Playback for Sheet music

• Jan 3, 2018 - 17:29

Since Musescore isn't really supposed to be used as a playback software (i'm assuming), what program should I use to get a really good orchestral sound played from my sheet music?


I'm not really of any programs that specialized in this. I could easily imagine there being such a thing - a program that imports a MusicXML file and maybe doesn't do anything special regarding notation but really focuses on top notch playback. That said, there are commercial notation programs that do focus more on sound than we do, you could try importing into one of those. Or, you could try setting up Jack to allow MuseScore to play back via DAW software, and configure that however you like. That is a lot of work, though.

Of course, you can also get different / better sounds within MuseScore by simply trying different soundfonts. See the Handbook under "Soundfonts" for more info. That's the easiest options.

Jan 3, 2018 - 18:47

XML doesn't translate as well as MIDI in my opinion. But if you feel it is necessary to play the actual sheet music back, Finale and Sibelius both have playback engines included. I had limited experience with
Finale free version. The samples were not better, though there was individual channel reverb.

Personally, I wouldn't spend a cent on a notation program in order to just get the playback. Having said that, I like the fluid/zita combination (free!)for WAV export. I also like the MIDI export.

If you are willing to export MIDI, then you can rent the Vienna or East-West libraries to try to achieve a better sound. You could always read the sheet music along with it.

In reply to by Anonymous

The point of MusicXML is that it is capable of representing much more than MIDI. If all you have is MIDI, then you are going to face all the same limitations as MuseScore's own playback. For instance, no slur playback, no playback of notations like "2nd time only", no playback of dynamics like "fp", no playback of crescendos on a single note, etc. In short, if MuseScore can't play it, it won't make it to the MIDI file either. So basically all you'll have is a file with all the same limitations as MuseScore's own playback. Sure, maybe you can find a program with some better soundfonts, but it would likely be just as easy to just load the better soundfont into MuseScore, or to use playback via Jack / MIDI out through a DAW (perhaps using East/West or whatever other engine your like) to save yourself the whole export / import shuffle.

If you want truly better playback, though, you're going to want a program that doesn't have all those limitations that are inherent in MsueScore's playback, and that means you'll need a format that is capable of representing that information. MusicXML is the only format that can serve this role. But as I said, the problem is then finding a program that really specializes in taking advantage of it.

Jan 4, 2018 - 07:25

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"if MuseScore can't play it, it won't make it to the MIDI file either." Understood. But " if you can write it to XML. no program can play it correctly either." Its a wash. So, it seems that you have to go to editing either way.
The editors can overcome some limitations and more sample players will be able to read and play the file. That seems like an advantage over XML which narrowly targets notation programs and their playback engines.

I guess I was trying to steer the poster away from being tied down to the "playback of the sheet music" within a self=contained program.

In reply to by Anonymous

There are things that MuseScore cannot play but can write to MusicXML and that other notation programs will play. Slurs and single note crescendos are but two examples. So there really can be a reason to try this - you absolutely have a better chance of improved playback out of the box using this approach.

That said, I do agree that if you are willing to spend a lot of time manually tweaking the playback in DAW software as opposed to relying on the default playback, then you can eventually do even better. And if your favorite DAW program does not support MusicXML well, you will indeed be forced to resort to MIDI.

Jan 4, 2018 - 16:25

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Ok and thanks. I learned something that I am now curious to try. I have two parts of slurred "oohs" and "ahhhs." As I recall. the free version of Finale excluded record, some export and save functions. But nothing was said about the playback engine and the ability to import XML. ( I came to Musescore from this version with an exported XML file mentioned above.) I want to hear if it plays the slurs. While I am doing that, I will take a look at the instruments. xml file to hear if it plays changed gate times.

Thanks for the discussion, though not originally my post.

In reply to by Anonymous

I'm curious too! I know even the free version of Finale (Notepad) can import and export MusicXML as well as save. I think you might be thinking of the demo version of Sibelius, which does indeed limit these functions. But I don't know if the free versions if either implement slur playback. MuseScore does adjust note length slightly (I don't think you will see that on instruments.xml) but that's not the same as true slur playback. But I'm pretty sure the full versions of these programs can. Also Notion, perhaps others.

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