MDL issues

• Jun 20, 2018 - 20:33

I'm somewhat surprised by how sloppily prepared the MDL extension seems to be. Some of the first issues that have immediately jumped out at me:

The drumset definitions from the extension's instruments XML file don't use the sounds from the extension's SFZs. (And why is this special instruments XML hidden? The default instruments.xml is shown in Preferences / Score.) The symbols in the palette have no positioning rules (see attached screenshot). This whole workspace doesn't seem to have been thought about—the Fingering palette is removed, but the Fretboard Diagrams palette included, and so on.

All this makes me even more concerned about the templates and style sheets, which won't even have a beta period.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 3.34.24 PM.png


I too have some concerns about the amount of testing this might receive, but I'm not quite understanding your specific issues.

In particular, what do you mean about the drumset definitions not using the SFZ's? It seems to me the actual MDL instruments do, the standard drums don't, and that's probably not a bad thing. Otherwise you wou;dn't be able to share "regular" scores created with the extension installed.

Regarding positioning, I agree it would be great to have sophisticated positing rules like those that exist for other articulations, but I think these are just symbols, and actually implementing new code to do sophisticated positioning them is, I think, beyond the scope of what was intended. So they just do the same as applying from the Symbols palette, which is apply no offset, leaving positioning in hands of users but in a predictable way. Could be worse.

I do agree it seems odd that MuseScore shows no evidence of the extension's instrument XML being used.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

OK, I see what you mean. I am a bit confused though, because there is no sound at all without the MDL soundfonts, so it must when the relying on the MDL soundfonts in some way. And the "Z" buzzroll works using the MDL instruments, and this too depends on the MDL soundfont being present. So there is more to this than meets the eye, but hopefully someone else can clear up the confusion. For now, I can just say that this is still in development, that's why this is a beta (calling it a "release candidate" at first was not really appropriate), and that it is known there is still much to be added.

We just put out a major new update to the preview.

Select the latest "nightly" build for 2.3 (not Master) here:
MacOS -
Win -
Linux -

Once 2.3 is installed, go to Help > Resource Manager and select Install next to the MDL package.
This should download and configure MDL on your computer. All MDL templates are now available at the bottom of the templates director that you may access by simply creating a new file.
Also be sure to make sure that your workspace is set to MDL in the bottom left hand corner (options are Basic, Advanced, MDL). This will give you access to the custom MDL palettes.
There are also guides that describe the notation standard and keymaps that you can download here.…

Still a lot of things to adjust, particularly on the sound of playback… but some major steps forward. Would love to get your thoughts.

In reply to by Daniel

1) Created score from MDL Battery template, entered notes on Snare, no sound
2) Still no keyboard entry on Tenor, or apparently, some other instruments, including new Drumset
3) Inconsistency between three names of Tenorline/Tenor Line/Tenors (default text in instruments XML for part name/appearance in instrument list, long name, and short name)
4) Distinction unclear between this and other Tenors instrument
5) What the heck are those page sizes for the templates?!

In general, this still seems very haphazard and incomplete, and I'm doubtful of whether it can be made ready without spending significant time yet going over the details.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Hey Isaac,

Did you use MDL with a clean install of the latest nightly? The issue with having to manually select mixer settings has been resolved in the latest nightly.

Keyboard shortcuts for all instruments and fixes to name inconsistencies will be pushed to Github on Monday.

About distinction in instrument name - Tenors (one instrument), Tenor Line (multiple instrument). The syntax does seem a bit odd, but how they are commonly referred to.

About page size for templates, they are designed according to common practices for marching band:

- MDL_Battery
- MDL_Drum_Corps_(WINDS)

- MDL_Pep_Band
- MDL_Marching_Band_(WINDS)
- MDL_Marching_Band_(UNI)
- MDL_Marching_Band_(OSU)
- MDL_Front_Ensemble

all parts are Letter/A4

- MDL_Indoor_Percussion
- MDL_Indoor_Winds
- MDL_Marching_Band_(FULL)
- MDL_Drum_Corps_(FULL)
- MDL_Drum_Corps_(TRAD)

About the custom sizes, these scores will NEVER be printed, but are only used for composition process.

To explain a bit of how the process works, many marching band scores are usually written by between 2-4 composers/arrangers working on different aspects of the score. It is not uncommon to have a master composer/arranger who lays out the skeleton of the work and then passes this to a wind arranger, battery arranger and front ensemble arranger who each complete their respective sections of the score.

Once the score is complete, the master score it is divided into Winds, Battery and Front Ensemble scores which are then used to learn the music and rehearse the program. These are all printable on standard formats (Legal/A3) using the respective templates for each section. Winds, Battery and Front Ensemble most often rehearse separately and then bring things together for full ensemble rehearsal.

When a full score is needed for reference in a full ensemble rehearsal, it is most often used in only a digital format.

While all of this does seem quite different in comparison to the standard use and expected behavior of other MuseScore templates, these are designed to adapt MuseScore to better fit the established practices and workflow of various marching ensembles.

In reply to by Daniel

Regarding the sounds, I am observing this in a815806, and it seems more and more buggy. First, after reverting to factory settings, the correct sounds were assigned in the Mixer in the first score I created (but it only appeared that way—still without playback), and then after that everything is assigned to the Standard drumkit again in each new score I create, whether from a template or by choosing instruments, even after reverting to factory settings again. (None of this stops me from then manually switching each channel to its desired sound, but it's entirely unreasonable that the user should have to do this.)

I'm glad to hear you're taking care of the keyboard shortcuts and name inconsistencies now that I drew them to your attention, but I'm concerned about how much more there may be yet to do that won't be noticed or pointed out in the few days remaining until the release.

Thanks for the explanation on the page sizes.

2.3-RC, with MDL updated to 0.15: seven templates for individual instruments have been added, as if MuseScore didn't already have linked parts, or as if it saves the user significant effort to search the templates for a single-instrument template instead of searching the instruments for that instrument. (Related question, on the subject of linked parts: why are there also separate templates for the full ensemble and its component parts, when the winds, battery, and front ensembles you described could simply be set up as linked parts of the full score?) Creating score from the first of these excess templates, the MDL Snare, no sound; in the Mixer it is assigned to the Tenor SFZ. Adding another from the instruments list, just in case it was only a problem with that file (which, again, should not exist), the same thing is the case. I throw up my hands. It is what it is, and it's not my responsibility. I can't attempt to document it in this state, though.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Hey Isaac,

I'll do my best here to address a few of your concerns.

With regards to single instrument templates, the objective is to provide an accuracy and consistency of notated result with the least amount of work required by the user in order to achieve this.

Firstly, by default, MuseScore uses the Emmentaler font. Not all noteheads required in order to properly notate for marching percussion are available in Emmentaler, which is why all MDL templates use Bravura.

Secondly, the use of the template ensure that all behaviors required in order to notate correctly - position and placement of articulations, beams, etc. are all correct. It is actually takes extra effort to notate incorrectly when using these templates, and if the user might change some aspect of the score parameters, for example a different font, if uploaded to, it is still rendered according to the template.

Consider these templates to be sort of like bumpers placed in the gutters at a bowling alley. They help to prevent mistakes and help to achieve a higher result by requiring less experience and effort in execution.

Regarding the rationale for different templates for separate ensemble sections vs. linked parts in a single score, it is important to understand the workflows of the intended user.

I'd break this process down as follows:

Concept > Compose > Rehearse > Refine > Reuse > Repeat


In the concept phase there is a collaborative discussion of ideas, but generally there is a single music director that lays out the overall structure of a score. It is more of a skeleton with less detail and little proper orchestration. Once the general concept is agreed upon, then the score is passed to the additional composers and arrangers to complete.


Working from the concept score are composers/arrangers for winds, battery percussion and front ensemble. It is common that these are 3 separate individuals writing their parts independently.

The expand on the concept score to complete the orchestration and detail the parts.


Once composition stage is finished, the scores begin to be rehearsed. Rehearsals at this stage are separate for winds, battery and front ensemble.

At this stage it is seen how the parts may (or may not) work on a very detailed level of the specific section, and changes are made to the section score, entirely independent of the whole score.

Visual aspects of the program are also influencing musical changes on both the ensemble level and section level.


Based on the discovery of the rehearsal process and refinements made there, these section changes are placed back into the master score, which is then further refined and adjusted on a full ensemble level.


Once a performance season has been concluded, scores are available for other groups to perform. Groups using previously performed scores generally do so because they have less resources and/or time and seek a proven result.

In these cases, it is often that the wind scores are used, but percussion parts are entirely rewritten in order to be appropriate with the level of the group performing and the tastes of the percussion director.


Once percussion parts are complete, the same process repeats to some extent, only skipping the concept and compose phases. There are still separate rehearsals, separate section scores, independent changes throughout the process.

Here is a video that provides a bit of insight into the process. Though the video is a bit dated, the overall process is the same. The only thing that has changed is an increased use of internet and technology.

Here is another video that touches briefly on the first two phases. This video describes a bit of the process for The Blue Devils, where I was a member and conductor.

While this process describes drum corps, it is pretty much the same process for indoor percussion, high school marching band, etc.

Anyway, I hope this provides a bit more clarity as to the reasoning behind many of the choices made for MDL.

In reply to by Daniel

Thanks this helps me at least.

One observation, though: even though Emmentaler doens't have the new noteheads, we should automatically fall back to Bravura when we encountered a symbol not supported. So there shouldn't be any need to explicitly set the music font to Bravura. I'm not noticing any issues with the new noteheads in scores I create using Emmentaler. If you are seeing a case where things don't work correctly unless you set font to Brauvra, that's a bug, so feel free to report it as such.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've attached a file with the noteheads in Emmentaler. I've highlighted the ones that are too far off what the user sees in the palette (Bravura) and that also have some consistency issues. Though they are logically correct (correct notehead definition), they are visually incorrect, if that makes sense.

Another important point of the templates, is that they also set out the spacing and all other details necessary to make a score that has sense of quality and readability. 3.0 will have a major impact on how this is handled and could alleviate much of the need for some of this.

But looking at MuseScore holistically, it is as much as an open tool for creating notation and an open community for sharing notation or essentially self-publishing.

There is the careful balance between providing a complete open tool where users can fine tune every micro-detail of engraving and providing users with ability to have a reasonable level of quality and detail in scores out of the box to where they don't even think about engraving - at all - just start writing, and the result is of a consistent base level of quality and correctness.

Attachment Size
mdl_emmentaler_test_a.mscz 17.08 KB

In reply to by Daniel

OK, thanks, so it isn't so much that the noteheads are missing as that the specific shapes aren't what might be most traditional for drumline. Makes sense. For the record, I totally get the overall rational for the templates now; even aside from the notehead issue, there are style settings etc.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yeah, it's all about style and quality.

Here is an example of the templates "in the wild" -

Notation is clean, clear, correct and consistent.

I do already see a scenario that I didn't account for - bar 5, marcato on a double shot tuplet . :)

That's an adjustment to go back into the next rev.

The main point is that they are completely correct, look consistent, and the user didn't even think about it at all.

Hello all, this is on the topic of MDL issues so I figured I'd anchor off this thread. I downloaded the most recent update past 3.0 which has greatly improved the issue of collisions so a huge thanks is in order to the developers. While this has been great I realized that I had to reinstall the MDL plugin through the resource manager. This was not a huge issue, however I realized that when I did this I did not have the MDL battery or front ensemble palettes at my disposal. I am definitely in the MDL setting of palettes and there are things missing from this section. Tremelos is the big one that I have noticed. I can simply switch over to the other sections to do this, but it would be nice to not have to slow the writing process down by having to switch between them. Maybe I am just ignorant to a fix, or maybe I have found a bug that can help devs out either way the 3.0 update is still a great welcome and I appreciate the help in advance!

Gonna piggyback off this thread. Windows 7, Musescore 3.

Yeah, so, I installed MDL and it changed my font settings and rearranged my menus. And so I reset settings to default, and now the MDL workspace displays no palettes when I switch to it. So I just uninstalled it, which crashed the program.

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