No Playback Sound for Melismatic Passages in Liszt Sonata B Minor XML files from and created from MuseScore

• Jan 5, 2021 - 22:56

Would you know why melismatic passages (such as MuseScore XML Liszt Sonata B Minor, m 200, 204, 355, etc.) have no playback sound when imported into other notation programs? The rest of the Sonata plays back beautifully in other notation programs, just not the melismatic measures. I've tried: 1) Removing visible formatting 2) Adjusting beams to reflect actual beats & removing tempo alterations settings 3) Also tried saving as midi file in notation programs & importing to a DAW -- but none of those solve the problem.

I uploaded both Liszt Sonata XML files, and here are the 2 web addresses for both:

Attachment Size
Sonata_in_B_Minor_S._178.mxl 254.58 KB
Piano_sonata_in_B_minor(1).mxl 270.65 KB


How did you make the .mxl files? Did you download them from or did you open the scores in version 3.5.2 and export them to mxl? I suspect the problem lies in downloading the mxl from since these files were made when they were originally uploaded. The first was created in v1.2 and the second in v2.1. If you open them in 3.5.2 and export from there you may get better results.

In reply to by mike320

1) No playback sound of cadenza measures EVEN IN MuseScore 3.5.2 itself, although notes all visible.
2) Exported from MuseScore 3.5.2 as compressed XML & also Midi to Finale. Again, no playback sound of cadenza measures of either XML export or midi export in Finale, although the cadenza notes were visible in both the MuseScore 3.5.2 and in the exported compressed XML in Finale.
3) Note: The cadenza notes were not even visible in the midi export in Finale – as was the case in Pro Tools before I contacted you.

Could it be that reducing note size in MuseScore initially by the two Liszt arrangers somehow compromised playback in those measures? I’ll look forward to hearing about solutions. In the meantime, I’ll just continuing re-notating those measures in Finale. Playback works perfectly then.

MuseScore is a very nice program for being free.

In reply to by Cloverdale

I don't know if the problem is with MuseScore or the other programs. I'm leaning toward the other programs. Perhaps @Leon Vinken who does most of the xml code for MuseScore has some insight. He mostly monitors the issue tracker but might see it if you start a new thread in the Bug report and support forum that includes [musicxml export] in the title so it will get his attention.

In reply to by mike320

I don't know if your 04:35 message is for me, but I would not know how to "start a new thread in the Bug report and support forum that includes [musicxml export] in the title." The XML files at the MuseScore site caught my eye about a week ago, and I've been listening to pieces since then, but that's all. However, I do have some additional thoughts on the "cadenza" playback issue:

As I re-notate the “cadenza” sections in the Liszt Sonata, I’m now thinking maybe the problem is actually or additionally related to beams not reflecting actual beats. How could any program play those improvisatory sections back correctly when many notes need, say, 64th beaming rather than 16th beaming? Maybe the program has no way to correctly read those sections?

***While I’m here, maybe I should mention another potential issue: Accidentals don’t always last through entire measures. For example, at (Rachmaninoff Op. 19, III), the final "A" in m. 24 sounds like an Ab instead of "A" natural, even though the accidental appears earlier in the measure. When listening to pieces at the MuseScore website, I hear lots of mistakes that could be due to accidentals not behaving properly. If MuseScore is more geared to 20th century+ music, then accidentals could be cancelled if an implied rest intervenes –and there does seem to be an implied rest in m. 24 of the Rachmaninoff. (Rachmaninoff didn't tie over the “A” accidental on beat 2.) Or, maybe the rests are there in MuseScore but hidden, and there is some other explanation for this.

In reply to by Cloverdale

To start a new thread go to and click add a new topic. You'll see where to put the title.

