This is a guest post by Raoul's brother Etienne, who is not only passionate about music, but also open source software.
Music is such an important part of a church service, even though we may sometimes wish that the tone-deaf person next to us didn't join in the singing! Therefore, it makes sense that the church's organist or musical director will need to write sheet music from time to time.
Enter MuseScore! MuseScore is a sheet music or score writer that is intuitive, easy to use, and runs natively on most platforms through its use of the Qt toolkit. Oh and, best of all, it is completely open-source and free of charge! It was started as a fork of the MuSE sequencer by Werner Schweer, who heads up the project with the help of Thomas Bonte, Nicolas Froment and others.
MuseScore supports both 32 and 64 bit systems, and comes crammed with features such as unlimited staves, multiple translations, drum notation, cross-staff beams, and many others that the basic or entry-level versions of popular proprietary software do not even start to rival. MuseScore can export to PDF, PNG, SVG, MIDI, MusicXML and many, many other formats to make it easy to share and/or publish your music.
Not only is MuseScore feature-rich, it is well-supported too! The forums can be found at http://musescore.org/en/forum where all sorts of questions can be asked and answered. The handbook can also be downloaded from http://musescore.org/en/handbook while a Google search will get you many other support materials. On top of that, you can get socially connected at the music-sharing site http://musescore.com which is free for up to 5 scores per person.
I recently caught up with Nicolas Froment, one of the lead developers, and asked him for some thoughts on the software. Nicolas got involved in 2008 when he started using the software and wanted more features. He told me that the goal of MuseScore is "to be an easy and free way to create beautiful scores, to become the number 1 music notation software worldwide. With 6000 downloads per day, we are getting there." He also suggests that the future of MuseScore is in the mobile arena: "MuseScore will also be mobile! We are working on a MuseScore player for iOS & Android."
All in all, I highly recommend MuseScore due to its features, ease of use, and its beautiful output. I use it almost every day, and I almost never run into a problem or a bug. As an example, I wrote out the music for the classic Christmas hymn "Silent Night" in MuseScore. It took me around half an hour, in which I encountered no problems, and you can view and download the results below.
The latest version of MuseScore is 1.2, and it can be downloaded for free from the project homepage at http://musescore.org or through most Linux distributions' software repositories. Developers, translators, donators and helpers are always welcome!
Silent Night files: