I am looking for a music notation software with which I can write and edit music scores. A good proprietary example would be Guitar Pro.

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What are some good free software alternative?

  • This question is quite broad. Could you specify the features you need precisely? Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 23:01

4 Answers 4


The top music notation software are:

  1. MidiEditor Graphical interface to edit, play, and record Midi data. Last Update: 2018-06-05
  2. MuseScore is a Graphical WYSIWYG music score typesetter. It has following features:

    • Unlimited number of staves
    • Up to four voices per staff
    • Notes can be entered with mouse, keyboard or via midi
    • Can import/export MusicXml and SMF files

    To install MuseScore, run the following commands from the terminal:

    sudo apt install musescore
  3. NoteEdit is a KDE editor. It supports an unlimited number and length of staffs, polyphony, a MIDI playback of written notes, chord markings, lyrics, a number of import and export filters to many formats like MIDI, MusicXML, ABC Music, MUP, PMX, MusiXTeX, LilyPond, ...

  4. Canorus is a free cross-platform music score editor. It supports an unlimited number and length of staffs, polyphony, a MIDI playback of notes, chord markings, lyrics, import/export filters to formats like MIDI, MusicXML, ABC Music, MusiXTeX and LilyPond.

    For Ubuntu 13.10 and prior versions, you can install Canorus by running the commands given below from terminal:

    sudo apt install canorus

    For Ubuntu 14.04 and later versions, download Canorus from here and install it.

  5. Denemo is a GTK frontend to Lilypond. Download Denemo from here and install it!

  6. Lilypond aims to print music as if it were engraved by hand. It is used to produce musical scores that are engraved with traditional layout rules.

    To install Lilypond, run the commands given below from terminal:

    Note: LilyPond is a text-based music engraver; it is more similar to a programming language than a graphical score editing program.

    So better install one of the frontends like: Frescobaldi:

    sudo apt install frescobaldi
  7. Rosegarden is a music composition and editing environment based around a MIDI sequencer that features a rich understanding of music notation and includes basic support for digital audio.

    To install Rosegarden, run the commands given below from terminal:

    sudo apt install rosegarden
  8. TuxGuitar is a multitrack guitar tablature editor and player written in Java-SWT. It can open GuitarPro, PowerTab and TablEdit files.

    To install TuxGuitar, run the commands given below from terminal:

    sudo apt install tuxguitar

Helpful links

  • If you're looking for a guitar specific notation software, I actually recommend tuxguitar which I've been using for a long time to open Guitar Pro files. I also do use and recommend musescore which has been already suggested by others. Both should be available through your distros repos. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 9:33
  • MuseScore blew me away, it is the first score editor I tried that felt amazing: "Easy to use, yet powerful" as truthfully advertised on their website. Perhaps specially now that there's a company behind it paying full time devs since 2018 according to Wikipedia. Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 20:48


http://lilypond.org/ - sudo apt-get install lilypond

  • Designed primarily for music notation
  • Optical font scaling
  • Special ledger line handling
  • Proportional spacing
  • Inspired by Rosegarden (below)

http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/ - sudo apt-get install rosegarden

  • Music Notation
  • Editing
  • MIDI support
  • Audio Mixing
  • JACK Support
  • Based on the Rosegarden project was started in 1993 at the University of Bath

https://musescore.org/ - sudo apt-get install musescore

  • Large range of supported filetypes (incl. Guitar Pro)
  • Online Score Sharing
  • Export to images and/or audio
  • WYSIWYG Support

http://www.denemo.org/ - Download Here

  • WYSIWYG Support
  • Primarily for notation
  • Accepts MIDI input
  • JACK client

Guitar Tab:

http://www.tuxguitar.com.ar/ - sudo apt-get install tuxguitar

  • Tab editor
  • Supports Guitar Pro import & export
  • Midi Editor
  • Written in Java


http://frescobaldi.org/ sudo apt-get install frescobaldi

  • An editor for Lilypond music files (above)
  • Text editor with syntax highlighting
  • MIDI Player
  • Score wizard
  • Snippet manager

Hope that helps!

  • 4
    Good list, but since these are extremely different projects it might be good to add a sentence highlighting the most characteristic specialties of each of them. Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 19:41

What about trying Rosegarden - it is in the repositories, so a simple sudo apt-get install rosegardendoes the trick.

I am not certain it's the best alternative, but Rosegarden exists for more than 8yrs and is in active development.


Might not be an ideal solution for everyone, but Ubuntu Studio has a vast lineup of music production applications for linux within its audio/core/plugins package. Including music score applications like some of the above mentioned, as well as native synth/effects/midi virtual instruments, VST/VSTi plugin wrappers and various DAW's.

although, with that said its recommended to run a low-latency kernel with some of these applications.

Ubuntu Studio Audio:

sudo apt install ubuntustudio-audio ubuntustudio-audio-core ubuntustudio-audio-plugins

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