Indicate the level of difficulty of a partition

• Oct 23, 2016 - 17:20


It would not it useful to indicate the level of difficulty of a partition, if possible to a recognized standard, so as to then be able to filter the site scores by level of difficulty?



In reply to by Shoichi

Hello Shoichi,
Both in (set the difficulty level with a select list in the "Song details" and filter tool) and in the software (set the difficulty level with a select list in the score properties ?) would be perfect.
But only in would be fine also! :)

In reply to by R.G

I read the Miré answer, I am afraid that really would be difficult to find an algorithm (?).
Is still a request that seems to me to have already seen, but one never knows ...
Regards and...Buona musica

In reply to by Shoichi

I thought about a select list like in the "Song details" score form.
The difficulty level could be "1rst year of study", "2nd year", etc. in a music school.
Or something more basic like "easy" (say the first three years, 1-3), "medium" (the three next, 4-6), "advanced" (the three next, 7-9), "difficult" (the three next, 10-12). Thus we have a scale of difficulty for every instruments.
Of course, the score difficulty level information would be optional (or set by default as "unknown") for those who don't know the level or don't want to set it.

In reply to by R.G

The right question is: "Who will, on, decide what level is such a work?". Its author (or editor), the webmaster, anyone ??? for this ranking.
Share your idea with good intentions but I am not sure this is feasible.

In reply to by Miré

The score owner would be responsible for the level information in the "Song details" score form, of course. In fact, the score owner is already responsible of the accuracy of all the information he publishes on the site.
If someone disagrees with the published information, he can argue in the comments. If someone is not confident with the difficulty level or doesn't find it useful, he doesn't use the difficulty level filter.
What's the issue? This is the way works with the other information, right?

To my opinion, the existing "key signature" information is another good candidate for a filter.

In reply to by R.G

The author or adapter piece should probably play it without difficulty or with very little and I do not think he feels a difficulty level other than himself and he even believes there may be any difficulty.
For example I placed on 2 booklets toccata and fugue for church organ of J.F. Seeger and I do not know play this instrument and it would seem pretentious to me to decide whether my work is for beginners, average players or experts.

In reply to by R.G

I take the bet that "unknown" will be the most common and therefore it is practically not solve the problem of rank difficulties.
However you can still make a feature request on "Issue Tracker". This will give a view of the interest carried by the community at this.

In reply to by Miré

If the purpose and the difficulties levels scale are well explained, I'm sure that teachers, students and some other people will be pleased to have the ability to use it.
A relatively basic scale like "easy" (say the first three years of music school, 1-3), "medium" (the three next, 4-6), "advanced" (the three next, 7-9), "difficult" (the three next, 10-12) would be an easy and intuitive scale of difficulties for every instruments.
This will be helpful for beginners and self-taught people. ;)

It should be relatively easy to report various factors that influence difficulty. Working out how to combine them to give an overall score might be a bit tricky, but its certainly possible.

The amateur and professional range of each instrument is already stored inside instruments.xml, and it should be trivial to add "beginner" and "intermediate" ranges and then report the category on the score page, along with the actual range. e.g. "Range: C3-G4 (Intermediate)". A more advanced algorithm would also take into account how long the score spends in the high and low ranges.

Beginner: All notes are one beat or a whole number of beats
Easy: Same but for half beats.
Intermediate: Allow triplets, basic syncopation, and notes that are worth a quarter of a beat.
Amateur: Allow some higher level tuplets and non-rhythmic sections (e.g. cadenzas)
Professional: Anything else (e.g. note lengths change often)

Length (for solo pieces)
Beginner: 30 seconds
Easy: 1 min
Intermediate: 2 mins
Amateur: 3 mins
Professional: unlimited

Arrangement (for orchestral pieces)
Beginner: All instruments play the same thing
Easy: Lots of instruments play the same rhythm
Intermediate: Instruments have similar rhthms
Amateur: Different rhthms, must count long sections of rests
Professional: Anything else (e.g. solo section)

In reply to by shoogle

Ranking scores is, to me, not a good idea. As previously said, it is quite difficult to rank a score. Furthermore, it would compartmentalise the scores and thus, some musescorer would miss scores not necessarily properly ranked. I like to browse in ms, and i sometimes find nuggets i wouldnt if scores were ranked. Everyone is able to make its own opinion at first glance and knows if he/she have the skills to play the piece...

