What do you like/dislike about MuseScore in any regard?

• Apr 8, 2020 - 05:22

This one is specifically for people who have tried other scoring software in addition to MuseScore.
I've started on MuseScore because it was what I could afford at the time (free is always the best price!) and I've tried Sibelius and in terms of functionality, MuseScore blows Sibelius out of the water. MS isn't perfect yet most common, useful, and essential features are clearly visible and are easy to figure out how they work. I can tell there's a reason why many starting composers pick up MuseScore and that's its ease of use. The Palettes menu is a genius idea. Most everything you need is right in front of you.

The main problem I have with MuseScore is little things that add up and take up time. The main problems are usually formatting issues. While Sibelius fails at functionality, it shines when it comes to making a score look clean and professional. I was overjoyed at the release of MS 3 and the automatic placement feature but even that has its problems and scores very easily get messy. I think if the team hired an professional engraver to suggest ways the program could automatically clean up the score that would be excellent.
Often times on beginner scores you see simple mistakes like 8th note beamings that don't match the pulse, instrument groups with barlines that aren't joined, etc... Another way I think formatting could be greatly improved is if the program gave engraving suggestions here and there as you were making a score or even adding an engraving mode like Dorico has.

Those are just my noticings. What do you guys think? What do you enjoy about the program and if you use it as your primary scoring software, why is that?


Comments

I think it greatly depends on what you use notation software for. I compose music as a hobby left over from a formal music education. Lately I make sound files for videos I create.
Notation is not easy. The mistakes you see in beginner scores are not the job of notation software to fix. The possibilities are just too numerous. Heck, any more someone with no music training at all can download a free DAW and write good music.
I have used Sibelius since v 4. I've been using MuseScore for the last year or so because some day my Sib 7.5 won't work any more. Because I am mostly only interested in playback, MuseScore, while much better than in the past, is not yet good enough more my interests. Plus the drum palette makes me crazy.
And, of course, the goal of notation software is compose and make arrangements for real players.
So I exist in a dream world.

In reply to by bobjp

I do agree that notation is a learned process yet there is a lot of formatting issues that appear in MuseScore that composers really shouldn't have to deal with. I feel like MuseScore gives a little TOO much freedom in the sense of formatting and placement of musical elements. Scores should naturally look clean which means aligned and properly placed ornaments, dynamics, hairpins, etc... Often times it feels like the program is trying to cram as many measures as it can into one line. Generating parts is an actual nightmare! Rehearsal marks clashing with tempo markings, notes clashing with dynamics clashing with accents, ties clashing with hairpins, tiny hairpin markings because measures that are not dense with notes get squashed down to fractions of centimeters. Automatic placement does some work to fix this yet it's nowhere near perfect. Even when things don't collide they should line up and be appealing and easy to read. You said it yourself that the goal of any notation software is to "compose and make arrangements for real players." If I hand musicians the generated parts I'm sure to lose some friends! (This has happened to my friend before, and I saved the part. see below)

As for playback you're very right to be interested in it. It shouldn't be a fantasy to want quality playback from a scoring software. We don't live in the Dark Ages anymore and if we have the potential to synthesize and properly imitate orchestras why aren't we utilizing this technology? Composers would like to know what their music sounds like before they hand it off to real musicians. I, and many other composers, have made many mistakes in our early compositions where what we wrote and had played back to us did not match what was physically and acoustically capable of live musicians and instruments. Accuracy with playback reduces the risk of wasting a lot of valuable time. Lots of scoring software is limited by MIDI which while very convenient is ANCIENT! I'd rather see software utilize new technology to improve quality of life at the cost of some compatibility. Plus, people will always find workarounds for any edge-cases.

What was it that you enjoyed about Sibelius' playback compared to MuseScore's?

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In reply to by Eric P Szanto

The stock reverbs are quite different and the default makes a first impression. Aria engines(s) in Finale and Plogue use Ambience. I remember the first time I HEARD Musescore, I thought I was floating lightly on airy clouds. This threw me off initially. But that was awhile ago.

I like the concept of control in MuseScore. Everything to insert on the left and edit on the right (roughly speaking). This is very easy but very fast at work and makes it very easy for newbies or people who are switching to MuseScore to get good results very quickly. I think the inspector on the right side is very good. From time to time I am asked by Musescore beginners how some things work. Then this concept is quickly explained and is obvious for everyone.

