There are several ways to share files between Finale and Sibelius music notation software. One option is to save the file in MIDI format and open it in the other application. The problem with MIDI files (Standard MIDI File Format) is they only transmit performance information such as pitches, rhythms, time signatures, and the like. Text elements such as chord symbols and lyrics and page layout formats are not captured in MIDI files.

The answer to this problem is MusicXML. The Recodare introduced MusicXML as a way to translate music notation from one application to the other. With MusicXML, in addition to the notation, the text elements are also translated (XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and is used for a wide variety of software applications). The translation is not 100% as there will be some minor editing but it is much better than sharing MIDI files. See the screen shot of the first few bars of a piece that was entered in Finale, saved in MusicXML format and opened in Sibelius 5. The lyrics and text all came over with only minor editing required.

Finale and MusicXML
Finale 2006 and later versions include the option to save and open MusicXML file formats. Simply choose File > Save Special and select the desired option. This allows Finale users to send their files to Sibelius users. MusicXML is also the best way to share Finale files with older versions of the software, as Finale versions are not backward compatible. So, if you want to share your Finale 2008 with an earlier version, saving the file in MusicXML is the way to go. Using MusicXML you can backwards save to Finale 2000 on Windows or Finale 2004 on Mac OS X. With versions that do not include the MusicXML export/import option you will need to download and purchase a plug-in from The current version, Finale 2008, comes with the capability of saving and exporting MusicXML files.

Sibelius and MusicXML
Sibelius 4 and 5 can open MusicXML files. So, a Finale user can send a file to be opened in Sibelius. However, Sibelius 4 and 5 do not include an option to export MusicXML. So, in order for Sibelus to export music XML, you will need to purchase the “Dolet” plug-in from The plug-in for Sibelius is not cheap, but it does provide the capability of saving files to share with Finale users.

Other applications of MusicXML
Check out the Recordare website for a listing of applications that support MusicXML including Cubase and others: