Plunger Mute, 2-Bar Repeat, and more Musical Symbols/Text fonts

• Nov 13, 2016 - 06:46

Let me just start by saying that Musescore's capability on a compositional level is fantastic. There's just so much that you can do, it's amazing how flexible it is and how much creative potential can come from it, I'd say that's it's better than both Finale and Sibelius when it comes to actually creating the sheet music. BUT, it does have its limitations.

A major limitation that it has is that there is no Plunger Mute option, this is one of my constant struggles as there are times that I want to create a nice slow Jazz Chart where the Trumpet leads with a Plunger Mute, yet that isn't a viable option. For me, playback is a very important part of creating a chart. I usually download better soundfonts than the ones given by Musescore as I can usually find higher quality sounds, but the Plunger Mute is not one of those. For the life of me, I just cannot find a Plunger Mute soundfont anywhere. Finale definitely triumphs over both Sibelius and Musescore when it comes to the audio capabilities due to its outstanding and unbeatable playback feature with a MASSIVE variety of options using realistic Garritan Sounds and Human Playback. Though, that is actually not a problem to me, I just really want a Plunger Mute implemented. I don't really know how possible it is for the Musescore team to implement a Plunger Mute as I don't really understand what the technical limitations are for the program, but it would be a major and much appreciated feature to implement.

Another limitation Musescore has is the lack of variety for the Musical Symbols and Text fonts. All Musescore has is Emmentaler, Bravura, and Gonville. This one really bugs me as I am mainly work with Jazz, so I generally want to have a handwritten look. There are lots of Jazz Font Sets out there that both Finale and Sibelius use, but what I mainly want though is the Jazz Font Set (Yeah, that's literally what it's called). Here's a link to what the font looks like, if you don't know already: Jazz Font Set . Again, I don't know how possible this is, not on a technical standpoint, but rather a general standpoint.

This next one is actually very minor, though would be appreciated. 2-bar repeats. I can actually pull off a 2-bar repeat in Musescore already, though it requires a lot of unnecessary steps and tricky editing/maneuvering. This is more of a request for convenience, so to me, this is just a minor thing.

In my opinion, Musescore is the superior choice when it comes to actually creating the sheet music, but there are some limitations to it that I wish could be implemented.


In reply to by Shoichi

That 2-bar repeat method is actually what I generally do, I was just requesting a more convenient way to do it. Again, that was just a minor request.

Interesting! I didn't actually know that they implemented the Jazz Font Set in the Nightly Builds already. I have an outdated Nightly Build from September that I have touched since I have been really trying to get some of my charts finished. That is very exciting to hear though.

Regarding the Plunger Mute, if you could provide a suitably licensed sample set then we can get it into MuseScore.

Suitable licences are Public Domain, MIT and CC0.

If you require guidance on recording processes, sample formats etc, let me know.

In reply to by SirArsen

Ideally the recording process should take place in a proper studio with an acoustically dead environment.

If this is not possible, you can record this in a living room with plenty of soft furnishings around to absorb ambient sound, and with a microphone booth setup with duvets or heavy curtains hung from clothes dryer frames isolating it from the main room. The goal being to provide as dry an acoustic space as possible to prevent natural room ambience from colouring the sound.

If possible the recording process should be done by someone with some knowledge of sound engineering, but if not, and you have plenty of time you can experiment with microphone placement etc.

The type of microphone used is pretty much down to personal preference, but it should not colour the sound too much - I wouldn't recommend a dynamic, although it could be OK for brass. The engineer on the recording session I recently did with a recorder player used two microphones - one a ribbon microphone and the other a standard condenser, which will be mixed together to produce the final samples. Something like the Samson Go Mic would be good, provided you can get a jitter free sound. I often have to resort to my Zoom H1 recorder to get clean samples to import into the computer - again if you have access to a Zoom recorder or similar that would be a good solution.

