Active Mixer in Playback

• Sep 30, 2019 - 16:25

In theory, the nuances of performance are encoded in the dynamics, articulations, expressions, etc., but in practice, there are adjustments that can more easily applied via the mixer to achieve more effective playback. Ideally, I would like to see the ability to record changes in mixer settings along with the score for subsequent playback. I do recognize, however, that real-time tracking of this data is probably not possible at this time within the design of MuseScore.

As an alternative, I would like to suggest the possibility of inserting "mixer snapshots" into a score via a place-marker such as Staff- or System Text. The framework for such a function could be similar to the existing Instrument Change text, or applying mixer channels for sound groups. eg. arco and mute for strings. These could be applied either globally, or to individual instruments. We can already save instruments settings mid-score; why then, can we not do the same pan settings or other playback tweaks?


While that's a clever idea, and I do support it, I do also wonder what limitations of the current behavior of dynamics etc make you want to resort to using the Mixer for this? Wouldn't it be better to improve the behavior of dynamics to allow whatever it is you want to do?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I agree that in some respects, improvement of dynamics is the way to go.

I often find that depending on the overall texture of a piece, the dynamics, while literally correct, are not particularly effective. In a live performance, players know how to interpret their dynamics so that they don't overshadow a more important part regardless of the written dynamic. A melody written at mezzo piano should not have to compete with an accompaniment at the same level. One way to solve this is to write different dynamics for the parts, or to set the mixer slider to compensate for the difference in volume. As I said above though, these adjustments are contingent of the overall texture of a piece. Having more (or fewer) notes in competition with the melody affects how well the melody can cut through the layers.

I sometimes like to adjust the panning of a part, and would like the ability to have a part move from one apparent position to another. A change in pan settings can be very effective in distinguishing a part from its accompaniment.

One thing that puzzles me is that if I make an adjustment to a mixer setting, it does not necessarily appear as an edit - that is, there is no asterisk beside the file name in the tab. Nonetheless, changes are saved along with other edits. Just a minor point, but puzzling.

In reply to by toffle

I know exactly what you mean, I often tell ensembles I direct they need to scale their dynamics differently depending on whether thy are melody or brackground, etc. Like, "mf" means (at least) two different things depending on role.

So I've never done this, but what about adding a second customzied set of dynamics to your palette (which will become trivially easy with 3.3)? Then you could just add the "background" mf to your score when you wanted and it would automatically be interpreted with a lower velocity.

Not to take anything away from your suggestion, which again I think is good, but I wouldn't be holding my breath on seeing anything like that super soon. Meanwhile, tricks like what I suggested above seem potentially useful. Also just being aware of the "offset" option in the Inspector - select a whole range, click Notes to limit selection to those, then set a negative velocity offset. This can be used to do the more subtle things.

And yes, it's a known issue that Mixer changes do not show a score dirty. They also aren't undoable, which is actually connected (the way we know a score needs saving has to do with checking the undo stack). See #45141: [Feature Request] Include mixer changes in undo history

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm not holding my breath. After all, it's a bit of a pipe-dream, that is not related to the primary objective of creating scores. I will look into some of your suggestions. (Probably after I familiarize myself with 3.3)

"the way we know a score needs saving has to do with checking the undo stack"

Undo stack? Is this something that is available on MS? I have often hoped for the possibility of accessing such a list. Even more, I have hoped for the ability to perform selective undo without undoing every step to get back to a particular edit. For example, with Snapseed photo editing on my phone, I can perform a dozen edits, and afterwards, view a listing of edits and undo any of those independent of the others. The edits can even be undone after saving and re-opening the app. I can't tell you how much time this can save.

In reply to by toffle

The undo stack is always there in any program that provides undo- it's how the program knows what the next thing to undo or redo is. But no, there is no new ability to view its contents.

Non-destructive editing as you describe is a nice feature indeed. At some level it could possibly work to implement a limited form of it in MuseScore someday.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Non-destructive editing would indeed be nice, but to be honest, my biggest pet-peeve with undo/redo is the fact that it's so difficult to keep track, for example, of how many clicks I've made in the inspector to achieve a desired result, and then to do the requisite number of undo-clicks to get back to a previous state. I usually keep going until I actually see something visually change on the screen, or until I give up in frustration.

In reply to by bobjp

I have to confess that I probably spend far too much time tweaking the playback of my scores. (It's not that I don't know what they should sound like, I wrote the crap!) I think getting the playback to match my expectations is a bit of a validation before I give the parts to an ensemble.

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