Linked instruments (f. e. for basso continuo or colla parte)

• Jun 7, 2023 - 10:58

Hi forum, this is my first post here, so I hope I’ll do it correctly. Please excuse my not so good english; I could have posted in german but maybe this way I’ll reach more developers ;)

I’m currently composing and setting a cantata in Bach style and would like to have a nice playback while composing. This means in my case:

• The basso continuo part should have a cello (8’) and double bass (16’, i.e. ottava bassa) sound, maybe also cembalo (of course there is no automatic figured bass realization, but that’s not the main point here).
• A choral setting has Oboe I and Violin I play colla parte with Soprano etc.
• I can think of other unsion instrument combinations (f. e. all violins and maybe viola together as in BWV 80 2nd movement).

When I just set a completed composition, I can copy and paste from one instrument to another, but while composing it would be nice to have some sort of linked staves but not just for the same instrument (like staff and tablature notation for guitar) but across instruments. Ideally this would allow for octavation and one could make this link temporary so that one can change between movements/sections.

I’ve found this short thread from 2019 but since then not much seems to have happened:

Cheers, Malte


This is definitely a good idea. After more discussion here, as a consensus develops around how it might look, I would encourage you to open an issue on GitHub so the developers see it. This forum is a user forum, not a developer forum. But it's not generally good to open issues on GitHub until a user consensus develops around a potential feature or possible bug.

I’ve collected some thoughts about usage scenarios. Please comment if you know a scenario I haven’t thought of.

Usage scenarios for a whole piece or movement:
• Basso continuo
– nice playback by using several different instruments
– explicitly notated BC instruments like bassoon
– example: violoncello, bassoon, and double bass (the latter 8va bassa)
• instruments colla parte with choir or other instruments
– many examples in sacred baroque and classical music
• “ossia” parts for alternative instruments
– replacements for rare instruments (oboe instead of oboe d’amore, …)
– differently transposing instruments (clarinets, trumpets, …)

Usage scenarios for short sections of a piece:
• IMO linking movements marked by MuseScore’s section breaks would definitely be necessary so you can link instruments differently in different movements.
• Depending on what “short” means you’ll find unison instruments everywhere in orchestral and ensemble music. I think that whole movements in unison are rare after 1800 AD but sections lasting dozens of measures are probably more common. Is it worth the effort of making linking possible for “shorter than whole movement” sections?
• It might be necessary to make exceptions from exact linking/copying.
– example: instrumental intro before linking with choir
– example: different ambitus (4-stringed double bass vs. cello, oboe vs. oboe d’amore, sopranos vs. basset horn as in the image below from Mozart’s Requiem)
Bildschirmfoto vom 2023-06-14 18-57-46.png

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