Problems arise when it comes to changes in the layout. I'm very happy about the autoplacement since MuseScore 3, which for my feeling in my orchestral works sometimes gives better results than Sibelius MagneticLayout in Sibelius Ultimate 8. Nevertheless I miss a layout editor / style editor or engraving mode like in Dorico. This would be a great help in adjusting the layout. Maybe a revision of the existing style dialog would be enough, but unfortunately I find many options and settings not intuitive and it's not clear what exactly one or the other setting does - especially not for beginners.

Most people around me (about 20 conductors) use Sibelius. Sibelius has a nice visual interface for now, even if it's very impractical and far from intuitive - the first impression is a visually appealing design. As soon as I show them Musescore, they'll see a grey interface, few icons, lots of text menus (e.g. palette text with folded palettes). This discourages some people so much that they don't want to get involved in any further discussion. I think it would be a step forward to bring a bit more color into the interface and maybe more icons where the user interface allows it. The same goes for the mixer, which, according to Sibelius, simply looks old, almost no details in the interface, although the functionality is similar.

I also miss an option like in Sibelius to keep bars or systems together on one page. So far I'm using compression and stretching, but this often requires 10 or more repetitions. A simpler option would be "Keep selection together on one page".

Even if this sounds a bit negative: That's not what I mean! I clearly prefer Musescore to Sibelius, although I'm often forced to work with Sibelius because of my work with others. Nevertheless, the ease of use (especially the pallets and inspector) is a strong argument for using Musescore.
I also like the synthesizer/zerberus to integrate your own/other soundfonts. This works very easily. Should further versions of VST be added, so that NotePerformer, for example, could be used, this would be another plus for Musescore.

I like the possibility with instrument parts in Musescore. It is very well developed and I use it often.

Since many people around me already have a large collection of .sib files, I can understand if they don't want to give it up and switch to Musescore. Maybe an import .sib function would be possible (similar to Capella files), but unfortunately I am not a programmer, so I can't say anything about the effort of the implementation.

In reply to by MaBlo

Eric,
I think it's a mistake to use notation software to learn how to orchestrate. Sure, you can use it to try out things after you know what you are doing. I grew up playing in various music groups. That and my music education has helped me have a good idea how instruments sound together. Live and in person. When I'm writing and I go from full orchestra to a WW trio, I know what that trio should sound like. Fonts like those in MuseScore don't combine the same way real instruments do. There are often artifacts in the playback that don't happen with real instruments. So I either write what I know will work anyway, or change things to get playback better. I often have to trade oboe for English horn so there aren't sonic clashes. But the two instruments are nothing alike. Imagine trying to learn orchestration using only fonts for reference. I don't think there are many shortcuts in learning to compose for live instruments. So yes, students need to learn the capabilities of instruments first. Then learn to write for them. Certainly a computer can help with this. While we don't live in the dark ages, the medium we write for is very old, indeed. Certain things about it still require first hand knowledge.
Because I write for playback, I am willing to do the things required to get as close to the sound I want. I don't write things that are unplayable. In fact, most of what I write is very simple.
I agree that inaccuracies waste time. Yet there are things that you can't rush. I know that it is hard for students to understand it. They want it "now". I'm old and I hate to wait. Yet live music is a completely different art form than computer music. You keep talking about "new technology". Do you know what that technology is? Will it make it into free notation software very soon? Should it? Or should it be used in modern software like a DAW, instead? I think a DAW is where the innovation is going to come, and is already there.
What do I like about Sibelius playback? It is not at all perfect. But they use high quality recorded and manipulated samples. And then there's the typical font size of a few hundred MB's compared to 34 GB library.

In reply to by bobjp

I agree completely that composers should not learn orchestration primarily through a scoring software and I never meant to imply that they should. Software shouldn't replace formal education but that doesn't mean synthesized playback shouldn't be as accurate as possible. Even with formal education, our judgement can fail us. We shouldn't have to look to DAW's only for accurate playback.

When I say "new technology" I'm referring to use of VSTs to simulate instruments as well as utilizing MIDI 2.0 which allows more resolution for parameters like velocity, pitch, and other control change parameters. It was demonstrated at NAMM last year how the new MIDI protocol allows per-note pitch bends which could create smoother glissandos, falls, bends, and so on. Some of this potential exists in MuseScore yet it takes tedious workarounds to use it. You said you're okay with using workarounds to make things sound right but you shouldn't have to. Programs shouldn't be intentionally inconvenient. These features I've seen different scoring software utilize these features so we have to wonder when they'll get implemented into MuseScore.

In reply to by Eric P Szanto

Intentionally inconvenient. Interesting. I suspect that we are talking about two completely different platforms. One is opensource and free. The other is commercial. To be clear, I don't use workarounds,at least as far as going under the surface and doing things that get hidden so the score looks right. I write things that reflect what I want to happen regardless of how they look. I resist a DAW because of the expense and learning curve. If I were truly serious I would write in notation (because that's what I know) and tweak it in a DAW. This is how it is done. Notation isn't intended to do that. Notation is map. Not the journey. Otherwise it will become way to complicated to work with. Plus harder to justify being free.