You then need to record every note on the instrument with every variation the mute can provide. The notes should be held for around 5 seconds so that there is enough to work with when finding loop points. Once you have done that you repeat the process with the different attacks to the notes you require. This time the notes can be shorter, as the attack section can be mixed with the long note (sustain) in the soundfont.

The process is quite stressful for the performer - playing isolated notes is not normally done unless you are working on basic technique, so you need someone around with production experience to tell them when to take a break.

Once you have a set of samples, make it available via Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or similar with a text file giving details of the licence you have chosen, and I will start work on getting it into MuseScore.

In reply to by SirArsen

Are Pedal Tones used a lot in Trumpet performance?

I normally associate pedal tones with the lower instruments in the brass section.

I would suggest using the usual playable chromatic range for a soloist which IIRC is written Middle C to C6 or a bit higher depending on the competency of the player.

If your friend can go higher, then all well and good.

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Thank you for your help. Pedal Tones are rarely used for Trumpets, as the Trombones usually take up those lower octaves. So yeah, I probably won't record them. I will however start from the G below Middle C, mainly because it'll be convenient if I ever have to block the Trumpet 4 part slightly lower than usual.

Plunger muted trumpet is not a standard General MIDI sound, that's why no standard soundfonts provide it. Presumably someone somewhere has create a soundfont with a plunger mute sound in it, so keep looking. I suspect the effect would be disappointing, though - the whole point with a plunger is you can get a wide range of sounds on a single note, and that's not really easily doable in the context of MIDI / soundfonts.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

If I'm being perfectly honest with you, I have spent roughly 20 hours in total over the course of 2 months just trying to find a soundfont with a Plunger Muted Trumpet, I just can't find it anywhere.

I'm actually interested in what ChurchOrganist said about recording a sample set myself, as I do have a friend that is a really good Trumpet player and would be able to record it with a studio microphone. Though, I am not too sure how to handle the technical aspect of making or putting it into an SF2 file, I just have no experience/knowledge on how to do that.

Edit: Oh wait, if I recorded it, then it would have to be in an SFZ file instead, right? Then I would insert that file into the Zerberus section of the Synthesizer instead of the Fluid section (which is for SF2s), right?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Good point, but I definitely know a workaround for that. It would require extra work on my side, but in the end it would still be possible.

My plan would be to record separate variations of the notes (such as extra growl, or opening/closing the Plunger mid-note), then use the "Change Instrument" text to switch to a different instrument, then go into the mixer and switch into a different variation. Then, all I would have to do is input the correct notation (+ and - signs or wah/ooh), and then turn the "Change Instrument" text invisible. It may seem like a lot of work when it comes to recording, but I feel like it would be worth it in the end.

In reply to by SirArsen

Instead of using Change Instrument all over the place (which will create tons of new mixer entries), you can create a custom instruments.xml file to specify different sounds for the trumpet,. much as is already one for muted versus open (or, on violin, arco versus pizz versus tremolo). Then there will always be the same fixed number channels and you can switch between them using staff text (which you'd probably want anyhow to add the marking to tell the person who will eventually play it what effect you want).

In reply to by SirArsen

You can create either an SFZ or an SF2.

SF2 creation requires special software for Windows there are two applications readily available. The Open Source Polyphone, and Kenneth Rundt's freeware Viena.

Both require a knowledge of soundfont structure to use successfully.

For SFZ you simply need a text editor - I use Notepad++ and have a set of language definitions for that which will produce syntax highlighting should you require that.

The only downside with SFZ is that the version of Zerberus included in MuseScore 2.0.3 is extremely limited in the opcodes it recognises, not even recognising loop points, so you would need to be using a Nightly Build in order to get the benefit of hpfmn's recent outstanding improvements.


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

But it is possible in SFZ, where you can control which sample is played on a note by means of a MIDI controller, and even change it mid-note.

SF2 is more limited, but you could achieve a lot by using velocity layers, set the instrument to sound at a set velocity and use the Expression controller for volume, and velocity to control which sample was played.

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