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The list below is a glossary of frequently used terms in MuseScore as well as their meaning.
The differences between American English and British English are marked with "(AE)" and "(BE)", respectively.
- A short →grace note.
- Accidentals appear in front of notes and shift their pitch.
Accidentals are used to alter the pitch of a note within a piece. The same symbols as in the →key signature are used, but they are placed before a particular note. Accidentals are for example →sharps, →flats and →naturals. Accidentals affect all notes on the same →staff position only for the remainder of the measure in which they occur, but they can be canceled by another accidental. In notes tied across a →barline, the accidental continues across the →barline to the tied note, but not to later untied notes on the same →staff position in that measure.
- Anacrusis (BE)
- See →Pickup Measure
- A long →grace note.
- Bar (BE)
- See →Measure
- Bar Line
- Vertical line through a →staff or the →system that separates →measures.
- Notes with a duration of an →eighth or shorter either carry a →flag or a beam. Beams are used for grouping notes.
- Beats Per Minute is the unit for measuring tempo. See →Metronome mark
- A double whole note or breve is a note that has the duration of two whole notes.
- The minimal definition of a chord is a minimum of two different notes played together. Chords are based on the choices made by a composer between harmonics of one, two or three (and more) fundamental sounds. E.g. in the chord of C, G is the second harmonic, E the fourth of the fundamental C. Now in C7, the B flat is the 6th harmonic of C and in C Maj7 B is the second harmonic of E and the fourth harmonic of G...
- Sign at the beginning of a →staff, used to tell which are the musical notes on the lines and between the lines.
There are 2 F clefs, 4 C clefs and 2 G clefs: F third, F fourth, C first, C second, C third, C fourth, G first, G second (known as treble clef too).
G first and F fourth are equivalent.
Clefs are very useful for →transposition.
- Concert Pitch
- Enables you to switch between concert pitch and transposing pitch (see Concert pitch and Transposition)
- Crotchet (BE)
- A crotchet is the British English term for what is called a quarter note in American English. It's a quarter of the duration of a whole note (semibreve).
- Demisemiquaver (BE)
- Thirty-second note
- See →Tuplet
- Eighth note
- A note whose duration is an eighth of a whole note (semibreve). Same as British →quaver.
- See →Volta
- Enharmonic notes
- Notes that sound the same pitch but are written differently. Example: G# and Ab are enharmonic notes.
- See →Beam
- Sign that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be lowered one semitone.
- Grace note
- Grace notes appear as small notes in front of a normal-sized main note. A short grace note (→acciaccatura) has a stroke through the stem; a long grace note (→appoggiatura) does not.
- Half Note
- A note whose duration is half of a whole note (semibreve). Same as British →minim.
- Hemidemisemiquaver (BE)
- Sixty-fourth note
- Key Signature
- Set of →sharps or →flats at the beginning of the →staves. It gives an idea about the tonality and avoids repeating those signs all along the →staff.
A key signature with B flat means F major or D minor tonality.
- An Iranian →accidental which means lower in pitch and it lowers a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the →flat which lowers a note by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →Sori
- A longa is a quadruple whole note.
- Ledger Line
- Line(s) that are added above or below the staff
- Measure (AE)
- A segment of time defined by a given number of beats. Dividing music into bars provides regular reference points to pinpoint locations within a piece of music.
- Metronome mark
- Metronome marks are usually given by a note length equaling a certain playback speed in →BPM. In MuseScore, metronome marks are used in tempo texts.
- Minim (BE)
- A minim is the British term for a half note. It has half the duration of a whole note (→semibreve).
- A natural is a sign that cancels a previous alteration on notes of the same pitch.
- Operating System
- Set of programs written in the aim to set up a computer from a lot of electronic components. Popular OSes are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux.
See also →System
- Music to be played or sung by one or a group of musicians. In a string quartet, 1st part = Violin 1, 2nd part = Violin 2, 3rd part = Viola, 4th part = Cello.
- Pickup Measure (→Anacrusis)
- Incomplete first measure of a piece or a section of a piece of music.
See also Create new score: Time Signature... and Measure operations: Exclude from measure count
- Quaver (BE)
- The British quaver is what is called an →eighth note in American English. It has an eighth the duration of a whole note.
- See →Tuplet
- Quarter note
- A note whose duration is a quarter of a whole note (semibreve). Same as British →crotchet.
- See →Tuplet
- Respell Pitches
- Tries to guess the right accidentals for the whole score (see Accidentals)
- Interval of silence of a specified duration.
- Re-pitch Mode
- A way in MuseScore to rewrite a passage with note changes but no rhythm change (see Re-pitch Mode)
- Semibreve (BE)
- A semibreve is the British term for a whole note. It lasts a whole measure in 4/4 time.
- Semiquaver (BE)
- Sixteenth note
- Semihemidemisemiquaver (Quasihemidemisemiquaver) (BE)
- Hundred twenty-eighth note.
- See →Tuplet
- Sign that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be raised one semitone.
- →Tie and Slur are two words used to describe a curved line between two or more notes. Slur means that the notes will be played without attack (legato). Tie is used between two or more notes on the same pitch to indicate its duration:
Quarter note + Tie + Quarter note = Half note,
Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note = Dotted Quarter note
Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note + Tie + 16th note = Double Dotted Quarter note
- An Iranian →accidental which means higher in pitch and it raises a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the sharp which raises a note by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →Koron
- Spatium (plural: Spatia)
- Staff Space
- sp (abbr./unit)
- The distance between two lines of a normal 5-line staff. In MuseScore this unit influences most size settings. See also Layout and Formatting, Layout / Page Settings
- Staff (AE)
- Stave (BE)
- Group of one to five horizontal lines used to lay on musical signs. In ancient music notation (before 11th century) the staff/stave may have any number of lines. (The plural of staff is staves.)
- System: Set of staves to be read simultaneously in a score.
See also →Operating System (OS)
- See →Slur
- A tune can be played in any tonality. There are many reasons to change the tonality of a score:
1. The tune is too low or too high for a singer.
2. The score is written for a C instrument and has to be played by a B Flat one.
3. The score is written for an orchestra and you want to imagine what the horn, the flute and the clarinet are playing.
4. A darker or a more brilliant sound is desired.
- In the first case all the orchestra will have to transpose, which is very difficult without professional musicians. MuseScore can do it very easily for you.
- In the second case the musician must play D when a C is written. If the score is written with a G 2nd Clef, he'll have to think that the staff begins with a C 3rd Clef.
- In the third case the conductor has to transpose all the staves which are not written for C instruments.
- In all cases the key signature must be mentally changed.
- On some instruments (Horns and Tubas for instance) the musicians transpose using alternative fingerings.
- Triplet (BE)
- See →Tuplet
- A tuplet divides its next higher note value by a number of notes other than given by the time signature. For example a →triplet divides the next higher note value into three parts, rather than two. Tuplets may be: →triplets, →duplets, →quintuplets, and other.
- The velocity property of a note controls how loudly the note is played. This usage of the term comes from MIDI synthesizers. On a keyboard instrument, it is the speed with which a key is pressed that controls its volume. The usual scale for velocity is 0 (silent) to 127 (maximum).
- Polyphonic instruments like Keyboards, Violins, or Drums need to write notes of different duration at the same time on the same →staff. To write such things each horizontal succession of notes has to be written on the →staff independently.
- In a repeated section of music, it is common for the last few measures of the section to differ. Markings called voltas are used to indicate how the section is to be ended each time. These markings are often referred to simply as →endings.