In reply to by bobjp

Free is the best price so I don't have much room to complain. Reading over my previous replies I notice I sound a bit negative but MuseScore does have adequate simulations, with a few quirks here and there. It would be the job of a commercial program to provide more accurate simulations. VSTs and their associated licenses get pricey.

The problem I do have is that not fully implementing features should be possible. Bends exist so why isn't there slides and falls? Say you write a trumpet line with some jazzy scoops and falls. These features have notation in MuseScore yet they don't work in playback. Sure, the performer will see what's written on the page and perform it but the foresight of knowing if that placement of those articulations will actually sound adequate is nice. It's nice to know before the music is printed and distributed.

In reply to by MaBlo

Re: "I also miss an option like in Sibelius to keep bars or systems together on one page. So far I'm using compression and stretching, but this often requires 10 or more repetitions. A simpler option would be "Keep selection together on one page"."

You can easily do this using "breaks and spacers" pallet and the "page break " icon

In reply to by MaBlo

@MaBlo, I echo your frustrations with the graphic design in MS. It's nice to see that MuseScore has taken some steps in the direction of making things more appealing. Dark Mode is very nice and looks a lot more pleasing to the eye although there's the elephant in the room of how everything looks like old Windows application. Even just implementing a custom font would do wonders for cleaning things up. I'd look to a program like Photoshop for an example of what good visual design looks like. It's got the same general aesthetic that MuseScore is going for yet things look much cleaner.

I too prefer MuseScore to any other program at the minute despite its visual design purely because it's intuitive. Functionality > Design. But that doesn't make design any less important.

Also, there exists breaks and spacers but maybe there could be a engraving mark that does the opposite. Instead of splitting sections of a score, it could keep sections together. What do you think?

Also, technically Sibelius files are compatible with MuseScore via MIDI. I know I dogged MIDI a bit but it does wonders for cross-compability. If you export a Sibelius project as a MIDI file and then import that MIDI into MS then you should get an approximation of that Sibelius file.

What have I been using in the past?
Encore, Finale, Emagic Logic (I know, strictly speaking Logic is a DAW, not a notation software).

Why did I switch to MuseScore?
Straightforward ease of use.
Capability to export in many file formats.
Multi platform compatibility.
Low PC resource requirements (works on very old hardware).
Portability.
LOW PRICE!!! :)

What I enjoy the most?
After some training, I can now type music almost as fast as I type a regular text, with just sporadic clicks of the mouse. If a MIDI keyboard is available, I can use a mix of MIDI keyboard, PC keyboard and mouse and be as fast as hell.

What I would NOT like to see happening to MuseScore?
Becoming a too complex piece of software (maybe this is why I'm still using 2.3.2, and completely satisfied by its services).
Becoming choosy as regards the needed hardware or OS platform (in the PC world, backward compatibility has been a must in the past, it should be now and in the future as well).

My two cents.
Thanks for reading.

P.S. Very important: if you need sound control and quality, don't rely on MuseScore - it is for notation, not for playback, and this is good, as monolitic softwares doing everything grow fast into an unmanageable mess of nested features. If you need sound control and quality use a DAW. DAWs can make WONDERS as regards sound control and quality!!!

In reply to by Eric P Szanto

"Multi platform compatibility."
MuseScore 3.4 can't run on Windows XP and "lower", nor on MacOS 10.9 and "lower". So its "multiplatform compatibility" is limited.

"Portability."
No portable version yet.

"Low PC resource requirements (works on very old hardware)."
"Becoming choosy as regards the needed hardware or OS platform (in the PC world, backward compatibility has been a must in the past, it should be now and in the future as well)."
Requiring "Windows 7 or higher" and "MacOS 10.10 or higher" makes MuseScore look choosy to my eyes.
MuseScore 3.4 is way slower and less "responsive" on my 2012 Atom 1.6 GHz netbook than it is 2.3. 2012 is yesterday, not centuries back in the past. Are we supposed to throw away our expensive and perfectly functional hardware due to "choosy" software? Nope. I prefer going on using old software and keep my hardware while it works.

I'm not saying that I'm right and all the others are wrong. I'm just stating the reasons why I'm still using 2.3.2 and I think I will be using it for a long time into the future.

