New chord playback by default is a bad design choice

• Sep 15, 2020 - 16:01

While I like the option, it's really really bad that it gets turned on by default. As a teacher trying to evaluate my students work on Harmony, I need to manually override this setting on all the works sent by my students and also teach them how to find the very hidden channel at the mixer so that they can work on their exercises without the automatic realization.

Please reconsider this, it is a poor design choice, instead make it so that the first time a user inputs an Chord with CTRL-K the program asks if it should playback chord symbols...


Every situation is different, who every person who wants to not hear the notatyions they add to their scores (whether chord symbols, ornaments, dynamics, or indeed the notes themselves there are probably ten more who do. Somehow we need to serve everyone's needs, so we try to pick the defaults that work for the majority and make it as easy as possible for those who wish other defaults to change them. For 3.5.1, it should be possible to change your own default.

But, I'm curious - if you are teaching a class involving chord symbols, why would you not want your students to hear them? I assume you still allow them to hear the notes?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc, first of all, thanks for the feature, it's actually a great tool to have and I really appreciate the effort that went into it. We are doing four-part harmony, and while we mostly use figured bass and roman numerals, we also use chord symbols in the beggining.

Let's say a student creates a four-part harmonization then adds chord symbols in an older MuseScore version which doesn't feature chord symbols playback. When I open it in my updated version, I hear those in addition to what is written, so I have to mute that channel for every student task I receive. I can do that in a few seconds, but I also have to do it for my new files and I also have to warn my students that they might need to mute it to check their peers solutions or when migrating to a new version. So, I guess its kind of a backwards compatibility issue, it sorts of breaks some behavior I was used to.

I am very glad to hear that for 3.5.1 I can change my defaults, that should solve this.

In reply to by Fernando Raube…

Thanks for the comments! Our plan for 3.5.1 is that the default will be off for older scores (pre-3.5), but you can flip it to On in the preferences, or just set it on for any given score using the style setting. The default for new scores will be on, but you can turn it off for any given score in the style setting, or off by default in preferences. For now, the style settings are the way to go (turn off Play, hit "Set as style" button - the one with the "S" icon).

Since you are using chord symbols as an adjunct to fully notated four-part arrangements, it makes sense that for your particular use case you might want it off by default. I do this in my own similar educational materials. But keep in mind, the main use case for this is people creating lead sheets, or arrangements for jazz or pop bands where rhythm section parts are often nothing but chord symbols and slashes. And in that case, having it on by default makes perfect sense. So it's only with some regret we are turning it off for older scores in 3.5.1, it means thousands of lead sheets out there won't be take advantage of this without extra steps. But given the surprise that is caused by a change from one version to another, it was the right call.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Got to say I was really surprised by this feature when it started happening and it took a while [and some frustration] to figure out what was going on. For the most part it's a great feature but I will prefer to have it off unless I want it. While I include the changes for the rhythm section throughout a tune, I also write out the piano chords and rhythmic patterns for the most part as well as a melody line in the keys part so mostly don't want the chords playing automatically. And, I don't want all the notes playing, for example, for an 'alt' chord since I know my keys guy will pick what he wants to play section by section.

Where I do want this feature is in the soloing section where the rhythm section is just comping. Wonderful use for this feature there so that's where I want to turn it on.

In reply to by bobjp

The design of the 3.5.1 solution by Marc is perfect to set correct default.
But indeed, once you have saved the correct default/style, whatever, that for a given score you want to play (or not) the chords, I'm pretty sure that a very common scenario will be to desire to temporarily switch the option without altering the score.
Just temporarily hearing the chords even if the score says no, or the opposite.
The mixer would allow to do that very precisely, but a more general simple big Chords YES/NO button in the play panel would make a lot of sense to me (like you can temporarily in the play panel alter speed/volume).

In reply to by bobjp

By "toggle image input", I assume you mean the "camera" icon by which I can copy single-measure (or so) excerpts as an image to include in email or non-MS documents. When discussing compositions with those who seek and appreciate my advice ("students"), this is absolutely central and I use it dozens of times a day. Quadruple-augmentation dot, not so much.

