MuseScore 3 renders mscz files unreadable

• Apr 14, 2019 - 06:53

I store all my MuseScore work as MuseScore compressed files (mscz) for future reference and re-working (I have hundreds of these on file). For many reasons, I haven't been able to work regularly with my music for quite a while. I've really looked forward to returning to it.

I recently updated to MuseScore 3, and for the first time needed to go back into a previous mscz file. I was shocked to find that all such files now return with a message like this:

"Cannot read file F:/MScore ORIG FILES/.Black Velvet Band 0 - E - trad Irish.mscz,: unknown type"

I noticed that all these mscz file names now seem to have a comma after the mscz, which they did not have previously. I tried to rename one of these files without the comma, to see if I could make it readable. It did come up, but with this further message:
"To best take advantage of automatic placement in MuseScore 3 when importing '.Black Velvet Band 0 - E - trad Irish High Kings' from MuseScore 1.3, it is recommended to reset the positions of all elements.
Reset the positions of all elements?"

This is the first time in years of using MuseScore that an update has messed with my files. Am I really going to have to go back in, and re-name each file individually, then reset the elements (also individually)?

I've never had to "import" my own files into a MuseScore update before MuseScore 3.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

[I'm running Windows 10 on an HP Pavillion desktop; I store all my music files externally on USB drives and have never had this problem before.]

Has anyone else encountered this? Does anyone else have a simpler workaround?

Thank you!


Those aren't your actual scores, those are backup files. This has nothing to do with MuseScore 3, those files were created by whichever version of MuseScore you created the score with. Keep looking and you will find your actual scores.

When you import an older files, you will be asked if you want to take advantage of the greatly improved layout by resetting. It's your choice though, you don't have to accept the offer.

Score files starting with a dot and ending with a comma are MuseScore backup files.
MuseScore never was able to open them with out renaming at least the trailing comma away.
And yes, MuseScore 3 will ask whether you want to reset positions on every pre version 3 score it imports.
MuseScore 2 treated pre- version 2 files as imports too and changed the layout, but didn't ask your permission for that.
The message you got seems to indicate that you skipped MuseScore 2 altogether, and upgraded from MuseScore 1.3 to 3.0.5?

You can have MuseScore 1, 2 and 3 being installed and running on the same machine in parallel. For small changes in a MuseScore 1 score use MuseScore 1(.3), for small changes in a MuseScore 2 file use MuseScore 2(.3.2), for new scores and larger changes on old score use MuseScore 3(.0.5).

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thanks so much for your almost instant reply. Now I see the rest of the files, without the starting dot and closing comma (they were a long way down the list). Like I said, there are hundreds of files, and I haven't worked with them in a while. Kind of embarrassing . . . .

I have files in virtually every version of MuseScore, because I was introduced to MuseScore by the good folks at the (sadly now gone) WikiPhonia project. I just kept with MuseScore because I found it pretty intuitive. I miss some of the features in the MuseScore 2 versions, and I'm still not sure I like the 3.0 Inspector much, but at least I can still access my back-files. When the "reset elements" message pops up, I'll just have to deal with the files case-by-case as I come to them. And get to know 3.0 on a learn-by-doing basis.

Again, thanks for the replies.

In reply to by KTD

On a case by case basis, if you're happy with the score in version 2 and don't plan to change it, then use it in version 2 and use version 3 for scores you are still editing or creating from new. Many people are not happy with how version 3 displays their version 2 scores. You can run both versions 2 & 3 at the same time. Be careful to keep your version 2 scores in one folder and version 3 in another since there is no other way to know which version of MuseScore created the file until you open it.

In reply to by KTD

There are no features I can think of that were present in MuseScore 2 nbut missing now. perhaps you are having trouble finding them because the menu structure has changed slightly> Just let us know what you are having trouble finding and we can help.

The Inspector is incredibly more useful now than before - you can access more properties, and you can set any of them as style defaults - so I'm not sure what you wouldn't be liking. But again, feel free to describe your concerns.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've said this in another posting, but since an invitation for comments on this has come up again in this thread, I'll add my concern. MuseScore 3 seems to have been developed on the assumption that 95% of the time a user starts up MuseScore, they do so in order to create a new score. But some forum posts show there are many users such as myself who, 95% of the time they start up MuseScore, do so in order to load an existing score which they then correct, or revise, or develop into a new composition, or take sections from to put them together with other scores to make a new piece. For users like this, MuseScore 3 simply isn't a practical option. I don't know how to solve this, but I can say that for users such as myself, the lack of upward compatibility between MuseScore 2 and MuseScore 3 makes the latter basically unusable.

