🔍 Looking for a music notation editor with a piano roll


New member
Could you please suggest Windows software with the following features?
  1. A piano roll for editing notes. Just in case, a piano roll usually looks like this:


    I like FL Studio piano roll the best, but Cakewalk’s one (on the picture) is pretty good, too.

  2. Generating a decent PDF sheet music that musicians can use for practicing and performing. I don’t need the finest engraving and the highest printing quality, but the scores must be legible and usable. In addition to a regular staff notation, I need guitar tablature and fingering (numbers or letters to indicate fingers directly near the notes on the staff).

    Support for notation is so limited in the popular DAWs (Cubase, Logic, etc.) that it becomes completely useless in action. Guitar Pro notation capabilities would be more than enough for me, but, alas, the software is lacking a piano roll.

  3. Attaching arbitrary text comments to notes, bars, etc.— a feature common for office applications, but not widespread among music editors. I don’t understand why the difference, since working on arrangement has usually greater need for commenting than working on an interoffice memo. I wish I could open the editor and immediately see the comments made during rehearsal, such as:
  • This passage has proven to be unplayable; needs reducing.
  • The trumpet and the accordion are hindering each other here; something has to be done. Drop the trumpet an octave?
On the other hand, I don’t need advanced DAW features, since I don’t do digital audio. I work with arrangements for performing live by real musicians and producing music on a computer is none of my business.

I would appreciate it if you could suggest Windows software with the right functionality.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I was going to suggest my favourite, Cubase, until you mentioned scores. The cheaper cut down versions do piano roll really well but scoring is missing from the cheapest versions. You might end up using two apps if your budget is more modest.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Sibelius is wonderful - my colleague and I are Cubase and Sibelius users. I simply can't get to grips with Sibelius but it produces engraving quality scores - with my friend working it and with me driving it, rubbish ones!


New member
Dorico by Steinberg includes piano roll. Not sure if it is available in the free version, Dorico SE. Many people find Dorico more intuitive and easier to use than Sibelius and Finale. I believe Dorico is offered in a trial version. The software is well supported with videos from Steinberg.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The trouble with Sibelius is that it does not really do drag and drop - so it's really a two handed process - note length on the keypad, note on the keyboard. Dorico and the full versions of cubase let you just insert notes and drag them around - if you get used to this, it's quick - and Sibelius is just so different - BUT - skilled Sibelius people can produce notation so quickly. Cubase has never been able to match it - a frequent complaint being how it manages tied notes vertically above each other - play in a guitar solo as an example and it is a mass of ties and semi-demi-semiquavers (whatever they are in US speak). Sibelius just takes the played in stuff and presents it in a way you can read and play - Learning to play an unedited Cubase score is a real skill I have yet to master. My colleague can play them, I can'!