Grace Notes

• Apr 2, 2011 - 15:13

How do I add gracenotes?
I'm doing note entry with Midi keyboard.
Gracenotes at end of a measure especially are a mystery...


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well, of course I had looked at the Handbook first.
I have finally figured out, from its sketchy description, how to put a gracenote ahead of a note.
How do I put a gracenote after a note?
(Like the two-note turn often after a trill)

In reply to by JSB_

That's a good question. If I needed this, I'd probably try one of these approaches:

1) add an invisible note after the main note, and attach the grace note to that. You might need to add an extra beat to the measure (see measure properties, "actual" duration.

2) add the grace note before the note, then move it (double click to enter Edit mode, then cursor keys to move it)

3) create the grace notes using the text symbol palette (Ctrl-T to enter text, F2 to bring up text symbol palette, then change font size and move into position)

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

This is in fact an open point of MuseScore 1.0.

Marc's suggestions are ingenious (as his posts usually are!), but this time none is entirely satisfactory: adding invisible notes and/or changing the measure duration carry other consequences and with the symbol palette it is not possible to create a pair of grace notes, which is the most common kind of graces you need before a main note (the trill end turn, which JSB quoted initially).

Solution 2) is the nearest, but requires some extensive 'clean-up'. I'll use as an example a minim B with a trill leading to C in the next measure through a A B turn (see score fragment attached, which shows the various steps to reach the final result).

1) Enter the notes (B and C, plus any other note before and after in these two measures)

2) With the "Grace Notes" palette enter the two grace notes before the C and adjust them to be an A and a B

So far, all the notes are there, but the grace notes are in the "wrong" measure.

3) Right-click on the trilled B, select "Note properties" and add some "additional trailing space"; start with a value between 3.00sp to 5.00sp: the measure bar will 'move away' from the B, creating room for the grace notes

4) Double click each grace note in turn and with the left arrow key 'nudge' it into the blank space you just created in the previous measure

5) Double click each note of the second measure and nudge it to the left to 'reclaim' the space left empty by the moved grace notes. note: you need to move each note by decreasing amount, to keep the evenly spaced 'pace'. In the attached example, I have nudged the three notes of the second bar notes by 6, 4, and 2 'steps' respectively.

This final result is reasonable. You may want to experiment with different additional trailing space to the trilled note and/or with different nudging of the graces and of the next measure notes to accommodate different contexts.

Caution: the final result depends heavily on spacing, stretching and so on. For instance, adding additional measures after those two, fitting more or less measure in a line, etc..., will alter the stretching and will require re-nudging all the moved notes.

For this reason, it is advisable to leave the grace notes in the "wrong" measure until the score is finished and correct them only when the score is not going to be changed significantly.

This is why I started by saying that the issue is till open: it requires a lot of work and it is easily disrupted.

Hoping it may help,


Attachment Size
TrillEndTurn.mscz 2.26 KB

In reply to by Miwarre

Thanks so much-- together with the attachment, it's a vividly clear description. Sounds like it will be exactly what I need-- I'll try it a bit later today but wanted to post my thanks right away.

Just for the record, and in case it helps in ongoing development on MuseScore, here's how Finale would do the same thing (at least the relatively old version of F I'm familiar with)-- type in the extra two notes at the end of the measure as 16ths (semiquavers) and beam them if they don't beam automatically (can't remember)-- you will get a message saying the measure has too many beats, and one of the options (the one you want) is "leave the measure alone". Now you can select the two 16ths and turn them to graceneotes by hitting ";" -- Done! The key difference here between MS and F is that F allows measures with the "wrong" number of notes/rests.

This issue might be worth moving to the "Features Request" forum-- a trill end-turn at the end of a measure is a pretty frequent occurrence in lots of kinds of music-- and a more direct way of handling it would be a significant improvement.
Of course it's easy for a newbie to wish for the moon... ;-)

Meanwhile, thanks again for the workaround! And also to Marc for the other suggested solutions.

In reply to by JSB_

I do realize, of course, that my workarounds were just that, and not overly particularly elegant ones here. So I agree that a better solution would be needed.

I should mention, though, that MuseScore *does* allow a measure with the "wrong" number of beats - right click the measure and select "measure properties", then change the "actual duration". It's not quite as convenient in Finale, but it least it makes the change permanent - when you cram too many beats in a Finale measure using the method you describe, Finale complains each and every time you touch that measure.

