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Free Sheet Music in MusicXML Format: A Comprehensive Guide


How to Download MusicXML Files for Free




If you are looking for a way to access, share, and edit sheet music digitally, you might want to consider using MusicXML files. MusicXML is a format that allows you to store and exchange musical notation data in a standard and universal way. In this article, we will explain what MusicXML is, why you should use it, where you can find it online, and how you can download and open it for free.


What is MusicXML and Why Use It?




MusicXML is an XML-based file format for representing Western musical notation. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, which is a way of encoding information in a human-readable and machine-readable format. MusicXML uses XML tags to describe the elements of a musical score, such as notes, rests, clefs, key signatures, time signatures, dynamics, articulations, lyrics, and more.




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MusicXML is a standard format for musical notation




MusicXML was invented by Michael Good and initially developed by Recordare LLC. It derived several key concepts from existing academic formats (such as Walter Hewlett's ASCII-based MuseData and David Huron's Humdrum). It is designed for the interchange of scores, particularly between different scorewriters. MusicXML development was transferred to the W3C Music Notation Community Group in July 2015. The latest version of MusicXML is 4.0, released in June 2021. The format is open, fully documented, and can be freely used under the W3C Community Final Specification Agreement.


MusicXML is compatible with many notation programs and platforms




As of October 2021, MusicXML is supported to varying degrees by over 260 notation programs. These programs include:


  • Most scorewriting programs, including Finale, Dorico, Sibelius, and MuseScore



  • Most optical music recognition programs, including SmartScore, PhotoScore and Audiveris



  • Most music sequencer programs, including Cubase, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, and SONAR



  • Many web-based applications, such as Noteflight, Flat.io, Soundslice, Musescore.com, and Artinfuser Exercise



This means that you can easily transfer your scores from one program to another without losing any information or formatting. You can also use different programs for different purposes, such as composing, editing, printing, playing back, analyzing, or teaching music.


MusicXML preserves more information than MIDI or PDF files




If you have ever tried to import or export MIDI or PDF files into your notation program, you might have noticed that some information gets lost or distorted in the process. For example:


  • MIDI files only contain basic performance data (such as pitch, duration, velocity), but not any notation data (such as clefs, key signatures, time signatures, dynamics, articulations)



  • PDF files only contain graphical data (such as shapes and colors), but not any semantic data (such as notes names or values)



This means that This means that you have to manually correct or add the missing information after importing or exporting these files, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. MusicXML files, on the other hand, preserve almost all the information that is present in the original score, such as:


  • Notation data (such as clefs, key signatures, time signatures, dynamics, articulations)



  • Layout data (such as page size, margins, staff spacing, system breaks)



  • Metadata data (such as title, composer, lyricist, rights)



  • Style data (such as fonts, colors, sizes)



This means that you can import or export your scores without losing any quality or accuracy. You can also edit or modify your scores in any way you want, such as changing the key, transposing the instruments, adding or deleting measures, etc.


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Where to Find MusicXML Files Online




Now that you know what MusicXML is and why you should use it, you might be wondering where you can find MusicXML files online. There are many sources of MusicXML files on the internet, ranging from official websites of notation programs to public domain libraries of classical music. Here are some of the most popular and useful ones:


MusicXML Sites: A List of Sites with Sheet Music in MusicXML Format




This is a comprehensive list of websites that offer sheet music in MusicXML format. You can browse by category (such as classical, jazz, pop, rock), by instrument (such as piano, guitar, violin), by difficulty level (such as beginner, intermediate, advanced), or by keyword (such as composer name, song title). Some of the sites are free, while others require a subscription or a purchase. Some examples of sites on this list are:


  • : A community-based site where users can upload and share their own scores in MusicXML format. You can also download and play back the scores with the Musescore app.



  • : An online notation editor that allows you to create and edit scores in MusicXML format. You can also share and collaborate with other users on your scores.



  • : An online store that sells digital sheet music in MusicXML format. You can preview and print the scores with the Scorch plugin.



Software: A List of Software that Supports MusicXML Import and Export




This is a comprehensive list of software programs that support MusicXML import and export. You can browse by category (such as scorewriting, optical music recognition, music sequencer), by platform (such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux), or by keyword (such as software name). Some of the programs are free, while others require a license or a purchase. Some examples of programs on this list are:


  • : A professional scorewriting program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Finale to create and edit scores in its own native format (.musx).



  • : A professional scorewriting program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Dorico to create and edit scores in its own native format (.dorico).



  • : A professional scorewriting program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Sibelius to create and edit scores in its own native format (.sib).



  • : A free and open source scorewriting program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use MuseScore to create and edit scores in its own native format (.mscz).



  • : An optical music recognition program that can scan printed sheet music and convert it into MusicXML files. You can also use SmartScore to edit and play back the scanned scores.



  • : An optical music recognition program that can scan printed sheet music and convert it into MusicXML files. You can also use PhotoScore to edit and play back the scanned scores.



  • : A free and open source optical music recognition program that can scan printed sheet music and convert it into MusicXML files. You can also use Audiveris to edit and play back the scanned scores.



  • : A professional music sequencer program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Cubase to create and edit MIDI and audio tracks.



  • : A professional music sequencer program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Logic Pro to create and edit MIDI and audio tracks.



: A professional music sequencer program that can read and write MusicXML files. You can also use Digital Performer to create and edit MIDI and audio t


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