Writing scores fot the melodeon/accordion – chords playback criticisms and a new feature request.

• Aug 7, 2020 - 21:13

OK, I am a melodeon player, and I use MuseScore mainly to transcribe the tunes I play on my instruments for my own use.
No, I don't try to create any sort of tablature. I can read and write music, and I know the keyboard layout of the instruments I play. I can pack into a simple score all the informations that in a tablature require a different graphic staff.
Given this, when I saw that the new MuseScore 3.5 finally offered the chance to playback the chord symbols, that's the extra bonus offered by the notation programs that can create melodeon tablatures, I was really excited, and downloaded it in a haste. Testing it left me really disappointed.
I admit I had not read the discussion about the topic in the forum, but I actually agree about a number of the criticisms that were expressed.
First, really the chord playback shouldn't be on by default.
Second, there should be a chance to control its use globally for a whole score. To select all or part of the chords and then activate/deactivate them in the explorer is self defeating.
Third: to use just the piano sound to playback the chords is unsatisfactory. I understand that giving
the user a chance to choose any instrument at will could create problems with the older scores. Yet, the piano is an instrument with little sustain. The option to hold a chord until the next one makes sense for an instrument that sustains – an organ, a reed organ... -, so at least we should be offered the chance to use one of them as an alternative to the piano.
A further criticism from the melodeons players' point of view: it's nice to be able to choose among the root only, close chords, drop2 chords and all the other options, but what about chord swithout the thirds? We box players have a limited number of chords, that usually are either major or minor triads, so the modern design instruments have a stop to mute all the thirds to enable using them both as major and minor chords. Please add a powerchord option!!
By the way, I don't know who looks after the Italian translation of the program, but please suggest him to buy a dictionary. “Root” could be translated as “radice” if we were talking about a tree. Talking about a chord the correct term is “fondamentale”!
Back to the point: if the chords without the thirds option was available I could mimick a left hand pattern as played on a melodeon, but that would imply using three or four chord symbols each bar, selecting half of them to play the root only, and I would have no control on the note/chords durations. Sincerely, to write the basses and the full chords on a second staff would take more or less the same time, and give by far better results.
Beyond the criticisms, I'd like to make a concrete suggestion. Why not implementing for the melodeon/accordion players a left hand staff to playback the chords according to the conventions used in the printed scores for the acccordion? You know: just two octaves. The lower one (stems up) is used for the basses, and since if you can alternate the fundamental and the fifth, or even play a bass notes run, they should be played back as written. The upper octave (stem down)is used for the chords: just the fundamental of course. The chords symbols tells the player, and should tell the program, if the chord is major, a minor, a dominant seventh or a diminished chord. Add an option for the chords without the thirds, and system could work fot he melodeon as well. And of course such a staff could be used for a vamping piano part as well.
Right, as an American friend of mine used to say... just my five cents!


Thanks for the feedback! It's understood that a handful of users might want playback off by default, but so far the evidence is most people will prefer it on, that's why the default is that way. Either way, it takes only seconds to change it - click a chord, toggle Play in the Inspector, press "Set as style".

While the default sound is piano, you can change it to whatever you want using View / Mixer (first expand the channel strip for your instrument to see its subchannels).

You mentioned wishing more options to control its use. Is there something you are trying to do other than just those two things, which are already possible?

Power chords can be notated by simply writing C5 etc.

I'm not really understanding the suggestion involving the multiples staves and melodeon-specific notations. Can you post an example of what you mean and describe the suggestion in more detail?

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