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  1. #1

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    I write this as, pretty much, a novice user of notation software.

    I had been using Sibelius G7. That's a discontinued subset of Sibelius with some guitar friendly features (which I never used). The interface is similar to Sibelius. I used it for lead sheets. It was my first notation software. I worked through the tutorial. I found the interface a little klunky, but it worked. It had two major weaknesses - for what I do. It wouldn't hide unused staves and it wouldn't print individual parts of a multipart arrangement.

    I couldn't justify the expense of full Sibelius so I tried Sibelius First -- the free version. Same problems.

    Then I tried Musescore, which is free.

    I've now done several lead sheets and one four-horn arrangement.

    The interface has proved easier to use. More things are intuitive. When I've needed help, I just googled the question. So far, so good with that.

    The only weakness, thus far, is that the "Palettes" sub-screen scrolls too quickly. But, that may have been fixed in the new version.

    Hiding unused staves was easy and worked fine (once I googled where to find the check-box). Splitting the parts for printing was also very easy and quick. It was intuitive enough that I didn't need to read anything.

    Overall, I haven't yet had to do anything that it won't do.

    It did crash a couple of times and there were some other glitches, but they were minor. I set it to save every minute, and I haven't yet lost anything meaningful. But, that might be an issue. I have since installed updates. Don't know yet if it's fixed.

    Great value.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 01-24-2020 at 04:45 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It's very nice.
    It has issues.
    It's free, so we shouldn't whine

  4. #3

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    I haven't noticed the crashing issues, maybe my use of it isn't as heavy as what you are doing.

    It seems to be quirky when using other software like Transcribe. If I open Transcribe software 1st I'll have no audio in MuseScore. If I open MusesScore 1st and then Transcribe it seems to work. Not really sure if MuseScore is creating that problem though, regardless that's a problem I have. Very minor problem.

  5. #4

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    Yep, I've used Musescore for years, with no problems. Mostly lead sheets, some written exercises, nothing heavy.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I haven't noticed the crashing issues, maybe my use of it isn't as heavy as what you are doing.

    It seems to be quirky when using other software like Transcribe. If I open Transcribe software 1st I'll have no audio in MuseScore. If I open MusesScore 1st and then Transcribe it seems to work. Not really sure if MuseScore is creating that problem though, regardless that's a problem I have. Very minor problem.
    Iirc, it was when I was trying to edit a chart which went from 7/8 to 2/4. I had 4 bars of 7/8 at the top of the tune and I couldn't get them all one one line. Instead, I got three bars one the first line and one on the second. Notably, when I split the parts, that went away.

    Some issues I haven't figured out. Somehow I got a dot on every note in the tune (this is an articulation symbol to play a note short). I couldn't figure out how to get them all deleted at once. I don't know how they got in there and I had to delete them laboriously one at a time. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a global delete that would have done it, but I couldn't figure out how to do that.

    After I split the parts, I got a tab for each one. They had random numbers of bars per line. I couldn't figure out how to give a global 4 bars per line instruction. Instead, I had to click on every 4 bars on every part. I'd appreciate help with that one if anybody knows how to do it. I also couldn't figure out how to print them all with one command. I had to click print separately for each one.

    As an aside, I hate reading charts with random numbers of bars per line. I want, for most tunes, a number of bars, often 4 or 8, which reflects the harmonic rhythm of the tune. I also like it when new motifs start on new lines, when possible (sometimes, I know, it's one or the other).

    EDIT. A half minute with google: Print all parts by first exporting them to pdf. Format tab contains the command for global number of bars per line. Another thing that puzzled me for a minute was changing the length of the pickup bar or adding one. Right click on the first bar opens the menu and gives you an option for not counting it in the numbering.

    More conclusion: It has been easier than Sib First or G7. The interface seems a little more intuitive and google seems to readily answer my questions.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 01-25-2020 at 04:54 AM.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Iirc, it was when I was trying to edit a chart which went from 7/8 to 2/4. I had 4 bars of 7/8 at the top of the tune and I couldn't get them all one one line. Instead, I got three bars one the first line and one on the second. Notably, when I split the parts, that went away.

    Some issues I haven't figured out. Somehow I got a dot on every note in the tune (this is an articulation symbol to play a note short). I couldn't figure out how to get them all deleted at once. I don't know how they got in there and I had to delete them laboriously one at a time. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a global delete that would have done it, but I couldn't figure out how to do that.

