instrument implementation confusing

• Dec 4, 2015 - 14:19

Why is there one set of instruments under Edit->Instruments and another for Mixer? If you change the instrument in Mixer name does not change in score.??
Also Mixer hierarchy is somewhat strange, Ex: 'Synth Voice' under Trumpet?

Is this a MIDI copywrite issue?


There is a list of instruments you can use in a score and there is a list of sounds in the soundfon(s) you'd loaded.
In a GM (General MIDI) Soundfont there are 128 different sounds, there are however way more instruments in the world and in MuseScore, and some default mapping of one to the other. The Mixer allows to change that mapping

The list of instruments in the Mixer is defined by the General MIDI standard, we have no control over that. So that's why voice and trumpet are where they are in the list. But I don't understand what you mean about "hierarchy" - there is none, it's just a flat list. So synth voice isn't "under" trumpet in any sense. In fact, it appears *above* trumept in the list.

It is possible you are being confused by the fact that the trumpet instrument uses two different sounds in the mixer - one for the open sound, the other for the muted sound. It is possible the specific score you are looking at has used the Mixer to change one of those sounds from the default to instead use "Synth Voice". If so, that would be the chocie of whomever created that score; it's certainy not how MuseScore would have set it up by default. By default, the Trumpet instrument should use Trumpet for the open sound, Muted Trumpet for the muted sound.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

OK. New to MIDI. Since the Mixer app has a drop down menu under the original selected instrument that forms a hierarchy to me. If that is the general MIDI standard then I guess it will have to stay but if you are not familiar with it it is confusing. These are my scores so that is what I am concerned with. Getting the MIDI playback is a great feature just have to understand how it works. Not obvious to me.

In reply to by Mjmatthews51

OK, then think of this way:

At the top of the hierarchy is the Instrument. This defines the aspects of notation - how many staves and of what type, the name to display, what clef to use, what transposition to use, etc. Everything you'd need even if MuseScore had no playback capabilities at all. It is important to realzie MuseScore is first and formost about music notation, not about playback. So in fact most people would never ever need to even open the Mixer window - it is irrelevant to the main purpsoe of MsueScore, which is music notation.. If you want to hear your score played back with a different instrument, then presumably you *als* want all those other things changed too, so you would never ever open the Mixer - you would change the instrument, so you'd get the correct staff name, etc.

Now, the instrument *also* defines an initial sound (MIDI program number) to use for the instrument. For the vast majority of instruments, that's it - one instrument, one sound. However, if the instrument is capable of making multiple different typers of sounds that have standard MIDI program numbers, then the instrument defines separate "channels" for each sound. Basically, eg, trumpet has open and muted, violin has arco, pizzicato, and tremolo. The Mixer is what allows you to change the MIDI program(s) used for each channel the instrument defines. For msot instruments, that's just one sound, and again, you'd never ever need to change it. A clarient should use the clarinet MIDi progream, period. If you want a flute instead of a clarinet, you don't change it in the mixer - you should actually change the instrument to flute, or else the transposition will be wrong, as will the staff name, etc.

Basically, the Mixer you use only in extremely special cases. The Instruments window is your main way of ineteracting with your score unless you have some specialized need to use the Mixer, which 99% of people don't.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I might add that if you do want to change an instrument after the fact, you do that in the Staff Properties dialog (accessed by secondary-clicking on the instrument name or on an empty part of the staff). This will change part name and transposition as well as sound (which the Mixer won't).

@Mjmatthews51... Good post. Sorry I'm late to the party.

The topics of MIDI and score writing crop up often in the forums. Marc's reply of Dec.7 says a lot - it should be read more than once.

Here's my take...
In the beginning, MuseScore used only (MIDI) piano sounds for play back - as a sort of 'spell checker', even for scores containing multiple instruments. The primary goal was (and still is) creating printable scores, playable by human musicians. However, as time passed and the notation sophistication of MuseScore matured, increasing numbers of people began to request more realistic playback renderings of their compositions. Thus... the synthesizer, mixer, and soundfonts!

To alleviate any confusion, the mixer (really the synthesizer soundfont) should be associated more with 'sounds' rather than with the actual scored 'instruments'. After all, what kind of instrument is 'helicopter' or 'applause'? There is, as you noted, no consistent hierarchy in the mixer sounds list, even though a few instruments are roughly grouped together. Also, choosing an instrument - actually an instrument's 'sound' - in the mixer does not change the instrument selected for the (written) score.
(Check this out: Assuming you have the default FluidR3Mono_GM soundfont, try to find 'Mellow Yamaha Grand'. It's located right after 'Gun Shot'... nowhere near the other piano sounds located at the beginning of the list.)

In MuseScore, the 'go to' place for selecting score instruments is actually found in the main (more consistent hierarchy) Instruments list, accessed when creating a new score, or when adding/changing an instrument in an existing score. By using that list, MuseScore itself then employs the correct instrument name, pitch range, clef, etc. Also, a default playback sound is assigned from the synthesizer/mixer soundfont. As Marc wrote: " fact most people would never ever need to even open the Mixer window..."


There are some instances, that I've seen, for changing the playback sound(s). Here are a few examples:

- Choristers, for instance, can single out a specific SATB voice (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) by assigning a different sound from the mixer to the part they are interested in distinguishing from the others. (Helps with learning/practice.)

- Pianists can choose other than the default Yamaha Grand Piano. (Indeed, when 2.x was first released, some forum posters did not care for that particular piano sound, hence there's an added 'Mellow Yamaha Grand', among other piano sounds.)

- MuseScore's mid-staff timbral changes (normally used for violin - pizzicato, tremolo; or trumpet - mute) can be co-opted and used for an instrument like guitar. I attach a simple example (use FluidR3Mono_GM for playback).

Presently, though, the true choice lies between using performance playback software (i.e. MIDI sequencer) and/or score writer software, and that choice depends on the ultimate objective: a music sound track as the end product, and/or a published score.

MuseScore is primarily an excellent score writer, and it's playback capabilities have come a long way since the 'piano only' days.

Regards to all.

Attachment Size
Guitar_timbre_example.mscz 15.54 KB

I use my mouse and scroll wheel quite a bit to move around in my score. I don't use the mixer, or the playback much normally, but last week I did a little bit of "proof listening" and decided to open the mixer window to fix some balance problems I heard.
But as I listened to my score it actually got worse balance wise. After a while I realized I had accidentally changed the "sound/midi instrument" for some of my parts. My trombone 2 was playing some synth sound etc.

I then realized it is very easy to change the instrument by mistake, If I try to move around in the score by scrolling with the scroll wheel, and the mouse cursor/pointer happens to hover over the sound-choice-box, it will change this instrument/sound, instead of scrolling in the score.

I think this could be fixed by making it slightly more difficult to change the sound in the mixer. Perhaps a "change sound" button which you need to click, or similar.

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