Our Progress on MuseScore 4

• Apr 12, 2021 - 13:56

[Edited for clarity: 14, June, 2021]

Hi everyone,

I wanted to give a general update about the remaining work left on MuseScore 4. We've recreated most of the new interface and functionality now and have ported over most of the MuseScore 3 functionality too. Now we feel it is possible to begin mapping out a draft release schedule, although there are still some large chunks of work that are hard to estimate so this timeline may change (hopefully by getting shorter!). In addition, I want to describe what aspects of the application we are planning on delaying until a future release (4.1, 4.2, etc.).


The single largest piece of remaining work relates to playback. The 'primary' Fluid synthesiser will remain the default, as is the case with MuseScore 3 but we will be removing the the 'secondary' Zerberus sampler/synthesiser and replacing it with VST support (Zerberus is incompatible with the GPL3 license, which we needed to switch to in order to support VST3). We are also developing an optional sound library that will not be packaged with MuseScore, which can be downloaded and activated (for free) once the application has been installed. We will create a separate detailed post about this shortly.

Another consequence of moving to GPL3 is that the old reverb and limiter effects (Zita & SC4) will need to be replaced with new VST effects instead. For now, when installing the new MuseScore library, we will also download and install two of our own VST effects to make up for this. Since we are only beginning on our VST journey, there will be many opportunities to integrate compatible VST and VSTi plugins in later releases.

We will be removing the 'Synthesiser' panel entirely from MuseScore and building some of the functions it served (ordering sounds and library priorities) into our new Mixer. For 'master' FX, we will be creating new auxiliary channels in the mixer, where the reverb FX will be situated. We will be saving user preferences relating to playback (VST settings, Aux channel settings, preferred libraries, etc.) in our project files and will be removing the concept of 'Save to Score' and 'Load from Score'. Instead, we want to develop a system for efficiently switching between projects that have different playback settings.


We are aware that it can be difficult to determine which parts of MS4 are 'finished' (but still have optimisation bugs) and which parts are just incomplete. We are going to start marking these different strands of work clearly to help the community understand where they can feel free to optimise and improve functionality and where they can expect more changes to appear. The terms we are thinking of using are:

Not started

Incomplete (the designs have not been fully implemented)

Feature Complete (requires optimisation)

Release Ready (no optimisation required)

To give two examples (at the time of writing): Our new 'Note Input Bar' is Feature Complete: the designs have been full implemented but there are a few bugs. For example, when redocking the bar, the ordering of the buttons can become mixed up under certain circumstances. Community members can feel free to optimise this part of the app without worrying about new changes occurring which might cause conflicts and headaches. We constantly review bugs and publish them on our GitHub Projects page.

The 'Inspector' however is Incomplete: there are some parts where the designs have not yet been fully implemented and there is still some significant clean up work to do. In this case, I'll be publishing a new specification highlighting what remaining work needs to be done. In all cases: if community members want to take part in helping to complete work marked as Incomplete, Peter Jonas (our community manager) and I can work closely with you to hash out the details and make sure no work is lost.

Peter will shortly be publishing a general list that outlines the status of each chunk of work shortly. Peter also holds regular live build reviews on our Discord server, where this can be discusses in person.


Below is our draft plan for releasing MuseScore 4. Note that marketing and automatic updates will not be switched on until after we are satisfied that the application has no remaining large issues.

(See the link below for a higher resolution version)

Delayed features

As announced last year, we decided to delay the sequencer view until a future release. This was a decision taken to enable us to work on a new playback library instead. Regarding the features from MuseScore 3, the main component we are also considering delaying is the piano roll - simply because it is gargantuan in size and because we also want to completely redesign and reimplement it. This is particularly painful because the addition of VST support will make the velocity controls infinitely more desirable and useful. However, we have estimated that porting over the existing piano roll (and incorporating into the new codebase) will delay the MuseScore 4.0 release by up to two months, which we feel is a step too far for a control we ultimately want to replace. This is not to dismiss the wonderful work done by Mark McCay (and others) on the MuseScore 3 piano roll. It is simply an awkward timeline issue.

As a backup plan, we are going to create a very simplistic design for a new piano roll, which will only contain the feature that allows users to edit velocity and expression settings. We are going to open up this design in case any community members wish to build it. We have also added this as a Google Summer of Code project, although it is unlikely that the outcome will be a feature that will be ready for MuseScore 4.0 due to the limited number of hours that GSoC students have to work with.

In the instance where there is no piano roll in MuseScore 4.0, users will need to edit velocity settings using the inspector, as in MuseScore 3. Don't worry though. The piano roll is a vitally important feature, which we are going to prioritise once MuseScore 4.0 is released.

After the release

The best thing about MuseScore 4.0 is that once we've built it (with its new architecture, playback engine and UI), we'll never have to build anything so massive ever again. We then intend to move to a steady release cadence, so we can gradually build up feature improvements in a more manageable and transparent way.

Attachment Size
2021_TimeLine_Community_Version_v01.png 56.96 KB


In reply to by EnricoM

Enrico, grazie mille per le tue informazioni aggiuntive.
Mi ha dato una migliore comprensione.
Spero anche di non essere deluso da Musescore 4. Quindi non vedo l'ora di vedere cosa hanno da offrirci gli sviluppatori.
Hope the googlitaliani is better than the googlish! ; 0)

Just had a sticky-beak at the nightly build for 14th June. I'm very much liking the interface enhancements, particularly the use of tabbed, undock-able dialogue for palettes and the inspector. For those of us with limited screen space, this will be a HUGE enhancement. Well done to the design crew, indeed!!