    After I split the parts, I got a tab for each one. They had random numbers of bars per line. I couldn't figure out how to give a global 4 bars per line instruction. Instead, I had to click on every 4 bars on every part. I'd appreciate help with that one if anybody knows how to do it. I also couldn't figure out how to print them all with one command. I had to click print separately for each one.

    As an aside, I hate reading charts with random numbers of bars per line. I want, for most tunes, a number of bars, often 4 or 8, which reflects the harmonic rhythm of the tune. I also like it when new motifs start on new lines, when possible (sometimes, I know, it's one or the other).
    I've been using it for 18 piece big band scores and parts, and I've had problems, too. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they're charging us!
    When you can't figure it out on your own, they do have a forum, which is very helpful. Every time I've used it, the guys get back to me pretty fast, and it goes in your email, so you know about it pretty quick.
    Marc Sabatella, a jazz pianist who used to be on RMMGJ, seems to be in charge of it, and he has helped me out a few times.

    Whatever you do, DON'T use the thing that changes the enharmonic spelling of notes automatically. It winds up changing EVERY note in your score to a different enharmonic note- i.e., all E's become Fb's, all B's become Cb's, and even a D will become a C double sharp!
    Even Marc and all the other guys couldn't help me on that one, and I went through absolute HELL fixing the score up, because every time you correct it, some other instrument gets changed to its enharmonic equivalent.
    One trombone player keeps giving me a hard time about rehearsal letters, because I haven't bothered to find out the right way to put them in, and do it in pen on their parts. At least they can't say they don't know where Letter D is!

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    I've been using it for 18 piece big band scores and parts, and I've had problems, too. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they're charging us!
    When you can't figure it out on your own, they do have a forum, which is very helpful. Every time I've used it, the guys get back to me pretty fast, and it goes in your email, so you know about it pretty quick.
    Marc Sabatella, a jazz pianist who used to be on RMMGJ, seems to be in charge of it, and he has helped me out a few times.

    Whatever you do, DON'T use the thing that changes the enharmonic spelling of notes automatically. It winds up changing EVERY note in your score to a different enharmonic note- i.e., all E's become Fb's, all B's become Cb's, and even a D will become a C double sharp!
    Even Marc and all the other guys couldn't help me on that one, and I went through absolute HELL fixing the score up, because every time you correct it, some other instrument gets changed to its enharmonic equivalent.
    One trombone player keeps giving me a hard time about rehearsal letters, because I haven't bothered to find out the right way to put them in, and do it in pen on their parts. At least they can't say they don't know where Letter D is!
    Nice rehearsal letters in boxes ... Palettes/Text/More ... what happens then is you see a sample letter-in-a-box. In my case I see a B1. When I click on it (and have a measure highlighted) it puts in the right letter. A, the first time, then the next time a B and so forth. I got lucky that I happened to be working top down.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I haven't noticed the crashing issues, maybe my use of it isn't as heavy as what you are doing.

    It seems to be quirky when using other software like Transcribe. If I open Transcribe software 1st I'll have no audio in MuseScore. If I open MusesScore 1st and then Transcribe it seems to work. Not really sure if MuseScore is creating that problem though, regardless that's a problem I have. Very minor problem.
    I experienced similar problems with Transcribe and Dorico (far easier and more powerful than Sibelius for sure, Finale and Musecore I can't say, after a learning curve of course)


    The problem was some obscure RealTech audio driver settings, default values weren't the same between the tools, sometthing like 16bit, 44000 in Dorico and 24bit 48100 in the driver, plus some weird parameter giving applications the rights to "own" the audio driver (preventing access for the other tools) . The outstanding Dorico support, by the developpers themselves, was crucial to help me to find this.

    Of course this problem reappears after every big windows update, I don't remember the exact details, but I keep my email exchange with Dorico support to help me refix the issue after an update

    Who "owns" the problem isn't very clear in between Windows, the audio driver and the software. Most likely a lack of convenient software driven querying/setting facilities to manipulate the audio parameters !!

  10. #9

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    They had random numbers of bars per line. I couldn't figure out how to give a global 4 bars per line instruction.

    Format - Add/Remove System Breaks - Break systems every [drop down menu] bars.

  11. #10

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    @rpjazzguitar Thanks for the review. If you like to try something different to avoid the troubles you mention there is also Tuxguitar. I briefly tested Musescore (free version) and found no improvements over Tuxguitar. I find it intuitive and it will import/export/play .mid and .gp3 files and can export to .mp3 as well.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DerekD
    They had random numbers of bars per line. I couldn't figure out how to give a global 4 bars per line instruction.

