Why Do *You* Make Notes Invisible?

• May 1, 2016 - 06:09

Refer: https://musescore.org/en/node/98171

As Marc states:
"Standard music notation has no concept of an invisible note, so there is no standard engraving practice for how to engrave invisible notes. If people use invisible notes, it is normally to get some sort of *non-standard* behavior - either playback or display that is somehow different from the norm. And depending on the specific reason one is choosing to use this particular workaround, there could be different expected behaviors." (slightly edited)

So why do you make notes invisible? What do you think the expected behaviors should be regarding:

  • Ledger lines?
  • Stem length?
  • Augmentation dots?
  • Note position in chord (with seconds)?
  • Anything else?

Feedback is well-appreciated!


I use an invisible note as a workaround in the following situations:

1] To anchor something to it - eg a lyric, slur, tie.
2] To keep a line from becoming hidden when "Hide Empty Staves" is on.
3] When I want a particular sound on playback (eg a special trill or turn).
4] To facilitate some uncommon engraving that I can't do in a standard way.

An invisible note should be invisible, though, so no need to worry about how to engrave it. As MuseScore continues to improve I find less need to use an invisible note. As for its effects on the above, I take the view that I am using an unintended side-effect of the invisible note to good effect and see no need to alter the behaviour of standard elements in relation to invisible notes. If the invisible note has an unintended effect then either out the note into another Voice or don't use an invisible note.

In reply to by underquark

I agree with underquark. In addition to underquarks listed uses, I would add-
>Making an initial rest in a pickup measure (at the beginning of a score) invisible. MS can't do "partial beat" pickups, so if you need an 8th note pickup, but MS can only provide a quarter note partial measure, begin the pickup with an invisible 8th rest.
>Along with underquarks no. 3, to make an articulation invisible for a desired playback effect: staccato or fermata not in the source material that provide standard performance playback.
>Hiding undesired rests caused by use of multiple voices.

One thing that might not be clear: the original context had to do with making *one* note invisible in a *chord*. Not making an entire chord invisible.

Most of the use cases I've seen described here are really case of weanting the entire chord invisible. But the specific issue we were discussing had to do with how the stem, ledger lines, and other elements of a chord should be affected if one or more notes are made invisible but other notes are *not*.

There is this rare form of notation I've found to be aesthetically pleasing and I'll have to give an example to explain it clearly: Let's say we have 4 eighth-notes all beamed together. Now, say the first note of those eighth-notes is actually a half-note which will ring through the passage of all the four notes. Normally you will have a half-note disjointed from the following beamed three eighth-notes, and this is normal - maybe you would normally use a slur to signify their semi-unity. But it's possible one can have voice 1 be of four beamed eighth-notes and then to have voice 2 overlap the first note of same pitch so that the beam joins both voices together into one beam - this allows for the second voiced note to have a stem with a different direction signifying its different voicing. But we have a problem. If it be desired that the second-voiced note have the value greater than the beamed notes, namely a half-note, then the beam connection is automatically taken away because a half-note isn't beamed. Of course with smaller sized notes (e.g. a 16th) this isn't a problem. So to have that half-note look like a half-note with its own stem yet still connected to the following beamed notes, one also has to make invisible the note it is overlapping because voice 1 takes precedence over voice 2. The result is aesthetically pleasing and rare. In MuseScore it doesn't look perfect until exported because the invisible note or greyed note still shows slightly.

Here is a screenshot of the result:

I hope this is found to be useful to anyone out there in cyberspace. Cheers (coffee)!

In reply to by worldwideweary

FWIW, there is a somewhat more direct way to create that notation: just change the "Note / Head type" to "Half" in the Inspector.

But indeed, not everyone will use this method. As I see it, in your particular use case, you want the stem and ledger lines to remain, only the notehead itself to be invisible. Which is different from the expected result for people who are using this method to get some particular playback effect. Meaning, as I figured would be turn out to be true, there are legitimate use cases for both behaviors.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Definitely! Another good thing to know, and as you pointed out the ability to have that extra note stem is the main difference between the two methods. It's especially nice to have the option for an extra stem when cross-staffing is utilized ;)

P.S. cross-staffing is utilized in my given example, yet I failed to mention that as part of the demonstration.

