I had a session with a professional jazz arranger. Several questions.

• Sep 26, 2016 - 22:32

He was very impressed with the software and may become a user, although he's not a computer guy - writes his stuff by hand, fast as lightning.

Some of these may well be in place already but I haven't discovered them yet.

1. He says for the ensemble score all bar lines should run from top to bottom, as they do at the beginnings of each page, without breaks between instruments. Is that an option?

2. Need some help with cue notes. (I just learned about cue notes from him, so assume my ignorance.) I did find your topic, "How to add cue notes", but he wants to be able to add them above drum parts, whether drumset notation or repeats, and I think above piano parts where there are slashes below chord symbols above. I'm able to copy an instrument's notes to the drum or piano staff and make them small, but it deletes the repeats and slashes. Is there a way to retain the slashes and repeat symbols while adding the little cue notes? I don't know if he wants to retain the note changes or just the rhythm.

3. He also says that the marcato ( ^ ) accents (and presumably also the sforzato ( > ) and tenuto ( _ ) accents) should always be above the staff, not below, even when the stem is up, because that's where musicians see it better. Is there a way to make that a global switch, for those who agree with that approach?

4. His big band is twenty instruments. I assume that to get all those on a page, the procedure is to reduce the staff spacing in Layout/Page settings to compress the score. Would you also increase the page size to whatever your printer can handle? Any other tricks?

5. He also mentioned that it's common to simply tell the drummer to play a particular style with four slashes plus the rhythm style - like "/ / / / Bossa nova". Is anything like that implemented for the synthesizer, and if so, how to do it? If not, where would the "/ / / / Bossa nova" go?

6. He told me that the high priced "Personal composer" software (which he used occasionally in the past) had a feature where you entered a chord symbol and the program would take care of assigning the notes to the available instruments, presumably according to some instructions you give it? Anything like that in MuseScore?

Thanks. These are mostly minor tweaks that we could happily live without but if they're there, I might use them.


I figured out how to add the cue notes above slashes for the piano - by copying and pasting the notes first and making them small and unclicking "Play" in the inspector, then Edit/tools/Fill with slashes for the range of selected measures.

That technique doesn't seem to work for the repeat symbols in the drumset, though. I can understand why, since cue notes aren't specifically supported, so you couldn't have both notes and a repeat in the measure. This seems to be important to my arranger friend, so might be worth considering adding down the road, for jazz and pop arrangements, unless there's already a workaround I haven't come across.

1. To extend barlines, double click and drag. Most of the templates are set up this way by default.

2. I'm guessing what you mean here is what MuseScore calls "Rhythmic Slash Notation" - see the Handbook under "Tools" for more information.

3. There are different standards, and MuseScore tries to follow the popular ones. You can control the default positioning to some extent in Style / General / Articulations. See also #120896: Marcato symbol should default to above staff, and you'll see the default is actually changing for future versions.

4. Big band scores are actually very often printed on ordinary paper size (8.5x11" or 9x12" in the US, perhaps A4 in Europe?). Usually landscape orientation. And yes, this means they are quite small. The Jazz Big Band template does this automatically.

5. The slashes are created via Edit / Tools / Fill With Slashes. Text can be added normally, as Staff Text (Ctrl+T) or whatever. Not sure what you mean by "implemented for the synthesizer", but if you mean, does MuseScore implement some sort of automatic playback to come up with some sort of generic bossa nova beat, the answer is no. If you want playback, add an invisible staff and add the notes to it - I do this pretty regularly in my jazz ensemble arrangements.

6. MuseScore does not try to do artificial intelligence and do the arrasnging work for him, if that's what he means. If he just means, he enters the notes manually onto one staff and the software splits those onto other staves, MuseScore does that too, Edit / Tools / Explode.

If it helps, here is an example of a recent big band score of mine that shows off most of these features:


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks, Marc. Great arrangement.

Sounds like most everything is already covered. The one remaining issue is that of cue notes for the drummer. The idea, I guess, is that the drummer will be asked to play appropriately in the style indicated at his discretion, with the cue notes telling him what the lead section is playing so he can make it compatible. I had done a bossa nova arrangement and did the standard drum part for one measure followed by repeats. It would be nice to add the cue notes above the repeats, but that doesn't seem possible at present, and in a way the repeats are telling the drummer exactly what to play, so cue notes shouldn't have any effect. I guess one way to do it is substitute slashes for the repeats, because I did figure out how to add the notes, then fill with slashes, as I did with the piano. The only problem with that is that when you copy an instrument's notes to the drumset staff, some of the notes may become x's, and you can't use the arrow keys to reposition them. I'll talk again with my arranger friend, because I may be misunderstanding the process.

In reply to by Craig Wilson

It's possible you are misunderstanding something about my response, or something about how drum parts are traditionally notated in big band arrangements. The Handbook section on rhythmic slash notation should show you exactlyu how to get the correct notation - slashes on the staff with rhythmic cues above. Repeats are not normally used for this. If you wish to use repeats anyhow, you could place them from the Symbols palette, but I recommend sticking with standard notation.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, my arranger friend likes to use cue notes for the drummer on top of improvisational slashes, and he puts the cue notes on the G just above the staff. When I try to copy G notes there to the drumset staff, they change to F's, because of the way notation is handled for the drumset. How do you do it, and what do you suggest? I can leave the notes there on the top line of the staff, make them small and non-playing, and reverse the stem directions, if that's acceptable to the drummer.

In reply to by jeetee

When I uploaded an mscz file to the "Made with MuseScore" forum as an attachment, it didn't look like that. It was just a couple of lines tall, and was marked as an attachment. What is the format for embedding it as Marc did?

Is there a way to create something similar that would play within an email, on a machine that didn't have MuseScore installed? If not, maybe something to consider as a future feature.

In reply to by Craig Wilson

Yes, it was published to msuescore.com normally, via "Save Online" from within MuseScore. Like a YouTube video, the result is not a single file, it's a web page, so no you can't just email it - although you can email a link to the page. You can also share the page via social media and have it embed within other pages. Definitely sign up for a musescore.com if you haven't already - the basic account is free.

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