Pitch bend, voices and channels

• Apr 16, 2021 - 23:35

According to the original MIDI spec I understand that pitch bend affects all notes on a MIDI channel.

I have a Guitar + Tab staff score with notes in two voices: Melody in V1 and "bass" in V2. And when I add pitch bend both voices bend. I figured this meant that MuseScore doesn't automatically send voices on different channels, so I decided to change the channel of voice 2 (via the mixer) ... but can't see how to do so independently of the other voice.

Bends - Voice and Channel (Guitar D-tuning).mscz

Thanks, scorster


Comments

I use other MIDI notation applications where it's easy to assign a voice to any of the 16 MIDI channels (per port).

In my short months with Musescore I've been focused mainly on notation features and voices. Regarding MIDI, I've only occasionally exported to MIDI with perfectly acceptable results. This was my first attempt at MIDI channel control.

So while wondering how to set a Musescore voice to a MIDI channel I searched the handbook for the term “channel.”

Query results only refer to Musescore's internal “mixer channel strips” which indeed have nothing to do with MIDI. The single exception was where "channel" refers to a global MIDI channel value as the output a mixer strip value for the "Part."

Aside from that I didn’t find any reference to both "channel" and "MIDI."

Am I missing something? Or have I naively assumed that Musescore offers common MIDI channel options, but in fact it does not?

In reply to by scorster

It has some, and will gain more in MuseScore 4 no doubt. It's not totally clear what you want to do here, but you can change MIDI port and channel assignments in the mixer, see the controls at top - I guess that's what you mean? But these controls are per instrument, not per voice within a staff. You could force that to happen by using an instrument that is set up to support multiple channels and use staff texts to set different voices to different channels.

In reply to by Doug Kerr

Which part? "using an instrument that is set up to support multiple channels" - I mean like violin, trumpet, electric guitar, "men" and "women", etc. These all are set up to use multiple channels to support the markings like arco, pizz, mute, open, S/A and T/B.

To use staff text to change channels, right click and use Staff Text Properties. That's what the predefined texts like arco and pizz are doing automatically; I'm just suggesting doing that manually to achieve your custom results. See the Handbook sections on mid-score sound changes for more info.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, but those are MuseScore "child" tracks. Do these correspond to, or work over, separate MIDI channels?

My interest, like scorster's, is to be able to have different voices on an instrument part send, lets say over the MIDI output interface, their notes on different MIDI channels.

Perhaps you were not speaking about a way to do that. Sorry if I misunderstood.

Thanks.

Doug

In reply to by Doug Kerr

I could set both child tracks (MuseScore "channels") to the same "sound", and set then to use separate MIDI channels. But I'm not sure how to associate them with the different voices. It happened once while I was "fooling around", but I can't make it happen again.

I had no staff text in place when that happened.

Doug

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

*Marc wrote >> [Musescore] has some [options for routing output over designated MIDI channels] and will gain more in MuseScore 4 no doubt. *

> I certainly hope v4 gains such options, especially for something as basic as routing a notional voices to a specific MIDI channel.

Marc wrote >> It's not totally clear what you want to do here

I think I expressed it clearly in the post and attached score, but I'll try again. I want a basic 8vb guitar staff on which I'll right in two voices and I can assign those voices to independent MIDI channels. The purpose for doing so is to limit the pitch bend to the notes on just one channel. (MIDI 2.0 allows pitch bend per note, so perhaps Musescore 4 will address such issues at the note/bend level?)

Marc wrote >> you can change MIDI port and channel assignments in the mixer, see the controls at top - I guess that's what you mean?

> That's not what I mean. Changing the track channel will not allow me to bend just the notes in voice 1.

Marc wrote >> But these controls are per instrument, not per voice within a staff.

> Exactly! That's the conundrum I pointed out. Setting the MIDI channel per track precludes the option of setting the MIDI channel for each voice in a track. I need voice 1 and voice 2 in separate tracks so pitch bend added to voice 1 does not bend notes in voice 2.

Marc wrote >> You could force that to happen by using an instrument that is set up to support multiple channels ...

> I don't know what that means. Does Musescore have any "instruments" that are set up to support multiple channels?

... and use staff texts to set different voices to different channels.

