Looser enforcement of musical grammar

• Jan 21, 2021 - 00:32

Please don’t assume the only use case for scoring software is the musician with a completed composition doing nothing more than transcribing their work.
Scoring applications can be great writing tools allowing us to try ideas beyond our ability to audiate and play instruments.
But the creative process works better if you can be formally wrong - eg, five beats in a 4/4 bar. MS is too fussy to allow easy experimentation and discovery.

Guitar Pro is one application that has balanced creative freedom with tools that support correct composition very effectively. I think MS could better support “creative” scoring if if did not rigidly enforce musical grammar all the time.


In reply to by DanielR

Yes I have. That does rather open up a whole other discussion.

Creating UI modes is - IMHO - a sign of bad design. Yes sometimes they can help, but they always add complexity and effort (cognitive overhead) and should not be a default design paradigm for anything. The entire (interactive) software industry has settled on a basic select-do paradigm. Once I select an object the software should make every legal function, in the current context, available to. And a function should be available in any and every context where it makes intuitive sense - not just the ‘modes’ to which was arbitrarily assigned. Humans can learn to make difficult tasks second nature - like playing most musical instruments - but no matter how natural modes seem to long time power users of MS I am confident they are objectively awful and send many a beginner to commercial alternatives.

I'm all for experimentation and discovery. Consider that MuseScore allows you the opportunity to learn the accepted way to have 4 beats in one measure and 5 in the next. Just like any skill we try to learn.

For the sake of performers, it's important to make it at least somewhat clear by default. You can change the number of beats in a bar by right-clicking on the bar and clicking on "measure properties," but the best way to do that imo, which is the most clear to the musicians playing your score, is to use a 5/4 bar and then going back to 4/4.

In reply to by L'Moose

You misunderstood me - I am not suggesting being able to create bad scores - which a 5 beat bar labelled 4/4 would be. And I know how to notate tempos.

What I am suggesting is that MS not enforce tempo on measures while editing - at least not in the heavy handed way it does now. An incorrect measure should be flagged - maybe by being rendered in red when the focus leaves the measure. But it would be much better if MS was not correcting me while is inside a measure doing my thing - and it shouldn’t prohibit incorrect measures at all. I may want to leave something half finished for a good reason and intend to come back. And I don’t want to have to set free time just so I can play around.

Playback could just add implied rests on under filled measures and skip extra notes on over filled measures - as is the case in other applications.

In reply to by Terracerulean

Are you aware that you can insert notes while in the default step time input mode by holding CTRL+SHIFT and pressing a note name (or zero for a rest)? See https://musescore.org/en/handbook/3/note-input#insert-notes. Similarly you can remove a note and its associated duration from the measure using CTRL+DELETE (scroll down a few more lines from that previous link). The insert mode is more helpful when many notes need to be inserted at one time (for example when writing a cadenza).

"Incorrect" measures are flagged as you are requesting but with a subtle "+" or "-" indicating actual lengths longer or shorter than implied by the time signature as described here: https://musescore.org/en/handbook/3/measure-operations#duration. There is no prohibition or warning (either would be rather presumptuous), just a rather discrete indication that the length of the measure does not match the time signature (which is sometimes what one wants in the finished score in cadenzas for example).

Having playback skip notes that are present in the score using an arbitrary rule to decide which are "extra" seems less than helpful. Whether notes are played or not is currently completely under the user's control by unticking or leaving ticked the "play" tick box in the inspector.

In reply to by Terracerulean

As someone who uses notation software strictly for composition, I'm not sure I see a problem.

"Playback could just add implied rests on under filled measures and skip extra notes on over filled measures - as is the case in other applications." I have no idea what this sentence means. MuseScore is obsessed with rests. So much so that if I what to add a note to beat four of an empty (of notes) measure, I have to deal with rests on the other three beats first. Skip extra notes? I presume you put notes on the staff for a reason. Why would you want them skipped and how would play back have any idea which note to skip.
Personally, I don't believe that the creative process is a free for all on any level. Any art form has rules that should be followed if it is to be recognized as a particular art form. Put another way, part of the art is working within the medium. I guess for me, my process of audiation doesn't let me add extra beats or do things out of sync with the style I am writing.
I don't think we learn to write language properly by relaxing grammar.

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