The timbre and dynamics of sound samples used in scoring softwares (like Sibelius, notion and musescore) are not always very convincing. The build-in playback is very good at making nice music sound terrible. Also, the dynamics over the orchestra is at times out of balance.

There are, of course, many ways of improving the sound quality. I could find thousands of sound samples online. However, many samples are expensive, huge (tens of GBs, takes ages to download), and difficult to use (you need to adjust a lot of settings). On the top of that, after spending the money and time, I cannot guarantee that I will get a better sound.

So here is my question: what's the most efficient way of getting the sound of a score's playback better, if I do not wish to spend too much time on it?

I am willing to use a different softwares, so please suggest the best software for doing this.

  • 1
    How easy do you find putting invisible tempo markings on pieces, changing individual note velocities, adding invisible dynamics, adding single-staff dynamics, putting on accidentals in passages with cross-staff beaming, or putting invisible articulation markings on simile passages? Those are some of the most common ways I've made my music sound passable on Musescore.
    – Dekkadeci
    Apr 5, 2020 at 11:10

3 Answers 3


You can sometimes improve realism by 'over-notating' - adding phrasings, dynamics and articulations that would be done naturally by a live player.

For more control over balance, you can Export the score as individual audio tracks and manipulate them in a sequencer program. And adding just one track 'live' through a microphone can make an enormous difference. You must play SOME instrument? Even if it's a bit of extra percussion.

For a quick fix, try the free demo of NotePerformer. It's maybe rather over-praised! But still a useful addition to your resources, at a very reasonable price.

  • For orchestral pieces, would you recommend sampling your own playing to play with it? Or would the MIDI be preferable in that case?
    – awe lotta
    Apr 6, 2020 at 21:16

I am not affiliated with the company and not about to earn any commission. I am just a satisfied customer:

NotePerformer is a specific piece of software which is designed exactly for your use-case: it makes all the orchestral arrangements playback sound noticeably better, without any human intervention. It does that by detecting phrases and generating additional dynamics / articulations on the fly, based on deep analysis of your midi orchestrations.

It's not meant as a tool to make the final recording, but it's just about perfect for adding authenticity to playback of pieces that are written for a real orchestra.

  • So, I need 1) Finale/Sibelius 2)NotePerformer 3) A good sample library. NotePerformer itself doesn't seem to have a library. Is that right?
    – Ma Joad
    Apr 5, 2020 at 23:02
  • you don't need additional libraries - it's a self-contained solution (I don't think it can work with any other sample library). Just try the demo.
    – fdreger
    Apr 5, 2020 at 23:08
  • NotePerformer doesn't need an external library, and it even cannot use any external libraries. Wallander's sound generation is based on a different technology that doesn't use "recordings triggered by notes" in the same way as conventional samplers. It's more like adding together small component samples controlled by a behavioral model. Apr 6, 2020 at 17:23

Depends on the scoring software. Finale (and Sibelius) can use the Garritan libraries which sound better than the free stuff and are on sale now and then. One can play with the Human Playback setting to help. Also setting up the correct reverbs (it has both a convolution reverb and an ambience reverb; I like the convolution version.) Human Playback does read things like expression or volume or tempo or pedal marks.

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