In reply to by jcorelis

I don't think anyone assumes 95% of users are new scores - although I would assume the percentage will gradually approach that over time. I think the disconnect here is that some of us believe that even if some percentage of scores might look different between 2 & 3, this need not make the latter "basically unusable". Many scores will look for all practical purposes identical. Many of the scores that look different will look better. And many of those that seem to have issues at first can be corrected with only minor effort.

We remain available to assist when people are finding themselves with scores they are having trouble getting to look as they expect, and we remain committed to fixing bugs found along the way where the import doesn't go as smoothly as we intended. We want to make this viable option for everyone, so please don't hesitate to start new threads and attach scores you are having problems with.

In reply to by jcorelis

There are some upward compatibility issues between version 2 and 3. They are in 3 main categories.

The first and most common is the user choosing other than the best way to format the score in version 2. The best way was rarely to drag an item in version 2. When dragged items are imported into version 3, the problem is more apparent than it was in version 2. We did see a lot of very obvious items dragged that caused problems in version 2, but since it did not have auto avoidance, it was often unnoticed by the user. One example of a common mistake is the user putting lines and hairpins into edit mode and dragging the ends to adjust them over several measures. This led to problems in version 2 and they are magnified in version 3. One thing a user can do to minimize the effect of this is to press ctrl+a then ctrl+r to reset all items to their default locations after they import the score.

The second category has to do with settings in version 3 being different than in version 2 to some extent. For one example, Hairpins in version 2 were set at a default veritcal position of 7.5sp, which means 7.5 spaces below the top line on the staff or about 2.5 spaces below a 5 line staff. In version 3, the position below is 3.5 spaces below the staff. As a result of auto avoidance, this will lead to larger spaces between staves. Most items in version 3 have been set up with far too much default vertical space for my liking. As a result, when you import a version 2 score, it looks nothing like it did in version 2.

The third category is auto placement. There are times when auto placement moves stave far to far apart, mostly due to category 2 problems, but sometimes due to other issues. Many times you have to adjust the location of text when there are multiple text items in one spot. There is also a problem with Accents stacking when the notes are too tight in the measure. I think the horizontal skyline of accents could be reduced to cause fewer problems. Most of the problems are with the vertical layout.

I rarely have a problem with category 1 because I read the manual and didn't drag things all over the screen in version 2. I do press ctrl+a then ctrl+r to reset everything to their default locations, because I've moved a lot of dynamics. They don't look right when imported to version 3. To overcome most of the issues in category 2, I have adjusted many of the settings in the styles window and saved the style. Whenever I import or create a file in version 3, I load my default style. There's an option in preferences to change default style and one day I'll try that when I'm happy with my settings. Category 3 issues need to be fixed by programmers, and are actually few in number.

One more thing, never overwrite a version 2 score with a version 3 score. Keep the version 2 score, especially if you're happy with it. Why get rid of it? You can run version 2 & 3 on the same computer at the same time. The one thing you can't do is copy from one version and paste into the other.

Finally, I suspect that when you hear 3.1 you will want to import more scores into version 3. If you're having a specific issue with importing a score, then by all means, attach the version 2 score and tell us what the problem is so you can learn a better way or the programmers can fix it.

In reply to by mike320

Some very good points here, I'll just respond to a couple of places where I have questions.

First, I'm not sure what you mean about hairpins. The default has not changed. 7.5sp below the top line is the same as 3.5sp below the bottom line, because a staff is 4sp tall. I just tested using a newly crwated score in both versions and the results are practically bit-for-bit identical.

The accent stacking issue is unfortunate indeed. In 2.3.2 the accents could nest inside each other in tight situations (although they'd happily collide given the chance as well). Getting the nesting behavior could be tricky in MuseScore 3 without disabling autoplace, but maybe it would work to force enough horizontal space to avoid the collision?

For controlling vertical space between staves, there is an undocumented style setting "minVerticalDistance" that you can edit in an MSS file. The default is 0.5sp, which is to say, we will enforce 0.5p clearance between elements below on stave and elements above the next. With a negative value here, we will allow overlap/collision and thus mimic 2.3.2 better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

_7.5sp below the top line is the same as 3.5sp below _

Oops, 5 lines, 4 spaces so 7.5 in version 2 is the same as 3.5 in version 3. I still reduce the 3.5 because it's way too much space in my opinion. I reduced the number in version 2 also. All of that space especially bad when you have 40 instruments in your symphony.