In reply to by jeetee

Yep, that's what I was after... floating and tabbed. It seems MS4.0 will support that, perhaps? That would be really helpful when transcribing because the original document can take up a fair bit of screen real estate. To have tabbed floating dialogues would be brilliant.

In reply to by latonyahutchi

Please open up an issue of type S5-suggestion for each of these instrument, including a reference to their pitch range (amateur/professional) and the most suited General MIDI fallback sound for them.
As for the percussion instruments, include a reference to the expected drumset notation for them (or ideally an actual drumset file exported from MuseScore)

"Another consequence of moving to GPL3 is that the old reverb and limiter effects (Zita & SC4) will need to be replaced with new VST effects instead."

The wording is at least confusing. How would it be a consequence of moving to the GPL3 ? both ZIta & SC4 can be used in any GPLv2-or-later project. It seems this removal is rather a consequence of you changing the playback pipepline to include non-free elements, than a consequence of the move to GPL3.

If there is no freely metered music creation it is for the dumpster. Just saying, for newbied and people who just don't wanna live in boxes this is a must. The best app I have tried is on Android being newbie friendly is Maestro! Very intuitive, really the best I have found in the way I want something to work. No Boxes just turn of the help and you won't have any problems just use the boxes as you want for other things :)

So hopefully you will take care of that in version 4. I am using Lilypond as well now trying it out with Frescobaldi where you program things but really not that newbie friendly and I am no coder. But it is possible and can be fun at times.

But no non box free sandbox mode and that puts any note program directly into the trash.

We don't need to be put in boxes!!!

Dearly regards Darkijah


Great news and update, thank you! Totally understandable re the limited piano roll editor. With the initial simplistic design for piano roll, will it still be possible to edit Len and OnTime values? Or would it be possible to edit those attributes in the Inspector?

Cheers, Phil.

I'm so so excited guys, I'm a high school student that's used Musescore since the early days, since I was in like grade 5, and now I'm going into senior year, it's grown so much! Can't wait :)

Re replacement for the pianoroll editor: I used it in MS2 to edit the cutoff time of notes so as to produce a separation from the following note. One thing I had requested for MS3 was a mod to (1) apply the change over a selection of notes and (2) to give a constant absolute cutoff advance, rather than a constant fraction of the note duration. I started a long thread at the time on this topic. I am now using MS 3.6.2 with the "articulate" plugin, which takes care of (1) and gives me the option of implementing (2) by a mod to the plugin code, if I ever get around to it. But if MS4 can incorporate (1) and (2), this would be very welcome.

Just tried one of the overnights (curiosity heh!)

A feature I absolutely love is the little eye icon to show and hide an instrument - this would be doubly useful if it could have a reverse feature, so for example ALT clicking would turn all the other instruments off (I'm assuming the audio would be muted) so in effect a solo button per instrument or stave. That would be something extremely useful to me!
Fabulous work and can't wait for the real releas.

In reply to by Scardo

There is a "Parts" tab, so one can still use that as the "solo" feature and dont have to bother with the mixer. Remember, Musescore 4 will still be an engraving software, but unlike its predecessors, DAW features will progressively be included making this software to have a unique multi-workflow between engraving & sequencing / automation.

In reply to by Scardo

Pour moi, il ne s'agit pas de savoir si un mac pro est mieux qu'un iPad pro ou l'inverse. Je suis hyper équipé en PC et Laptop Windows . Par contre, il y a deux ans quand j'ai commencé à essayer d'apprendre le saxo, j'ai tout de suite cherché une tablette de 13 pouces pour archiver, lire les partitions et pouvoir y ajouter d'autres applications musique et multimédia. Rien du côté de Windows. J'ai donc opté pour une tablette 13,3" 16x9 donc moins proche d'un A4. Elle est aussi lourde que le Mac pro et d'une lenteur rédibitoire. De plus je regrettais déjà de ne pas pouvoir installer Musescore et non l'appli de Musescore.com. Donc après deux ans,j 'ai finalement opté pour l'iPad pro ( il a 2 jours) qui est un vrai 12,9" , léger et ultra rapide et que je peux poser sur un pupitre.....tout en regrettant de ne pas pouvoir installer Musescore 3 pour lire et modifier mes partitions mscz. D'où ma question innocente.

In reply to by Scardo

Comme je dis toujours, sauf quelques cas malheureux, tout est une question de choix de vie et de gestion de son budget. De plus,pour être certain, je l'ai achetée d'occasion et je suis d'accord que même d'occasion, c'est pratiquement un objet de luxe. Mon saxo , mon mini studio DAW et cette tablette sont mes seuls luxes :0)

In reply to by andres_asm1

(Pardon d'avance, mon francais n'est pas terrible) tout a fait d'accord, Andres... mes luxes, ce sont les bibliothèques de samples (pas chere, bien entendu) et Reaper. Ici en Australie Reaper m'a coûté $110 balles,
en tout cas ça valait le prix. Heureusement, le Musescore est gratuit. Puisque j'approche la retraite, les grands achats ne sont plus possible autant qu'avant.
Moi aussi, j'ai une tablette Android: ce serait formidable d'avoir Musescore ou même trouver quelque chose plus simple pour Android.

In reply to by dimitri fox

hmm.... from my understanding -- yes. You may have to adjust the format a bit to match the updated engraving system, and playback parameters may have to be considered and tweaked to fit the new audio system and soundfonts. But, for as pitch and note recognition, that should be easily transferable ¯_(ツ) . Maybe other users (like "Mr. Cruela" or "Mr. Sugar".........) can explain it better ( ͜。 ͡ʖ ͜。) .

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