Very low volume to begin a string note

• Jul 1, 2022 - 19:18

Hi. being new to music, I am inquiring if there exists in one of the MuseScore menus, a character or icon or tool to tell the score to play a strings note quietly to start, then increase the volume mid-way through the note? For example:
Screenshot 2022-07-01 141209.png

The above is a violin B note that starts off soft (pp) and swells in volume for the 2nd half of the measure (mp). I made it two half notes because I don't know what else to do to get the note to start off quietly and swell in volume by mid-measure. Is there some tool in MuseScore I can annotate this note with, that will do the same thing so I can use a whole note, not 2 half notes?


If you want to micro-manage performance to that degree then you have to make the notation as detailed as your example. You could not expect a human player to swell to mp mid note unless you are there in person to explain what you want or make the notation convey that explicitly. So to get the swell to stop after a half note and continue at that level for another half note you will need the two tied notes as you have them. If you are prepared to leave it to the player's discretion then a hairpin over a whole note will suffice.

You could of course notate to get the playback you want in an unused voice or even a separate stave and make that invisible but have the notation you want to present in a visible but silent voice or stave.

In reply to by SteveBlower

I see. My problem is that I use the MuseScore mixer to play my songs, and without inserting two notes with a hairpin and different velocities between them, the mixer does not sound the note the way I would like. That's why I asked if there is some automatic character I could insert. If not, fine, but if there is such a character built-in to MuseScore, I wanted to learn of it.

In reply to by fsgregs

Can you explain what it is doing differently than you want? A whole note with a simple pp below it and an mp after it, with a crescendo also, should do this exactly. Unless you are wanting something else other than the standard normal crescendo. If so, you'd have to explain the special request in more detail. Or if you are saying you aren't getting the basic simple crescendo you are asking for, you'd have to attach your actual score in order for anyone to say what has gone wrong.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Since whole notes replace all other notes and rests and is the only character in a measure, there is nothing in a measure to attached both a pp, & an MP to and a hairpin to. For example, if I attempt to attach TWO dynamics to the same note, it doesn't work. This for example, does not work:

Screenshot 2022-07-01 160508.png

But this does:

Screenshot 2022-07-01 141209.png

Am I missing something, or is using two half notes (with or without a hairpin) the only way to get a note to increase in volume (swell) midway through the measure?

In reply to by fsgregs

Normally in music notation, the end dynamic goes on the next note. So in this case,e the first note of the next measure.

If there is no next note (e.g., this is the end of the piece, or it's followed by a rest), then instead, you can add the dynamic directly to the hairpin (e.g., select hairpin, click desired dynamic in palette), and use the Inspector to set the desired velocity change on the hairpin. For instance, since pp defaults to 33 and mp to 64, a change of 31 gives that effect.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Got it. I am going to assume I can enter a starting dynamic on a whole note, then enter a hairpin attached to the same note, then edit the velocity of the hairpin to add volume so that by the next measure, the next note in the measure has that new velocity. I understand. Thanks as always.


In reply to by fsgregs

Again, if there is a note in the next measure, then don't do any of that - just attach the end dynamic to that next note and be done with it. This is the usual way music has been notated for centuries, no reason to invent something new here.

As I said, only if there is no next note would you need to mess with the manual method.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc: The 1st note of measure 2 also starts out quietly, I can't just post an MP dynamic to it. It begins with a pp dynamic also, so ...

Here is what I did, based on your suggestions. It works just fine now (the hairpin volume is set to 30). The 1/2 note in measure 3 plays at an mp dynamic of 72. note: (The pp+ is my way of annotating that the pp dynamic is not 32. I set it to 40)


In reply to by fsgregs

Well except that this doesn't mean much to a musician. They don't know what the "+" means. They don't know how loud to get. You may have something in particular in mind, but this doesn't say much about what that is. Dynamic marking are meant to be nebulous. A suggestion. Every group, every musician will play pp differently each time they play it. That's their job. To make music that fits the moment they are in. Otherwise they might as well be......a computer. As I have said, I write for playback. But i don't write things that a musician wouldn't get. and I don't do anything in the inspector or hidden voices.

In reply to by fsgregs

Understood. In that case you should go ahead and mark the end dynamic as if there were no next note, by selecting the hairpin and clicking the desired dynamic. Otherwise people will have no idea how loud to crescendo to - some might only go to mp, others might guess you mean ff.

And as noted, “pp+” means nothing to anyone. Choose either “pp” or “p”, or people won’t understand. It’s subjective anyhow - some peoples pp are already louder than others. You can’t expect to have that kind of control over the exact results with human musicians.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

To both you and Bob, thanks for the advice. I guess I will not use the "+" or "poco" with my dynamics if it doesn't help anyone. I will also add an mp dynamic to the note in measure 3. If I do, then I don't need to manually add a velocity change to the hairpin, since it will do it automatically ... right?

In reply to by fsgregs

"poco" and "molto" are acceptable universal terms and are more understandable than the "+" sign.
But I would like to warn you about one thing: There are people who are musicians and have never encountered the "mp" dynamic. So even "poco p" may not be understandable to the average musician.
For example, you will not find any dynamics in a leadsheet.
Or in some early classical works you won't find any dynamics other than "p", "mf" and "f". Despite this, these works are beautiful (even wonderful) works. And when you listen to a performance of these works, you can swear that you hear much more dynamic change. But these belong to the soloist or the director, they are not specified in the score.

Fine variations in velocity on dynamics are often used in midi sequencers to emulate human instrument playing. I have worked in studios for years. For example, although I can use 16 different velocity values ​​in just one measure on a drum or guitar track, the dynamic value in the score is not changed (fixed). So nothing about these settings is shown there.
Because it would be an oxymoron to imitate the human playing on the one hand, and to dictate it to the human on the other.

So have a normal score showing the baseline and the changes, and make one for yourself depending on how you want to hear it.

In reply to by fsgregs

No, as mentioned earlier, the automatic system for calculation hairpin velocity changes only works for the normal case of a dynamic on the next note. For the special case where you add a dynamic to the hairpin itself, it's actually just text - same as the text that appears in a volta or ottava marking, or the "cresc" that appears when using that version of a crescendo symbol. So you do still need to set the velocity change explicitly.

In reply to by bobjp

OK, so there is no special character used by musicians (in the MuseScore menus) to indicate a note should start off soft, then increase in volume, other than two dynamics, a hairpin and two half notes? For example, a
"cresc .........." entered above a whole note would not work on a single whole note?

In reply to by fsgregs

To be clear: a simple "pp < mp" totally does what you are saying here - no need to mess with ties normally. Both human musicians and MuseScore will interpret that as a steady increase in volume from pp to mp over those four beats.

If you wish to hear something other than that - to crescendo more quickly then hold at mp, or to hold at pp then crescendo - then you use the ties. And both human musicians and MuseScore will understand.

You might get the sound you want over a whole note if you select the hairpin, scroll to the bottom of the Inspector panel, and change the "Dynamics method" drop-down to "ease out". This will swell the volume more at the beginning and less at the end, more of a gentle curve than your piecewise linear strategy.

I'm not actually aware of a corresponding visual to tell the performer about this, but a good player should do it instinctively if it's what the piece calls for.

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