Two nagging usability issues and a wish

• Apr 17, 2021 - 09:57

HI Musescore folks,

These are not real bugs, I guess, but two obstacles to my personal workflow that I would like to put to discussion here:

  1. When I change the Instrument via "Staff properties ... > Change instrument ..." there is a complete reset involved of all mixer settings, volume, pan, and even the harmony channel (I use chord and chord playback quite often) ist reset, switching back to piano sound.

What I would expect to happen is that when I change the instument, I just change the instrument. Maybe that's too naive of me, it's not possible, because there are several aspects including clefs and what not. But what about mixer levels .. do they really need a complete reset?

  1. My 2nd issue is somewhat connected to the 1st issue - when such changes are done from a Part tab, not in the 1st main score tab, then they are processed, accepted by musescore, but they won't have any effect! Without notice. I this affects so much other settings as well.

My workflow: I have a main score, 7 to 8 staves, I breeak it down into parts, working of single parts, decide that I want something happening in that part, e.g. tune a note down 50ct via the inspector or change the instrument, and it can be done. But no effect in playback. Without any notice. Everything has been done correctly but it won't show up in playback! Then - darn! I'm in the parts tab, so I have to go to the main tab, repeat all the changes in that staff that I already did in the parts tab, and then finally, phew, now I can hear it in playback. Happens again and again to me because I am focused on the music that I'm writing and I forget about musescore itself, which is a good thing that a software tool let's you emerge in the work you're doing. And I can even insert new bars in a parts tab and they are reflected back in the main score.

These are my two issues. And my wish would be to be able to set a default chord playback instrument. I love the drawbar organ for chord playback.


For the first poiint, I'd say for me the majority of the time, I do want separate mixer levels. After all, the only reason to be fiddling with levels is to improve the balance based on the specific sounds used, so as soon as you change instruments - which normally means changing sounds - you need a new balance. Just because the sound of the first instrument you used was too loud by default so you need to turn it down (I'm talking to you, trombones!), doesn't mean the next one will be. Only exception is when changing between instruments that use the same sound, like say from Bb to C trumpet. But that's probably a minority in the world of instrument changes.

Still, given you likely will need to change the balance anyhow, probably wouldn't hurt to default to the previous settings. Or even, have the logic check if a new sound is involved, and only reset if so.

Maybe, though, you are using change instrument in cases where you actually did only want to change the sound? In which case, why not do that in the Mixer directly instead?

If you attach a score and explain what you are trying to do in more detail we may be able to assist further.

Regarding the second issue, yes, it's known that changes to instrument made after the parts are generated don't work as expected. The reasons are complex, and hopefully someday we can take another look at that, but for now, just keep in mind if you for some reason decide to change instruments after generating parts, you'll generally need to regenerate that part. Corollary - it pays to not bother generating parts until you are essentially done with these sorts of major structural changes to your score.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you, Marc, for your in-depth comment. Usually, every instrument is too loud when you have more than 2 oder 3 ... so I would like to start from where I left and not from point zero ... up that's up to personal taste and not a good argument about how it all should work.

And you're right, it's possible to change the sound from the mixer view and sometimes I just do that. It's more of a general observation and not tied to any specific score I wrote ...

"Corollary - it pays to not bother generating parts until you are essentially done with these sorts of major structural changes to your score."

That's completely different to the way I use parts, I have to admit :) As I said I use parts to isolate and tweak staff sections of the score - just the brass, just the strings or lead voice and bass only to hear and also see only them next to each other. In the beginning, I turned on and off staves via the Edit > Intrument Panel, but I discovered parts as sort of a lens that I can keep coming back to. So it became a composing tool comparable to sectional rehearsals of an orchestra.

So I use parts for something they are not designed for, but I think it's a neat way to use them. And in the end, yesss, I use parts to create the excerpts for the sections, too ....

BTW, I keep testing harmonies with different sampled sounds to make sure they will probably sound like intended in real-life. Because all samples are artificial, I guess, some harmonies work with a certain sample but sound awful with others. The sample may disguise some flaws of the composition - or the harmony is just fine but the sample cannot produce it in a satisfying way in that particular context. I am generally confident my ideas will work in real-life when the piece works sufficiently well with various samples.

What about that default chord playback instrument? Maybe that would make a nice little feature? ;)

In reply to by The Tango Guy

You bring up some interesting points. For example, do we write what we know to work, or do we write to our samples. We know that any notation software is only intended to give us an idea of the final product. And to produce parts for real players. Even professional composers will produce something, and then go back and change things after a live rehearsal. Working with samples brings with it a host of problems. Certainly a particular flute might sound odd with a certain clarinet in some passages. But the added problem here is differences in playback devices. I work in headphones, mostly. I can't tell you how many times I've got something "just right", only to have it sound not quite right through speakers or some kind of sound system.

I'm trying to follow your method of using parts. I think I understand it, but it seems complicated. I write for small orchestra. If I want to hear the flute and clarinet together, I solo them in the Mixer. I can see and hear them together as well as seeing (but not hearing)what else is happening in the score. I normally add dynamic markings to the score as I go along. If I want to change the flute sample, I do so in the mixer. All the mixer settings stay the same. As I understand the parts method to do the same thing (I might not understand it) I would need to create a new part that consists of the flute and clarinet. I can then play this new part. Because this is a new part, I'm not surprised that changes to it are not reflected in the score or playback. But I might have missed something.

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