Early music notation

• Jul 12, 2018 - 09:59

I've just been familiarising myself with the early music notation features in musescore, and it seems to me that there are still a few major features missing.

1) Note heads; considering that often people refer to medieval notation as "square notes" it seems strange that in the note heads palette you can choose diamond or rectangular note heads, but not square.

2) To have a palette of rhythmic notation symbols (punctum, podatus, clivis, torculus, porrectus ...) is absolutely essential for early music notation.

3) Clefs: the most common clefs in medieval notation are the Do (2 small square or diamond note heads joined with a stem on the left to resemble a C) and Fa (the same thing with another note head between them to the left of the stem and the stem extended a little below). It would be great to have those clefs included and to be able to place them on any line on the stave.

Is there currently any way of doing any of this, and if not, would it be possible to include them as new features?


You have a lot of symbols for medieval and renaissance periods in Special Characters (Ctrl + T + F2), "Musical symbols" tab.
You can resize these symbols and put then in a palette (custom workspace needed) for later reusing.

In reply to by s c standen

Here's a suggestion:

If you (or anyone else) can't find a page and someone directs you to a handbook page, feel free to add to the "Contextual help tags" that you see near the bottom of the page when you put it in Edit mode. You do this by clicking the 3 dots to the right of the title and click Edit. You can then add key words you searched to make it easier for the next person to find the page.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks; didn't know that. Most of the entries in the obscure categories in all the three sub-menus have glyphs representing inability to represent the character. I realize how difficult it would be to solve this properly, but those categories are less than useful in that state. Perhaps this dialog should have a dropdown for the user to choose the font, hoping that he or she knows more about the state of fonts on the system than the app does. Anyway, this is still very useful (have been using Mac Characters/Emojis facility (Cmd+Ctrl+Space) to enter flats, naturals, etc in text).

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Hmm, all the glyphs under Common Symbols and Musical Symbols should be there if you have a correct installation - the symbols come from Emmentaler Text or Bravura Text fonts in most cases. Maybe you have an incompatible version of those font installed on your system for some reason? Remove them and all should be well - MuseScore needs to be able to access its own internal version. The "Unicode" tab, well, that's up to whatever font you are actually using for your text at the time,

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

It uses the font of the text you are editing itself. That is, whatever is set as the font in Text Style (or perhaps overridden in Text Properties), that is what it uses for displaying the characters in that dialog.

For instance, try right click a title, Text Properties, setting it to some distinctive font, then double-clicking the text and pressing F2. You'll see that font used in the Unicode section.

But getting back to the original question, these special characters would presumably have to be inserted as text? I'm talking about replacing the actual notes with 'square' notation, as in original medieval manuscripts. It would be ridiculous to expect playback of this notation, because interpretation of these manuscripts is so subjective, but to be able to realise a score using this system, without relying on long-winded workarounds would be great. I believe there are some programmes which are specifically designed to do this, but it would be well worth incorporating it into musescore.

In reply to by s c standen

I agree that ancient music notation is in need of improvement in MuseScore. As far as playback is concerned, there could be some arbitrary default tempo with the user having the option of changing this as always. Since the notes, as is actually the case still today, are relative to one another the tempo entered by the user would affect the actual durations of the entered notes.

In reply to by mike320

OK, as this was officially supposed to be a feature request, may I implore anyone interested (and particularly anyone who has the technical know-how to programme a MuseScore plug-in for neume notation) to take a look at this page in order to get an idea of how it could be done. There's probably little point in re-inventing the wheel. If I knew how to do this, I would.


You might have to get in touch with the guy in order to find out if this is copyrighted or whatever, or if he's happy to let it be incorporated into MuseScore; I don't know how all this sort of stuff works.

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