Articulations and ornaments

Updated 5 days ago

    A comprehensive set of symbols can be found in the Articulations palette in the Advanced workspace:

    Articulations

    and the Ornaments palette (Advanced workspace):

    Ornaments

    There is also an abbreviated version of Articulations palette in the Basic workspace.

    Articulations in Basic Worksapce

    Articulations

    Articulations are the symbols added to the score to show how a note or chord is to be played. The principal symbols in this group are:

    • Fermatas
    • Accents (>)
    • Staccato and variations—including mezzo-staccato (portato), staccatissimo.
    • Tenuto
    • Marcato (^)

    Specialist articulations are also included for bowed and plucked strings, wind instruments etc.

    Ornaments

    Ornaments include:

    • Mordents, Inverted Mordents, Pralltrills
    • Trills
    • Turns
    • Bends

    Note: Appoggiaturas and acciaccaturas can be found in the Grace Notes palette.

    Add articulation/ornament

    Use either of the following methods:

    • Select a note or a range of notes, then click a symbol in a palette (double-click in versions prior to 3.4).
    • Drag a symbol from a palette onto a notehead.

    Add accidental to an ornament

    To apply an accidental to an existing ornament, such as a trill:

    1. Select the note to which the ornament is attached;
    2. Open the Symbols section of the Master palette;
    3. Search for and apply the desired accidental to the score (small accidentals can be found using the search term "figured bass");
    4. Drag the accidental into position (or reposition using keyboard shortcuts or the Inspector).

    Add fermata to a barline

    Use one of the following methods:

    • Select a barline, then click a fermata symbol in a palette (double-click in versions prior to 3.4).
    • Drag a fermata symbol from a palette onto a barline in the score.

    Note: This does not affect playback.

    Keyboard shortcuts

    • Toggle Staccato: Shift+S
    • Toggle Tenuto(): Shift+N
    • Toggle Accent(>): Shift+V
    • Toggle Marcato(^): Shift+O
    • Add Acciaccatura (grace note): /

    Keyboard shortcuts can be customized in MuseScore's Preferences.

    Adjust position

    Immediately after adding an articulation or ornament from a palette, the symbol is automatically selected: It can then be moved up or down from the keyboard as follows:

    • Press up/down arrow keys for fine positioning (0.1 sp at a time);
    • Press Ctrl+ or Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+ or Cmd+) for larger vertical adjustments (1 sp at a time).
    • To flip a symbol to the other side of the note (where applicable), select it and press X.

    To enable adjustments in all directions from the keyboard:

    1. Enter Edit mode on the symbol;
    2. Press arrow keys for fine positioning (0.1 sp at a time); or press Ctrl+Arrow (Mac: Cmd+Arrow) for larger adjustments (1 sp at a time).

    You can also change the horizontal and vertical offset values in the Inspector. To position more than one symbol at a time, select the desired symbols and adjust the offset values in the Inspector.

    Note: The symbol can also be repositioned by clicking and dragging, but for more precise control, use the methods above.

    Articulation and ornament properties

    For Fermatas, see Fermatas section in Tempo for their properties and effect on playback.
    These can be edited from the Articulation section of the Inspector and may include:

    • Placement: Above or below the staff.
    • Direction: Auto / Up / Down.
    • Anchor: Adjust the vertical placement of the symbol.
    • Time stretch: Obsolete. Use Fermatas section of Inspector instead
    • Ornament style: Default or Baroque.
    • Play: Turn playback on or off.

    For Bend properties, see Bends.

    You can find additional global style settings for articulations and ornaments under Articulations, Ornaments.

    Playback

    Playback of note affected by articulation symbols varies among instruments, the general effect:

    • Staccato : shorter
    • Tenuto(): longer (no effect on Strings eg violins)
    • Marcato (^) : louder and shorter
    • Accent (>) : louder (louder than using a Marcato) and longer (no duration extension effect on Strings eg violins)

    To find out the effect of each instrument, save your score as .mscx, open it as plaintext, find <Articulation> and its <velocity> and <gateTime> values. see <Articulation name="sforzato"> for accent (>) symbol

    To achieve your desired playback, either:

    • inside Musescore: add multiple symbols, toggle their Play and Visible properties. You can also set the note itself's Velocity and Velocity type properties, or
    • edit per instrument settings in your saved file: save your score as .mscx, open it as plaintext and edit the instrument articulation definitions. These modifications do not affect new instruments added later, or
    • edit default settings in instrument.xml affecting new instruments.

    See this battle between jazz and classical musicians on the forum for more details.

    See also

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