Repeats (voltas) completely botched

• Jun 3, 2014 - 08:49

I transcribed a copy of the song "Lord I Need You" into MS so I could easily transpose the key and (yet to be added) chords. But on playback I get some strange manifestations:

1. On first play through, the measure at the first ending is skipped completely; the playback passes from measure 16 straight to measure 18.
2. On the repeat at measure 27, the playback returns to measure 10. But the repeat plays through the first ending a second time (skipping measure 17 as before); the repeat at measure 27 then returns to the pickup measure at the beginning instead of measure 10.
3. On the last repeat, the playback plays straight through from top to bottom, including the first and second endings in its playback -- without repeats -- instead of returning to measure 10 and jumping from measure 16 to measure 38.

Something isn't right about that. What I'm trying to do is recreate the layout as shown in the attached PDF. I really don't want to have to drag a first ending or second ending for 10 or 15 measures to make it play back correctly. And as opposed to comments I've seen in other postings about voltas, the use of repeat return barlines is a necessity; you need to know whether you're returning to a previous point or going on to something else. So the layout in the PDF is correct; MS should be able to duplicate it and play it back properly.

Any ideas? Thanks.

Attachment Size
lord-i-need-you.pdf 150.3 KB
Lord, I Need You.mscz 3.3 KB


...The repeats are completely botched - in the original. In other words, the use of two repeats in this way is ambiguous. With one start and two end repeats (for which there is no single, universally accepted protocol) MuseScore gets confused. With one start and two end repeats (as in your original) I get confused, too. MuseScore needs a start and end repeat. Then the voltas will work. Instead of the second repeat you can use a DS.

In reply to by underquark

There might not be one single unambiguous interpretation, and I agree there were a number of poor choice made by the original editor of this sheet music, but still, having 1st, 2nd, and 3rd endings is pretty standard in popular music, and putting a repeat sign at the end of the 2nd ending is the common and proper way to notate this. MuseScore just doesn't happen to handle this well. I think it should, but FWIW, the development version does no better.

BTW, for the OP - keep in mind the primary purpose of MuseScore is *notation*, not playback. you can't expect it to playback every conceivable marking. i do think this particular set of markings should work, but it is true that is does not. Still, that doesn't mean the repeats themselves are botch - they display and print just fine, and that's the main purpose of MuseScore. it's just the playback feature that doesn't happen to get them right. So you might consider filing this as a feature request in the Issue Tracker - requesting supporting for multiple end repeats back to the same start repeat, in order to support this particular style of notation.

That said, I do agree that it really isn't good practice, and one is better off using DS & Coda.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


I understand that the OP of MS is notation, not sound generation. However, I think you might agree that playback of the composition is the best way to ensure you have what you intended, especially in those cases where you're working on an original composition and you keep tweaking measures and parts throughout (as I did on a recent 10-page anthem). And I'm glad someone agrees with me that the practice displayed in the PDF and the original MSCZ is both common and proper; there seems to be a bit of disagreement with that position. In fact, I do note that even though you agree the practice is both common and proper, you also believe it isn't good practice. I find the dichotomy mildly confusing; however, I don't consider it a problem in the instant case.

Pity that the development version isn't up to speed on this. But, as you correctly noted, MS exists primarily for notation, not for playback. I think I may take you up on the suggestion of posting this as a feature request. It would be interesting to see what happens to MS if it becomes a more comprehensive music notation and performance SW instead of maintaining focus on its core strength. Feature creep can sometimes strangle a great application.

In reply to by km2002

I do agree playback serves a purpose in getting a sense of how your piece will sound. But to that end, playback of repeats is not a particularly important aspect of that compared to playback of dynamics, tempo, articulations, etc. So I'd say that having this sort of perspective on playback has to do with how on prioritizes different features with the general umbrella of playback.

Regarding the notion of this notation being "common and proper", let me rephrase. *if* one decides to use three different endings for the same repeat - a notation I do *not* recommend to begin with - then the common and proper way to indicate this particular notation will indeed involve unmatched repeats. In other words, *given* that the original chart made the decision they made - to use three voltas rather than the preferred method, two voltas and a DS - they did at least notate that decision properly. But it's still a poor decision in the first place. The fact that it requires unmatched repeats and therefore makes it harder to find where to repeat back to is one reason it's not a good idea. The fact that it is just nowhere near as common as the two-voltas-and-DS arrangement, and therefore is much more likely to lead to confusion, is another. The fact that it's hard to visually differentiate the second and third volta - it's easy in the heat of the moment to see one and mistake it for the other - is probably the most compelling reason. These are the sort of choices - less common notations that are easily confused - that often to "train wrecks" in my professional experience as a player, conductor, and composer.

In reply to by km2002

the PDF and the original MSCZ is both common and proper;

This practice may be common, but in most music engraving circles you will find it is deprecated as the result is unclear and may lead to confusion in rehearsal/performance.

Yet another example, I'm afraid, of a CCM engraver not knowing enough about the theory of music to produce a readable lead sheet.

The entire genre is riddled with this kind of poor quality music engraving.

Sadly the publishers think more about dollars in the bank than hiring someone who knows how the lead sheet should be laid out.

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