The Need to Arrange
Many years ago, I purchased a copy of Finale music notation software while in college. I used it a little, but I was too busy to really spend a lot of time with it.
In the last few years, I have been participating in a choir and other music performances and have had a need to arrange some music occasionally. While I have been a musician for many years, I haven't really spent much time arranging music, so it was a bit of a new experience for me.
Realizing the copy of Finale I had was kind of old and limited to running on Windows, I looked around for some open-source/free solutions to try out. In the process I ran across Musescore and have used it for several projects quite successfully.
What is Musescore?
Musescore is software that can be used to electronically create music scores for a large variety of instruments and voices. It is free, open source that runs on multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) and there are even readers for iOS and Android. This makes sharing and collaborating on scores easy. Like most music notation software, Musescore allows you to play the score as written using synthesized instruments and voices, giving you a feel for how the music sounds. MIDI devices can be used as inputs for creating scores. While I haven't tried the feature, Musescore apparently can import a variety of music notation file formats. Unlike some open-source software for music notation, Musescore provide a more graphical "WYSIWYG" interface for entering the music; you can think of it like a "wordprocessor" for music notation as opposed to MusiXTeX where a file has to be compiled into something a musician would find familiar.
I have personally used Musescore for scores for small ensembles and choirs as well as some guitar and vocal pieces. While I haven't created any masterpieces, Musescore was fairly easy to learn and master for the tasks I tried. It seems like a perfect tool for schools and amateur musicians and, I bet, for professional musicians as well. Additionally, Musescore is designed so that you can take a score with multiple instruments and then create scores with individual parts for musicians, a feature I have used a few times.
Sharing Your Music
Additionally, there is a commercial service available for being able to share scores that have been created with Musescore. I believe the intent to provide a library of scores that others can use and remix in addition to providing a service to share with others privately. I gave the service a try recently with a simple guitar/vocal arrangement that I made of There is a Green Hill Far Away.
Try It Out
If you are interested in creating your own music or arranging existing music, I think Musescore is definitely worth a try. The software can be downloaded for Windows, Linux, and Mac and can be found already packaged for many Linux distributions, such as Fedora and Ubuntu.