The man with only one name, Erik, writes on his blog:
…if you like a more classical approach, there are programs that are working with the sheet music look and feel. There are two big brands here, Sibelius and Finale. Finale has products that range from free to expensive, Sibelius comes in one flavor only.
This is not actually true. Certainly MakeMusic have a product for every pocket, but there are already four different Sibelius products currently available at different price points. The top-of-the-line product is, of course, Sibelius 5, which has a price tag to match (though you can pick it up for a lot less than you might think).
The oldest cut-price version of Sibelius is G7, which we released in 2003 and updated in 2005, and which was designed for guitarists and songwriters. G7 is no longer actively developed, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend it for purchase today, since it has a few minor problems running on the latest Mac and Windows operating systems (and it’s not a Universal Binary application, so it won’t run at full speed on today’s Intel-powered Macs). It does have a couple of unique features, however, notably the Fretboard window, which isn’t available in any other version of Sibelius. You can now pick G7 up in the US for around $79, e.g. from Guitar Center.
Sibelius Student is designed for students in secondary education, but in fact it could be used by anybody who wants to get into music notation on a budget. It has a few unique features that the other cut-down versions of Sibelius don’t have: firstly, it has Sibelius 5’s Panorama view (which is scroll view done right); secondly, it has a read-only version of Sibelius 5’s Ideas window, with more than 200 sample ideas for use in your own compositions; and thirdly, it has a feature to email scores to your teacher (though of course you can use this to email scores to anybody you like). You can pick up Sibelius Student for as little as $80 in the US.
Finally, the newest cut-down version of Sibelius is called Sibelius First (you’ll only be able to see the page on the Sibelius web site if you’re in the US, Australia or Germany, so you can read about its features here). We designed this product to be suitable for all songwriters, composers and musicians who want professional-quality music notation, and it’s a really capable product. Like G7 and Sibelius Student, it has some unique features of its own: firstly, it comes with a built-in General MIDI sound module with 128 high-quality sounds, allowing you to export great-sounding audio files for converting to MP3 or burning to audio CD; and secondly, it’s the only low-cost notation program to include dynamic parts, where the instrumental parts are saved in the same file and automatically kept in sync with changes made to the full score. It also has all kinds of other neat features in common with the full Sibelius 5 product, including MIDI guitar input support, copy-and-paste graphics export, guitar chord diagrams (chord boxes) and chord symbols, lyrics, and much more besides.
Sibelius First is also the first Sibelius product that you can download a fully-working time-limited trial version, and if you really like it, you can unlock it online:
- English-language download for Windows
- English-language download for Mac
- German-language download for Windows
- German-language download for Mac
Sibelius First is also, of course, available as a boxed product, and can be picked up online for around $99.