MuseScore allows you to choose from any of several note input modes. Step-time (see below) is the default, but others can be accessed by clicking the small dropdown arrow next to the note entry button on the note input toolbar.
This is the default method of note input and involves entering notes one at a time: first by selecting a note duration using the mouse or keyboard, then choosing a pitch using the mouse, keyboard, MIDI keyboard or virtual piano.
For details see Basic note entry.
Re-pitch mode allows you to correct the pitches of a sequence of notes while leaving their durations unchanged (not to be confused with Accidental: Respell pitches).
You can also use the Re-pitch function to create a new passage from an existing one of the same sequence of durations—by copying and pasting the latter, then applying Re-pitch.
Rhythm mode allows you to enter durations with a single keypress. Combining Rhythm and Re-pitch modes makes for a very efficient method of note entry.
The Real-time modes basically allow you to perform the piece on a MIDI keyboard (or MuseScore's virtual piano keyboard) and have the notation added for you. However, you should be aware of the following limitations which currently apply:
However, these restrictions mean that MuseScore has very little guessing to do when working out how your input should be notated, which helps to keep the Real-time modes accurate.
In the automatic version of Real-time input, you play at a fixed tempo indicated by a metronome click. You can adjust the tempo by changing the delay between clicks from the menu: Edit → Preferences... → Note Input (Mac: MuseScore → Preferences... → Note Input).
The score stops advancing as soon as you release the key. If you want the score to continue advancing (e.g. to allow you to enter rests) then you can use the Real-time Advance shortcut to start the metronome.
In the manual version of Real-time input, you have to indicate your input tempo by tapping on a key or pedal, but you can play at any speed you like and it doesn't have to be constant. The default key for setting the tempo (called "Real-time Advance") is Enter on the numeric keypad (Mac: fn+Return), but it is highly recommended that you change this to a MIDI key or MIDI pedal (see below).
The Real-time Advance shortcut is used to tap beats in manual Real-time mode, or to start the metronome clicks in automatic Real-time mode. It is called "Real-time Advance" because it causes the input position to move forward, or "advance", through the score.
The default key for Real-time Advance is Enter on the numeric keypad (Mac: fn+Return), but it is highly recommended that you assign this to a MIDI key or MIDI pedal via MuseScore's MIDI remote control. The MIDI remote control is available from the menu: Edit → Preferences... → Note Input (Mac: MuseScore → Preferences... → Note Input).
Alternatively, if you have a USB footswitch or computer pedal which can simulate keyboard keys, you could set it to simulate Enter on the numeric keypad.
When the notes are entered they will be placed just before the selected starting element, which will be highlighted with a square blue marker. The start element and any subsequent notes or rests within the same measure will be shifted forward. You can move the insertion point forward and backward using the arrow keys → or ←, and the new insertion point will then be highlighted.
Insert Input mode (called Timewise in versions prior to 3.0.2) allows you to insert and delete notes and rests within measures, automatically shifting subsequent music forwards or backwards. Measure duration is automatically updated as you go.
Alternatively, if you have only one or two notes to insert, you may prefer to use a shortcut:
If, at any time, the total duration of the notes and rests within the measure does not match the time signature, a small + or - sign will be shown above the measure.
See also: Remove selected range (Tools).
To leave Note Input mode, click on the Note Input tool button, press N, or press Esc. This puts you in Normal mode, in which you can change durations and delete notes or rests as follows: