Doing an Instrument Change within a piece makes the notes of the new instrument red.

• Mar 30, 2019 - 08:44

I have a piece for violin and an addendum for cello. I wrote the cello piece separately and pasted it at the end of the violin part. (It is also in a different key.) Most of the notes in the cello part came out red, indicating they were out of the instrument's range, which they had not been in the original version of the cello part. It seemed the program thought I wanted the violin to play these low notes, as if I had not done the "Change Instrument" procedure.


When you pasted the cello to the end of the violin without doing a Change Instrument, MuseScore thought you wanted the violin to play the notes. This is a great feature when you want to copy and pasted between instruments that can both play the notes but have different transpositions like the oboe and clarinet. MuseScore automatically transposes the notes, but does not change their octaves. So if you start with a very low section on a clarinet, you will probably get some red notes on the Oboe because an oboe can't play as low as a clarinet. This is what happened when you pasted the cello notes on the violin. You probably had some black note (or you would if the cello went high enough) but also a bunch of red notes because they are below the violin's range.

If you want to notate a change from violin to the cello on the same staff, you must use a change instruments text.

In reply to by Beths

The problem is that you have notes the violin cannot play. You need to enter notes the violin can play. MuseScore is smart enough to know which notes are for which instrument if you told it correctly. Violin can only play down to the G below the staff. If the notes for the violin are red, then move them up an octave (or two) so the violin can play them. If a note above G below the treble clef staff is red, then you need to attach your score.

In reply to by mike320

Yes, I know the violin cannot play the bass notes, that is why I did the Instrument Change via the Text box: to switch instruments to the cello. It does switch to the cello's voice, which is great. But let me know if the following is the case: Even though it will switch voices, because of the fact that the bass clef section is appended to and connected to the violin's part, the Instrument Change will only change the voice but does not allow the notes to also be cello attributes (and thus within the range of the cello and so not colored red). Because of the fact that they are tacked onto the violin's line, Muse sees them as violin notes despite the Instrument Change? Is that correct?

In reply to by Beths

No. You need to use "Instrument" change text from the palette. Right click the text and choose change instruments then cello. You will also need to change the clef to make the notation normal for the cello. It sounds like you are trying to do this with staff text. As jotape1960 said, you really need to attach your score.

In reply to by mike320

Yes, I have the directions for Change Instrument, I hit "Text", then I hit "Instrument" (not "Staff text") and followed the directions. Agh, I am just going with the suggestion to do a separate staff for the cello and hiding the empty staves (or most of them, at least). It looks weird but is tolerable. Excuse me, I am going to go bang my head on the nearest wall, haha.

In reply to by Beths

It seems there is a communication breakdown somewhere. We really want you to understand. This is a very useful tool in many situations. Attach your score with a few measures on either side of the instrument change so we can see what's going wrong.

To avoid the red notes, you have three alternatives, at least:

1) Use "Piano", when you start your work. So, as the piano range is... Too big, you will not have red notes. of course, you have to chose the right instrument sound into the mixer channels, otherwise you just hear piano sound in all the staves.

2) Inside MuseScore, all the instruments have the possibility to change its range manually. This is not the standard procedure but... You can change the original range of some instrument to whatever you want. BUT... I insist this IS NOT the best procedure to avoid the red notes.

3) Best solution is... What Jojo said: Use separate staves: one per violin, another to cello (this is the professional way, I guess).

In reply to by jotape1960

I really don't want to use two staves because the piece has three pages of violin with no cello, so there would be three pages of empty staves, or disappeared staves. Would it then suddenly drop a stave's distance down, to drop into the cello part? Seems it would look peculiar in the printed form.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, that works. Looks a tad odd, though. IS there a way to Change Instrument and have the notes come out black in my situation, where it goes from violin to cello and I want them on the same line, with the cello part tacked onto the end of the violin part and it not only will change the voice (which it does) but will make the notes black because now it is suposed to "know" it is in the cello's part, not the violin's? Or is that impossible because, from what it can "see", this is just a continuation of the violin part, despite the change of voice?

In reply to by Beths

Just change the overall instrument to your "track".

1) Right click in some empty place of any bar.

2) Click on the "Staff properties" option.

3) Click on the "Change Instrument" button.

4) Look for "Piano" (or "Grand Acoustic Piano").

Now you won't have the red notes (because the pitch range of the piano is unlimited, inside the music domain).

Now... To get the sounds of violin and cello:

1) Right click on first beat of the first bar of your score.

2) Click on "Text" option, at the right side advanced palettes.

3) Click on the "Instrument" option

4) Look for and Click on the "Violin" option. Now you will hear the sweet violin sound from the bar number 1 to... The bar where you want to change to cello.

5) Right click on the first beat of the bar where you want to change from violin to cello.

6) Again..., Click on "Text" option, at the right side advanced palettes.

7) Click on the "Instrument" option

8) Look for and Click on the "Cello" option. Now you will hear the cello sound from this bar to the end.

BUT... You have to change the key at this bar. Because the original G key (standard to violin) is too high to the cello range. You have to use the standard F key to low range instruments. Again, you have to use the right side palettes to this change.

In reply to by jotape1960

It already does play the violin for the first three pages, and it also switches to the cello sound for that last half page. The only thing weird is the red notes. Is there a way to change them to black? I mean, I can live with it because I know it won't PRINT them in red, but it does make me a bit cross-eyed to read them because one part of my brain is saying "Warning, weird color of notes!" and the rest of my brain is saying "Shut up, ignore the color!" So it distracts me when I want to play along with it.

In reply to by Beths

So it distracts me when I want to play along with it.

If desired...
To disable out-of-range coloration of notes: From the menu, select Edit→Preferences... (Mac: MuseScore→Preferences...), click on the "Note Input" tab, and uncheck "Color notes outside of usable pitch range."

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, I know that the red notes are to tell one that they are out of the instrument's range (great feature when composing on an unfamiliar instrument!) but the only place they are red is in the tacked-on section for cello. It gives me the cello's voice on playback but tells me the notes are out of the range when they are all IN the cello's range. Part of the program clearly thinks those notes are being attempted on a violin.

Yes, I suspected I had done something wrong during the Instrument Change (Text, Instrument, etc.) but I don't know what. I finally just wanted the red to go away because playback was fine, no worries about the red coming out in printing, all I wanted was to lose the distraction of red notes when I played. I am going to go back and do the "Change Instrument" process over again and this time I will write down every step I take to do it. If it still comes out wrong (red noted), I will send in a chunk of the score spanning the change of instruments and the detailed list of what I did so somebody can tell me what I did wrong.

In reply to by Beths

I proffered my 'simple' solution because you said that you were playing from the score - displayed with the distracting red notes. Apparently, aside from the red color, the notes display properly for you to play on your instrument.

You also wrote:
it does make me a bit cross-eyed to read them because one part of my brain is saying "Warning, weird color of notes!" and the rest of my brain is saying "Shut up, ignore the color!"

There is truth to that. See image below:

Read the Word.png

There is a 'proper' way to do an instrument change - so that the red notes should not appear in the first place. This is what Jojo and mike320 are trying to relate.

For my own usage of MuseScore - mainly guitar and banjo music - I have the color notes feature turned off. These instruments often have their low string re-tuned to a lower note (which lies outside of the 'standard' tuning), so I get the red notes. Sure, I can go into Properties and fiddle with the 'Usable pitch range' or even define a new instrument to add to the Instruments file. That would be the 'proper' way, but it doesn't matter to me. I simply don't need the 'color notes' feature.

For you, just be aware that disabling the 'Color notes outside of usable pitch range' won't help you if you decide to score for an instrument with an unfamiliar range. Any notes entered outside that range will not be colored - unless, of course, you re-enable the feature.
The feature also helps when changing to an instrument with a significant difference in pitch range.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

OK.. I know the stuff is there; but it's not always necessary for the task at hand.

Sometimes I simply use "My First Score" (which is actually a piano treble staff) and write for guitar - then print - done. (No TAB, no red notes, no ottava clef, no playback needed/wanted). Easy peasy, nice and easy.

If I need TAB (e.g. to notate the banjo 5th drone string) then string data definitely needs to be 'properly' set - most especially when using alternate tunings.

If I print blank manuscript paper, I don't care about string data, concert pitch status, default beaming of note groups, whether courtesy key signatures are enabled, et al.

Again, I know the stuff is there; but, for me, it's not always necessary for the task at hand.

Regards, and thanks for caring about us users.


In reply to by Jm6stringer

Yes, the score is showing the correct notes for playing. It is just that most of them are red, being down in the bass clef, foreign land to which the violin cannot go. That color chart is an engaging challenge, thanks. Fun to try it, then try it faster.

Ah! I did ask if there was a way to do this wherein the notes would not come out red and somebody seemed to be saying "No". I do think that other person hit the nail on the head when they said that it seemed that we might be talking at cross purposes. I think it is like trying to tell somone, in a letter, with no pictures, exactly how to tie a shoelace....theoretically possible but...
But you say it IS possible. OK, I am going to do this operation over again (hit Text, Hit Instrument, etc. for Instrument Change) and write down each thing I do. If it comes out fine, I will know that somehwere I messed up the first time (as I suspected). If it is still red-noted, I will send in a chunk of the score and the detailed list of my steps to get the (partly) wrong result.

Yes, as soon as you told me that the color notes feature can be turned off, I immediately thought of future compositions and just figure that I can simply turn it off when playing a red-note piece, then turn it back on for composing. Thanks so much for your help!

In reply to by Beths

I am going to do this operation over again and write down each thing I do... If it is still red-noted, I will send in a chunk of the score.

Doing so will also please Jojo and mike320... 😁
(It bothers us all when MuseScore doesn't properly work for someone.)


In reply to by Jm6stringer

Well, I ran into a different problem trying to do a partial score to send you: I Copied about 4 measures, gave it a title, Saved it and it Saved in Muse but not in Explorer/ MuseScore/Scores. So I can't get at the mscz to send you a copy of it. Is there any other way to get at it?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

?? I saved it in MuseScore. When I open scores in there, there are no "mcsz" scores, just the names of all my pieces that can be double clicked and played in MuseS. When I go to Explorer, all of my other pieces are listed in the MuseScore there, both as mcsz files and as regular playable files. But not the two versions of a test score to send you: Those are just not there.

In reply to by Beths

You don't save in MuseScore, you save from within MuseScore onto your harddisk. So it'll be there. Probably in a different folder than you expect, but exactly where you you told MuseScore to save it to.

both as mcsz files and as regular playable files?? What are 'regular playable files' in contrast to 'mscz files'?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, the "Save" button I hit is in MuseScore and it then enters the ranks of the pieces I have there, the ones that are accessible by hitting "Open". And it really does not seem to have been saved to Explorer, but I don't understand what the computer could have done with it. I did a "Find" search and it turned up both test pieces I did, but they were only listed in MuseScore. And the other kind of files are "compressed MuseScore files" or some such name.

In reply to by Beths

OK, so it is "MSCZ, File" or ".mscz," files, the backup files (and you see them because you have enabled visibility for hidden files, not the default on Windows), vs. "Compressed MuseScore File", the real scores, or ".mscz" files, with Windows hiding the known extensions for you, a very bad and dangarous setting (not your fault, but Microsoft's).

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

OK, weird stuff: The test pieces DID go into Explorer under MuseScore but they only went in as one format instead of the usual two. Usually, there is a one that is mscz and one that is MS compressed score. Now there appears that these three (I did another) are all only in the "compressed scores" category. BUT... when I click on one and hit "Properties", it calls it an mscz. When I click on an mscz, Windows tells me it can't open this file, to open it I have to choose a program etc, etc. But if I click on a compressed file there, it opens MuseS up and puts up that piece. So, this probably won't work, but I hit "copy" on one of the compressed-but-maybe-is/is-not-an-mscz-file and will try to paste it in below and see if it is accepted as an mscz or if my computer is lying through its diodes. And by golly, it took it. So, at least in this case, a compressed file is ALSO an mscz?

Attachment Size
Black_Swan_test_piece.mscz 5.39 KB

In reply to by Beths

I opened your score with MuseScore 2, since you sre still using it.
1. Click on the first red note (E) to select (turns blue).
2. Double click on 'Instrument' in the Text palette.
3. Right click on the word 'Instrument' that now appears in the score and choose 'Change Instrument...' in the drop down list..
4. Select Violincello, then OK.
5. Double click on the word 'Instrument' and edit to 'Cello"
Done! Notes no longer red!
Plays back as cello.

See/play attached score:

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Dang. Yes, that is what I did (three times, now), but the notes stayed red. I am just going to do what you suggested and disable the "notes out of instrument's range" feature. Thanks for your help, though, and ESPECIALLY for that suggestion.

In reply to by Beths

  1. Read more closely, "mscz,", the filename starts with a dot and end with a comma → this is a MuseScore backup file! Only these "MuseScore compressed file"s are real mscz files (but, as told earlier, Windows Explorer hides that 'known extension' from the users, a very stupid and dangarous setting)
  2. You did not do what you said to have done (and have been told to do): there is no instrument change text.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Man, this is confusing! Before, whenever I needed to send a sample of the music I was having trouble with, I copied and pasted one of the ".mscz," files. One time I tried to copy and paste one of the files (compressed etc.) and it came out something somebody there said was the wrong file. So I did one of the ".mscz," files. But this time there was no such file for the 3 test pieces I did of this thing so I ended up sending one of the MuseScore compressed files and that apparently went through without a hitch, I don't know why.
2. I don't understand this line of your letter. I did what I detailed in my list. Is that what you are saying I didn't do? And I don't know the proper title for the route to change the instrument but I went via "Text"/Instrument and double click on "instrument"/Control A/type in "Change to Cello", etc for the rest of the list I sent. That is that I am meaning. Sorry for any confusion caused by me making up titles.

In reply to by Beths

I guess in the meantime I can detail all that I did to the piece to change the instrument. 1. Started with the violin part, treble clef, key of C. 2. Pasted extra measures onto the end of it and pasted in the bass line, which (3.) came in as treble and key of C. Many of the notes came in as red, of course, being an octave or so below the violin's range. I changed the clef to bass and the key to G. Notes jumped up to their proper positions as a bass line, looking just like my original bass score, except for the red notes. 4. Went to "Add Instrument Change": a. Selected my start point at the first bass note. b. In the mail palette, clicked on Text, double clicked on "Instrument" and "instrument" came up in blue over the first note. c. Double clicked on the word "Instrument", hit Control+A to select and the whole box turned blue. d. Typed in "Change to Cello" and clicked outside the box. e. Right clicked on "Change to Cello", clicked on "Change Instrument", chose "cello". f. And the notes still stayed red.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, can't mail you my computer, unfortunately. Anyway, yeah, that has worked for me in the past, but not today. I guess I will wait until tomorrow. Oh, it IS tomorrow. Well, I will wait 10 hrs. or so and look again and see if they have magically moved themselves into Explorer. G'night.

In reply to by Beths

Beths!!! You will always get those red notes because your STAFF was made, from the beginning, TO a violin (which cannot to play those notes!!!). Whatever the instrument you choose in any "Instrument Change" in that staff will always show red notes, when the notes are beyond the violin range!!!

The only way to fix it is to change the STAFF INSTRUMENT:

1) Right click in some empty place of the first bar of the staff (well, it could be at any other bar, but... for safety... better the first bar).

2) Chose the "STAFF/PART PROPERTIES" option (be careful to not to choose the "BAR PROPERTIES" option).

3) Look for the button called: "CHANGE INSTRUMENT" (at the middle left part of the panel).

4) Choose "PIANO" (because it has a large range of notes). Now, you have to CLOSE the panel.

5) Now, you will have the notes in the right pitch range inside the staff and without the annoying red color. NOTE THIS CHANGE WILL GIVE YOU A PIANO SOUND, NOW!!!

6) To get back to the violin sound, again, you will have to enter an "Instrument Change" in the first bar of the staff, with the "VIOLIN" option.

7) You have to do the same last thing at the bar where you want to change the sound to "CELLO".

8) Don't forget to change the clef at the instruments change bar (to avoid extra lines).

In reply to by Beths

You did not do what jm6stringer said.

You need to add the "Instrument" as you said you did. You can change the text to anything you want as long as it says something and nothing will happen yet... and will have no effect on anything you do next.

Next, you need to right click the text (while it's not in edit mode) and you will get a small menu that include the option "Change instruments..." which you need to left click.

You will then see a smaller version of the instruments dialog box you get when you press i. You need to click on where it says Strings->Bowed and the list will expand to include several instruments including Violoncello (which is the formal name for a cello). click that then click OK.

The result is that the notes will all turn black, the mixer sound will turn to cello and it will play back as expected.

Here is your file working the way you want it.

As you didn't upload your score... I upload one very known tune, with 4 instrument changes in just one staff.

NOTE!!! This score was made with MuseScore 3.0.5. If you don't use this version, you have to try to open the *.mxl file (which is compatible with old versions and other MIDI software).

Also, you can see the PDF format file, just in case.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

I think Beths needs to forget this for a couple of days and then start fresh and unflustered. When you come back to this, start with a score that only has the notes in it and ignore everything except what jm6stringer said in you have too many councillors (which causes confusion) and that is a clear, concise explanation of what you need to do.

Changing the colors of the notes outside of the playable range of the violin is like putting lipstick on a pig, as someone once famously said.

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