday, November 16, 2017

if sibelius 5.25 is the only software that can be used, can it run on windows 8? and support with NVDA?

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sibelius works best on Windows seven. If you were to run Sibelius 5 on windows 8 and higher, you’ll experience a lot of bugs. If you have one of the newer Macs, you will need to use VMware Fusion to run Windows 7, since the newer Macs don’t support Windows 7 natively.

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Thursday, November 16, 2017

I forgot to mention that Sibelius version five does not support NVDA. You’ll have to use it with Jaws.

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Thursday, November 16, 2017

One completely different option is Lilypond. Unlike most music notation programs which work with a graphic UI, Lilypond takes text input with specific syntax—it's basically a scripting language—and compiles as very attractive scores. The positive of Lilypond is that, since it's all input as text, it's completely accessible, and in my experience the program handles score engraving very well. I never have to do anything with the formatting to make it turn out right—if there are any weird issues it's because I messed up. This is as opposed to a program like Lime which often requires a lot of specific parameters for bar spacing and so forth otherwise music winds up overlapping and similar issues. Lilypond seems to do a much better job of automatically formatting the score. The downside, of course, is that the UI is far less intuitive and easy to use than something like Sybelius or Lime since you can't interact with the score itself as you write it. But this is definitely a viable option, and it's free, so that's one more point in its favor.

Submitted by Remy on Thursday, November 16, 2017

I'm running windows 10. I DO have JAWS 17, but I use NVDA for a lot of things because it reads what's under a mouse. Obviously I'm out of luck with Sebelius. I'll have to look into this other program. For me personally I'd just like anything that can translate a score into something I can read verbally with a screen reader. Thanks for all the info.

Submitted by dharmaputra on Friday, November 17, 2017

I have never used lylipon. can lilipon help me make provesional musical parters for the people of sight? regarding sibelius, I have not been lucky to use it. because I am running windows 8 and NVDA

Submitted by thetrumpetking on Friday, November 17, 2017

Both of you guys are running Windows 8, maybe you guys should check out version 7.5 or higher and see how you like it with NVDA. There is a trial for Sibelius I think.

Submitted by dharmaputra on Friday, November 17, 2017

Hello thetrumpetking,
I will try it. to add a bar to a certain bar, or to repeat a particular note, what to use?

Submitted by Remy on Friday, November 17, 2017

if there's a trial, I'll give it a test drive. Thanks for all the info. Darma, what kind of music are you particularly looking to perform? I only wish I was able to score stuff since I'm into audio theatre and have some rudimentary keyboard knowledge; enough to play pretty convincingly with the help of an audio etitor anyway.

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Friday, November 17, 2017

So what would be the best recording and editing software for the Mac? For the musician/composer?

Submitted by Justin on Friday, November 17, 2017

Not exactly why nobody has said anything about it, but apples logic suite of music utilities seemed like a good option for the composer/musician. From what I heard, it works with Vo, and works well, but that was a few years ago and don't know about it now.

Submitted by dharmaputra on Friday, November 17, 2017

In reply to by Remy

Hello Remy.

I want to show violin music. i make midi with logic. when I translate it in notasik beam, the result is not neat. for everything, I apologize if what I say you do not understand. because I can not speak english. I use google translate. thank you for all the answers.

Submitted by Basia F on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hello
I would suggest Lilypond for your needs. It contains a script translating between MIDI and text input it requires. You can make corrections when needed to make your notation look great. The learning curve for Lilypond may be a little big longer then for Sibelius or other software like that, but quite frankly it's worth doing since it works on your Mac or any other platform you may choose.

As for reading sheet music, MuseScore has some features allowing for that on Windows with NVDA, but you need to check out their website for details and instructions.
Cheers

Hello,
I have heart something about partnership between Avit, and Berklee, that Berklee and Avit are working together on Sibelius accessibility for blind users. So, are latest versions really usable only for Windows with NVDA, or allso for Mac with Voiceover? Generally, something was change with score editors accessibility for mac?

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

There are several solutions for reading and creating musical scores that are accessible and either fre or inexpensive. First, MuseScore is completely free and offers many of the functions and capabilities of Sebelius. If you are a hobbiest, chances are this will meet your needs. The program is very accessible both with NVDA and JAWS in Windows and I believe that their Mac version is accessible using VoiceOver. They have given a lot of thought to accessibility. In fact, I worked with the developer to enable MuseScore to work with JAWS. Second, there is an inexpensive app for iOS called Symphony Pro. Again, this is a fully featured program for creating and working with complex musical scores. The developer is very receptive to the needs of VoiceOver users and has included many useful hotkeys for people using a bluetooth keyboard. Lastly, for our Eyes On Success radio show / podcast, we interviewed an organization in Vietnam that put together an accessible music reader for the blind. Unfortunately this is only available for Android systems right now, but this might be useful to you or others. Here is more information about that episode:

2005 Free Music Reader App from Sao Mai (Jan. 29, 2020)
Show Notes
The SM Music Reader is a free Android app that enables the visually impaired to access music scores imported onto their devices. Hosts Nancy and Peter Torpey talk with Dang Hoai Phuc, executive director of the Sao Mai Center for the Blind in Vietnam, about the app and how it can be used to read and listen to complex musical scores. <!-- read music musician accessibility--> You can also check out programs such as Lillypad as someone suggested as well as MUP, both of which create scores from text files that you edit. Hope that helps. --Pete

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Thursday, June 18, 2020

There is also symphony for iOs as well for music notation and it works quite well with keyboard shortcuts and stuff.