    Format - Add/Remove System Breaks - Break systems every [drop down menu] bars.
    Thanks.

  13. #12
    I wrote another tune while watching the news tonight.

    I could never do that with G7 or Sibelius First. The user interface was too klunky.

    With Musescore, it's easy enough that I can get my ideas down fast enough that it feels like making music rather than laborious monkey work.

    I know, this sounds like hype. But, this product is free! I'm just enthused because it works better than stuff I paid for.

  14. #13

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    How is Muse score with sound reproduction? If you write say a five horn chart can it work with a sound library (or does it have one of its own) so you hear decent sound and not midi on plaback? I'm using Sibelius but it's an old one, and I think they went down the subscription road which I find ridiculous.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    How is Muse score with sound reproduction? If you write say a five horn chart can it work with a sound library (or does it have one of its own) so you hear decent sound and not midi on plaback? I'm using Sibelius but it's an old one, and I think they went down the subscription road which I find ridiculous.
    I don't know what technology they're using, or how it would sound on headphones (I'll try that tomorrow), but I'd say it sounds electronic and it isn't good enough for me to really know what horns will sound like. I can hear the voicing. That's thru the speakers in my laptop. I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out if there's a way to get better sounds. It looks like there may be, but I haven't figured it out yet.

    I never did horn parts with G7, because it wouldn't split them. Not sure if Sib First would, but I never tried it. If it got much better horn sounds, that would be a significant advantage.

  16. #15

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    Sibelius has gigabytes of sound samples so it sounds like real horns, IF you have the sound library of course which i don't! It can split a keyboard chart into horn parts but i prefer to just write in a score format. I guess they all can export in mp3 format so you can have the same sounds with any program, i just have never really worked with musecscore, although friends have and like it.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I wrote another tune while watching the news tonight.

    I could never do that with G7 or Sibelius First. The user interface was too klunky.

    With Musescore, it's easy enough that I can get my ideas down fast enough that it feels like making music rather than laborious monkey work.

    I know, this sounds like hype. But, this product is free! I'm just enthused because it works better than stuff I paid for.
    Yeah. Several years ago, I used to only do midi input, because out was just faster to play in and edit.

    With current MS, I basically just use the keystrokes, and it seems to be plenty fast enough for me personally. I have the shortcut keys on a list taped to the wall.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    How is Muse score with sound reproduction? If you write say a five horn chart can it work with a sound library (or does it have one of its own) so you hear decent sound and not midi on plaback? I'm using Sibelius but it's an old one, and I think they went down the subscription road which I find ridiculous.
    I don't know if this will be helpful, but here's somebody's transcription (or paraphrase) of 'Take the A Train' for big band, using (I think) the stock sounds in MuseScore:

    Take The A Train (Duke Ellington) - Full Big Band Arrangement sheet music for Piano, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone download free in PDF or MIDI

    Hit the "play" icon on the toolbar near the top to hear it.

    To me, horns are a bit 'synth-y' sounding, but I'm not covering my ears and running out of the room. The default piano sound is what I usually deal with for lead sheets and transcriptions, and I think it's pretty decent.

    For vocal melody lines (like I might include on a lead sheet of a standard), I actually prefer to use the accordion sample, rather than the "aaahhh" synthy-voice sound, which makes me think of an Enya recording.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard
    I don't know if this will be helpful, but here's somebody's transcription (or paraphrase) of 'Take the A Train' for big band, using (I think) the stock sounds in MuseScore:

    Take The A Train (Duke Ellington) - Full Big Band Arrangement sheet music for Piano, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone download free in PDF or MIDI

    Hit the "play" icon on the toolbar near the top to hear it.

    To me, horns are a bit 'synth-y' sounding, but I'm not covering my ears and running out of the room. The default piano sound is what I usually deal with for lead sheets and transcriptions, and I think it's pretty decent.

    For vocal melody lines (like I might include on a lead sheet of a standard), I actually prefer to use the accordion sample, rather than the "aaahhh" synthy-voice sound, which makes me think of an Enya recording.
    '

    I think they sound great, well, in comparison to what I'm doing now. I have to figure that out.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard
    I don't know if this will be helpful, but here's somebody's transcription (or paraphrase) of 'Take the A Train' for big band, using (I think) the stock sounds in MuseScore:

    Take The A Train (Duke Ellington) - Full Big Band Arrangement sheet music for Piano, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone download free in PDF or MIDI

    Hit the "play" icon on the toolbar near the top to hear it.