I don't like the idea of putting too many beats in the measure because that affects playback, though. The way I'd probably create that effect in Finale is using an additional voice, with hidden rests and some manual adjustment to position my notes where they need to be. Then I'd simply shrink the notes. This would be "relatively" immune to future spacing changes, which my original suggests indeed were not.

All of these things can be done in MuseScore, so I tried it just now and it *does* work. But MuseScore only has a single "small" size it can apply to notes, and I think these notes should be smaller than other "small" notes like cues. So I didn't like how it looked. The ability to enter a custom size for notes would help a lot, and if youdon't needboth cue notes and these grace notes in the same score, the global "small size" setting would be good enough. But there are still issues with this approach - like having to use very small note values instead of notes that look like eighths, and the fact that use of another voice messes with stem direction even when the other voice is invisible, etc.

So these are all fairly awkward ways of going about it. So I agree it would be nice of there were a more direct way, and that a discussion in the Feature Request forum makes sense!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The method Miwarre suggests works fine, UNLESS accidentals are involved-- they mess things up dramatically!
Miwarre's example is an end-turn A-B going to C.
What I need is an end-turn C#-D# going to E.
Nudging C#s and D#s produces a mess! and nudging without the accidentals looks OK, but then adding them makes a mess. Unless I'm missing something obvious...
So I'm still in need of help, I'm afraid.

In reply to by JSB_

Yes, with accidentals the trick no longer works, because when the note with accidental is nudged, its accidental is not and the final result is only more space at the right side of the note.

I found this work-around:

1) Write the trill without accidentals (including the main note)

2) Add the accidentals as symbols (key 'Z' or menu "Create | Symbol"), dragging each accidental on top of the note it applies to; i.e. while dragging the accidental, 'drop' it when the note it applies to turns red; the fine point of this is that accidental dropped on main notes are large, while accidental dropped on grace notes become small.

3) Once the accidentals are attached to the correct note (usually they 'drop' exactly on top of the note), drag them to right position with respect to the note each applies to (these notes are still in the 'wrong' position, but when we'll move the notes, the accidental will move with them).

4) Do the "trailing-space-and-nudging" process described above, now taking into account the space taken up by accidental.

The main problem is that these kind of "graphics-only" accidentals do not play back!

Anyway, in this way I could adapt the score attached in my previous post in the way shown in the picture attached to this post: of course, the trill makes no sense with all these accidentals, but it shows that it is possible to arrive at a working result, at least from a visual point of view (not from an aural point of view, unfortunately)

As Marc said, a more built-in approach would be very useful!

Maybe, you may want to post a feature request in the relevant forum.


Attachment Size
TrillEndTurn.png 17.57 KB

In reply to by JSB_

On further thought, here's a way to use multiple voices in conjunction with ordinary grace notes:

1) enter the first voice normally (no grace notes)
2) in a second voice, enter enough rests to get you "almost" to the end of the measure
3) enter a note right at the end of the measure in that second voice
4) attach your grace notes in front of that note
5) delete the note, leaving a rest
6) fix up stems in original voice
7) hide the rests

This gets you "pretty close" even without manual positioning adjustments. All you then need to do is drag the last of the grace notes directly on top of that final rest, and adjust the others accordingly. I had uploaded a version without such manual adjustments, but I have now replaced it with a better version that uses dotted rests in the invisible voice for better spacing, and uses the trick of dragging the grace note directly on top of the note so spacing should be preserved reasonably well even during reformatting.

I suspect this is about as good as you'll get with 1.0 as it stands.

Attachment Size
Trill Ending.mscz 1.82 KB

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've finally got back to this. Your solution using an additional voice is brilliant!
See picture attached: I'm having trouble at the very last step: moving the two beamed gracenotes horizontally to the right.
The Handbook says double-click the note and nudge it eastward with the arrows. I can't get 'em both to move...
I'm clearly missing something basic: what is it?
I guess I could do it all over again, using more rests at the beginning to get further to the right in the second voice... but surely there's an easy way to move a pair of beamed notes horizontally?
Again, a million thanks.

