How do I add a second (or third) instrument? (newbie question)

• Jun 4, 2021 - 03:13

I'm a complete MuseScore noob. I'm composing a piano trio in a DAW and using MuseScore to make the sheet music. I've written the first pass of the piano and exported a MIDI file; I imported it into Musescore and MuseScore did a great job outputting the score. (thanks!)

Now I'm doing the other instruments. By convention, in something like a piano trio, the pianist has a score which shows all three of the instruments, so that's what I want to make. But how do I do that? Do I export MIDI files for each instrument and then somehow MuseScore combines them and keeps all the measures lines up? What's the right process for this?

Thanks in advance.


If you are trying to do this within the DAW, you want a single MIDI file with all three instruments, then import that. If you are doing it within MuseScore, use Edit / Instruments to add instruments as mentioned, but note you can't import into this, so if you wish to compose with the DAW, you'd need to write for all three instruments together there. So the practice import you have already done would be nice as a proof of concept, but you won't be using that - you'll import again once you finish.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I don't understand either of these answers.
I can export separate MIDI files for each instrument. But how do I combine them into one score sheet? Your answer suggests that it can't be done in MuseScore.

In the DAW I'm using (FL Studio) each instrument is composed separately but in the same tool - called a Piano Roll. I can do a MIDI export from a piano roll but I don't know how multiple instruments are represented in the MIDI format (I'm a musician, not an engineer). So is that the way to do it?
Thanks for further clarification.

In reply to by pnartg

What I'm saying is, don't export separate MIDI files. That would be the haredest possible way to do it - hardest when composing in the DAW, hardest when exporting the MIDI from the DAW, and hardest to import into MuseScore. Far far easier to simply export one single MIDI file containing all three tracks from the DAW - after you've finished with all three parts. Trying anything else doubles or triples the amount of work required. It's possible, but why do it the three times harder way when the easier way is, well, easier? Just wait until you've done all three parts and export it/import all at once in one file,. the way MIDI is designed to work.

I'm assuming you are actually composing with three separate tracks within one project, BTW. If you were also further tripling your work by trying to creating three separate projects within the DAW, don't so that either - one project with three tracks, not three projects with one track each.

Actually, far far far easier to simply compose within MuseScore instead of going through the extra step of the DAW, if the main goal is to get readable notation. MIDI isn't designed for that. Composing in MIDI is possible but definitely a lot more work to get readable notation from unless you are extremely careful to work within the confines of how notation works, are careful to quantize, etc.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"I'm assuming you are actually composing with three separate tracks within one project,"

Yes, I'm composing it in separate instruments in the same project. So it sounds like the answer is to export a MIDI file from the DAW containing all the instruments.

"Actually, far far far easier to simply compose within MuseScore instead of going through the extra step of the DAW, if the main goal is to get readable notation."
I like composing in a DAW so I can hear what it sounds like as I'm going along.

In reply to by pnartg

That is what MIDI OUT is for. You can listen to your DAW instruments as you notate. Just turn down the master volume in the MSc mixer.

On the other hand, if you are recording MIDI into the DAW with a keyboard (which is the much more common way to compose these days from what I can tell) then it might be better to export an XML file to Musescore and then make corrections as needed.

In reply to by pnartg

You should be able to hear in MuseScore also, including using the DAW's sounds if you prefer those to the builtin sounds or to any other soundfonts you try.

What I mean about importing MIDI being a harder way to get readable notation is that that there are many details of notated music MIDI can't represent. So even if you go out of your way to only write things that are capable of being notated in a straightforward way - paying attention to note overlaps and how you use multiple voices, quantizing everything carefully, etc - there is still a lot of information that needs to be added in MuseScore, from really basic things like the spelling of accidentals to things like notating articulations and dynamics, etc. I'm not saying it's a method without value in some cases, but normally for most people, again, if the goal is notation, it's far easier to get good notation by entering it directly.

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