Sadly i became a Finale user, some thoughts on MuseScore.

• Oct 3, 2020 - 07:09

I write this post after having been a musescore user for 2 and a half years, now for about 6-7 months I have been using finale because I have a new teacher who uses it and practically all his students do too so I am somewhat peer pressured to use it for now, it's very inconvenient for me to have to export and review every file before sharing them with my teacher or classmates. I honestly found finale really painful to use at first, it seems very wacky to use and it only offers a few things that musescore doesn't have and i will probably never use anyway. It also relies more on the mouse for various things like hairpins, slurs and some articulations which is annoying to me because I am used to the keyboard and having musescore position the elements aligned to each other and in a good default position automatically. I saw this can be solved by using macros and plugins, but they don't come with the basic program and it is annoying.
However, finale has some tools that are practical and it would be hard for me to lose if I went back to musescore at some point, I hope this doesn't bother you since it is in good faith because I would like to return to musescore eventually and I value the great volunteer work that developers have done. Also excuse any bad grammar, i did this with a auto translate and then reviewed it manually.

  • Selection filter and modes to select only one type of element faster

Finale has a much more powerful and useful selection filter than musescore, I can add articulations, slurs, hairpins or any type of marking in one instrument and through the filter copy paste on other instruments only the things that I need at that moment by just clicking on another stave or selecting several staves at once, I don't even have to do shortcuts for copy paste, this is very fast and useful when orchestrating voicings or tuttis. It can also select various kinds of elements at once, i mean dynamics + articulations + slurs, not just one at a time.
This way of selecting only a certain kind or several kinds of markings allow me to work much faster, it may seem small but having to right click on a (sometimes) small element in the score -> select all similar elements in range wastes time and is annoying, also it is inconvenient because i have to do it for every kind of element instead of all of them at once.
It would be great to have a more configurable selection filter, or that works in a similar way to what finale does, and that also allows you to save different types of filter settings that are activated with different keyboard shortcuts.

  • Automatic positioning and systems

I had some problems using musescore again due to the automatic positioning, this was very strange to me because when this feature was implemented by Marc Sabatella, the improvement in the automatic layout and time saving that it represented for me was huge.
It seems to me that the idea of ​​automatically avoiding collisions is very good and certainly very relevant for computer programs that can use artificial intelligence to determine the best positions. The problem I had in general with musescore is that it only avoids collisions by moving EVERYTHING in space vertically, when in reality a professional human engraver has to have other priorities sometimes rather than avoiding a collision at all costs if that means changing too much the entire structure of a system. For example, if I put in an instrument several dynamics with a crescendo and the instrument in the lower staff has some articulations or high notes outside the staff, that will make ALL the staves move vertically only on that system, which makes the score lose a consistent visual structure in the layout, this is very important in general but for conductors especially, it would not be very professional to deliver a score in that state (i mean very inconsistent layouts on different pages). This can be seen by looking at pre-computer sheet music in imslp for example, almost every page has the same structure, at least when the instrumentation remains the same and no instruments are omitted. Also in some cases musescore moves all staves and systems vertically and some things end up going off the page! That should not happen in any way. I imagine that this must be a difficult feature to implement and I am not aware of the latest developments in this regard, but ideally musescore should somehow prioritize the coherence of a system structure and distance between staves established in advance, and at most have a certain small margin allowed to move all the staves vertically automatically, and after that range allows the minimum space between elements to shrink or just let some elements collide so that the user can order them manually. Ideally it should show a collision warning in places where it cannot be fixed automatically so that the user does not miss it.
Also, if one seeks to further improve the automatic positioning to avoid collisions, it should be implemented that it also uses horizontal space to avoid collisions, not only the vertical one, although this sounds even more complicated.

  • Mouse playback

Finale has a function that by pressing ctrl + spacebar plays the sound fragment on which the mouse is positioned, which allows moving the mouse over the score at a speed that you want and also going back and forth manually. This is extremely useful for me to listen to some fragments in more detail or to check how the counterpoint would sound since I am not a pianist and many of the things that I write I cannot play fluently, with this function i can control the playback manually and listen more in detail some portions of the score that I would normally play on the piano if my skill allowed it. This is also very useful if I don't have a piano available where I am working. I can't stress enough how useful this feature is to me!!!

  • Metatools

I already know that above I mentioned that finale relies more on the mouse to enter some things, but what they call metatools are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to enter almost anything from what would be the “simple note entry mode” without having to click on other tools. For example, while I'm writing the music I can press X and a number to enter a dynamic, or * and a letter to put any type of articulation, there are similar shortcuts for texts, key changes or key signature etc. In my opinion in finale this is not very well put together with the other tools to enter markings so it ends up being a hybrid that does not end up being comfortable to use.
This type of shortcut would be very useful in musescore because it would free current shortcuts (like shift +s or shift+v) and would allow you to use shortcuts that make sense with the word, such as s for staccato, a for accent etc, in addition to add shortcuts for common things that currently don't have one.

  • Add additional notes below the current one

This may be too specific to my personal taste but in general I use this function to write voicings. In finale I have the main melody written and then with Shift + 3, 4 etc I write the voicings below by pressing the shortcut for the corresponding interval. Personally, I never use the shortcuts to add notes above and these are the ones set by default in musescore, although I can add a shortcut for descending intervals manually.
Ideally I would like to be able to add notes below with a shortcut with the note name instead of the interval, for example shift + alt A adds an A below the current note etc, musescore can add notes this way but only ascending and I found no way to manually set it to descending. This is not included in finale, it is more of a personal preference.


Thanks for the feedback! Just a few observations:

Selection Filter - I'm not sure what you mean about copying using the copy command, but not that msueScore 8does* allow you to copy articulations and various other markings already, and you don't need the selection filter that that. Just select the markings you want to copy, then copy/paste normally. Only works for certainly element types, though, eventually we'd like to support more.

Automatic Placement - first, but to give credit where it's due, it was created by Werner Schweer, the original author of MuseScore. I did, however, make some pretty significant improvements to it to make it more flexible. Additional improvements are coming in 3.6 and 4.0. There are already some ways to limit the amount of space added (see for example the "Minimum vertical distance" setting in Format / Style / Score). Personally I find it most useful to let MuseScore add space, then I move things manually as needed until the space goes away. This I find easier than not letting it add space and then trying to resolving collisions myself.

Mouse Playback - what is also known as "scrubbing", it's the sort of thing I definitely expect to see for 4.0, with it's focus on playback improvements.

Metatools - the ability to define shortcuts for everything on the palette has been a goal of mine for years, a number of things have prevented it from becoming a reality. Hopefully someday.

Adding Notes - yes, an easier way to add notes below would be great, I agree. Although I'm pretty quick by now at doing Shift+letter, Ctrl+Down as practically one operation. Hmm, I'll bet this could be done by a plugin!

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