    To me, horns are a bit 'synth-y' sounding, but I'm not covering my ears and running out of the room. The default piano sound is what I usually deal with for lead sheets and transcriptions, and I think it's pretty decent.

    For vocal melody lines (like I might include on a lead sheet of a standard), I actually prefer to use the accordion sample, rather than the "aaahhh" synthy-voice sound, which makes me think of an Enya recording.
    That's cool.

    It's not meant to be recording quality imo, the playback is just to check how it's sounding, find mistakes etc. I noticed there were no dynamic markings on the score, I wonder if the playback picks up the dynamic markings.

    I use MuseScore as a notation tool and most projects don't ever listen to the playback. If I was doing something as elaborate as a Big Band chart the playback would be useful.

  21. #20

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    Musescore will follow dynamic markings in playback, and you can also use a different orchestral soundfont than the default Musescore soundfont.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Musescore will follow dynamic markings in playback, and you can also use a different orchestral soundfont than the default Musescore soundfont.
    Yeah, the dynamics on the playback are one of the most important features of Musescore. When I conduct my big band charts in front of real musicians, Musescore's playback represents the ideal of how the dynamics should sound.
    It allows me to be able to correct the musicians who are sight reading my charts on their dynamics much easier than if I didn't use MuseScore, because the correct dynamics are already there.
    In the past, I would have to have the musicians pencil the dynamics in, if it didn't sound right.

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    Yeah, the dynamics on the playback are one of the most important features of Musescore. When I conduct my big band charts in front of real musicians, Musescore's playback represents the ideal of how the dynamics should sound.
    It allows me to be able to correct the musicians who are sight reading my charts on their dynamics much easier than if I didn't use MuseScore, because the correct dynamics are already there.
    In the past, I would have to have the musicians pencil the dynamics in, if it didn't sound right.
    Can you recommend a soundfont and a place to get it?

    At this point, all I have is some electronic sounds and I'm not sure which soundfont (if that's even right) to get.

    thanks in advance.

  24. #23

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    Currently typing in some notes for drums.
    I've noticed some quirks before with this but now with a tad more complex things.. omg. o.m.g.
    This is such a mess. Chaos.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Can you recommend a soundfont and a place to get it?

    At this point, all I have is some electronic sounds and I'm not sure which soundfont (if that's even right) to get.

    thanks in advance.
    Sorry, I don't even know what a soundfont is!

  26. #25

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    My honeymoon with MuseScore lasted until I had to print charts off in earnest for projects

    Lots of problems with transposition for instance. Things that don’t work that ... should. Don’t know if the issues I had were addressed in recent patches but it was maddening.

    Now Sibelius is really badly designed, but it works reliably.

    these vids are pretty funny and accurate:




  27. #26
    Musescore apparently makes everything huge on newer machines? I mean, it's basically unusable for me now.

    I did some searching and found multiple threads worth of people complaining about this over months/years, only to be blamed by the developers for using windows, or for having screens with modern higher resolutions.

    There is a lot of instruction on how to implement complicated workarounds, using command line prompts to execute musescore in a different way etc. I have been a pretty big fan and promoter of this software, but I really don't have a lot of patience for something being so difficult to use on a new computer, all while blaming the end user for not being able to do "simple workarounds" which basically equate to entry-level computer programming.

    Maybe I'm missing something?
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 03-08-2020 at 04:37 PM.

  28. #27
    Interesting. Apparently they've actually hired tantacrul, who made the scathing video Christian linked above.

  29. #28

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    Ha. Imagine Sibelius doing that.

  30. #29
    After all of my whining in the previous post, I've been checking else the newest updated version, and they have really done some work with the former muse score critic at the helm. Pretty impressive. Of course, I never figured out how to actually permanently change the default size parameters. I ended up just going back to a previous file and saving it as a template.

    Anyway, I think they have made some serious strides in a pretty short time.

  31. #30

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    Finale comes with Garritan instruments, beautiful samples in classical, jazz and pop styles of playing and recording. Every upgrade adds more instruments, including Indian and Middle Eastern, Chinese and Japanese, African and Far Eastern, etc. Great for movie scoring, for sure, but very nice for hearing your big band or multi-horn arrangements as they should sound live. Used to be a steep learning curve, but now it's pretty easy to use.

