How do I change the sound when playing on a midi keyboard?

• Feb 8, 2021 - 12:04

Is it possible to switch between the different instruments in the score when I'm playing on the midi keyboard? I can't figure out how to change the sound, it only defaults to whatever instrument is at the top. The only way I can get the sound of the instrument to play is if I enable 'note input' but I don't want any notes to be written down.


As there are many different midi keyboards with various capabilities, here's a possibility...

When you are done entering notes into MuseScore and wish to use your midi keyboard for a "performance", toggle the midi input (toolbar button) off. Then you can choose from among your midi keyboard's built-in sounds and so, for instance, change from 'piano' to 'trumpet'.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

I'm not sure I understand this correctly. What I'm looking to do is just use the instruments in Musescore as if they were VSTs in a DAW. I just want to be able to hear, say flute, then bassoon, but not actually input any notes, or do a live performance. Really it's just to help me come up with ideas.

Should work to simply select a staff without entering note input mode.

MuseScore really isn't designed for real-time performance, though. If you're trying to just play the keyboard, better to use the internal sounds of the keyboard for that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I have to say that I'm not sure. I have played around with this sort of thing a while back, but part of the problem is working out the interfaces - different interfaces to keyboards behave differently. I recall driving a version of Anything Goes with two keyboards - using both as outputs at the same time, but I can't now remember whether I did that directly from MuseScore or another DAW. I tried several, including Logic, Garageband, Reaper and LMMS - though I can't now remember whether they all worked.

One option is to output a file in Midi format and then stream it from a DAW to the keyboards. However as there are quite a number of ways to do this I can't give a precise answer at the moment. What does the OP want to do exactly? If this were clearer I could try to test things out. I do also recall some issues in getting midi to work with the hardware - depending on whether the (now rather outdated ...) DIN plug symbol in the Musescore interface was pressed.

It should be possible to drive most of the instruments in the General Midi interface in most keyboards, IIRC, but one issue might be assigning them to staves in Musescore directly from the Musescore interface.

I have had keyboard input connected to Musescore, as I also managed to get note input. That does indicate that real time "performance" should be possible.

In reply to by dave2020X

I press on a note on my digital piano that is connected through midi cables to my PC and hear that note play in Musescore. If I have a score with multiple instruments the instrument that plays that note is whichever is at the top (I think). For example in a wind quartet it's flute.

I don't want to record anything or use the midi keyboard to input notes into the sheet. I just want to play on the
digital piano/midi keyboard and hear a different instrument than the flute play. For example if I'm trying to come up with a melody for the bassoon it's not very helpful when I hear the flute any time I play on the piano, I want to hear the bassoon instead.

Basically it's the same as arming a track in Reaper I think.

My digital piano only has piano sounds and orchestral VST libraries are expensive as hell and there aren't many free alternatives that have all the instruments in an orchestra.

In reply to by tarre

Great that you've got that working.

I'll try to remember that next time I link up my keyboards to a computer.

I think there might be other ways too.

Have you tried DAWs such as LMMS? Again, sorry I don't know if they'd all work for you or anyone else, but I use several. Sometimes these work, and sometimes they need a lot of fiddling to configure. Most of them have General Midi features.

LMMS has the merits of cheapness - free! Some of the sounds are OK. However it doesn't do audio, if that's what you want - and you'd need a separate audio editor.

Maybe you've got Reaper - which I found really tricky to get linked in. IIRC Logic and Garageband and also Mainstage all work. If you have an Apple system (you probably don't) - then Mainstage (quite a cheap Apple program) might be a good option for what you want to do. Most people don't know about that one - and indeed it is limited - but it might be just the sort of thing you'd find useful.

In reply to by tarre

I still find the problem annoying. I'm working on a song with piano and vocals, and it's very frustration to have to click on a measure of piano to hear a reference before I input a note. Instead I get the default sound at the top of the staff, which is the voice sound. There needs to be a way to switch the default playback sounds on the midi device without having to click on individual measures, or change the instrument in the staff properties itself.

In reply to by johnnypatrick

Does the sound keep reverting or does it stay with the sound you selected even if you do the click on a measure operation? If it reverts that could be a nuisance, but otherwise it wouldn't appear to be too much of a burden.
Perhaps better would be some form of key input from the computer keyboard to switch instruments, or use a palette technique - assign instruments say to 10 different key codes so that interaction would be much faster - so that voices, bassoons, pianos which have so far been mentioned, could easlily be swapped.

Are you using a WinPC?

In reply to by johnnypatrick

For most situations, it's actually a very good thing that MuseScore pays attention to the selection to choose a sound, because then you can hear the sound of the staff you are actually working on. But if you wish to always hear piano by default, should work to just add a piano staff at the top of your score for now. Could probably even make it invisible via Edit / Instruments.

In reply to by tarre

I'm not able to switch sounds to the instrument just by clicking on an empty space on its staff. I'm only able to switch sounds to a staff where I've previously input notes. I too, just want to hear the instruments as I play on the MIDI keyboard, without entering the notes.

Details: macOS 10.16, Arch.: x86_64, MuseScore version (64-bit):, revision: 3224f34

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.