In reply to by IZI Music

Even with a ranking system in place there would be nothing to stop you from browsing for scores as you do now, but some people might like to use a ranking system to help narrow the selection, or to see how their own composition compares to others in terms of difficulty. But any ranking system would only be useful to people looking to play the piece themselves, not by people who just want to listen to it, so there would be plenty of opportunity for music to be discovered regardless of its ranking.

There is such a plethora of music difficulty ranking scales in the world as to make this proposal impractical. For school bands and orchestras, both the U.S. and the U.K. (not to mention other countries) have different systems; for piano music there is another system; for guitar music yet another; and yet another for recorders (ARS) and viols (VDGSA), and so forth....

There is, in fact, no uniform international ranking system for music difficulty, and I seriously doubt that any will be universally accepted anytime soon. We don't even have a coherent standard for choral notation, let alone difficulty, in spite of the best efforts of the CDSA to create one a number of years ago.

For MuseScore as an organisation to embark on this project would not help to solve this confusion; it would merely add one more independent voice to the cacophony of others already vying for attention.

Users are, of course, free to describe their uploaded pieces as 'easy,' 'intermediate,' 'advanced,' or 'professional,' according to their own personal evaluation of the work. Such a description can be written in the comments box available for all uploads. But there is no call for, and no benefit to be derived from, creating a formal difficulty-ranking system that users would have to abide by when uploading their works to

In reply to by Recorder485

There is another point to this: People who want to play or sing something from are the ones who know their own skills (some people have great sense of rhythm but poor intonation, others the other way round etc.--this is one of the reasons why difficulty rankings are very hard to do) and are best suited to figure out if they are "up to" a certain piece.

In reply to by Recorder485

It's true that there is no universal system for ranking difficulty, and that individuals know their own skills best. However, even if we can't report an overall difficulty score, as I said before, it may still be possible to report objective statistics about a piece that can inform the user's decision about whether or not they can play the piece in question.

For example, we can report the range of notes, and if a performer knows they can't play or sing above a certain pitch then they can immediately rule out the songs that go higher than their limit. We can also detect whether the rhythm contains tuplets or syncopation, and whether the tempo is fast or slow.

In reply to by shoogle

I'm sure you are correct and that some of this could be done, but I'm still not sure I see the purpose of puting a rating system on

Difficulty-rating systems are used predominantly by school systems and publishers. Schools use them because rules which put things into neat categories make 'education management' easier; publishers use them as a marketing tool to target customers who fall into those categories. My company avoids prescriptive systems, but summarises each work descriptively in the comments section on the item detail page for each edition. In the commercial world, people are hesitant to shell out $25 or $35 for an edition if they're unsure they'll be able to play it, so this makes a good deal of sense. But scores on are FREE. People can download and try out anything that looks interesting, and they can even listen to a playback first.

In reply to by Recorder485

In my first post I was talking about a rating system, but in the last one I was talking about objective statistics, not a subjective rating. The idea is that statistics (unlike a rating system) do not attempt to make any decision on behalf of the musician about whether a particular piece is playable, but they can be used to inform the musician in making that decision themself.

I sing bass and I have a comfortable range from E2-E4. It would be very helpful if I could filter the search results to only include songs in that range. As a singer, I don't care which key a piece is in, but a pianist might find it very helpful to filter songs based on the number of sharps or flats in the key signature. In other words, statistics can be used like a rating system, but they are more reliable because they are never wrong and the user can choose to ignore any statistics that are irrelevant to them.

In reply to by shoogle

On that basis, what you are proposing makes a good deal of sense. IIUYC, instead of a 'difficulty rating', you are suggesting a sort of 'advanced search' tool containing a number of filters which the searcher--not the person who uploaded the score--could use to narrow the search results to suit his particular requirements. The technical characteristics of the score in question would be parsed by the script, so there would be no need for any subjective evaluation on the part of the uploader. Something like that could be quite useful.

I don't know how this could be implemented, but I suspect that Thomas would be the best person to answer that.

Such a tool would not necessarily have to be included with Anybody with time on their hands and the necessary skills could write it. It would detect certain features in a score (in .mscx or maybe .xml format) and tabulate them in a spread sheet. Such spreadsheets could then be searched to find the scores that have or have not certain characteristics.

But here is the caveat: Such a tool would still give you at best an approximation and the complexity would rise exponentially with the degree of improvement. So there is a very serious question as to whether it is worth it. A lot of the difficulty an instrumentalist encounters has to do with whether a piece "lies well" or not. And part of that is the anatomy of the player: For big hands different things are hard than for small hands. And this is probably true for singers too.

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