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
    A short →grace note.
    Accidental
    A sign appearing in front of a note that raises or lowers its pitch. The commonest accidentals are →sharps, →flats or →naturals, but double sharps and double flats are also used. 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.
    Anacrusis (BE)
    See →Pickup Measure.
    Anchor
    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).
    Appoggiatura
    A long →grace note.
    Bar (BE)
    See →Measure.
    Barline
    Vertical line through a →staff, staves, or a full →system that separates →measures.
    Beam
    Notes with a duration of an →eighth or shorter either carry a →flag or a beam. Beams are used for grouping notes.
    BPM
    Beats Per Minute is the unit for measuring tempo. See →Metronome mark
    Breve
    Brevis
    A double whole note or breve is a note that has the duration of two whole notes.
    Cent
    An interval equal to one hundredth of a semitone.
    Chord
    The minimal definition of a chord is a minimum of two different notes played together. MuseScore however calls even a single note a chord internally, with the note describing the pitch, the chord decribing the duration. Chords are based on the choices made by a composer between harmonics of one, two or three (and more) fundamental sounds. E.g. in the chord of C, G is the second harmonic, E the fourth of the fundamental C. Now in C7, the B flat is the 6th harmonic of C and in C Maj7 B is the second harmonic of E and the fourth harmonic of G...
    Clef
    Sign at the beginning of a →staff, used to tell which are the musical notes on the lines and between the lines.
    There are 2 F clefs, 4 C clefs and 2 G clefs: F third, F fourth, C first, C second, C third, C fourth, G first, G second (known as treble clef too).
    G first and F fourth are equivalent.
    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)
    A crotchet is the British English term for what is called a quarter note in American English. It's a quarter of the duration of a whole note (semibreve).
    Demisemiquaver (BE)
    A thirty-second note.
    Duplet
    See →Tuplet.
    Eighth note
    A note whose duration is an eighth of a whole note (semibreve). Same as British →quaver.
    Endings
    See →Volta.
    Enharmonic notes
    Notes that sound the same pitch but are written differently. Example: G# and Ab are enharmonic notes.
    Flag
    See →Beam.
    Flat
    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. A short grace note (→acciaccatura) has a stroke through the stem; a long grace note (→appoggiatura) does not.
    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 British →minim.
    Hemidemisemiquaver (BE)
    A sixty-fourth note.
    Interval
    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).
    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.
    Koron
    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.
    Longa
    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.
    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)
    A minim is the British term for a half note. It has half the duration of a whole note (→semibreve).
    Natural
    A natural is a sign that cancels a previous alteration on notes of the same pitch.
    Operating System
    OS
    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.
    Part
    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 (→Anacrusis, →Upbeat)
    Incomplete first measure of a piece or a section of a piece of music.
    See also Create new score: Time Signature... and Measure operations: Exclude from measure count.
    Quaver (BE)
    The British quaver is what is called an →eighth note in American English. It has an eighth the duration of a whole note.
    Quadruplet
    See →Tuplet.
    Quarter note
    A note whose duration is a quarter of a whole note (semibreve). Same as British →crotchet.
    Quintuplet
    See →Tuplet.
    Respell Pitches
    Tries to guess the right accidentals for the whole score (see Accidentals).
    Rest
    Interval of silence of a specified duration.
    Re-pitch Mode
    A way in MuseScore to rewrite a passage with note changes but no rhythm change (see Re-pitch Mode).
    Semibreve (BE)
    A semibreve is the British term for a whole note. It lasts a whole measure in 4/4 time.
    Semiquaver (BE)
    A sixteenth note.
    Semihemidemisemiquaver (Quasihemidemisemiquaver) (BE)
    An hundred and twenty eighth note.
    Sextuplet
    See →Tuplet.
    Sharp
    Sign that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be raised one semitone.
    Slur
    A curved line over or under two or more notes, meaning that the notes will be played smooth and connected (legato).
    See also →Tie.
    Sori
    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.
    Spatium (plural: Spatia)
    Space
    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).
    System
    Set of staves to be read simultaneously in a score.
    See also →Operating System (OS).
    Tie

    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.

    Transposition

    A tune can be played in any tonality. There are many reasons to change the tonality of a score:

    1. The tune is too low or too high for a singer.
    2. The score is written for a C instrument and has to be played by a B Flat one.
    3. The score is written for an orchestra and you want to imagine what the horn, the flute and the clarinet are playing.
    4. A darker or a more brilliant sound is desired.
    • In the first case all the orchestra will have to transpose, which is very difficult without professional musicians. MuseScore can do it very easily for you.
    • In the second case the musician must play D when a C is written. If the score is written with a G 2nd Clef, he'll have to think that the staff begins with a C 3rd Clef.
    • In the third case the conductor has to transpose all the staves which are not written for C instruments.
    • In all cases the key signature must be mentally changed.
    • On some instruments (Horns and Tubas for instance) the musicians transpose using alternative fingerings.
    Triplet
    See →Tuplet.
    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.
    Upbeat
    See →Pickup Measure.
    Velocity
    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).
    Voice
    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.
    Volta
    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.