Updated 4 years ago
This page shows old instructions for MuseScore 2.
For MuseScore 4 users, see Glossary.

The glossary is a work in progress—please help if you can. You can discuss this page in the documentation forum.

The list below is a glossary of frequently used terms in MuseScore as well as their meaning. The differences between American English and British English are marked with "(AE)" and "(BE)", respectively.

acciaccatura.png A short →grace note which appears as a small note with a stroke through the stem. It is quickly executed and technically takes no value from its associated note.
A sign appearing in front of a note that raises or lowers its pitch. The most common accidentals are →sharps, →flats or →naturals, but double sharps and double flats are also used. Also →koron, and →sori and other quarter tone accidentals. Accidentals affect all notes on the same →staff position only for the remainder of the measure in which they occur, but they can be canceled by another accidental. In notes tied across a →barline, the accidental continues across the →barline to the tied note, but not to later untied notes on the same →staff position in that measure.
See →Pickup measure.
The point of attachment to the score of objects such as Text and Lines: When the object is dragged, the anchor appears as small brown circle connected to the object by a dotted line. Depending on the object selected, its anchor may be attached to either (a) a note (e.g. fingering), (b) a staff line (e.g. staff text), or (c) a barline (e.g. repeats).
A long →grace note which takes value from its associated note. Its functions include: passing tone, anticipation, struck suspension, and escape tone.
Bar (BE)
See →measure.
Vertical line through a →staff, staves, or a full →system that separates →measures.
Notes with a duration of an →eighth or shorter either carry a →flag or a beam. Beams are used for grouping notes.
Beats Per Minute is the unit for measuring tempo. See →metronome mark
A double whole note or breve is a note that has the duration of two whole notes.
An interval equal to one hundredth of a semitone.
A group of two or more notes sounding together. To select a chord in MuseScore, press Shift and click on a note. In the Inspector, however, the word "Chord" only covers notes in the same voice as the selected note(s).
Sign at the beginning of a →staff, used to tell which are the musical notes on the lines and between the lines.
Clefs are very useful for →transposition.
Concert pitch
Enables you to switch between concert pitch and transposing pitch (see Concert pitch and Transposition).
Crotchet (BE)
See →Quarter note.
Demisemiquaver (BE)
A thirty-second note.
See →tuplet.
Edit mode
The program mode from which you can edit various score elements.
Eighth note
A note whose duration is an eighth of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a quaver (BE).
See →volta.
Enharmonic notes
Notes that sound the same pitch but are written differently. Example: G♯ and A♭ are enharmonic notes.
See →beam.
Sign (♭) that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be lowered one semitone.
Grace note
Grace notes appear as small notes in front of a normal-sized main note. See →acciaccatura and →appoggiatura.
Grand Staff (AE)
Great Stave (BE)
A system of two or more staves, featuring treble and bass clefs, used to notate music for keyboard instruments and the harp.
Half Note
A note whose duration is half of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a minim (BE).
Hemidemisemiquaver (BE)
A sixty-fourth note.
The difference in pitch between two notes, expressed in terms of the scale degree (e.g. major second, minor third, perfect fifth etc.). See Degree (Music) (Wikipedia).
In MuseScore, "jumps" are notations such as "D.S. al Coda", found in the "Repeats & Jumps" palette.
Key Signature
Set of →sharps or →flats at the beginning of the →staves. It gives an idea about the tonality and avoids repeating those signs all along the →staff.
A key signature with B flat means F major or D minor tonality.
An Iranian →accidental which lowers the pitch of a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the →flat which lowers a note by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →sori.
A longa is a quadruple whole note.
Ledger Line
Line(s) that are added above or below the staff.
Measure (AE)
A segment of time defined by a given number of beats. Dividing music into bars provides regular reference points to pinpoint locations within a piece of music. Same as → bar (BE).
Metronome mark
Metronome marks are usually given by a note length equaling a certain playback speed in →BPM. In MuseScore, metronome marks are used in Tempo texts.
Minim (BE)
See →Half note.
A natural (♮) is a sign that cancels a previous alteration on notes of the same pitch.
Normal mode
The operating mode of MuseScore outside note input mode or edit mode: press Esc to enter it. In Normal mode you can navigate through the score, select and move elements, adjust Inspector properties, and alter the pitches of existing notes.
Note input mode
The program mode used for entering music notation.
Operating System
Underlying set of programs which set up a computer, enabling additional programs (such as MuseScore). Popular OSes are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux.
Not to be confused with a sheet music →system.
Music to be played or sung by one or a group of musicians using the same instrument. In a string quartet, 1st part = Violin 1, 2nd part = Violin 2, 3rd part = Viola, 4th part = Cello, in a choir there might be parts for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. A part has one or more →staves (e.g. Piano has 2 staves, Organ can have 2 or 3 staves).
Pickup Measure (also known as an Anacrusis or Upbeat)
Incomplete first measure of a piece or a section of a piece of music. See Measure duration and Create new score: Pickup measure. Also Exclude from measure count.
See →tuplet.
Quarter note
A note whose duration is a quarter of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a crotchet (BE).
Quaver (BE)
See →eighth note.
See →tuplet.
Respell Pitches
Tries to guess the right accidentals for the whole score (see Accidentals).
Interval of silence of a specified duration.
Re-pitch mode
Allows you to rewrite an existing passage of music by changing the note pitches without altering the rhythm.
Semibreve (BE)
A whole note (AE). It lasts a whole measure in 4/4 time.
Semiquaver (BE)
A sixteenth note.
Semihemidemisemiquaver (Quasihemidemisemiquaver) (BE)
An hundred and twenty eighth note.
See →tuplet.
A virtual instrument format supported by MuseScore (along with →SoundFonts). An SFZ library consists of one or more SFZ text files, each defining a particular instrument setup, and many audio sound samples.
Sign (♯) that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be raised one semitone.
A curved line over or under two or more notes, meaning that the notes will be played smooth and connected (legato).
See also →tie.
An Iranian →accidental which raises the pitch of a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the sharp which raises it by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →koron.
A virtual instrument format supported by MuseScore (along with →SFZ). A SoundFont is a special type of file (extension .sf2, or .sf3 if compressed) containing sound samples of one or more musical instruments. In effect, a virtual synthesizer which acts as a sound source for MIDI files. MuseScore 2.2 comes with the SoundFont "MuseScore_General.sf3" pre-installed.
Spatium (plural: Spatia)
Staff Space
sp (abbr./unit)
The distance between two lines of a normal 5-line staff. In MuseScore this unit influences most size settings. See also Page settings.
Staff (AE)
Stave (BE)
Group of one to five horizontal lines used to lay on musical signs. In ancient music notation (before 11th century) the staff/stave may have any number of lines (the plural of 'staff' is 'staves', in BE and AE).
Step-time input
MuseScore's default note input mode, allowing you to enter music notation one note (or rest) at a time.
Set of staves to be read simultaneously in a score.
See also →Operating System (OS).