In reply to by mike320

Fair point indeed. The original default was chosen conservatively before we had autoplace to move them lower to reduce the potential for collision with notes on ledger lines. The default could possibly come closer now . But I suppose the default may also have been designed to produce the appearance of centering between staves of a grand staff, and that could make such a change seem like a regression. What we really need are per-staff defaults.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I understand your logic about grand staves, but I removed all space above hairpins, left the space between staves the same and I'm quite happy with the grand staff spacing in this score I'm working on. I also attached the score it came from.

grand staff.PNG

Measure 74 looks very close to the PDF it comes from.

I do think the space between staves could be improved (not pictured), I'll look at that after the score's complete. I think since the staves are both small, the space between them should be reduced also. I left the size at the default 70%.

Attachment Size
Serenade.mscz 52.24 KB

In reply to by mike320

I don't have my copy of Gould handy, but I think that would not be considered kosher as a general rule. Where needed for some special situation, maybe, but in general, I think dynamics and hairpins are supposed to be closer to center. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but a concern. We could always increase the default in the Grand Staff and Piano templates. Or, we could leave the default as is (probably safest for compatibility) but reduce it in the large ensemble templates.

I have a sense no matter what we do, it's good for some people some of the time, not as good for others / other times.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

These pictures and .mscz have my changes from the defaults. In order to keep the distance being so great it forces the staves farther apart, I prefer the hairpins to default to closer to the top grand staff. I don't like the staves being spread apart just because there is a hairpin entered. I reset both the hairpin and dynamic offsets in style, and don't like the results.

I don't know if this has already been discussed, but one big problem for me in transferring a score from MS2 to MS3 is that in many scores I've spent a great deal of time and effort to trying in so far as is possible to have page breaks coincide with rests, to facilitate page turning. I also try to avoid if possible having hairpins and long ties or slurs over a page break. Doing this is quite time consuming, requiring a lot of fiddling with measure lengths, and then proofreading everything to be sure that altering the measure lengths and putting in hard page breaks didn't have unwanted other effects. (In a vocal score like this one, the effort is even greater because I have to be careful not to make some measures so short that the lyrics have insufficient word breaks.)

Opening one of these scores with MS3 usually results in all this work being undone. I attach two examples (as pdfs since I find that because of file associations I can't open MS3 scores from this attachment and others may have the same problem.) In the MS2 version, page 7 ends after the rests in measure 83; in the MS3 version, the measures of page 7 have been lengthened so there is now a page break after measure 82 and a single ugly too long measure 83 on the next page. This continues througout the score. To correct this to my original desired page breaks will require a lot more reformatting and subsequent re-proofreadig.

Attachment Size
MS3EXAMPLE.pdf 927.86 KB
MS2EXAMPLE.pdf 929.26 KB

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I don't know if this has been mentioned elsewhere.
As far as I know, in Windows, you can only have one default app for any given file type. (hence the word default)

Keeping two versions of MS installed means that by necessity we are sacrificing the convenience of opening files for one of those versions by clicking on the files themselves. It makes little sense to keep the default app as MS2, as any file created in MS3 will fail to open properly. Making the default app MS3, however, means that MS2 files can only be opened from within the program itself, or updated to MS3, which we have seen is not always preferable.

I don't see this as a huge issue, but my long standing practice has been to open MS by clicking files. If, like me, that is your custom, you will have to keep reminding yourself that this may bring unwanted results.

In reply to by jcorelis

It's indeed a great idea to fine-tuning breaks, but if done correctly, this needn't present much of a problem on going from 2 to 3. In many cases the spacing will now be tighter so everything that fit before continues to fit. In cases where the default is looser, just reducing the spacing / stretch a notch or two should fi x things quickly enough. But you really should not have been fiddling much with individual measure lengths just to accomplish any of this in 2 or 3 - ti should all easily be done with a global spacing adjustment and line / page breaks.

Feel free to attach an actual score as opposed to just a picture so we can understand and advise better.

