Suddenly the sound of a instrument goes down. And the solution :)

• Apr 18, 2021 - 16:44

I was working on a score when at a certain point the volume of one instrument suddenly went down a lot. A bit unexpected I found a solution and I'm posting it here, because other users may have the same problem.

In the next illustration, the volume suddenly went down on measure 117 (on the word "game"):


I decided to temporarily cut-and-paste that measure to a different stave and enter those notes manually in the top stave again. I hoped that one of those notes had a hidden property that lowered the volume. Well, that showed the cause:


I guess that the "p" symbol is out of sight when the notes of measure 117 are in the top stave.

My feature suggestion: I would be super happy if all symbols are always shown in sight.

- I had searched the forum, but couldn't find a solution. (If there's a solution, then I probably searched in the wrong corners.)
- This was a score that was imported from MXL. I assume that the problem was already in the MXL file.


It's difficult to diagnose problems from a picture, so if you'd like us to investigate, please attach the actual score.

Normally moving markings off the page is a bad idea, not sure why you did that here, or why the person who created the XML file did that, but MuseScore does try to honor what it is asked to do. When importing MusicXML you have the option of ignoring manual formatting, see the options in Edit / Preferences / Import. I usually immediately do Ctrl+A to select all than Ctrl+R to reset all manual adjustments.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I don't have the file with the marking off the page anymore, because I corrected it.

BTW, I didn't move markings off the page. This file was converted by Audiveris into an MXL file and the marking was already "off the page" in the MXL file. I do have an impression why the the hidden markings got there, but that would require extra screen copies.

I was able to re-create the problem. Please refer to the uploaded file. In this file the marker is also invisible. If I add an extra instrument between the two saxophones, and then cut-and-paste the music from the Alto Saxophone to the Soprano Saxophone, the hidden dynamics markings become visible again. Feel free to try it.

Most of all, I hope that this information is helpful for other users who also have unexpected volume changes. :)

I just noticed that the hidden markers also become visible if I just add one or two instruments on top, i.e. an accordion. Then there's no need to cut-and-paste. ;)

In reply to by barencor

If the score came in from Audiveris with the inappropriate offset, that would seem to indicate an Audiveris bug. In any case, as a general principle, I defintiely recommend doing the reset of everything after any MusicXML import, as there can be all sorts of inappropriate adjustments and cusotmizations that just won't make in MuseScore and will get in the way of further edit (eg, stem directions locked rather than adjusting automatically with pitch).

It's not really clear where the file you attached came from, but it appears it was last saved in 2.3.2. So it too probably has all sorts of manual adjustments that were made for whatever reason that is no longer valid in MsueScore 3. That's why it's usally best to accept the offer to reset these when importing it.

In particular, I'm guessing someone tried moving them off the page back in 2.3.2 in a misguided effort to make them invisible, perhaps not realizing that the "V" shortcut or the Inspector does this more directly.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Now that you mention it, I'm still using MuseScore 2 and for the moment I need to keep using it. If I take a MuseScore 2 file and I open it in MuseScore 3, suddenly the lyrics go slightly up and down:

MuseScore 2 (with lyrics on the same height):
PureImagination - Mscz2.jpg

MuseScore 3 (with lyrics going slightly up and down):
PureImagination - Mscz3.jpg

In this case, answering "yes" to the question "Reset the position of all elements?" doesn't make a real difference. If I answer "yes", the lyrics still go up and down.

I use these scores for auditions and I don't want to hand over a score to the pianist with lyrics that go slightly up and down. In some cases the pianist is also the musical director and you don't want to make an unprofessional impression to him or her. Certainly not at an audition! :O

Opening all the scores that I created in MuseScore 3 and correcting the positions of all lyrics is a lot of work. Per score it's already a lot of work and to do that for all the scores that I created would take me ages. I haven't found the courage yet to do that. Also, MuseScore 2 still offers me everything I need.

I hope this clarifies. ;)

Attachment Size
Pure Imagination - Audition version.mscz 30.83 KB

In reply to by barencor

The first issue is that that score doesn't have Lyrics at all.. It has staff texts.
If it were Lyrics, then MuseScore would try a lot harder to keep them on the same line (and also automatically adjust measure spacing for them).