I can see this doesn't work with the default classical guitar sound. So I can't experiment until I know how to find or install an "instrument" like you described.

Thanks!

scorster

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

This doesn't work:

Change Channel - 1 voices on 2 lines set to Jazz.png

I guess because (bad UI) on OK it automatically resets to this, which doesn't work:

Change Channel - 2 voices on one line set to Jazz.png

If the setting "reset" is not a bug then there's a UI issue at hand.

• If the selection is not valid it should not be allowed

• if Musescore accepts an invalid selection it should flag it when the user presses OK, by posting an alert that explains the situation and posits a solution, or by disabling the OK button—though the latter is the least desirable.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell there's no information in the Handbook on managing the channel settings as you suggested Marc. Searching for "Change Channel" yielded two results unrelated to the topic.

If you're sure the desired result is achievable would you be kind enough to make the necessary settings to one of the submitted scores and please post it?

scorster

In reply to by scorster

> "Set both channels to the same sound"
What your screenshot shows is that you've set both voices to the same channel.

In that screenshot you need to ensure both voices are using a different channel. That way you can then use the mixer to set different sounds for those channels.

Thanks everybody!

In summary, here are the steps for having pitch bend on voice 1 without affecting voice 2 AND having the same timbre on both voices:

• Know what Musescore Instruments (or sound fonts) are designed to support multiple channels
• Pick one even though you may not like any of its sounds
• Add a Text object to a note in either voice
• Click the Inspector's Properties button
• Go to the Channel Change tab
     • set voice 1 to any sub-channel
     • set voice 2 to any other sub-channel
     • Don’t worry about the current timbres
• Go to use the mixer to chose the timbre for each sub-channel. To do so:
    • Reveal the track’s sub-channels
    • Then determine the sub-channels associated the voices:
        • Do a "tooltip minesweep" of the labels below the Mixer channel strips
        • Or peck around with solo and mute
    • Finally set the identified sub-channels to whichever Sound you want. (I chose Nylon String Guitar)

By doing this I was able to achieve the desired result: independent pitch bend. However it took me about five minutes. Maybe it will go faster next time!

     Bends - Voice and Channel (Guitar D-tuning) 04.mscz

I miss the simplicity of this approach used by Overture (SonicScores):

     Overture Voice-Channel settings.png

• Click the field at the interception of Voice/Channel
• Enter a 2
Done

    
scorster

In reply to by scorster

Regarding your steps 1 & 2, your wording seems to imply you believe there are many instruments that are physically capable of playing multiple notes at once and also bending one note while not bending other notes played simultaneously, and that one or more.of these instruments are not already set up with multiple channels. Can you explain in more detail what instruments these are? The only instruments I can think of offhand that would actually be physically capable of it are guitars and similar instruments, and most of these already have multiple channels assigned. For the ones that don't, they could certainly be added easily enough if you were to submit a "Suggestion" to the issue tracker.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc wrote >>

Regarding your steps 1 & 2, your wording seems to imply you believe there are many instruments that are physically capable of playing multiple notes at once and also bending one note while not bending other notes played simultaneously, and that one or more of these instruments are not already set up with multiple channels.

I think it's clear that I initially thought I'd be able to keep using Nylon String Guitar and isolate pitch bend merely by putting the voices on separate MIDI channels. That's how I've done it in other apps, quick and simple. But you pointed out that Nylon String Guitar is not multichannel so no dice.

You said I could “force” the result I was seeking by using “an instrument that is set up to support multiple channels and use staff texts to set different voices to different channels.”

To you're opening point here, yes, that led me to believe there were many such beasts, particularly after you stated, “I mean like violin, trumpet, electric guitar, "men" and "women", etc. These all are set up to use multiple channels to support the markings like arco, pizz, mute, open, S/A and T/B… That's what the predefined texts like arco and pizz are doing automatically.”

At that point I no idea—of all unnamed Instruments, which were multi-channel. I though perhaps if I'd need to turn to some other soundfont. But fortunately you cited "electric guitar." So given your and Jeetee's instructions I continued my experiment with Electric Guitar and despite the unpleasant timbral results I succeeded in isolating pitch bend.

