♫ Music Notator User Guide ♫

Music Notator. Updated 06 Jun 2006.

Have you ever wanted to write down that tune running through your head? With this website, you can do just that. You can play the music you write on the computer, and generate midi files to play with standard utilities or send to your friends. You can even print out the music manuscript you create.

You can make changes to music you have written - perhaps add a part for an extra instrument. You can copy sections of music from one composition to another and adapt them as you wish.

For access to this program, all you need is a recent release of Internet Explorer or Netscape with Java enabled. For better results, you will need to update java. See Java Update.

The information on this page is also available from within the Music Notator. To enter Music Notator, see Music.

Music Library

You can display some simple compositions, using the Library facility.

Display size and width

The width of the drawing area is automatically adjusted as the size of the window changes.

You may change the size of the display using an option. Smaller notes allow more to be shown on the screen.

The program is intended to work with an 800 * 600 display area, but will work better with a higher resolution display, such as 1024 * 768.


When composing. start by inserting a clef, and a time signature. Use the menu to generate some new notes. New notes are generally inserted after the currently selected item, or at the end if there is no selection. You may then select a note and change the note length, pitch and other properties. You can split a note into several part notes of equal value, such as a minim into two crotchets, or a dotted minim into three. You can split a note into triplets, if required. Two notes or two rests can be combined, provided the note value of the result is valid. You can convert a note into a rest, or vice versa.

Pitch may be changed using the up and down arrow keys. You may adjust the pitch of either a single note, or a group of notes.

If you change the clef which applies to a group of notes, the notes will remain the same but be displayed differently.

Note Selection and Scrolling.

Note selection may be changed using the left and right arrow keys, or the menu, or by clicking on the display.

There is an AutoScroll option, which causes the display to be automatically scrolled to show the selected item near the middle of the screen. AutoScroll is off by default.

If you wish to scroll the display freely, turn select off, using the edit menu, or turn off AutoScroll.

Copy and Paste

Once you have generated some music, you can use Copy and Paste to generate more notes which you can edit as required. Use shift with the arrow keys to select a block of notes. You can open further frames from current frames, and copy and paste within or between them. Be wary of repeated use of 'cut', as the first set of notes will be lost.

As insertion is always done after the currently selected item, deletion of the first item can not be undone by paste. To change the first item, insert new material after it, before deleting the original.

If you wish, you can create a music manuscript in a separate frame containing some of the common notes or sequences of notes you expect to need when composing. Then you can just copy and paste the relevant sections, and adjust them as necessary.

Copy and paste apply only to the currently selected track.


The program automatically arranges the notes into bars. Common time is assumed by default.

If a note will not fit in the current bar, it will be moved to the start of the next. You do not need to insert bar lines, but you may do so to ensure that a particular note starts at the beginning of a bar. The composition is assumed to start at the beginning of a bar, so you may need to insert rests before the first note. Rests are shown to indicate the gap at the end of bars, but these generated rests will be removed when more notes are inserted. You may also insert genuine rests. Repeat clefs and key signatures are automatically generated at the beginning of each line, where needed.


The 'join' command is applied to the first note of a group to indicate that the notes should be displayed in a joined manner. This facility should be used carefully, as unexpected results can occur as notes are added or deleted. If 'join' produces unexpected results, use 'unjoin' from the menu on the first note of the joined group. The program will automatically clear out any joins which become invalid.

For convenience, commands are provided to split a note into several parts and display them in a joined manner. For example, you could split a crotchet into 4 joined semiquavers, or 3 joined triplet quavers.

Ties and Slurs

A note may be joined to the following note by a tie or slur.

Stem direction

The program will normally arrange for the note stems to be up or down as appropriate. You can override the default. This may be necessary in conjunction with slurs and chord notes.

In the case of joined notes and triplets, the choice of stem direction should be set on the first note. All the stems are displayed in the same direction.

The stem direction can be changed on a selected block of notes if desired.


You can add accent, staccato, and pause marks to your music.


There is a remove menu to remove various kinds of ornament. Ornaments are generally set on individual notes. Remove will remove all the ornaments of a given type from a selected block of notes.

Chord notes

This program is designed to deal with music tracks, each consisting of a simple sequence of notes or rests.

If your music is more complicated, you can use multiple tracks. Sometimes, piano music consists of variable numbers of notes - such as chords, or octaves. In this case, it may be simpler to add additional 'chord notes' to an existing track.

Chord notes are inserted after the previous item, as usual. They appear at the same place as the next item, and are played at the same time.

To select the correct note in a chord, use the menu, or arrow keys, rather than the mouse.

Final steps

To complete your composition, add a title, and end the music using "EndBar".


You can compose music using more than one part. New tracks may be inserted before or after the current track. You may choose which tracks are visible using "Track Properties". The current track is always displayed, as well as those marked visible.

For each track, you can specify a midichannel, and the volume. You can specify the instrument, or midi device type, either by name or number.

The instrument selection applies to the midi channel. You can play several tracks on the same channel, but you should use different channels for different instruments.

Different midi devices simulate different instruments and use different numbers. If you are using an attached midi device, set the instrument type by number, as the names in this program may not be correct.


You can print out your music. The print command allows you to adjust the printing size, and preview the output. There are now three sets of print routines. Print-2 requires at least Java 1.2, and allows you to set margins and specify which pages to print. Print-WS works only with Java Web Start.

You may need to update java to produce printer output. See Java Update for details.

Saving music

You can save your music so you can retrieve it later.

You may need to update java to access files. See Java Update for details.

Playing Music

You can play your music from this program while composing, and you can generate midi files to play using standard utilities or send to other people.

When composing, you can play part of the composition, starting at the currently selected note. You can stop the playback when you like. There are shortcut keys for these functions.

The midi file may be played using one of many freely available midi file players, including Windows Media Player and Quick Time. Your browser will probably have a suitable plug-in.

Before playing music or generating a Midi file, you may wish to set the tempo, and the Midi channel and Midi device type of each track.

You may need to update java to play music or access files. See Java Update for details.

Java contains facilities for routing output to various devices, but they did not work until Java 1.5! Java 1.3.0 and 1.4.0 always send output to the attached system speakers via a synthesiser. Java 1.3.1 and 1.4.1 send it to the Midi Mapper.

In Windows 98, You could use the MultiMedia option in Control Panel to specify which channels are sent to which devices.

I have now added a Midi Multiplexor, so you can route the output from any midi channel to any attached device or synthesizer.

If you connect an external device to the midi connection on your sound card, it will probably only respond to midi channel 1, unless you have specifically set it to some other channel.

I found that the Java Synthesiser in Java 1.4 did not appear to work with 32-bit sound cards. I hope this has been fixed in recent releases. If you have a 32-bit sound card, please let me know if it works correctly or not.

Midi files can be played using Windows Media Player, or other programs. Windows Media Player sends output to the Midi mapper. You can play midi files by clicking on them using Internet Explorer.

Using this program, you can generate music which will play on an attached electronic piano, with other instruments played simultaneously via the speakers.

Contact me if you have any difficulty playing your midi files.

If you have a midi file, and wish to turn it into manuscript, you can display the notes using my Midi File Editor. See Music.


Further Comments

Conditions of usage

This program, the documentation and library and all associated materials are copyright to the author.

I hope you have fun using this music notation program.

The user accepts all risk for any damage which may be caused by the malfunction of this software or otherwise. The program should be used in accordance with the laws of any authorities which may claim jurisdiction.


I would be interested to hear about your experience in using this program, including any suggestions for improvements.

Contact Me