Slash notation, MusicXML, and MuseScore 2.0

• Jul 23, 2012 - 01:38

When I think about what I think I'd still most like to see added for 2.0 (beyond bug fixing and completing work on features already started), very high on that list is native support for slash notation. I suspect 2.0 is considered too close to being feature complete for me to have much chance of selling this idea, but I'd at least like to throw it out there. Apparently MusicXML defines some sort of measure-style element for slash notation, which is also how it handles repeat bars and multimeasure rests. I know Finale implements slash notation as a "staff style", which seems to be rather similar. Does this provide a model we could use in MuseScore? The idea is that we wouldn't store individual slashes, but merely attach a style to a given measure that tells the display engine to display slashes instead of the actual contents of the measure.


For the sake of completeness, what you are refering about in MusicXML is the "measure-style" element.

"A measure-style indicates a special way to print partial to multiple measures within a part. This includes multiple rests over several measures, repeats of beats, single, or multiple measures, and use of slash notation.

The multiple-rest and measure-repeat symbols indicate the number of measures covered in the element content. The beat-repeat and slash elements can cover partial measures. All but the multiple-rest element use a type attribute to indicate starting and stopping the use of the style. The optional number attribute specifies the staff number from top to bottom on the system, as with clef."

If we go this way, it would make sense to add this flag in Measure properties, like visible and stemless. We should also define what would happen if you change a notehead when this option is on? What happen in a percussion staff? a tab staff?

In reply to by Nicolas

In 2.0, can measure properties be applied on a per staff basis? That would be necessity here.

As for what might happen if you change noteheads or apply to diffeent staff types, I am working on the assumption that since the MusicXML descriptions "seems" similar to how Finale implements it, that I can use Finale as a point of reference. That probably isn't completely valid, but it's a start.

If MusicXML works the way I imagine based on my experience with Finale, the actual content of a measure - notes, rests, manual adjustments including changes of notehead - is left completely intact when applying slash notation. You continue to edit the measure normally in all respects, and the measure plays back based on those contents. It is only the display of the measure that is altered - the contents are completely ignored in favor of slashes. At least, for the main "slash" style. There is also a "rhythmic notation" style in which any notes in the measure *are* displayed, but with no pitch - a slash-headed note fixed to the middle staff line is used instead of whatever the actual pitch(es) were.

Finale actually takes all this a step farther by allowing this style to be applied to just a single voice, so you can have regular visible notes in voice 1 but have the contents of voice 2 replaced by slash or rhythmic notatin. I don't know if MusicXML supports that directly or not. It's not a feature I consider a deal breaker. But it is useful in drum notation. Percussion staves are treated no differently than others by Finale with respect to slash notation. So you can have slashes as the main display for a measure but also show notes in another voice. This is a very common way to write big band charts - the slashes to indicate "keep time", the additional notes (usually indicated with stems up, abive the staff) used to indicate "kicks" for the drummer to play while keeping time. But we can already achieve this in MuseScore without the special slash notation style , so again, I think of it as lower priority. The main reasons I am uncomfortable with the current scheme for implementing slash notation are that it doesn't fix the slashes to the given staff line on transposition and that it isn't very compatible with other programs via MusicXML. But drums arenever transposed, and realistically, they are probably not going to play nicely with other programs anyhow when transferred via MusicXML.

No idea about tab. I don't know if slash notation is commonly used there or what expectations anyone might have.

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