Playback, almost entirely. It reaches a point where half of the sheet music I transcribe is invisible just so it has proper playback. I'll frequently make, for cross-staff beaming, the visible notes not play and add in an additional voice so that the notes play with the "correct hand" when, say, exported to a MIDI format. I also occasionally add in a few additional notes when appropriate (usually my playback is based off of actual recordings, such as the Ampico rolls of Rachmaninov playing his own stuff). I've also used it for, say, in Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Second Movement, to get proper playback of the appoggiaturas (Musescore's current playback of an appoggiatura takes the real value of the note and splits it up based on the number of grace notes. This is notable on dotted notes, where the playback might demand instead to divide up the value of the non-dotted note and then add in the additional length to what remains. So, if you have two grace notes to a dotted quarter, Musescore would split the dotted quarter in two and play the two grace notes first. The proper playback, at least in that piece, would be to treat the dotted quarter as a normal quarter, divide it in half, and then add the "dot" on to what remains of the quarter note). There's also the case of trill playback (will always require a human touch, trills) and other convoluted situations. I've been using the piano roll more and more frequently for adjusting note timings, so that's rather nice.

The major reason, notation-wise, that I would make anything invisible would be for things such as notating pieces that have two different time signatures occurring in the same measure. Notable examples include Beethoven's 32nd Sonata, 2nd Movement, and Godowsky's Studies on Chopin's Etudes, Op. 25, No. 11. In those cases it is simply a matter of using the invisible notes so that the actual notes available have proper length. I've also used tuples in the latter case, albeit as a test just to see whether the piece can even be notated in Musescore. In the Beethoven case I simply make many notes dotted and then make the dots invisible. I also use it to make the million rests that inevitably crop up when futzing with playback invisible.

As for functionality, I think they work rather nicely as-is. It would be neat if we could go in to an articulation as a "sub-measure" and create exactly how the note should play back over its entire duration, but that would be incredibly complex and strictly for the gain of playback. Augmentation dots work rather well currently, no qualms there. Invisible notes in a chord- there's a case where I do have a bit of a problem. Currently invisible notes in a chord do extend the stem, and that's a bit problematic. Adjustable, sure, but tedious. I would say that invisible notes should be excluded from a standard chord in regards to stem placement. As for cases of this, I can't remember the exact instances that I've needed to do so, but I do recall a piece mentioning in a footnote that, say, playing a chord with the principal note played in an octave with the one above would make the piece more brilliant so long as it does not diminish playback. In an instance such as that, I would probably place invisible notes and mess around with the chord stem. As for ledger lines... yeah, invisible notes don't play nicely with ledger lines. There's a lot of pain in getting note gap correct.

As for another use case, when I was working on Falla's Fantasia Baetica, I recall a moment where he notated a tremolo between two notes using a triple-bar tremolo- except that the top bar actually connected the two notes, as if it were a bar connecting two eights. In that instance I did have to go in invisibly, add two eighth notes, make them and all their rests invisible and playback muted, and make it so that the bar overlapped perfectly with the triple-bar tremolo. If I currently had access to the sheet then I'd attach a picture, but alas.

So, yes, invisible notes have purpose for both playback and notation. The fact that invisible notes can still have a visible bar between them is incredibly useful for some of the stuff that I've notated.

I use musescore to type in choral TTBB arrangements. Often the 1st tenor part goes below the 2nd tenor note and our choir members would like to have a score showing only their part. I usually type in the lyrics associated with 1st tenor, so if I delete the first tenor voice the lyrics are also deleted. The only way I have found to show only second tenor notes and maintain the lyrics is to select all 1st tenor notes and then uncheck "visible". But in the subsequent printout the stems of the 1st tenor notes are still printed (without the note) which detracts from the appearance of the score.

In reply to by cwgrote

If you use voices then you can select only the voice with the second tenor in a number of ways. I think the easiest is to select all the music on the line and use F6 to display the Selection Filter. In the Selection filter remove the check for voice 1 and that will leave only voice 2 selected. Press V and voice 2 will become invisible including stems, beams, flags, accidentals and everything else entered in voice 2.

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