About Slurs playback

• Oct 2, 2017 - 19:54

Hi! In my choir, we use the apps for iPad and Android a lot, as well as computers for learning and remembering purposes.
I find it awkward that the slurs are not linked and played at all, while ties are. It is frustrating to see them treatened as regular plain notes.
I can imagine that there is a bit more programming to do to render them correctly, but not so much I could guess...
Beside this annoyance, almost all of the partitions details can be heard and used correctly for listening.

I suggest you make slurs rendering one of the priority for an upcoming minor version.

Thank you!

Dominic Richer


Proper playback of slurs is extremely unlikely in the next minor revision. The code changes for this would probably make previous 2.x versions not be able to open it and that will not happen. I suspect you will have to wait for version 3. If I'm wrong I'll celebrate with you!

In reply to by mike320

FWIW, I don't think there would likely be compatibility issues; it's more a question of the amount of effort it would take to re-tool the MIDI rendering engine to allow for this. Some work has been done already, but I doubt it's in a state that would be mergeable right now, and even if someone were to undertake the effort to make it usable, I doubt they'd be wanting to do it for both 3.0 and 2.x.

In reply to by AllezChante

FWIW, I'm not sure what effect you'd expect slurs to have for playback of voice parts. There really isn't any particular meaning they should have in that case. It's really more for wind and stringed instruments that there is a clearly defined musical definition for what should happen.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Come on Marc, the voice behave a lot like a string instrument ! ?
Song lyrics frequently use many different notes for the same syllabic chunk. Unless we're not talking of the same phenomena, it is very unpleasant to hear the playback without the pitch going up or down and the notes clearly separated.

For an example , in the Tenor and Bass measures 17 to 20.

Thank you!
(Sorry for my english :-)

Attachment Size
Sous_le_Ciel_de_Paris de moi.mscz 48.88 KB

In reply to by AllezChante

What I am saying is, a real life singer if seeing the exact same piece of music with or without a slur won't do anything differently. If a melisma (same syllable over several notes) is written, they will sing that - slur or no slur. And if different syllables are written over the different notes, they will sing that - slur or no slur. Ther slur itself doesn't change anything about how the singer treats the phrase. Now, having something bult in to MuseScore to actually sing lyrics, and handle melismas appropriately, that would be interesting and useful - but way way way outside the scope of what we are talking about here.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I don't think you find anything like universal agreement on that. That is, every single textbook on wind or string technique will explain precisely, in objectively definable terms, what you are supposed to do differently for slurred versus unslurred notes. You find anything remotely like that for vocal music. Normally the slurs are just a convention that go with mleisma, except among publishers who choose to use them to mark phrases in some sort of abstract way. Whatever interpretation any given singer gives them is entirely subjective, and for many singers, a non-event. Which is why it's hard to even imagine what MuseScore would possibly do here.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm sorry, I guess I misused the term "syllable" as I just read it goes with melismas. EDIT: Melismas are syllable of text spanning over many different notes? Right, ok.
I completely agree with Jojo-Smith on his explanation of what is requested.
But the issue here is not how it is written or how the singer will sing, it is about the playback that ruins the hearing experience of the song and mislead the choralist listening to it.
The glissendo effect is what is meant here... (I guess) with no separation of the 2 notes of different pitch.

In reply to by AllezChante

It seems we are talking about different things. Let me try to be more clear. Perhaps you could record yourself singing the following two passage, and explain to me exactly what you are doing differently between them:

And maye we can get a bunch of other people to do the same.

if there is widespread agreement that the majority of people sing the first passage differently from the second, then we can talk about what this might mean for MuseScore's playback. But I am skeptical that there will be any universally-agreed-upon difference whatsoever.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yours is not a good example. Those are separate words with a note for each.
Again, it's not the singing that is the problem, it's the listening, the playback.

It is relevant with a text melisma for a single syllable and slurs.

In this example, we hear the syllable "as____" in 2 separate notes instead of one changing it's pitch from A to B seamlessly..
The same for "sis________" 2 separate notes ( not 3 because the tie works.)

In reply to by AllezChante

But that's exactly my point! Remove the slurs from your example and it wouldn't make a bit of difference in how this would be sung. It's not the slur rhat makes the difference, it is the fact that your example shows melisma and mine deliberately doesn't. So slurs have no relevance here - what you arall really asking for is to have MuseScore play melisma )with or without slurs) different than non-melisma (with or with out slurs).

Again, that's certainly something that could be considered someday as well,but it's a different thing than slur playback.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

For the fourth time. It is NOT about how it is SUNG, it is how it is HEARD!

Melismas are only text notation to indicate that the above notes are all linked. But it's the slurs that should link them and do not link anything like the ties do.. and consequently we HEAR separate notes.That's my point.

