Accidentals for SATB

• Aug 23, 2018 - 03:35

For a long time now, i've been annoyed with how Musescore automatically spells accidentals when I input them with a MIDI keyboard, and have to respell pitches whenever I input them. This is confusing with pieces I write and have to respell them every time so they make sense AT FIRST GLANCE.

Is it possible at all for Musescore to change how it responds to accidentals when inputting with a MIDI device or QWERTY keyboard so they come out as seen in the image?

Accidentals for SATB.JPG


With a QWERTY keyboard, you have total control over accidentals. If you don't like the way arrows spell them, define shortcuts for accidentals. I did this and occasionally use arrows to create accidentals.

Accidentals using a midi device or arrows on the keyboard are predictable. If the key signature has flats, then flats are preferred. If it has sharps, sharps are preferred. If the key is C maj/A min F, C and G have sharps preferred (the first three sharps in the key signature) all others have the flat preferred. I will occasionally use this knowledge to get the accidental I want using arrows. BTW this even works on Fb, Cb, B# and E# accidentals. So in the key of D, B up arrow gives you B# rather than C natural, but C down arrow will give you C natural. This is because moving a flat from the key up or sharp down results in a natural accidental. On the Midi keyboard white keys always give you a natural. However, I'm not sure if pressing C in the key of C# gives you a B# or C natural since I've never seen a midi keyboard being used or heard this being discussed.

I hope this help you to better understand how MuseScore works.

MuseScore seems to be following the standard procedure for determining which spelling to use for accidentals: that is, choose the spelling that is least "alien" to the score's key signature. So you want a note that would be in a chord that the song would naturally modulate to. So in your second example above, the key of F includes a Bb chord along with the F and C chords; but Ab is in the Ab chord, and the Ab chord is only two steps away from the Bb chord in the circle of fifths. The closest chord to the key signature containing a G# on the other hand would be the E major chord, which is four steps away from the C chord in the circle of fifths. As a result, and an Ab chord would more naturally occur in a modulation in the key of F than would an E chord. Similarly in your third example, a Gb is only two steps removed from the three flats in the key signature, while F# is four steps removed. The upshot of this is that flat accidentals are more natural with key signatures containing flats and sharp accidentals more natural with keys having sharps. So the spellings MuseScore chooses for the default make sense.

Of course, musical contexts in which the standard rule would not apply are conceivable - but expecting MuseScore to take into account all of the variables which might determine such a context is a bit far fetched for a computer algorithm; in those out of the ordinary contexts, one can simply, as you say, respell the accidental. But even if you do not like the spellings MuseScore chooses, one thing you have to give MuseScore credit for is preserving your respellings when you open the score again at a subsequent session. I have used other software programs that would always return the spellings to the programs' default choice, so that I would have to manually change the accidentals' spelling all over again every time I open the score - that truly IS "annoying."

Best Regards,

In reply to by Glenn Blank

Thank you for your input, you make a good point. I'm just curious if it's possible for MuseScore to have a mode where if an accidental sounds lower/higher than its previous notes, that the notes would not appear on the same line/space as the previous notes and appear one line/space higher/lower.

Line Space.JPG

In reply to by jeronjoseph

". . . that the notes [with accidentals] would not appear on the same line/space as the previous notes . . ."

Ok, I see what you mean now. You are right, having two notes that have different pitches side by side on the same line or staff could be confusing to a choir. Putting them on different lines/spaces gives an additional visual cue that the pitches are different. And that is a straightforward, single criterion, not nearly as involved as "all of the variables" entering into considering a musical context warranting a respelling that I was alluding to above. I am not a programmer; but it seems like being able to express the rationale as a single criterion as you have done puts it one step closer to being programmable.

In reply to by Glenn Blank

In the meanwhile, there is a plug-in pre-installed with MuseScore called "Color Notes" colors each notehead according to its pitch - so that in your example above, the Bb and the Bbb would be different colors, which might help the accidentals on the same line as a previous note stand out better. You would have to activate the plug-in using the plug-in manager.

MuseScore's spelling is key dependent, picking the most-closely-related spelling as mentioned. In most cases this is going to be the most optimum spelling in that it's most likely to make sense harmonically. What you are suggesting (I think) is to ignore the harmonic context and instead spell things strictly based on voice leading. This is not really a good idea for the vast majority of music - it leads to thing like D major triads spelled with Gb instead of F# just because of the direction of motion. And this is pretty disastrous for sightreading the whole score. But indeed, sometimes it can make sense for reading of individual lines. So to me, that's a something better tweaked after initial note entry. To some extent, this is what Notes / Respell Pitches does, although I don't knwo that the algorithm will exactly meet your particular needs either. Probably the best approach would be to create additional options via a plugin.

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