Not sure what you mean about associations, if you have both 2 & 3 installed, you can certainly open scores from either using 3, or scores form 2 using 2 - file associations in no way prevent this.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

What I mean is, on my PC if double click on a folder entry for a file ending in mscz which was created with MS2, it opens in MS2, but if I click on a folder entry for a file ending in mscz which was created with MS3, I get the error message,

"Cannot read file C:\Music scores\MuseScore 3 scores\Scores completed\Edyth of the Swan Neck.mscz:
This score was saved using a newer version of MuseScore.
Visit the MuseScore website to obtain the latest version."

To open the mscz file created with MS3, I have to open MS3 and open the file from within that application.

And if I click on an MS3 file attached to a post in this forum, I get the same error msg when I try to open it.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I've noticed from several postings that there is still some confusion about this.

Here's my experience. Before I installed MS3 on my Windows desktop PC, I could open any mscz file (which at that point were all MS2 files) by going to the file's listing on my hard drive and double clicking on it. That would open MS2 with that score loaded in it.

But the same thing doesn't happen with MS3, now that I have on my hard drive some mscz files which are MS2 files and some which are MS3 files. If I double click on an MS3 mscz file, I get the error msg "Cannot read file C:/Music scores/MuseScore 3 scores/Scores completed/The Empty Plateia.mscz:
This score was saved using a newer version of MuseScore.
Visit the MuseScore website to obtain the latest version."

I can of course open any MS3 mscz file from within MS3 and any MS2 ,scz file from within MS2 without an error msg.

This isn't a problem for people whose work style has been to open any MS mscz file by first opening MS, then loading the file from the Start Center or the File Menu. But for people who have gotten accustomed to opening an MS mscz file by clicking on its name in the Windows folder list, it's now confusing that one mscz file can be opened by clicking on its Windows folder file name and another one can't.

This also in my case led to problems in opening a MS file attached to a post in this forum.

I can of course just stop using double click to open any MS mscz file and always load from MS2 or MS3. But I think 1) it's better practice for an application to accommodate user's work styles rather than ask users to change their work style to accommodate the application, 2) it's good practice for an application to conform with Windows specifications, one of which is that you ought to be able to open a file by double-clicking on it, and 3) an application shouldn't return an error message when the user hasn't done anything wrong.

In reply to by jcorelis

MuseScore 3 can open all files created by MuseScore 1 and 2. MuseScore 2 can open all files created with MuseScore 1 and 2.
If MuseScore 1 got installed first, MuseScore 2 2nd and MuseScore 3 last, everything is in order, double click an mscz file will start MuseScore 3 and open that file within. To open a MuseScore 2 file with MuseScore 2, right-click it and use "Open with" or start MuseScore 2 and use its Fole > Open dialog. (similar if you want to use a MuseScore 1 file with MuseScore 1)

If You have MuseScore 2 and 3 installed, and MuseScore 2 starts on double-click, you're indeed in trouble (well, a bit), and apparently have installed them in the wrong order. You can still use the above mentioned steps to open the score in the correct version though

In reply to by jcorelis

MuseScore does conform. You absolutely can open files in MsueScore by double-clicking - if MuseScore 3 is set as the default application for MSCZ files. You've apparently changed the defaults to have files open by default in MsueScore 2. That's your right, and Windows gives you that capability, but that's the price you pay when you deliberately change file associations to point to a program that cannot all files of that type.

In reply to by jcorelis

Hi Jcorelis,
All you say makes sense and this is why several of us have asked to have a different file extension for V3.
But this request hasn't been accepted.
Note that following the good suggestion of Jojo (=adding fixed entries in the "open with" menu) is certainly a good idea: it facilitates a lot opening the file in the MuseScore version of your choice from the file itself.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"Too late" was already the answer 3 months ago.
As introducing a new extension doesn't prevent to keep the association between the existing extension and the MuseScore version of your choice, I have never understood how it can be "too late".
By the way does MuseScore use the extension to know how to handle the file or does it look inside the file to know the content (like MS-Excel looks in the file to analyze the content, making that you can open html files by excel by renaming them ".xls")?
If MuseScore doesn't care about the extension and analyze the file content to know the type, end users would be free to call their file V3 and to associate V3 with MuseScore 3 themselves if they want so.

In reply to by frfancha

The reason it's too late is that all 3.x scores need to be able to be opened all 3.x versions of a program. To introduce a suffix besides .mscx or .mscz would make them not recognized by earlier 3.x versions of MuseScore. If they broke this rule, they would be doing something that violates good programming standards. This is why it's too late.

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