You now notice the effect of this even stronger, as the spacing algorithm of MS3 is able to fit one additional measure on the first system. If you add a system break there without resetting the positions, the result is a lot closer to what you used to have.

But yes, for scores where you didn't use Lyrics for the Lyrics, it might be easier to keep them in MS2. You can have MS2 and MS3 installed and in use side-by-side though; so you could keep these scores in MS2 and use MS3 for your new scores.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Nice, this makes the lyric fix! There's also some weird on account of rehearsal marks being used for things that aren't rehearsal marks, and then being moved to appear as if they were connected to other staves, rather than adding them as staff text to the correct staff. Probably rehearsal marks were used to get the frames around the text, but better for sure would have been to use staff text and add the frame in the Inspector (or dialog box in MuseScore 2).

FWIW, I'd also recommend removing the short instrument names at least, probably the long too.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz


I almost forgot, thank you for your post. That's a really useful one.

I had tried to enter the lyrics the way you did it, but with a lot of searching I couldn't find how to get the lyrics above the stave. At some point some tasks need to be finished and I did what worked (= pressting ctrl-T).

Now that you showed that it was possible I searched again. What I found was
Style -> Text -> Lyrics Odd Lines -> Offset, Vertical

Is that the way to do it? If there's another way, I'll be happy to hear.


In reply to by barencor

In MuseScore 3 it's as easy as pressing X to flip just about anything between above and below the staff. You can also use the set as style button ("S" icon) to easily make the default for this score.

But - are you sure you want to do this? I thought the goal was to look professional? No professional score would show lyrics above the staff except in choral music with two separate voices and two separate sets of lyrics.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, thank you for the extra hints and for asking!

I usually start by entering the full score. From the full score I make the audition version.

But sometimes a score only has one top bar for all voices. Then they typically don't sing at the same time, but one after the other. I have seen scores where the lyrics, the name of the next singer (or character), and all other markings are underneath the upper bar. I also add marks like "16th bar" , "32nd bar", "0:45" and :1:00". Sometimes it can get a bit "crowded" there. ;-) Most often the accompanist only gets the score when someone auditions and I don't want to make his/her job too difficult either. With these aspects in mind, and even if that's not the common consensus, putting the lyrics on top can make things easier.

Also, with one audition I was in the audition room with five other auditionees at the same time. Some of them had scores that were photocopies of photocopies of photocopies. (And you and I know what those can look like. :-D ) Even if "my" score doesn't conform to all standards, I found it a step forward if I present a score that's freshly printed, that's pretty much of the required duration (e.g. 16 bars, 32 bars, 0:45 minute or 1:00 minute), that I reduced to one or two pages, that has a nice ending, and that has everything else what's needed.

I hope this clarifies. If not, or if I overlooked something, let me know! ;-)

In reply to by barencor

It helps, indeed. But I'm still a bit confused. The markings like 16th bar, etc - for whose benefit are those? I can't see how they would benefit me as an accompanist. Is it something you the director might use to help limit the length of the audition? If I were handed this score, I wouldn't understand the point of those, nor would I understand why they were added in the place where lyrics belong, and I'd probably ignore them, but still wonder why I was getting this odd-looking score.

What I'd expect is a standard vocal + piano score - vocal staff on top, lyrics below that, piano part below that. I might appreciate having the vocal part made small if that made the difference between requiring a page turn and not. If those markings you added were meant for me to read as the pianist, I'd expect the between the lyrics and the top piano staff. But again, I wouldn't understand the point. If I need to know where measure 16 is, I use the regular measure numbers at the start of the system and count from there. If it seems likely that you might often need to start at the bar 16 in rehearsal, I'd welcome a rehearsal mark, but I'd be looking for it in the standard place - above the top staff.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well, I have a few examples. Audition notices here often contain something like this:

"Auditionees should prepare 32 bars of any musical theater song. Provide sheet music in the correct key for the accompanist, with the 32 bars clearly marked"

"A standard audition will ask you to prepare 32 bars of music and a short monologue. You should bring your sheet music, marked clearly so the pianist can see where to start and finish"

"Prepare a clearly marked 16 to 32 bar cut from a song in the style of the show. Accompaniment will be provided so please provide the sheet music."

