How to write transcription with some notation software in a good way

Hi everyone

I m trying to write a transcription of some solo

At first i dont know the duration of each notes, so I was asking myself if there could be a good way to write them without duration first and after giving the duration of each notes . Which for me is the better method on paper .
But unfortunatelly the software like Muscore2 dont help doing this , Modilying the duration of the notes gives problems on displaying the notes in the measures.

is there any tips of doing that ?? or other method

ps hope im clear enough :wink:



This is something I’d like to do also Pierre… I agree MuseScore can be fiddly.

I will have a search for some other programs and ask our other teachers if they have any tips for this.

I’m sure we can find a good solution for this.


I’ve had the same question for awhile.

I’ve been trying to learn Notion. It’s got a learning curve but seems pretty straightforward after you get a handle on the basics. Then using a keyboard controller to enter notes should speed things up. There’s also a detailed how-to book available that is quite useful.

With regard to Pierre’s concern–“to write [notes] without duration first”–I’m also trying to get the notes down before starting with any notation software. I am not sufficiently advanced to
write easily, as in I know the letters (notes) and the words pretty well (chords), but I know little about how to punctuate (duration, rests, phrasing, etc.).

I use an iPad Pro with an Apple pencil and the note-taking app Notability. You can download staff paper to put into the app. Then it’s like having a clipboard at your side to make your notes. The just released iPad mini 5 now works with the first generation of Apple pencils. (And it’s cheaper than the iPad Pro.)

This is exactly my experience too Pierre. Like you I also just plot the notes in the measures on paper and work out/approximate from there. Thanks for mentioning!

Hi @Pierrot,

I was thinking about your question earlier. I have a monthly subscription to Sibelius for $5 USD / month.

I believe the $5 /month is a lighter version, and the full version - Sibelius Ultimate - is $20 USD / month. I find the lighter version to be more than adequate for my transcription needs.

Anyhow, back to your question…

I find the “Play” controls to be particularly useful when writing down transcriptions and dealing with the rhythmic element.

Rhythmic awareness has never been my strong point, and so hearing the line played back to me is invaluable to keep me on the right track and helps me identify any rhythmic errors.

Here’s some of the features which I find useful:

Firstly, there is a simple play back button. This just plays whatever is written down:

By default the playback has a straight feel. However, if we click into “Performance” we are presented with more options:

Next click into the “Rhythmic Feel” drop down menu:

Usually I’m transcribing from records with a swing feel so if I select “Swing” it then plays back with a basic swing feel.

Sibelius vs. MuseScore vs. Paper

I have played around with MuseScore very briefly and I find it to be a little fiddly.

Exactly as you say, altering the duration of the notes in previous bars can create display issues which is frustrating.

When writing on paper we have more freedom to go back and change (considering we write in pencil :grin:) and in that case we have the freedom to just plot the notes and then come back to work out the exact rhythmic placement.

In terms of writing the rhythms as I go… I find Sibelius to be the best digital notation solution.

Sibelius offer a 30 day free trial so try it for yourself and see what you think.



Thanks for all your share Hayden

But the play button is not really what i was looking for , it is existing in Musescore too and for playing the swing in musescore (we just copy from text palette “swing” where we want swinging notes)

but after some though maybe the easiest way for the moment is to create a score in 63/1 so really time to enter a lot of notes :slight_smile: and finding the right tempo of a measure and copy it on another score with the right 4/4

Okay cool, I think do what works best for you Pierre.

I imagine it also depends on what you are transcribing, ie. what style/genre of music.

For example, I find it difficult to notate syncopated blues licks. However, with most bebop/medium swing solos, I find I can notate it accurately using Sibelius and their playback feature.