Add instrument groupings and auto-sorting to the add instruments dialogue

• May 16, 2016 - 20:34
Reported version
Graphical (UI)
S5 - Suggestion

Adding this feature would be most useful for adding a new part to an existing large score.

There should be a checkbox on the instrument addition dialogue to offer to snap new instruments into their default position in the score, rather than add them to the bottom and manually need to be placed.

In a related vein, it would be quite nice to add another level of depth on the score side to group our instruments, like what we have on the left pane of the instrument selection panel. That way, we could move all vocal parts to the top of the score (for example), rather than bubble them up one by one.


I'd like to chime in on this one. This would undeniably be a big deal for making MuseScore 3 "smarter, faster, easier." How complicated is it to code?

What would define "default position in the score"? Are we assuming all scores are some subset of European classical orchestras? The position of a trumpet in a brass choir is very different from in a marching band, a jazz band, a funk band, etc. And where does it get added if your existing instrumentation is an oboe, three kazoos, bagpipes, and an anvil? I don't see any meaningful way of implementing something like this.

Moving groups of instruments as one is presumably doable, though.

I quote from the OP: "...useful for adding a new part to an existing large score." So, you want to add a fourth trumpet to the concert band template, or an alto clarinet.

A couple of ways grouping or ordering could work:

  1. Manually defined groupings. A bit like putting a bracket around the chorus parts in a score, this would involve the user adding a new "group" to the score, and then adding instruments to the group. The group could be expanded or collapsed within the Instruments dialog.
  2. Automatically defined groupings. When adding an instrument from the Vocal section on the left hand side of the Instruments dialog, a corresponding "Vocal" section would be created on the right hand side.
  3. Automatic ordering based on a score "genre" stored in the Score Properties/Info dialog. E.g. "Classical", "Jazz", etc like Marc suggested.

Isaac: yes, but how could any system "kinow" where an alto clarinet goes in a given score, given that there are practically infinite possibilities>? There is a well define place only for the tiny percentage of scores that happen to be proper subsets of a European classical orchestra.

One thing we *could* do is key of the MusicXML tags that define instrument categories, so if you add an alto clarinet, it knows it is a woodwind, and adds it before/after the first/last *other* woodwind it finds, if any. That is a more generalized version of of shoogles suggestion #3 above.

Obviously in many cases it would not be applicable, but when there are existing Bb clarinets, if you want to add an alto clarinet, it's not hard to predict where you're going to want it. The simplest rule would just deal with duplicate instruments—i.e., if the exact same instrument is already present in the score, add this one below it. The closest families (clarinets, saxophones, cornets/trumpets) could then be given a default order based on pitch (highest to lowest), and then if there's an existing instrument of the same family but not identical, the new one would go above or below according to pitch order. I don't know how to implement this, but I could define it in pseudocode.

So, what happens if your exsting score is "upside down"? Has strings on top, woodwinds on bottom?

Anyhow, yes, a series of guesses / heuristics could be developed that would save a small amount of trouble in a small percentage of cases. To me this would be a pretty low priority enhancement though.

In Sibelius, if you start by adding a violin (remarkably they have "Violin (solo)," "Violin 1," "Violin 2," "Violin I," and "Violin II" in their instrument list!), then add a clarinet in Bb, it will go to the top; if you then move it down to the bottom and add another clarinet, the second clarinet goes above the violin while the first is still below. So it's not exactly smart. Still, for the overwhelming majority of large scores, it's not a bad system at all.

Anyway, certainly not a high priority, but nonetheless one of those little things that could save significant time.

I don't fire up my Finale 2014 demo nearly so often—I find it crazy hard to use, or maybe it's just bad pre-MuseScore memories of Finale Notepad—but I just did now, and this is interesting:


Plus, they do automatically number duplicate instruments, which I believe is an active request somewhere around here, and something I would be grateful for.

EDIT: Here it is: #25271: Part export automatic numeration of same instruments

EDIT 2: No, actually—a closely related point, but this is what I was thinking of: