I am learning to use some notation software, but I am unsure if what I have so far is the best way to notate this piano piece.

Excerpt of score with piano notated on two staves, upper staff represented as one voice, showing ties to single notes midway within closely voiced chords

The ties kind of bug me, and I am not sure if I should have polyphonic voicing or not.
Is what the software has notated by default the best and easiest to read, or is there something better?

Often my software doesn't give me the best results right away, and it really depends on the knowing what settings to make.

4 Answers 4


Music notation software will usually notate what you ask it to and not what looks best. It is hard for a program to know what looks good. Depending on the program the program will help you to keep some conventions, but the choice of how you want to display certain things is up to you and the reason why we still need the job of an (musical) editor.

So this is mostly your choice. Personally I might prefer something like this: enter image description here


The voice notation is not there to look nice, but to represent the composer's intention. You need to ask yourself, which notes belong to the same voice.

For example, does the E in the first measure and the G in the second one belong to the same melody, or not? What about B in the second measure? This will guide you to the answer you are searching.

You may imagine you have four singers (four, because I see up to four notes at a time in the score). If you wish them to sing this, which notes would you assign to each of them? Which notes would be doubled, and when some of the singers would pause?


Between bars 1 and 2, I would flip the tie to the other direction. That would look more natural. At the end of bar 2, the two quavers on the note A would look better as a crotchet tied to the minum in the next bar. You should be able to have layers or different voicings. The A would be the first layer and the E under it the second layer. The stems would be respectively up (A) and down (E). The tie for the A would curve up and for the E curve down. I think this would look clearer and more natural. It's more work to achieve this, but you should be happier with the result.

  • If you do this, you might want to put a quaver rest on the second layer, before the E, to make clear that you're scoring two lines on the same staff.
    – user7868
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 7:30

Generally, all music notation software is not actually designed for notation, but rather for the lay-out of the page / printing. In other words, these programs very often notate things incorrectly, or in a rather awkward fashion. Get yourself a copy of Behind the Bars, ask an instrumentalist for the part in question, and finally, try to keep your notation as clear and straightfoward as possible in conveying the intent desired. The last part is crucial,and perhaps goes to the heart of your question. The composer or arranger needs to decide when it is necessary to bring out a given portion of the musics function in a given context via the manner in which it is notated. Ultimately, this relates back to conveying the desired intent. You want to have the music performed in the manner you intend so you should notate it in the clearest manner for the performer and conductor.

  • Notation programs only "notate things incorrectly" if the user has input the notation incorrectly. There may be programs that are only designed for layout, but most are designed for entering notation.
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 10:07
  • I had lengthy correspondence with reps from Finale / MakeMusic to try to notate correctly some portions of a score of mine. I can assure you, the problem was not all that esoteric, and revolves around correctly notating poymeters. They had to concede that their program was not able to do this. So, at least that program is mostly for layout. I am not aware if Sibelius (or other) similar notation programs can actually do accurate and correct notation. But, would be good to know if that is the case.
    – user89436
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 20:08

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