In reply to by BSG

I'm not saying those two things are unimportant. Only that a toggle for chord playback would seem to me to be at least as important. Especially based on the number of posts about it. We all use Musescore differently. Personally, I doubt I will have much use for chord symbol playback, though many people might. Same with the camera. In over 50 years of playing and writing all kinds of music in all kinds of groups, I never saw a Quadruple-augmentation dot until I loaded Musescore. Obviously, my experience is not exhaustive, and it's really not important.

In reply to by bobjp

I checked the opening of Also sprach Zarathustra; It does use a double-augmentation dot; it should use a triple-augmentation dot ... (it is written with a half-note tied to a double-dotted quarter .. ). But not quadruple .... , I add elliptically..

In reply to by bobjp

The reason there is no toolbar button is that it is considered by virtually everyone who expressed an opinion on this during the development and beta testing phase that is very important that what you hear on your computer is the same as what others will hear if you share your score with them. That is, whether you send someone a file directly or upload to or elsewhere, when someone else listens to your score, if chords symbols were on for you, it needs to be on for them. So it needs to be part of your score, not just a temporary UI toggle.

That said, it's not completely out of the question that this could be done that way someday. The view mode (page / continuous / single page) setting is one thing we have now on the toolbar that acts this way - it actually affects your score's settings, not just a temporary UI toggle. Concert Pitch is another. So, if someone adept at icon design and UI programming wants to try their hand at hooking all that up, it's not a bad idea. But meanwhile, it's a style setting, accessed pretty directly via the Inspector and eventually the style dialog as well, plus the preference we are introducing for 3.5.1. So I think for most people, the msoty common use cases will be completely covered already once 3.5.1 comes out.

In reply to by bobjp

I mentioned it in other threads: for me +1 to have a toggle on/off button in the toolbar. By using the chord symbol playback as composing tool for harmonization, it would be more comfortable to have a button there.
Of course it's possible to mute the corresponding channel inside the mixer, but it isn't very obvious and not much comfortable in my opinion.
And I think there is a larger user group they're using the chord symbol playback for that purpose and would appreciating it.
Alternatively I could imagine to have a shortcut for toggling it.

In reply to by kuwitt

This is a conceptual sibling of the central issue over internet advertising. Does the content provider provide the experience, or the consumer? You can turn off sound on videos, add or remove subtitles, and so forth. Should turning off chords be a configurable part of the user experience, or is it the same as removing the soprano part because you don't like it? Should there be a "no cowbells" mode? I don't think this is totally clear.

In reply to by BSG

My personal user experience and work of progress by arranging a song is often similar to:

  • writing out the basic chord symbols
  • figuring out good sounding chord progressions with chord substitutions
  • writing rhythm patterns
  • applying the chord progressions to the rhythms
  • writing out melody lines for the corresponding instruments

The step of harmonization is in my user experience a recurring process and often used from me in this procedure.
Of course I also mute or decrease the volume of the instruments from time to time to listen to hear if it sounds as expected and fits together. But the toggling of chord symbol playback is more frequently used by me, and for this purpose I wished to have an better integrated and more obvious option as only inside the mixer - be it via toolbar or a shortcut to switch between the playback.

In reply to by BSG

I vote for "no cowbells" mode. But only for string quartets.

I find the decision to have chord playback on universally but only turned off on a score by score basis to be logically inconsistent. I understand that people who use it are going to want it on all the time. That's fine. It also won't be a problem for people who never use chord playback. But for those in between? I can see plenty of occasions where a toggle would be helpful. And wouldn't effect those who do and those who don't use chord playback.

In reply to by bobjp

Thanks @bobjp and yep, to make it clear once again: there have been frequent requests to implement the chord playback and it has been implemented. Then, when it was implemented, there were complaints from users that it is only possible to disable it by setting it as a style within the inspector, now with MuseScore 3.5.1 it will be possible to set this separately. With this in mind: Please do not forget the users "in between".

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