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In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I still enjoy using two perfectly working Apple machines, one based on Macintosh 8, the other based on OSX 10.4. How can it be? Well, when using a tool, you must just know what you have in your hands, and how to use it properly. I could travel from Lisbona to Vladivostok with a simple moped. Just give me the needed time and money, and I will indeed enjoy the journey.

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In reply to by Aldo

FWIW, 2012 is not "yesterday" in technology terms, and netbooks were way underpowered the day they came out. So no surprising modern apps might struggle on hardware that limited. But for the record, on modern hardware, MsueScoer 3 is an order of magnitude faster than MuseScore 2, literally, measurably so. That's because the layout engine was reworked to only lay out the portion of your score that is actually changed by each operation instead of constantly relating out the whole thing.

But indeed, if you are limited to obsolete OS"s and hardware, you will need to also limit yourself to ancient versions of most software as well. not just MuseScore. So, for a very small number of users, that will be the right answer. For the vast majority, though, MuseScore 3 is faster and better in virtually every conceivable way.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc: "But indeed, if you are limited to obsolete OS"s and hardware, you will need to also limit yourself to ancient versions of most software as well. not just MuseScore."

You wording fails in expressing the correct concepts for my condition.

I am not "limited" in any way, rather the "limited" ones are those who compulsively throw away their perfectly functional hardware just to chase manufacturers advertising. Talk about THEIR limitations.

I CHOOSE to keep my very efficient and properly configured hardware and OS as long as possible, and to KEEP my money in my pockets. That's what makes even the manufacturers, who try to force me to buy what I don't need, LIMITED. They are, indeed, limited by my WILL.

There is nothing obsolete in the OS I'm using, as ten years, even twenty years, are not enough to make ANYTHING obsolete. My car is 12 years old, just to say. I still ride a perfectly running 35 years old wonderful motorcycle. Go figure -- my wife is 47 years old, and still she's not obsolete at all. To my eyes, at least. :)

The same applies to the concept of "ancient". What does "ancient" mean? Centuries have to pass in order to make ANYTHING ancient. Nothing can be regarded as "ancient" until it remains within human life span. Moreover, most ancient things are regarded as highly valuable ones. MuseScore 2.3.2 IS valuable and is NOT obsolete at all. Actually, it works smoothly and does ALL that I need. A useful tool always deserves respect.

As soon as my hardware will die, I could be forced to switch to newer versions of the software I'm used to running and I feel familiar with. Most probably, though, I will look for spare parts in order to repair my devices and gain some more years (decades?) to enjoy what make me feel "at home". My life is not endless, so chances are that I will die before I need any new software or hardware, or I could CHOOSE to do without computer stuff at all, who knows?

Deep philosophic thoughts lurk in my brain, man. ;)

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In reply to by Aldo

If you cannot run the best and most recent version of software, you are limited, that's a plain and simple fact no amount of wordsmithing will get around. We are all limited in some ways, and sometimes we're even content with our limitations, so it's no crime to be limited. But to deny it makes no sense.

What's obsolete about your OS is that it doesn't support any number of modern applications or devices, and indeed is no longer supported by Microsoft. That said, if you are content with its limitations and still find it useful, great, and same for MsueScore 2.3.2.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Aldo. It 's always entertaining to read your posts. Until five years ago when we had to do some major down sizing, I owned two fully functional TRS-80 machines. They worked just as good as the day I bought them. But they could no longer provided the services I needed, so you'll be horrified to know that I tossed them. GASP!!

Even though your car is made to last longer than a few years (even though it looses value as soon you drive it off the lot), tech becomes obsolete very quickly. That's not manufacturers talking. There's always something better coming out. And it really is better. I talk to people all the time that stayed on W7 or XP. Their machines work just fine. They try W10. It looks and acts so different that they run screaming back to where they came from. "W10 is a disaster", they say,"just a ploy to get more money from us".
I've used every version of Windows since W98. I never had any trouble with any of them. Why did I upgrade? Am I made of Money? (Breaks down laughing and takes a few minutes to recover) I haven't always had to buy new hardware, either. But each version is actually better. Atom. Hmmm. I understand the need to conserve, but...
There is a website that specializes in portable. I think I saw MS3 on there. If not there is software that makes applications into portable. If your Atom will run it.

In reply to by bobjp

I have had a more off than on romance with Musescore since version 1.
But a lack of formal training in music prevented me from understanding
how to put it to good use. My confidence level was low so I used to back
off in frustration.
During that time I had to depend on people to notate my little compositions.
That changed during the last year when I found that my understanding
of its use had improved quite a bit.
My confidence level grew and now I do my own notation.........reasonably well
if I may say.
Play back is my best friend. I listen and make adjustments to get what I want.

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