Change the Scale and Reference Frequency?

• Nov 28, 2020 - 20:43

Is there a way to define the musical scale in Musescore? For example, instead of using the standard 12 EDO scale with A=440 hz, is it possible to define a 16 tone per octave scale with reference frequency C=388.36 hz? I have discovered that it is possible to redefine the staff with 4 lines, but is there a way to define each line and space with a particular pitch or frequency? I define the pitches of the scale with number designations instead of the standard letter names. Is it possible to make these kinds of changes in Musescore? I realize this probably dramatically alters what's "under the hood" in Musescore, but if such alterations are possible, or were to become possible, this program would be indispensable to microtonalists all over the world. Thank you for your consideration, and please respond to let me know the status. Thanks! Bruce


In reply to by jeetee

You can redefine the A₄ pitch. MuseScore will then change all other pitches to match, using 12-tone equal temperament. Then you can give each note a pitch offset (in cent) from that calculated default pitch.

The A₄ pitch frequency precision is 3 digits after the period, which is nowhere near enough to e.g. realise a C₄=256 Hz tuning properly. (It’s probably better to start with default A₄=440 Hz and apply all offsets from that, so you don’t accumulate floating point rounding/precision errors.)

You cannot, however, change the system of tones and semitones, or how the octave is split.

(You can implement a tuning where enharmonics have different pitch in MuseScore. Or even where tuning changes mid-piece. This is because the pitch offset is per note.)

In reply to by mirabilos

tbh I just had this crazy idea, reading my own post:

It’s well-ish known that choirs adjust their intervals automatically, especially when unaccompanied, that is, they may sing the C₄ in an F major chord different from one in a C major chord, and so on, to make the intervals (more) pure. (Perhaps this is also part of the reason choirs tend to drift flat over time?) Maybe adjust a score to do that… something normal music instruments can’t do but we can. Hmm, can a plugin do that… one would have to model all possible interval groups… meh I don’t know enough about harmony rules to even begin modelling this in my head.

Okay, offtopic…

In reply to by mirabilos

Plugins could certainly tell Eb from D# if the score is notated correctly, and tune purer intervals that possible on a 12-key-per-octave instrument, like instruments that have split black keys for both enharmonic possibilities. I bet there already are plugins that do. It is easy enough to "see" the C in an F major chord and perhaps make it "purer", but if the same C is used in an Ab major chord? In the same piece? Or one tied to the other? Even singing the 16 ct chromatic language of Gesualdo would fail under such a strategy.

In reply to by Bruce Kanzelmeyer

This should also be easy enough in TAB, in which case equal division octaves would simply be special case tuning tables, but maybe not so easy in standard notation. I presume that composers of microtonal music have already defined a standard.

The whole concept of microtonal music sounds as though it would be a great addition to any scoring system and it would be nice to see this in MuseScore, ("Score any music in any system").

In reply to by yonah_ag

I wasn’t thinking of a microtonal system, just of adjusting by ±2 or perhaps 4 cent where needed to get intervals clean, which I have heard is something unaccompanied choirs already do in real life anyway. Since adjustments in MuseScore are per individual note, it’s completely possible to have two adjacent (e.g.) C₄ to sound ever so slightly differently.

In reply to by mirabilos

Unfortunately, the problem with 12 EDO is that NONE of the intervals are pure. The Just Intonation movement is an attempt to "purify" at least some of the intervals, which often reveals a quagmire of compromises created to maintain "equal divisions of the octave". Professional musicians are constantly making adjustments "on the fly" to be more harmonically "in tune" with each other while playing or singing. The pieces linked to below are composed of the 8 harmonics, 8-15, and to my knowledge, can not be realized in Musescore, at this time.

Musical Intro to 3rd Generation of the Natural Harmonic Scale.docx

In reply to by Bruce Kanzelmeyer

You’re completely missing my point.

My question was whether it would make sense to do this auto-adjusting in a score, and whether it would be possible to put it into a plugin.

MuseScore can change the pitch of every single note by a per-note (i.e. different!) amount of cent (decimal fraction), so it’s easily possible to implement all kinds of tunings. I cannot read the file you linked (seems to be a binary proprietary format), but I doubt it’s not possible.

In reply to by mirabilos

I'm sorry man, maybe so...

It would be daunting to do per note adjustments...for example the G in a CEG triad is about 2 cents flat, but in a Eb major chord it's something like 14 cents sharp...any adjustments need to be based on relative locations of the pitches in the chords. Singers can do this on the fly (if everyone agrees on the anchor note, or you're a one man act, like Jacob Collier), and some good instrumentalists do it, but if you're playing a keyboard, you're kind'a screwed.

My attachment was a Word .docx file, and inside I shared a link to a few .mp3 files from my Google Drive.

In reply to by Bruce Kanzelmeyer

Easy enough to do it, but hard to figure out the correct adjustments for each chord.

Word… that Microsoft thing for Windows? I don’t have either. (OK, I have Windows® 2000 running on an old laptop somewhere for if I need to publish Win32 binaries of my own software, but otherwise not really.) I wouldn’t have known what to do with your MP3 files either (sure, play them, but then?).

In reply to by mirabilos

Do you know if it is possible to change the pitch definitions of the lines and spaces of the staff, so that when notes are added they would play at the new pitch? In other words, could you make an adjustment that would change the pitch of A4, second space, to be 430Hz, without affecting the pitches of the other notes? This might have possible use in alternative scale work...

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