does it matter if musescore sheet music has a lot of minus and plus marks

• Jun 16, 2021 - 21:08

I have produced a lead sheet that plays back perfectly, but the written notation is incorrect with many many minus and plus marks above the measures. Since it is only for vocalists to use, and the playback is accurate, then does it matter that it is full of technical errors? For example, would a publisher find the lead sheet to be substandard?


In reply to by Jm6stringer

Thanks for the welcome.
Okay, substandard I can live with, but can a bunch of singers follow the correct Musescore playback provided and thereby get the job done in a professional way? (I'm not familiar with the needs of choral groups or backup singers. Would said singers balk at mistakes in the musical composition if their singing parts are heard accurately?) I really don't want to start from scratch or put in the hours to correct what I've improperly written, but I will do it all over if I have to (those darned minus and plus marks!). Any experience with this predicament would be of great interest. Thanks.

In reply to by rinklebee

The + and - signs mean you have more (+) or fewer (-) beats in the measure than are indicated by the time signature. I guess you have been using the insert input mode (see It is much better to use the step time mode (see which automatically maintains the correct number of beats in a measure. Having the wrong number of beats in measures is going to confuse and probably irritate any competent musician trying to read your score.

If you are new to MuseScore I recommend that you skim through the handbook from top to bottom ( at least once to get a grip on the basics and to know that there are lots of less basic things you can do if you need them. You probably won't need most of the less basic things but it is nice to know they are there and that the handbook tells you how to do them.

Having read the important bits of the handbook, it is probably going to be a good learning exercise to re-do your score from scratch rather than try to fix what you have already done. But if you want to take the latter option you may want to attach your score here (the .mscz file) so that more experienced users can help you sort out the mess.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Thanks for the response. Yes, I jumped right into the water without a clue how to swim. Just dog-paddled my way into the deep end. The key thing that dragged me under seems to be, as you said, not using the step time mode. So, do you think I can salvage what I've done, the playback being good, by exporting that .mscz file to MIDI format and then opening that in Musescore--can it be opened in step time mode so the note input, etc. would be correct? Do you know if such setting up the step time mode to open a MIDI file can be done?

In reply to by rinklebee

@rinklebee... You wrote:
I really don't want to start from scratch or put in the hours to correct what I've improperly written...

That's why it's best to post your score.

You say the playback is accurate, so the fix may be as simple as copy/pasting everything into a new blank score to re-flow the notes and fill the measures as per the (hopefully correct) time signature.
Without seeing the score we cannot tell whether it contains section(s) with different time signatures, or tuplets, or pickup measure(s) -- things which can complicate the 'simple fix'.


If you really want to be helped then post your score here as already asked several times.
Without that we can only give vague and general advices that won't mean much for you as you are new to MuseScore and music notation in general.
As mentioned in previous posts, the fix for your score may be very easy if we have a bit of luck, but we can only check that and show you how to do it with your score.

Assuming the piece really stays in one time signature, and you really do have ll the right now with the right durations but the measure lengths are all off so the barlines are falling in the wrong places, this will indeed be virtually impossible for anyone to read - people will expect to be able to count to 4 (or 3 or whatever) every measure and have beat one always line up as expected.

The simple solution here could be create a new score with the correct time signature and then copy and paste from the old to the new. And in the future, don't use insert mode or delete beats from measures, just enter music normally in step time left to right.

If you have trouble, then as others have suggested, please attach your score so we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi, Thanks for the help. You said, "The simple solution here could be create a new score with the correct time signature and then copy and paste from the old to the new." What would I copy and paste? Are you saying to find sections which do conform to the time signature and have the right durations and to copy those and paste them into the new score? Incidentally, as I opened the MIDI version to try to salvage what work I had done I saw that there are many different time signatures--an attempt by Musescore to put correct order on the MIDI input.
I won't waste more of anyone's time, but I will close by saying I'm going to try to put barlines in the right places. I have a sneaking suspicion that this won't work, or if I could make it work it would take as much time and effort as it would to just start over and "And in the future, don't use insert mode or delete beats from measures, just enter music normally in step time left to right." Last thing--Musescore is awesome. I feel like a kid playing a video game--totally absorbing and fun, and I say this even as I realize I bollocksed it all up from the beginning.

In reply to by rinklebee

Assuming you entered all the notes correctly, then you copy and paste all the notes (i.e., Ctrl_A to select all, Ctrl+C to copy, then Ctrl+V in the new score to paste). If you entered only some notes correctly, then only the copy the good notes. Again, without the score, we can only give very general advice.

You will find that trying to put barlines in the right places will work if you count everything perfectly, and also delete the ones are now in the wrong place. This will take much, much, much longer than what I suggested, and will be much, much, much more error prone. But could be interesting. Definitely save a copy of of your score to recover from in case you accidentally make matters worse!

If the MIDI file had time signature changes, MuseScore honors them. If the piece itself doesn't actually have time signature changes, then it sounds like it wasn't a very good MIDI file and probably not worth starting with. In general, it's usually better to enter things yourself where possible, you'll usually get a readable score in less time.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Ah. Then in that case the MIDI file is correct - well, a correct representation of an incorrect score. As other have said, MIDI would not be the way out here, it would only make matters worse.

Copy/paste will most likely do the job, but only if the score is supposed to be all one time signature and the notes themselves all correct in terms of the timing.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Okay, to be clear, I copied the score which was marked up with minus and plus marks, not the MIDI file. I pasted that original (not the MIDI file) and got the miraculous results. For Musescore to be able to reassemble the score correctly, well, I still haven't gotten over the amazement.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I hesitate to make the claim of miracle until I have reviewed note duration and rest symbols and count out the beats in the measures that resulted from taking your suggestion to copy and paste into a new "treble clef" blank score, but I now am shouting Miracle. Why/how did this correct my erroneous score? I mean there are a few things which didn't transfer, but the minus and plus marks are gone, and the measures look right to this beginner. Thank you so much. Best, Jim

In reply to by rinklebee

Glad it's working! No miracle, really, it's a bit of common sense if you know how MuseScore works. Consider, pretend the letters below are quarter notes:

A B C D | E F | G H I J K L | M N O | P | Q R S T | U V W X Y | Z

Assuming you wanted all quarter notes, that will sound just fine, but the barlines are in the wrong places - you have measures of 3, 2, 6, 3, 1, 4, 5, and 1 beats instead of a consistent 4 beats per measure. So by creating a new score, it will have 4 beats per measure, and when you copy that same string of letters in, they will still be the same timing but now the barlines are in the right places:

A B C D | E F G H | I J K L | M N O P | Q R S T | U V W X | Y Z

That's because copies/paste copies notes & rests and ignores details of measures like number of beats in each, or other details. Sometimes people wish there was a way to copy that other stuff, but here, it's exactly what you want.

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