In reply to by AllezChante

I've been watching this thread because I had no real meaningful input into it. It seems there is a bit of terminology dispute going on here. AllezChante apparently want to hear it the way it's supposed to be sung, which, in AC's opinion, is not happening. The playback lacks the glissando that is heard when a human sings these notes. There are distinct notes being played by the synthesizer in MuseScore. This is very similar what happens with all other instruments as well. With or with out the slur, the notes have a slight separation rather than the continuous flow of sound that happens when notes are slurred.

I don't know what 3.0 holds concerning this, but I wonder if the slurs will cause the voice to sound between notes in a realistic manner or more like the slurs in a woodwind.

In reply to by AllezChante

I understand you are talking about playback. So am I. My point is, the difference is not slur versus non-slur, it is melisma versus non-melisma. Melismas are not always indicated with slurs; in fact that practice is not commonly adhered to at all in many modern publications. Older ones don't uses slurs but use beams; others don't do that. And many publications use slurs for reasons of phrasing, not for melismas at all. You simply can't assume that slur means melisma, because it doesn't in much published music.

So if the playback effect you want were tied to slurs instead of melisma, it would only work as expected it people who happen to us slurs in conjunction with melisma and only in conjunction with melisma. It would do the wrong thing for everyone else.

Bottom line: if there is to be a playback improvement here, it should be based on the melismas themselves, not on the slurs that may or may not be present as well.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I realize my knowledge of music notation is limited. In fact I'm only an enthusiast amateur.
I don't know about the subtle differences you are talking about with Slurs and Melismas. But I'm learning... Furthermore, my english skills are limited to explain myself.

What I do know, is that whatever we write on the lyrics lines so far has no impact on the playback we hear. Am I right on this?
Jojo-Schmitz is far better than me with his simple explanation of what improvement is necessary.

All I wish is getting to hear legatos when words in the lyrics are spanned across many different pitch notes, as it does when we use ties. Does it have to be done with slurs, or any other sign on the staff that I'm not aware of?
Do you have to create a new way to do it? I really can't tell and it's up to you.

In short, slurs should have the same effect than ties, but with a legato slide effect up or down to the next note... as my little wheel does manually at the left of my synthesizer keyboard. Do we agree?

If you say you have to re-write all the MIDI rendering machine for this, and only for this, then I understand why it has not been done yet. This is why I will fund you to do it whatever the cost is, if I win the jackpot ;-)

IMHO It would be quite a relief for thousands of the choir singers using your apps and software to hear those the way they will want to learn to sing them, and another edge for MuseScore.

In reply to by AllezChante

Slurs currently don't play back in MuseScore at all, or only in a very subtle way and under limited circumstances.
Slurs are the right marking, but also different instruments have different needs with regards to playback, in a piano there you always still be an attack, in wind instruments and voices not, in voices you additionally may want that short gliss onto the other note, other instruments are not capable of this at all.
The only thing that can be done with relative ease is eliminating the audible gap between notes, so they sound more legato, this is also is common to slurs for all instruments, getting rid of attack and a gliss is much more complex to implement and also depend on the instrument and even personal taste

In reply to by AllezChante

I appreciate your patience as we work to understand each other!

You are correct that neither lyrics nor slurs are currently looked at for playback (well, slurs are, but only in an extremely subtle way that is not useful here).

What I am trying to explain is that while you are accustomed to seeing slurs used every time there is a melisma, this is not in fact always, or even most often, true. Some publishers do this, but many do not. So if you want to hear a special sound effect effect when a melisma happens, it would be a mistake for MuseScore to only do this is the melisma happens to also have a slur on - a great many melismas do not have slurs on them. And conversely, a great many slurs are used in situations where there is no melisma. To be more specific, consider the following example:


Here, we both agree that ideally, there would be a difference in playback between A & B. But what about C or D? If we relied on slurs to make the difference, then C would play like B because both have slurs, but it shouldn't - it should play like A, because neither are melismas. And if we relied on slurs, D would play like A because neither have slurs, but it shouldn't - it should play like B, because both are melismas.

The point again is that we all agree it would be nice if someday MuseScore could have different playback for these sounds. I'm just saying the proper way to do it is using melisma, not using slurs. That way C will sounds like B, as it should, and D will sound like B, as it should.

