General Impressions

• Nov 9, 2012 - 16:17

> I would like to offer you my congratulations on the program. I have
> long resisted musical typesetting but you have opened the door to it
> for me.
> The only problem I have is that you do not seem to realize that there
> are numerous occasions where composers need to break rules: not have a
> time signature for example, or not be beholden to the rest in a
> putative new bar for entering something.
> Secondly, it does not do cross rhythms partly because of the tyranny
> of the time signature. It will not allow intelligent re-spacing such
> as is commonplace in Chopin, for example.
> And it will permit chords; but not, say, (in a 6/8 measure) allow a 2
> voice accompanying chord with stem pointing down, value dotted
> crotchet, against three quavers above (the melody) with stems pointing
> up. So Mendelssohn would have had problems.
> I am having to find work-arounds and change my notational procedures
> for these issues.
> And if I write a fugue in 4 parts - as I hope - well I will just have
> to write it on 4 staves as Bach used to! And learn to read it thus!
> Your comments welcome!


While it is true that by default, MuseScore excepts music to have and obey time signatures, it is possible to create music that ignores these conventions. The tools you will want to investigate include things like setting things invisible, also the Measure Properties dialog which allows a measure to have a different number of beats than it should according to the time signature. Both of these are accessed from the right click menu. By "cross rhythms", I guess maybe you mean beams notes where the beams cross the barline. This can be done as well - simply set the beam properties of the notes you wish to connect (last note of one bar, first note of next) appropriately using the Beam Properties palette. Tuplets are tricky, but doable; see

As for intelligent respacing, it would help if you explained more what you have in mind. I can't tell from your description if you just haven't discovered the Voices feature of MuseScore that is designed to allow what you are describing (different notes/chords with different rhythms at the same time, stems up in one voice, stems down in the other) or if there is some specific things you are having difficulty doing using the Voices facility.

It is true that there are definitely some bugs in how notes heads are positioned in certain mutli-voice settings when seconds are involved, also rests do not adjust vertically in multi-voice settings. Both of these issues are greatly improved in the next version (2.0), for which you can download nightly builds to experiment with (see the Download link at right of this page and scroll down the page). But even in the current version (1.2), you can adjust all of this manually to get whatever kind of spacing and positioning you like.

So if you still have questions after reading the documentation on Voices referenced above, feel free to post specific questions - perhaps showing an image of what you want the score to look like - and we can help you see how to do it.

MuseScore has its limitations to be sure, but I think you may be surprised at just how much it actually can do once you learn how!

Thanks Marc, for your response.

I have already used the hide (rests) feature to enable me to use repetition marks but do not see how I could have a bar with no time signature. The program does not allow it.

By cross rhythms I simply meant simply tuplets, 3 against 2 for example. The 3 will not be correctly spaced to the 2, will it ?
[ ie spacing at 33% 66% 99% - voice 1; versus %25% 75% - voice 2, same stave]. (I wanted two 8's against two nines in an 18/8 measure; I could remove the rests - or hide - and write in an '8' rubric, but not stretch intelligently to match the LH)

And re voices/chords, if you have 6 quavers in 6/8 as top voice, stem up, can you have a chord of 1.5 beats (dotted crotchet) underneath the first three, stem down; then same again, last three? I found not: the prog seemed to want to link the whole lot into one chord, and have uniformity of duration.

As I write this I cannot see your response so apologies for any lack of finesse.



And many thanks for all the info.

In reply to by lasconic

The musical examples you reproduce are exactly what I meant. Although I must say the spacing looks a shade odd, the two first notes of the triplet being further to the LH side than the last one. Acceptable, though. I re-read the section you sent me to. There is no explicit clarification, but I guess you are implying that if I follow the procedures exactly - one voice first, then the second - spacing issues in a 2 against 3 situation will resolve themselves automatically. That's good to know. However, can I have three voices on one line or only two? Cheers.

In reply to by MoverleySmith

Agreed on the default spacing in the presence of three against two in a multi-voice context in 1.X, but note you can fine tune this - double click a note and nudge it with arrow or ctrl-arrow, This may be somewhat improved in 2.0.

TIme signatures can be hidden in exactly the same way as notes. So you can't create a music no time signatures, but you can create music with no *visible* time signatures, and with measures of any length, which basically amounts to the same thing.

First of all welcome to MuseScore.

You may be interested in the some of the work I have done in MuseScore with unmetrical music:-

It is not easy to do these scores in 1.2, but when 2.0 is finally released the Split Bar facility will make things 100% easier.

Whilst MuseScore does not allow a bar to have no time signature, it is possible to define the actual time signature for a bar so that just about any irregular rhythm can be accommodated.

If you want to know more about how this is achievable, come back here :)


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

It was very interesting and exciting-looking liturgical music you have there, calling out for organ dissonances, a dark church and candles. And it's quite properly measureless. Which you have managed very nicely hiding time signatures, I think. Your amicable help much appreciated.