NOTE: I don't understand the last italicized sentence in the quote I started with. It seems contradictory, and when you told me I'd need an malt--channel Instrument I assume each was set up with a number of channels.

Marc wrote >> For the ones that don't [support multiple channels] they could certainly be added easily enough if you were to submit a "Suggestion" to the issue tracker.

Glad to do make that suggestion.

I'll also suggest/emphacise that Musescore add a simple interface—like Overture's— for directly setting voices to seperate MIDI channels ... for any Instrument/Patch.

scorster

In reply to by scorster

I went back, opened my original score, and imparted the list of necessary “pitch bend isolating” incantations. Indeed doing so took less time to accomplish than in my original foray, but found these unwanted side effects:

• I lost the “String Data” tuning (DADGAD) for the tablature and treble clef

• Accordingly I lost the track's pitch range (Musescore set the 6th string back to E2)

• Worst of all Musescore tossed about 30 of my tablature string assignments. It was time consuming to reestablish those and I'm nervous that my previously perfected tablature staff now contains a few overlooked frets on the wrong string. In short, I'm hoping there's a better way to approach the pitch bend dilemma when applying it to a nearly completed score.

Is there a way to change instruments without such rigmarole and without clobbering so many properites? Bearing in mind, I’m only trying to get two voices on different channels.

I don’t know much about soundfonts, VST, keyswitches and the like. But it seems that Musescore uses multi-channel Instruments for articulations via the various “channels.” in contrast other applications send keyswitches to sound modules for those effects. So when MSv4.x gets VST ... we get keyswitches?

scorster

In reply to by scorster

If you need this often, it'll pay off to create a custom instruments.xml in which you create your DADGAD instrument and provide it with 4 channels so you can easily choose that instrument in the future and then use a single staff text to assign each voice to each channel. You can then even store that text into a palette of your choosing.

This would reduce this set of actions for you to simply 2:
1. Pick your custom instrument
2. Click on the custom staff text in your palette

In reply to by jeetee

Thanks jeetee,

I'll look into making custom instruments. But that only solves the problem preemptively. If I have a nearly completed score and need to change instrument I my find myself in trouble with the the larger issue—the lost tablature string designations. Maybe tablature string designations survive if the string data of the existing instrument matches the tablature string data of the Instrument I select. I'll test to see.

scorster

In reply to by scorster

I'm not sure what was unclear about the italicized sentence, but I'll try to rephrase:

Forget MsueScore for the moment - I'm talking about real life physical instrumental. There is only a relatively small number of instruments that are actually capable of playing multiple notes at once. Of that relatively small number, only a smaller number still are capable of bending pitch at all. And of that smaller number, only a smaller number still are capable of bending the pitch of one but not another.

Now we turn to MuseScore. Of that now very small set of instruments that are, in real life, physically capable of doing the thing you are asking about, most of already are set up to have multiple channels in MuseScore. That leaves only a much smaller set of instruments that are both physically capable of this in real life, but are not set up to allow it in MuseScore.

Your initial statement made it sound like some big widespread problem that would affect anyone writing for many instruments, but in fact, it's really just about a quite small handful of instruments.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

You comments in paragraphs 1 and 2 are perfectly clear and sensible.

The instruments that have pitch bend that I frequently notate for are violin, fiddle, guitar, and resophonic guitar (e.g. Dobro). However any fingerboard instrument can bend notes. And we have instruments like koto too that bend a lot.

Marc wrote >> Your initial statement made it sound like some big widespread problem that would affect anyone writing for many instruments, but in fact, it's really just about a quite small handful of instruments.

I don't know what I wrote that would have left that impression. Indeed thepitch/voice issue only pertains to polyphonic instruments which, as you say, is a small subset of instruments. And there's a small subset of that group that can impart pitch bend.

I was merely recounting my story with the Instrument that MuseScore conveys via New>Guitar+Tab template.

Regarding steps to address the situation in my score I now realize I perhaps took a comment too literally and thus went the long way around. Later I'll recount a simple solution to that circumstance and hopefully add it to the Handbook as an example of isolating bends when there are two or more voices on a staff of guitar music.

Thanks for your interest and guidance Marc ... and to all who help steer me to a solution.

scorster

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