Music File Formats That You Can Use in Composer

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Music File Formats That You Can Use in Composer

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The following table identifies common music file formats that Composer does and does not support.



File Type








Special format for music notation and performance used by Composer and other music software programs by Notation Software.





Music performance data, not music notation data.


MIDI File Type 0 and 1

MIDI File Type 1

(but not Type 0)


A version of MIDI file that includes specialized lyrics information.





A standard file format for exchange music scores between music notation programs.



(to be supported in future version of Composer)



An audio sound wave file format.





A compressed audio sound wave file format.





For an overview in how to share your music with others, see Enabling Others to View, Play, and Print Your Songs.


A MIDI file is a saved recording of a MIDI performance. For an introduction to MIDI, see Appendix B: What is MIDI? A MIDI file contains very little information about how the musical performance should be represented as music notation. If you import a MIDI file, Composer must transcribe it to music notation. After that, you can edit the music notation and/or the MIDI performance. Since a MIDI file does not store music notation data, Composer needs a file format for saving music notation data along with the MIDI performance data. That is the Notation (.not) file format, which is used only by Composer and other music software programs by Notation Software.


After you have recorded or edited a song in Composer, you can save it in the MIDI file format, so that other MIDI software programs can play the song.


A Karaoke (.kar) file is a special type of MIDI file. It includes extra information about how lyrics should be displayed when just lyrics and not the music notes are shown. Particularly, the Karaoke information indicates where the line breaks in the lyrics are located, to match musical phrases. Composer reads Karaoke files. Instead of just displaying the lyrics, Composer also displays the notes. See Working with Karaoke (.kar) Files.


Wave and MP3 files save music recordings as sound waves, as described in Appendix B: What is MIDI? Composer exports .WAV files but does not import them.  A frequently asked question is: "Does Composer transcribe audio files or CD music to notation?" Composer does not do this. Some music software can do this only for very clear single note instruments and voice. Many audio engineers have spent years attempting to develop software that can identify what pitches are being played by what instruments at what times in an audio recording. But there has been very little success for music in which more than one note is played at a time.