In reply to by MoverleySmith

After a few issues with wrong number of rests in a bar - separately reported - I suddenly got the hang of it and flew along. A 130-bar piece took 2 weeks for the first 50% and only about 3 days for the rest; and I am well into a new shorter movement with less complex textures. When you ask for notes the program sometimes creates them a long way away from the ideal place but Alt8 and Shift8 soon sort that - along with control select wrong notes and delete en masse. The cut and paste options really speed things up; and I was indeed able to enter a few 'unmeasured' bars. Beaming issues were generally resolved although at first I did not understand this. The palette still seems odd. The prog does not imagine tuplets over 9 so you have to do a custom line from the slur option with * keyboard * entry verticals (the symbol above backward slash) to hem the line in; numerals, in an old fashioned 'musical' type are in the symbols. To add an extra (unmensurated) note requires a few design skills, tail and head can be found, line connecting them needs to be made from the keyboard vertical symbol as noted, any ledger line from using tenuto symbols creatively...! The need to enter text via CONTROL L at least I suppose stops scores from being too chatty, but a Word Processing option would be nice. It's not - I think, with due respect to Marc - true that I can draw any line I want, I have to play around with slurs, and sometimes they fail to arrive in 4 sections for re-positioning. Even the enforced break of the score into two enabled me to redesign the second part with a new number of staves and a new format, so now I have a 22 page score which seems OK in most respects. Just I might have done some note groups differently, and not used one or two bizarre time signatures, had there not been this tuplet limitation.Thanks to those who commented so far to help me. All in all I am a big fan of this program now. But a stray reference to Photoscore got me thinking about that too.

In reply to by MoverleySmith

Your descrrption of your progress on your first piece sounds just like on mine - the better part of two weeks figuring things out just getting started on the piece, then a couple of days flying through the rest.

A couple of notes:

- when you mentipn alt8 as a way of getting notes into the correct octave and then deleting the old notes, it seems maybe you haven't yet discovered ctrl-up/down, which shifts the octave of the most recent note - not need to delete the original.

-.could you describe more what you have in mind regarding the tuples over nine? Musescore does support tuplets of almost arbitrary complexity, but I can't tell exactly what you are trying to do. Have you read the handbook section on tuplets ? Have you used the dialog to enter them manually?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


The issue has changed to clusters and I have found ways to get round the limitations: re-spacing, creating custom notes and an acceptable slanting line (or nearly) for thickly-clustered situations. the last two from Symbols, from where you can also pull in accidentals.

Two issues have come up (1) I lost the Navigator (2) I need t re-edit a subtitle and cannot see how to. 'Metadata' has no effect and seems to be on planet of its own.

Thanks for all your help and encouraging remarks. The Control arrow short-cut has been most beneficial.

I also wanted to say that now I have cracked 'Voices' but the Handbook failed to state that you must click N before getting any results. Then a magnificent new green cursor appears, spectacular!

I will get back to tuplets in due course - no more around at present!

In reply to by MoverleySmith

1) Shortcut for hide/display Navigator is F12; you probably pressed that by mistake. Press it again to get it back. You can also toggle it via the Display menu.

2) If by subtitle you mean a text element displayed on your score, you should be able to edit it like any other text item: double click it. I don't understand what exactly the Edit->Meta Data actually controls, either, but I'm guessing it's some fields stored within the score file that might conceivably be used in the future?

You shouldn't normally need to pull in accidentals from the symbols palette just to get proper slanting. Use real accidentals, then double click and nudge left or right with arrow / ctrl-arrow. I've entered some pretty highly chromatic multi-voice music and never encountered a situation where I couldn't get the results I wanted this way, although of course one wishes it were more automatic (and hopefully will become so).

Yes, not being in note entry mode already before selecting your desired voice gets a lot of people at first. The documentation could be a lot clearer on this. There is talk of doing major reorganization / rewriting for 2.0, which is kind of why there has been little effort to fix things in the current version of the Handbook.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

The specific thing missing is clear mention that you have to already be in note entry mode before selecting the voice. There is also mention that you need to cursor beat to the beginning of the measure firs,t which isn't actually true. So there is definitely room for improvement even within the context of the current structure.

But the biggest issue is that despite the fact that while "Voices" is absolutely the correct musical term for this and hence the correct heading for the section, way too many people don't know this and hence don't know where to look for this info. So more important than rewording a hard-to-find passage is making it easier to find. And that really would require a major reorganization of the material, to be more thematic and less a laundry list of features. That's what I am thinking is waiting for 2.0.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

A proper (and linked) index and glossary together with some search facitily would certainly help.
So that e.g. voices and layers (to mentione the two most commonly used terms vor this) are both mentioned and point to the voices manual page.
And that's being discussed since quite a while I think

In reply to by lasconic

Also, "layers" is a search term only an experienced Finale would be likely try. Someone new to notation software and not highly trained musically would probably tend to search for things like "how to have two different notes at the same time" or something like that. Actually, we could check the thread titles of the various threads started. Here are the first dozen that show up when I search on "See Voices" (which is the most common answer no matter how the question is worded):

How do you make 2 notes of different values insert (like a divisi)?
Rest for a part of note
I'm having troubles.
Continuing Bass Note
separating notes for same hand
How Do You Have Separate Melody Lines
Help with whole notes and half notes together
Extra staffs?
Multipul Notes
How am I able to notate 4 part choral style on a piano staff?
Help on entering 2 note chord with different note values.
Longer notes for guitar basses

This suggests to me that anything based on search terms alone isn't likely to get us there. Something like the quick start guide that John Sprung (whatever happened to him?) put together would be a very good thing,

In reply to by MoverleySmith

When you say it has it definitely not just hidden, what do you mean? Are you saying that you issued the command to bring it back as described but nothing happened? If so, then indeed, sounds like you probably resized it to nothing. In which case, you can size it back to normal by dragging up from the bottom, as shown the video above.

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