Attachment Size
Picture 1.png 5.89 KB

In reply to by JSB_

Thanks for the comments, both of you! To move the grace notes, you have to do so *one at a time*. I would do the last one first, putting it squarely on top of the rest it is attached to, then move the other just before it. This seems to have the best chance of continuing to work as the score is reformatted.

But yes, in this case, you really do want to get the rests further over to the right to begin with if possible. In 4/4 time, a half rest, dotted quarter rest, and eighth rest seemed to do nicely. A double dotted quarter rest and sixteenth might be even better. the less you have to move the grace notes manually, the easier it is to get an alignment that looks good and keeps looking good as you reformat.

Anyhow, there's pretty obvious room for improvement from MuseScore here. One interesting solution would be if MuseScore allowed to attach grace notes to the bar line. Or at least, if it created the illusion of doing that, but really just put them in the last tick position within the measure it could. Another solution would be to allow you to attach the grace notes to the following note in the next measure normally, but then provided an option that simply made them *display* in the previous measure.

But FWIW, this technique of putting hidden stuff in another voice to attach things to - I am quite used to doing that from years of Finale. There are any number of situations where that kind of thinking comes in handy, so it's a nice trick to have in your back pocket.

In reply to by JSB_

According to my experience, it is enough to exit Edit mode to have the other parts of the note (stem, beam, ...) to 'jump' into their new position.

In practice:

1) double-click the note head (to enter Edit mode)
2) move it with the arrow keys: the head moves (and the rest of the note does not)
3) click in any score empty spot to exit Edit mode: the rest of the note 'jumps' to the new position.

then repeat for other notes.

Are you experiencing something different?


In reply to by JSB_

This works adequately for my purpose. Unlike some other methods, these methods work across line breaks, with ledger lines, and with accidentals. The grace notes will also have the same size and proportions. The spacing is not perfect. John P's method gives better spacing, but causes a problem with slurs at the end of a line. (Nothing original here. Just my summary of what works.)

** If the grace note(s) occur before the last note in the measure, then just attach them before a note. Nudge them if necessary.

** If the grace note(s) are the last note of the measure, then:
1. Add a beat to the measure. (This will interfere with playback rhythm.)
2. Create a note at the end of the measure and attach the grace notes before that note.
3. Delete the last note and make the rest invisible.
4. Nudge the grace notes if necessary.
5. If you are slurring to a note in the next measure, be careful to attach the end of the slur to the correct note.

** If adding an extra note to the measure is a problem, then:
1. Create a second voice and attach grace notes before the last note in the measure.
2. Delete all notes in the second voice and make the rests invisible.
3. If you are slurring to a note in the next measure, be careful to attach the end of the slur to the correct note.

** Consider using John P's method below, but note the limitations with slurs.

If you adjust the note spacings and save to an xml file, MuseScore may not reimport all the grace notes.
Xml2ly does import the score correctly into LilyPond, however.

Both the second and third methods will add extra space to the end of the measure. John P's procedure below (instead of deleting the last note, shorten the last measure), is an elegant solution that gives much better spacing, but unfortunately a slur at the end of the measure will carry over to the next measure. This is a problem if it happens at the end of a line.

I have been plagued by this for a long time and have found all the methods proposed have the difficulties mentioned, including:

Placement (grace notes are hard to get properly near the end of the bar)
Notes, stems, flags, beams and rests have to be hidden separately
New voices often create a need to flip stems
Ledger lines on hidden notes (which can appear after transposition even if they were not there originally) cannot be hidden

This seems to work much better and more easily than anything else I have tried:
Lengthen the bar
add a note
add the grace notes
restore the bar to the original length
The grace notes remain, while the added note and any added rests in other voices or staffs disappear.

To copy:
lengthen bar being copied to
restore the bar to the original size
the grace notes will have become quarters. Highlight the last one, hit the desired note length.
Watch out that subsequent bars have not been lengthened

Now can anyone tell me an easy way to separate ledger lines horizontally? Adding space before and after notes lengthens the lines too. Hidden accidentals (naturals are best) separate them too much, unless one is very careful, and they separate some but not all lines when there are many lines for one note. It works but is tedious to put in another voice in notes of smaller duration with small note heads, everything hidden.

