Basic understanding of soundfonts and Musescore staff "Instruments"

• Jan 28, 2022 - 21:15

I am using Musescore 3.6.2 and have succeeded in a score creation process where I assign "Instruments" to staves and can hear those instruments playing the score through the "mixer" window and can then even export as an audio file with those same sounds--all without ANY external hardware like MIDI.

Wanting to augment some of the basic sounds I had at my disposal (which I assume are all derived from the default "MuseScore_General.sf3" soundfont?), I tried dabbling in adding additional 3rd -party soundfont files. I succeeded to the extent that I can, in fact, under the Mixer window, select a given staff instrument slider (like Electric Piano, say) and "Change Instrument" in the mixer to play a selection from the new soundfont file.

What is confusing is that I thought I would also be able to select a staff in the score and when requesting a "Change Instrument" from there, be able to choose among the "new" instruments from the added soundfont file. However, that does not seem to be the case. Is there something more I need to do, or am I misunderstanding the nature of Instrument assignments on staff lines versus what is available at the Mixer window?

Part 2 of my question is I started all this hoping to find a true stereo Fender Rhodes keyboard sound (which auto pans volume L to R as a real instrument can. I realize this was probably simple-minded thinking as--unless the soundfont instrument included a separate sample for EACH note in the range--polyphonic playback would probably produce a very strange panning effect with different notes in the range panning back and forth at different speeds. So my question is: is there another mechanism under Musescore (something like a "plugin") that could made to apply to an instrument at the "Mixer" stage that could add stereophonic effects like that to a given mixer feed?


Sounds are sounds, instruments are instruments. Each instrument has a default sound but is capable of making other sounds as well. The mixer is always the way to select which sounds goes with which instruments.

Regarding the panning, I'm not quite sure I understand, but probably what you want is to connect the MIDI output of MuseScore to DAW software that allows for that sort of fine-tuning of effects.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hmmm, OK, I guess I get that. However, that does lead to some strange behavior on sound assignments. For example, I sometimes employ "Change Instrument" within a single staff for effect (like changing from an oboe to a bassoon, say, when the pitch range of a part temporarily moves). In that case, the mixer fader is assigned to the original staff instrument ("oboe", in this example). Changing the "sound" for that mixer instrument does, indeed, alter the sound for notes within the staff where "oboe" is still the "Instrument", but when the staff part moves on to where I've pinned a "change Instrument" to bassoon, the bassoon sound still remains. There seems to be no way to alter the sound at the mixer for any "changed instrument" on a staff, is that right?

I realize I could make a whole separate staff just for one bar in a score instead of employing a "change instrument" on an existing (oboe) staff, but that seems to defeat the purpose (and simplicity) of using "change Instrument".
Again, if I'm simply missing something in how this works, by all means please do set me straight :-) Thanks much!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

FANTASTIC! I never even noticed those mixer strip expansion arrows before or at least never considered what they might do. I guess you guys really DO think of everything :-) Thanks so much for your patience and time educating me.

I'm at the point in my Musescore explorations that I'm excited about some of the new refinements and additions in the audio sections anticipated for Musescore 4 that I've read about. But I have to say--as one originally weaned on Musescore 2--that this whole Musescore thing has become a MONSTER of capabilities (in the best possible way :-)
I really appreciate what the team has built here over the years. Thanks so much to all the developers and system visionaries parsing what's likely been a million oddball ideas and requests from a world of musicians into a cohesive and effective set of musical tools!

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