Articulations and playback

• Aug 5, 2009 - 18:49

First of all I want to thank you for the great software - MuseScore is really brilliant!
Now, I've noticed that there is no easy way to insert into score specific articulations, like: pizzicato (pizz.), arco, tremolo, con sordino. The current way is a bit complicated, and what is more important it does affect playback only if you declare it.
You have to define each of these markings separately ( for example: Create>Text>Staff Text, and then Staff Text Properties>Chanel> pizzicato, ooff!! ). I think it would be very useful to have pre-defined markings, which could trigger the proper sound, and could be easily accesible from the Palette - the best place for it is: Palette > Articulation, I think.
There is also similar problem with tremolo markings (lines across stems) from Palette>Tremolo - it does not affect playback.
I hope that is possible!
Once more, thank you for your work and all the best !


I'd love to have this as well! I'd also assume that it would be placed in Articulations and Ornaments, although once you start adding all the various types, it could get pretty crowded. Notion creates "special" groups for instrument classes. For example:

  • Strings
    • pizz.
    • arco
    • sul pont.
    • sul tasto
    • col legno
    • behind bridge
    • harp tuning
  • Woodwinds
    • fluttertongue
    • sub-tone
    • key slaps
    • tongue slaps
  • Brass
  • Guitar
  • Percussion
  • Drum Set
  • Mallets

Additionally, since the pizzicato option is already in the Staff Text, it would be nice if there were perhaps a user definable way of getting to this. For example, typing pizz might automatically trigger the pizzicato articulation, instead of having to do the work twice, by first setting the text, and then setting the action.

Is it possible to export these articulations? They don't seem to do anything when exported to MIDI. I'm not sure what the MIDI Action is intended to do - it seems to be a placeholder at this point.

I've got GPO4, which supports a variety of instrument articulations. For example, there is a "Violin 1 Solo" and a "Violin 1 Pizz Solo". However, it's much more convenient to be able to trigger these through MIDI key switches. For example, there is also a "Violin 1 Solo KS" which supports the articulations:

  • Sustain
  • Sustain Mute
  • Auto Alternate
  • Upbows
  • Downbows
  • Pizzicato
  • Tremolo Mute
  • Tremolo
  • 1/2 Step Trill Mutes
  • 1/2 Step Trills
  • Whole Step Trill Mutes
  • Whole Step Trills

These are triggered by sending a MIDI key event before the note to be played. Once MuseScore has support for MIDI Actions, I assume that it should be possible to automate this.

However, since I can't use GPO4 for playback within MuseScore, I'd like to be able to hear those articulations via SoundFont playback, and then be able to export using GPO4 mappings.

There are also a number of "custom" SoundFonts that don't map to the GM standard. For example, squidfont_orchestral.sf2 supports a number of articulations (legato, detache, tremolo, pizzicato, con sordino). It's not clear to me how to set up these mappings in MuseScore. Is the channel going to be user definable?

Finally, while a SoundFont such as squidfont_orchestral may be useful for orchestral music, is it possible to associate a SoundFont with a particular MuseScore file instead of having to change it globally each time? I understand that this may cause problems when moving a file from one machine to another, but MuseScore could check if the "custom" SoundFont was available, and if not, fall back to the global instead (along with a warning that the SoundFont was not found).

Edit: I see that the latest bleeding edge has Jack support under Windows. Cool! I fiddled with it some time and got a routing path that should have made sense, but no joy. So I'll second the comment elsewhere that builtin VSTi support would be great, and wait for the next release (and documentation) before fiddling with Jack stuff.

In reply to by David Bolton

Thanks for your response, but I'm not sure how it addresses any of my questions. I thought I had posted this in the Feature Request section.

Are you saying that MuseScore isn't planning on supporting anything other than the General MIDI instrument set? I had seen discussion on possibly adding VSTi support to MuseScore, and thought the developers were open to other instruments sets.

Even if that's the case, not exporting MIDI pizzicato and tremolo channel changes seems like a bug to me.

In reply to by David Bolton

Hi, David.

I'm sorry - I'm doing a terrible job communicating this.

I'm aware that MScore supports pizzicato and tremolo for GM. Note that, at the top of this thread, perotinus describes how to do this. This works correctly for me. This is not the issue I'm trying to address.

Based on what I'm reading in the Mid-staff change instructions that you've provided, I can only change to one of the three articulations hard coded to the GM set.

