MusicXML vs midi

• Oct 14, 2013 - 10:03


How does export/import compare MusicXML vs. midi?
What's best?

I'm trying composing in Reaper and exporting to Musescore, but it's a mess.
Not solely Musescores fault.
So, if I get something with good MusicXML in/out,
could that work better?


MusicXML is the preferred method of getting music into MuseScore from other applications, as it has a description of the actual notation embedded in the file.


MusicXML is designed to carry sheet music information. It contains dynamics marking for example (the text + the sound effect) or tempo markings or slurs, beaming info etc...

MIDI contains information about a "performance" somehow. You could think about MIDI has a punched card for a mechanical piano. Strictly speaking, MIDI doesn't even "know" the difference between a half note and a quarter note. And so MIDI is not really suited for sheet music information.

Reaper is a a digital audio workstation and as far as I know (and I don't know reaper much) doesn't have any "score" information. I don't know of any sequencer or DAW with score information and a decent MusicXML export.

So it's hard to find the right workflow. You have to think about it and find the right tool for your way of working. What do you want to produce in the end, an audio rendering (how close to a human rendering?) and/or a digital score? How do you start your creative process? by recording yourself? audio or MIDI? by writing music notation on paper?

In reply to by [DELETED] 5


Ok, so MusicXML is the prefered way.

For what I'm doing now,
printed score is the primary output.

However I need to hear well what I'm doing,
and copy/paste/editing amongst instr (SATB).
I love composing in the midi-realm as syncopations start/end of notes seems much easier to tweak there. (Musescore pianoroll: Is that only for view, not edit?)

Then I'd like to make decent audio rehearsal for the singers.
So, that's why I opted to compose in a DAW,
and make audio output from there.

Now, Musescore seems pretty good for the score-print.
I was considering Notion4, but I guess Musescore is much better in this realm.
Maybe I could use Notion and Musescore, in/out via MusicXML?

I guess when I get some practice I'll find my workflow better.

BTW: I believe Cubase and Sonar has MusicXML-support of some degree

In reply to by G-Sun

Here's an easier perhaps a simple way to think about it:

If you are primarily concerned with *audio playback* details like start and stop times of each individual notes, MIDI is the best carrier for that information.

If you are primarily with *score appearance* details like whether a note is represented as a staccato quarter note or an eighth rest followed by an eighth rest, then MusicXML is the best carrier for that information.

The assumption in MuseScore is that you are using it as opposed to DAW software because you are more concerned with the appearance of the score than the details of the playback. So the usual workflow is to get the score looking the way you want in MuseScore, apply whatever tweaks to playback you can there, then if for some reason you really need more fine grained control over performance than that, export as MIDI and tweak further in a program that specializes in that sort of thing. 99% of users would never have the need - once the sheet music *looks* the way it should, the job for which they turned to MuseScore in the first place is basically done. The audio playback is just to give one a rough idea of how the score might sound when ultimately played by human musicians, but is never intended to be an end in itself.

It is certainly possible to adopt other use models, but then you're kind of on your own in terms of sorting out your own needs and how to best use the available tools to meet them.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, I get it.

Off course for the sake of composing,
we have different preferences.
I might compose in Musescore,
at least as I get to know shortcuts and tools better.
But then, there are some features I miss
- Solo staff, solo in front
- Vst-support

It would be far more efficient for me to compose in final tool for printing,
so.. we'll see.

Anyway, Musescore is looking good regarding it's primary goal, making nice score prints :)

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Since Logic refused to keep up with the PC, I gave up on the programme having seen it develop from the magnificent Notator scoring package on the Atari (mid 80's) . One element that all DAWs and scoring packages could copy is the idea of linking sequence timing to the appearance of the score. In effect, translating the available timing positions of, say, a semiquaver to 48 different tick positions meant that there was a range of timing positions either side of the quantise point that would still retain the semiquaver in the visual position you expected. Furthermore, a separately functioning score quantise allowed considerable flexibility, particularly in terms of cleaning up unnecessary rests (in other words, in this example producing a visual display of quavers, effectively played short because of the semiquaver origin from the sequence, rather than the clumsy semiquaver, semiquaver rest pattern.) All of this made users consider attack time and note length in a way that did not interfere with the visual aspects of the score, and produced some understanding of how a live performer might interpret a score.

It's a long time since I used Logic, but I guess this approach has been retained and developed. I was hoping that the Reaper programmers would develop notation, OR allow a third party scorer to integrate via Rewire to produce this very development. Conversely, MuseScore might benefit greatly from this sort of experiment. When I was teaching at Goldsmiths the idea of creating a score from a performance (as in jazz styles of all sorts) seemed to be totally misunderstood by those who created their performances from a score only. Hence the sterile performance playback of scoring packages. Any takers?

In reply to by Tony de Araujo

Nothing has or ever could change in this respect - the issue has nothing to do with MuseScore's audio playback. it's about the purpose of these two different formats. MusicXML is for transmitting music notation, MIDI is for transmitting very low level information about note on & note off only. MIDI was never intended to transmit basic notation info and none of the changes coming with MIDI 2.0 etc will change that.

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