Musescore 2 is a fantastic piece of open source software that can make professional quality sheet music. Industry music professionals gravitate to either Sibelius or Finale, but more than a few also use Musescore. While Sibelius and Finale sell for around $500 USD, Musescore is free and available for download here.
I was going to make a tutorial or even a video of the process I use making sheet music for teaching purposes, but for now here’s a quick overview of me scoring Darkside by Alan Walker.
Opening up Musescore, I created a new score and entered the song/composer details:
I choose the instruments – in this case, voice and ukulele tab:
The key signature was E minor (like every Alan Walker song hehe):
I entered the time signature, a 2-beat pick up and the approximate number of bars:
I opened up the song on youtube, listened for the chords and started writing the melody in. TIP: In case you do try this software: press ‘n’ to enter notes; use the ‘a’ key for an ‘a’ note, ‘b’ key for a ‘b’ note etc and use the number key commands to change rhythmic values (‘5’ for example is a quarter note). It’s all about getting the key commands sorted with this software – it’s pretty easy once to get used the workflow.
I finished the basic melody and started adding in the lyrics:
I double checked the rhythm alongside the lyrics:
I finished off the lyrics and put the chords in. I copied the melody and pasted it into the ukulele TAB staff (easy step!):
Then had a final listen and realised there is a pre-chorus before the second chorus….argh. I considered leaving it out, as I didn’t really want the song to go to three pages, but went ahead and put it in, pushing my time to finish this to about 50 minutes. Then I spaced out some of the words (using the arrow keys), put some repeats in and finished up the basic song.
It’s easy to find the chords to songs online but it’s next to impossible to find split scores (stave + TAB) for ukulele with proper notation so I end up making them. Often I need to change the key to suit the ukulele but this song was fine. Four verse notes were unplayable on the ukulele (A3 and B3) so I had to bump them up an octave, apart from that it was a pretty easy song to transcribe.
If you play music and want to write, I can definitely recommend Musescore 2 as an inexpensive (free!) way to have a go.