That's fine if I'm working with GM, but what if the SoundFont I'd like to use isn't mapped to GM? In my prior example, squidfont_orchestral.sf2 is an excellent SoundFont for orchestral sounds, but is not mapped to GM. That's because GM doesn't have a mapping for stacatto flute, for example.

So my request is: Could MScore allow mappings to other instrument sets other than GM? Obviously, this mapping would have to be user defined.

Along those lines, GPO also has many articulations which are not supported by GM. It seems like MIDI Actions would be a way to accomplish this. Since I can't find any documentation on this, I don't know what the developers have planned for that feature.

Also, I noted that the MIDI export does not appear to export channel changes for articulations. That is, if I select pizzicato for the strings, the exported MIDI file does not play back pizzicato.

Did that make sense?

I probly not understand the technical texts here writed about sound fonts, but I'd like say this: Articulations I know as legato, accent, portamento, staccato, tenuto and so on. Arpegio, pizzicato, frulato, spiccato, martellato, sul tasto, slap and others are techniques and con sordino, leslee, coll legno, una corda, mixtura, etc. are tembres. Tembres and techniques are specific (articulations not) for instrument and if you use them for different instrument you may get different efect. They are sound colors specifical for each instrument and players (or inventors) may discover new and new ones.

So it would be useful to have the group of techniques and tembres for each instrument separetely to choosing more easily (less number), to can have specifical sound effect or font setting (may choose near from general midi of create its own font), to can create new ones, and to can share them way actualizations (allso sharing fonts).


In addition to the features mentioned above, if future editions could include symbols for a "Ritardando" ("rit." is shorthand and works nicely in most music scores) as well as a "Grand Pause" symbol, that would be excellent! The grand pause is a symbol that has combined meaning for both a fermata with a break (or breath) after it. For now, I can use a fermata and a breath mark, but when I decide to start publishing, I'll need issues like these to have been addressed. Granted, we're talking some time away (by which I trust that this program, given it's current rate of updating, should be able to handle these things), so I'm not worried about it. Just throwing it out as a suggestion.

In regards to the ritardando marking, you don't need to set it so that it affects playback- though you could set up a dialog box that would allow a user to effect a tempo a certain number of beats per minute over the course of a specified number of measures (current versions of Finale do this)- but it is not necessary, unless trying to send a publisher a wave file format of a piece of music for quicker ease of access (publishers are often VERY behind on reviewing pieces sent to them, and are much more likely to review something that is sent to them in the form of both sheet music and a sound file, as it makes for much easier reviewing). This is where more MIDI options would be helpful, too. But, I recognize that all these things take time- hence why I'm throwing it out there for your guys' considerations.

Thanks so much for the hard work that has been put into this, already!!

I have done a bit of work with soundfonts (really only the arranging of presents with a program called Viena* [different program than Vienna]). I have found that the General Midi mapping** only allows for a minimum number of added articulations (etc). What I mean is that UNLESS I add presents to the soundfont bank (which I have done***) the only sounds/presents in a General Midi soundfont that Musescore could map to would be, of course, pizzicato and tremolo strings, and muted trumpet.
If we would ever wanted to add any more in the SAME STYLE**** as we now do through midi channeling then we would have to come up with a new soundfont code other than General Midi and map Musescore to that instead (or at least have the option to choose which method).
It would be rather nice if a solution could be found to make it possible to easily and correctly add more and better sounds over the course of time without rewriting the whole code.
AN OPEN SOURCE SOUNDFONT!!! :D (Striving for professionalism, of course, though.)
Like maybe have the present numbers of the sounds broken up into expandable categories.
A highly organized and official soundfont could have endless expansion possibilities! Maybe even Lyric-to-Speech vocals!
Maybe someone should start an open source soundfont and code developing website and a way to easily integrate into Musescore.
What do you think!?!

PS. I think Musescore is really progressing fast and well and somehow or other these features will come in, and then Musescore will be all the more a powerful and useful of a composing tool.


*** and then used Musescore's Mixer to play the assigned sounds instead of the default sounds)
**** as stated above "Create>Text>Staff Text, and then Staff Text Properties>Chanel> pizzicato"

In reply to by chen lung

Hi, I stumbled upon a Lilypond tool that handles articulations, while googling around. I don't use Lilypond, but I'd imagine it would be great to port this to MuseScore, which I use. Now I'm tempted to export to Lilypond and use NICTA articulate. (with before and after MIDI samples)

This would save a lot of time for the MIDI orchestrator. I've read that Finale + Garritan does something similar, but they are beyond the budget of a hobbyist musician like me.


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