Avid Corp. has gone ahead and made Sibelius, the popular notation software, free. Not the whole thing, though. Rather, it’s called Sibelius | First and it stands for a streamlined free version not unlike Pro Tools | First.
Still, Sibelius | First has the basics covered. It supports transcription, editing, and cloud sync among other functionality. Up to 10 scores can be stored and shared in the cloud. The software supports up to 4 instrument parts.
As expected, the free version of Sibelius is missing most of the functionality which can be considered “power user.” This means most of the playback, utility, publishing, exporting, and sharing functionality won’t be available to free users. The essential notation features are still there, though, so as a freeware notation tool, Sibelius | First goes a long way.
If Sibelius | First suits your workflow, you can always upgrade to Sibelius which lets you compose scores with up to 16 instrument parts, or go Ultimate, where all the brakes are off and pretty much everything is customizable.
More information is available over at Avid. For a competent freeware alternative to Sibelius, check out MuseScore. This is open-source, professional-grade notation software available on multiple platforms and featuring no paid functionality whatsoever. And don’t forget Steinberg’s Dorico, which reached version 2 this year, with an entry-level version available for those on a budget.