So if 32 bars are requested, the accompanist knows to stop at the 32nd bar on the score. I suspect however, that you and I live in different countries. I won't be surprised if audition requirements are different from country to country.

In reply to by barencor

No, that's all standard. What I'm saying is, that is not the best way to represent this information. Again, bar number information is already there in the score, so I don't really need that duplicated. A simple "Start" and "End" would be far more clear, and they should be presented as rehearsal marks, above the top staff - and again, the lyrics below. if you want it to look professional, that is.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I guess you're luckier than me. ;-) In the course of time I've seen many partitures without bar numbers. To illustrate I uploaded five of them. These are also the first five that I checked. Next to that there are many audition notices asking us to prepare 1:00 or 0:45 of a song and I've never seen that information in sheet music.

These audition notices ask us to "clearly mark" the score. They don't tell us how to do it, so they don't ask us do do it beautiful or the best way or fancy. As long as it's clearly marked it's fine. This means the auditionee is free to choose.

Regarding this thread I hope you can excuse me.

I started this thread hoping to help others out who, just like me, had an unexpected volume change in a score and to offer them a possible solution. It had been nice if someone had written "Hey, thank you for posting a solution for a change, instead of a problem", but it's okay that that didn't happen. In the meanwhile there are other things that need my attention, and that's why I'm unsubscribing from this thread.

Nevertheless I hope that the information that I provided answers all your questions.

Thank you for all your answers to many users who are asking questions here. You, and the others who answer questions here have my compliments for your dedication. I find it impressive.

PS: To avoid copyright problems, I uploaded only the first page of each score.

In reply to by barencor

I agree that there are many scores without bar numbers - but yours isn't one of them :-). It has them, so why not simply rely on them? But if you do choose to add the rehearsal marks - useful if you know for a fact you will want to ask the accompanist to start at bar 16 - then please add the standard rehearsal mark the standard way, above the staff, no extra redundant information (eg, don't write "16th bar" when the number "16" is all one expects or needs). But better yet, if you know you'll want to start with bar 16, just right "Start Here" - again, as a rehearsal mark in the usual place above the top staff. The numbers would be useful only if you're not sure until moments before the audition if you'll want to start at 16 or 24 and want to offer both options.

I'm just giving my advice as a professional editor as well as a professional pianist. I realize the instructions don't tell you what a pianist might want to see. That's why I am telling you :-)

As mentioned above, there is no way the pianist needs to be bothered knowing about the timing. That's your job, not his or hers. So, simply figure out where you want to start and stop, and placed that information in - a "Stop Here" to go with the "Start Here". The timing numbers provide no value to me as a pianist, I literally have no idea how I'd put them to use. I just need to know where to start and stop. That's the sort of clear marking we want.

But, yes, indeed, thanks for posting your heads up on dynamics. I can't see that I've ever heard of anyone else running into that problem before, but if it helps someone else the way we are trying to help you here, great!

In reply to by barencor

As mentioned, there is an issue here only because the lyrics were not entered correctly. Had they been entered as lyrics instead of staff text, they'd have lined up as expected no matter which version of MuseScore.

As it is, they don't look good even in MuseScore 2 - the lyrics don't match up horizontally with the words at all, and there are even several places where you have the exact same sort of vertical misalignment as well because MuseScore isn't spacing things out for you as it would have with lyrics. Plus they are above the staff when they belong below.

BTW, the only reason it looks differtent in MuseScore 3 is that it is able to fit more measures per line, and this causes the text to overlap. Simply adding line breaks in MuseScore 3 would fix that. But the use of staff text instead of lyrics means it still looks, frankly, quite unprofessional - and, again, it's that way in MuseScore 2 as well. So, I definitely do recommend taking the time to re-enter your lyrics correctly if the goal is to make a good impression. And then you should find it actually looks even better in MuseScore 3, because of the many other improvements made over the years.

But indeed, until you make that crucial fix, probably best to just keep the MuseScore 2 version. You don't even need the actual score, just the PDF. Or just add line breaks in MuseScore 3, which will make it look no worse, and actually slightly better because of the other improvements, than MuseScore 2.

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