As for the accidentals, you are either hearing something that's not there (the sounds are made by a synthesizer which has been know to make weird sounds) or using a different soundfont. In m 24 of the Rachmaninoff piece, the Ab is in the key signature and the one on the first occurrence is a courtesy accidental because all of the A's in the previous measure are naturals. Accidentals in MuseScore follow expected rules for standard notation much to the chagrin of newbies who don't want an Ab on the second occurrence of an A in a measure after an accidental. We must teach them about standard notation.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks for your latest update. I'll leave this to interested others to take this to a higher level, since I've missed a deadline & am behind schedule in a major project. I can assure you that the final "A" in the Rachmaninoff is an erroneous Ab, even though the notator included the "A" natural accidental on beat 2. As a pianist, have performed that Rachmaninoff many times with cellists. Thanks so much.

In reply to by mike320

Okay and sorry that I pushed on something so easily correctable in my own downloaded copy. Did you see below that Kuwitt solved the playback issue in the Liszt cadenza sections and gave steps to correct? Turns out playback was disabled in MuseScore, probably because of the format of those older xml files.

In reply to by Cloverdale

I saw. It is very much releated to the fact that the scores were created in earlier versions of MuseScore. I thought that opening them in 3.5.2 might fix the problem but opening old scores in the current version doesn't automatically fix all problems created in older versions. I knew that when I played the scores in 3.5.2 they played all of the notes. There are many people in the forums more familiar with xml than I am and Kuwitt is one of those.

In reply to by mike320

Yes, maybe, but I hope you are aware that I did not mean to offend or embarrass anyone with my initial response after initially misreading your comment.

(To be clear maybe for other too: my misreading was, I stopped after: "There are many people in the forums more familiar with xml than I am and Kuwitt." And my first reaction was: "Too true." ;-).

Can you tell us which notes in particular you aren't hearing, and what other programs you tried? "Melisma" implies vocal music, but these are piano pieces, so I'm not understanding what you are talking about.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you for your quick reply.

By melismatic, I’m referring to rhapsodic, virtuosic measures so characteristic of Liszt, with many small notes per beat that sound free/unmetered and often appear in instrumental cadenzas. For instance, in the below example, there is no playback sound in those small notes in mm. 201 & 205-6, but the other notes and measures are perfect in playback. Please see those measures in the attachment.

Interestingly, in one test where I exported the XML as a midi file from Finale, and opened it in Pro Tools, only the opening Eb in m. 205 appears on a Pro Tools instrument track.. All the small "melismatic"-like notes are completely missing even though they were visibly present in the midi file.

As mentioned in my first post, I also tried removing tempo alteration settings & other settings and enlarging the notes, as well as adjusting beams to reflect actual beats – none of which worked.

I downloaded two Liszt Bm Sonatas from two different people, and the same problem occurred with both.

Attachment Size
Page from Liszt Sonata with mm.docx 1.09 MB

In reply to by Cloverdale

The behavior seems to occur by opening the file as musicxml file, no idea about the reason. With your attached file I selected a note, right click->select->all similar elements and unticked/ticked again the playback inside th inspector.
The behavior doesn't seem to occur by opening the mscz file and exporting this file with MuseScore.

Attachment Size
Sonata_in_B_Minor_S._178.mxl 263.87 KB

In reply to by kuwitt

The only two complete Liszt Bm Sonatas available for download are musicxml files, and I'd like to avoid having to correct disabled playback. How would one convert those to mscz files first and then open them in the latest MuseScore for export?

Then, in what format would I export that (with all playback enabled) into other notation programs (which might not open proprietary mscz files)?

I opened your corrected Sonata Bm directly into Finale, and all playback is enabled perfectly, but it was a corrected musicxml file.

Also, I noticed layers in your corrected attachment. Did you add those, or were they not visible because playback was disabled?

In reply to by Cloverdale

When you download the file you've the option to open it with MuseScore. Assuming, you've installed the latest stable version 3.5.2, select this option and export the musicxml file with the application again.
My best guess is that the provided musicxml file is from MuseScore 2.1. If I open it with MuseScore 2.1 the playback seems to be correct. But I assume, there were bugs of the export with this version - and therfore didn't work within other applications - but they're meanwhile fixed. But I'm not a professional concerning musicxml.

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