However, in any case, as mentioned, actually making any of this happen is a difficult task, because MIDI was not designed to support that easily. Eventually a method was created to do this, but it isn't the normal way of doing things, and it would take a great effort to make MuseScore do this. Some of that work is done already, but there is more work to be done before this can be made possible.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Here's where, then, I would suggest we see if we can find a vocal technique textbook to support this suggestion, also the opinions of other professional / experienced vocalists in a variety of genres. This is what I am specifically suggesting is not true in any general sense - that most singers would not expect any recognizable difference between B and D, or between A and C. Would be good to get more input on that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I happen to have done a bit of programming 30 years ago.
I would like to know if when we go in Lyrics mode [Ctrl-L], any of what we input there has no effect whatsoever on the sound rendering of the staff measures?
If so, I find it awkward that you want to merge a part of the lyrics programming section with the music playback section. Wouldn't this become a big mess later on? But my programming is far away...
Besides, if you have plans to include an Artificial Intelligence singing all the lyrics... ;-)

As a candid transcriptor and with my limited knowledge of the musical notation, I would however make a slight distinction between (B) and (C) in your last examples.
In my logic, and ideally, if it is distinct syllables (C), there should be a small/tiny attenuation/silence at the end of each note.
In the case of only one syllable with a melisma (B), the playback should be as tied as with ties.
And the software would be able to differentiate the two situations, both triggered by the same slurs.

In my head, a melisma alone without slur (D) should be treated like 4 individual notes, the nuanced sounding left at the discretion of the singer and/or the maestro.

The link/bond/legato between the notes should be stronger in (B) than in (C), pertaining to the playback.

In reply to by AllezChante

Lyrics have no effect whatsoever on playback currently. However, there is a function in the code to determine if a given syllable represents a melisma or not - it correctly handles both the cases where the melisma is indicated using an extended for the end of the word as well as the case where the melisma is indicated using dashed between syllables of a word but one of those syllables extends over multiple notes. We use this function to determine if the syllable should be centered or left-aligned (notice how the lyrics are left-aligned in B & D above, but centered in A & C.

So I would propose that if the necessary work is done to finish re-implementing our MIDI rendering to allow for a difference, we take the melisma into account.

As I suggested above, I have never in my life seen any suggestion from any reputable source that slurs are to have any effect on how one sings. As I have said, some publishers just use them automatically in conjunction with melismas, just as an additional hint with no other intent whatsoever. Other publishers routinely do not use slurs in conjunction with melismas. And others still use them to indicate phrasing - like to indicate the "lines" of a poem, which no particular intent that this be reflected in how the individual notes are sung. If there is some reputable reference you can point to that suggests otherwise, I'm happy to check it out.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"A slur is a curved line between two or more notes that indicates they are to be played without separation."
- MuseScore Handbook

"I have never in my life seen any suggestion from any reputable source that slurs are to have any effect on how one sings"
So what are they for?!?
What part do I not understand? Isn't there a contradiction??

I can't speak for others and don't even know what are the usual ways to write this kind of phrasing, but one thing I know is that many classical musicians (no offense intended) have some kind of rigid thinking sticking with traditions, more than the average person. Of course they learned that it was THE way music is written..
But this was before the relatively new computer age. I mean to say that computers give us a lot of new, easier and improved way to write and play, and exchange musics/songs, and re-write and perfect them... and that we should embrace this wind of changeand possibilities even more. Musescore is already a huge step in that direction with it's built in flexibility, compare to other softwares.
Some trivial example : Just think of color laser printers that allow us to paint the staves to make it easier for the choir member to not get lost in the systems from page to page.
I suspect many "reputable references" are not aware of the many new improved ways they can apply to their way of writing scores...

In reply to by AllezChante

As I said, slurs are used for several different things. One is simply to remind the singer that a melisma exists. Many publishers are simply in the habit of using a slur every time there is a melisma and not using them when there is not - just as some publishers are simply in the habit of using beams when there is a melisma and not when there is not. Some publishers are in the habit of using slurs to indicate phrases, as I said, like a line of lyrics, to suggest the possibility of a breath at the end of the phrase. I personally have never seen a slur to indicate a "legato slide" effect. As I have suggested, if you can find any reputable source that states this, I would love to see it.

Anyhow, if MuseScore ever implements a way to have different playback effect for melisma versus non-melisma, it seems that addresses your main concern. Any possible additional subtle difference between "two three four five" with slur versus "two three four five" without is surely much much much less important, agreed?

I can anticipate that actually implementing this would be difficult, because MIDI is built around discrete command-events. To achieve this effect using a keyboard instrument you would have to use the "mod wheel" to bend a sustained note. MuseScore's playback engine would have to know to do that, and furthermore, it would have to be able to do that for an arbitrary distance between the connected notes. Now you're definitely moving into the Land of Diminishing Return-On-Investment!

Playback is an approximation – and, while the playback is very, very good, there's always going to be some element of compromise. If you wanted to hear the effect coming out of your speakers, you might have to export the score and import it into a general-purpose DAW application.

In reply to by mrobinson

(To clarify my reference to "on a keyboard instrument," MIDI was conceived for keyboard instruments and it simply does not encode everything that a non-keyboard instrument might be capable of. Synthesizer technology is also, IMHO, "intrinsically keyboard-based." MIDI is the world of "note on, note off.")

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.