A curved line between two or more notes on the same pitch to indicate a single note of combined duration:

  • Quarter note + Tie + Quarter note = Half note
  • Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note = Dotted Quarter note
  • Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note + Tie + 16th note = Double Dotted Quarter note

See also →slur.


The act of moving the pitches of one or more notes up or down by a constant interval. There may be several reasons for transposing a piece, for example:

  1. The tune is too low or too high for a singer. In this case the whole orchestra will have to be transposed as well—easily done using MuseScore.
  2. The part is written for a particular instrument but needs to be played by a different one.
  3. The score is written for an orchestra and you want to hear what the individual instruments sound like. This requires changing the transposing instrument parts to concert pitch.
  4. A darker or a more brilliant sound is desired.
See →tuplet.
A tuplet divides its next higher note value by a number of notes other than given by the time signature. For example a →triplet divides the next higher note value into three parts, rather than two. Tuplets may be: →triplets, →duplets, →quintuplets, and other.
See →pickup measure.
The velocity property of a note controls how loudly the note is played. This usage of the term comes from MIDI synthesizers. On a keyboard instrument, it is the speed with which a key is pressed that controls its volume. The usual scale for velocity is 0 (silent) to 127 (maximum).
Polyphonic instruments like Keyboards, Violins, or Drums need to write notes or chords of different duration at the same time on the same →staff. To write such things each horizontal succession of notes or chords has to be written on the staff independently. In MuseScore you can have up to 4 voices per staff. Not to be confused with vocalists, singing voices like soprano, alto, tenor and bass, which are better viewed as instruments.
In a repeated section of music, it is common for the last few measures of the section to differ. Markings called voltas are used to indicate how the section is to be ended each time. These markings are often referred to simply as →endings.

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