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Denemo overview

Denemo is a free music notation program for GNU/Linux, Mac OSX and Windows that lets you rapidly enter notation which it typesets using the LilyPond music engraver. Music can be typed in at the PC-Keyboard (watch demo), or played in via MIDI controller (watch demo), or input acoustically into a microphone plugged into your computer’s soundcard.

Denemo uses LilyPond which generates beautiful sheet music to the highest publishing standards. During input Denemo displays the staffs in a simple fashion, so you can enter and edit the music efficiently. The typesetting is done in the background while you work, and is generally flawless publication quality. Some final tweaks can be done on the typeset score with the mouse if needed (watch demo). This represents an enormous practical improvement over the popular programs which require you to re-position colliding notation constantly as you enter the music. See comparison with Musescore, Finale or Sibelius.

Unique to Denemo are methods to enter music in a musical, rather than mechanical, manner. This can be used for transcribing scores. In an ideal world we would just ‘play in’ the music, but this cannot be done reliably. If you try it, you find you spend more time spotting errors and fixing them than is pleasant. Instead, Denemo allows you to use the numeric keypad as a kind of rhythm instrument - you play in a phrase or two of the music using the number keys to indicate the note durations. Audible feedback lets you hear what you have entered; playing the phrase a second time on a real instrument adds the pitches to the rhythm. Again, Denemo gives you audible feedback so that you don’t enter E-flat when you meant D-sharp etc. You have to play the right notes in the right order, but your timing can be as sloppy as you like.

Another great feature is the ability to put links in the score to the original source document that you transcribed from. Clicking on such a link opens the document for you and highlights the bar you are looking at. You can use this to continue work from where you left off, or for looking back at the source to check a doubtful bar.

Beginner to Professional: Denemo can be used for a brief student homework all the way to a full-scale opera. Support is there for creating the widest range of notation - Tablature, Chord Charts, Fret Diagrams, Drums, transposing instruments, ossia, ottava, cue, title pages, table-of-contents, critical commentaries, footnotes quoting music, and more with LilyPond’s extensive syntax available for even more demanding uses.

What’s new in version 1.0

Updated on Jan 25 2021

Version 1.0 (2.2):

Note: while Finder indicates this app as 1.0, the developer refers to this release as 2.2.

New Features
  • Virtual Piano Keyboard
  • Defaults to 8 octaves
  • Enter rhythm then pitches
  • Enter Chords via right click
  • Score editing key shortcuts unaffected
  • Touch screen ready
  • MIDI Simulation
  • PC-keyboard simulates Piano Keyboard
  • Enter rhythm then pitches
  • Octave Control
  • Works for entering chords too
  • Customize key assignments
  • Lyrics Improvements
  • Handle mis-matched quotes
  • Avoid accidental verse deletion
  • Figured Bass Enhancements
  • Position figures on whole notes better
  • Make accidentals without a figure bigger
  • Position accidentals before a figure better
  • Slur and Tie Styles
  • Choose from Dashed, Dotted or Solid
  • Support for .gz files
  • Open compressed files without renaming
Bug Fixes
  • Upgrade keeping shortcuts
  • Command Center searches with leading space
  • No messages in Denemo version 2.2 is out





202.6 MB

Developer’s website




App requirements

  • Intel 64
  • Intel 32
  • OS X 10.8 or later
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