  32. #31

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    Hi, all. I hope that all are well. I am trying out Musescore once, and I am beginning to see the strong side of it. However, one feature I still have not found is to add a chord by name instead of entering the voicing note by note. Is that possible? Suggestions will be appreciated.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by teeps
    Hi, all. I hope that all are well. I am trying out Musescore once, and I am beginning to see the strong side of it. However, one feature I still have not found is to add a chord by name instead of entering the voicing note by note. Is that possible? Suggestions will be appreciated.
    To hear the chord playback you have to enter the notes (the copy paste function can help for duplicated chords).

    If you aren't concerned about playback, above the note or rest that is currently active you can add a chord symbol by hitting ctrl k.

  34. #33

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    Hi fep, Thank you very much.

  35. #34

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    I'd been using Lilypond because I come from a universe that uses a text-based system called LaTeX for math. However it takes quite a bit of fiddling to get things right. This weekend I decided to try out Sibelius, but was immediately turned off the all too familiar "register/get a license/have some thing running in the background/buy this additional thing". For some reason, lots of music software uses this model, which I assume the companies were driven to by piracy. But I wonder why music software seems particularly like this - I suppose they found that they'd sell more at a lower price, but with other controls.

    Anyway, speaking of Musescore, I installed it, and actually like it better so far, for my admittedly minimal need, which is to do lead sheets. Keyboard-only entry is important for me, and that works fine. The only thing I miss is the ability to play back with chords (without having to enter each note). Even just having a totally standard voicing would be fine, and those notes can certainly be generated from the chord name.

  36. #35

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    I bought a Macintosh in 1984 because Mark of the Unicorn was promising a professional engraving program. My handwritten scores have always been impossible to read, so this was a holy grail for me. Of course, in 1984, Composer was vaporware, but it wasn't long before it was a reality, and I could actually print my scores on the Imagewriter – such a difference!

    Mark of the Unicorn's Composer became Mosaic, and then it was orphaned. Scores created in Mosaic could not (and cannot) be opened by any other program – if they weren't saved as PDFs or printed out, they might as well not exist. I must confess to having some music I composed in Mosaic currently unavailable to me. Not really consequential, but unfortunate for me.

    Then I went with the crazy expensive and complicated Finale, which when it first came out had a gigantic manual of what, 3 or 4 bible-sized books? A long slog to learn, which soon was eclipsed by Sibelius, which had a competitive upgrade. So I bought it, and had another long slog of learning to go through. Then a newer Finale update had some improvements on Sibelius, so I paid for an update.

    These days I am retired with a fixed income, and mostly just do lead sheets and charts. I discovered Musescore several years ago, and it does everything I need it to do. I gratefully deleted all those gigabytes of midi instruments crowding my hard drive, especially since I have other, better ones I use (software synths for Kontakt and virtual modeling synths like SWAM) when I need to record music with closer-to-real sounds. I don't need great sounds in Musescore, since I only need to make sure I have written what I'm hearing.

    I really enjoy the jazz font – it makes a printed lead sheet look great. I wish Musescore could play the chord names I add above the staff, but I'm grateful that the jazz shorthand for chord names is recognizable. The creative team has been working on getting the chord names to play, but they are apparently stymied by how the chords should sound – e.g., how the software chooses which inversion of a particular chord would be right. So for now, to test the chords I input without getting out my guitar, I create a new file in iReal Pro and type in the chords there, which also serves to check the names I give to the chords.

    I found the learning curve for Musescore to be easier than the others. Basic note input is fairly intuitive (for a computer program, anyway), and I just looked up answers to questions I had as I went along (DuckDuckGo, not Google, thank you very much).

    I think it is so amazing that the team hired its most public critic to redesign the program – that is true humility.

    Oh – and by the way, anyone who has used Lilypond could rightfully be said to have mastered the most difficult music software in existence. I am in awe (I gave it a try)...

  37. #36

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    Still learning.

    For guitar specfic work Tuxguitar (.:: TuxGuitar ::. Open Source Tablature Editor :: TuxGuitar) might be better equipped with tools such as hammer-on/pull-off/bend-up/prebend-release/vibrato/tremolo(whammy)/muting and alike.

    For screen and printout appearance Musescore seems ahead. But that might have improved in the newer version of Tuxguitar.

    For compatibility the MIDI in/out is a must (and both Musescore and Tuxguitar supports it) and import/export of various formats is nice, but some details always have to be edited.