John P

In reply to by azumbrunn

Having worked with grace notes quite a bit I want to summarize my experience a bit:

- Grace notes before a "regular" note: These are easy to add according to "normal procedure". The program will open up space before the note--if the grace notes are played while the other voices are still going a their normal rhythm one may adjust the placing of the notes in the other voices to reflect that (by double click/left or right arrow).

-"Turns" at the end of a trill (German: Nachschlag).
1. Add grace notes before the trill note, then move every note to intended place by double click, right arrow (including "filling" the whole before the trill that will gape there). This is the easiest way of doing it, but does not work if leger lines are involved. The ledger lines end up hanging in the air somewhere between the grace notes and the regular note and can apparently not be moved away from there. In this case:

2. Add grace notes to the note following the trill and move them backward by dbl click/left arrow. The grace notes may be moved across a bar line. If need be add more trail space after the note with the trill. This way all ledger lines are in the correct places. Move notes left and right as above to get a correct and good looking picture. This trick fails when the trill is the last note on a line: the grace notes will not jump up to the preceding line but hang out to the left of the clef...

3. If you are at the end of a line AND need ledger lines you'll need to change the stretch of the surrounding bars to get the line break to jump one bar back or forward, then use method 2.

-Finally: accidentals in grace notes: enter the grace notes from the panel; they will appear at the pitch of the note they are attached to. Then move every note that needs to be moved horizontally. Only then correct their pitches up and down one by one by single clicking the grace note heads and using the up and down arrows. This way I have never had problems with the accidentals.

Obviously, when extracting parts you'll have to fix every appearance of this in the parts by moving notes around some more.

In reply to by azumbrunn

I find that, even when (2) is possible, the method I proposed leads more quickly and easily to nice spacing. Also it needs no work-around at the end of a line. I often have ledger lines (flutes tend to them) and I don't want to mess up good spacing by stretching bars (or moving line breaks) for grace-note tricks. By the way, grace notes move automatically to accommodate accidentals--no need to move them horizontally for that purpose.

In reply to by jwpratt

I have to admit, that I did not quite understand how your method works, John. I am not sure which kind of "grace notes" you have in mind either.
In strictly musical terminology (i.e. non-software-related), grace notes appear BEFORE a note: one or a group of small notes to be played before the main note gets hit. The time for these notes will be taken away from one of the "real" notes, either the one following (i.e. the grace note(s) start ON the beat) or the one preceding (i.e. the grace note(s) are played BEFORE the beat). (Lots of bellyaching goes into determining which way to play them in a given situation.) These grace notes work quite well in MuseScore; it is the situation the feature seems to be designed for. One might quibble with adjustments made to the other parts in the score: since the grace notes are played on "stolen" time there should be no gap in the other voices; I correct that when it looks too obvious.
But there are other symbols that LOOK LIKE grace notes though they are (strictly speaking) not: most difficult: turns after trills (German: Nachschlag). In this case grace notes need to be moved horizontally to occupy the position after the trill note, but before the next beat. This is the situation where method 1 and 2 in my previous post apply. I just tried again and I do get ledger line problems if I move grace notes to the right across the main note to appear as turns at the end of the trill. Moving the grace notes to the left from the following note does not have this problem; but: while it is possible to move them to the left across a barline it is not possible (for me) to move them to the left across a line break (i.e. one system up, which means I don't have a way have a turn after a trill at the end of a line if the trill note requires ledger lines).

In reply to by azumbrunn

I am concerned only with trill finishes, which must be entered as grace notes even if they should be called Nachtsla"ge (if that's the plural), and only with scores, not playback. Entering ordinary grace notes is no problem and the bellyaching is not my concern here, though it could be when I play. Trill finishes followed by a note in the same bar are also no problem, at least for me, since they can be entered as grace notes to the following note and I don't care where the time is stolen from. If a trill goes to the end of a bar, I find it convenient to lengthen the bar, add a note with grace notes before it, and then restore the bar to its original length. The added note disappears but the grace notes don't (so perhaps their time is stolen from the end of the regular bar, not the beat I added and removed). Ledger lines behave, spacing is good, and there is no need to move the notes at all, let alone across bar lines or (God forbid!) systems. So I think this solves your problem, and is easier at the end of a bar than any alternative I've seen suggested so far, even when the simultaneous ledger-line & line-break problem does not occur.

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