Use of transparent images with MuseScore

• Apr 28, 2021 - 11:39

I wondered if transparent images would work with MuseScore - and indeed they do, though the results may be unpredictable. PNG-test.mscz

The images can be any image which includes transparency - alpha layer - so typically would be in PNG format, as here. These can be created in appropriate photo editors or designer packages. The technique also works with some TIFF and GIF files, though the "degree" of transparency may vary between formats. That might mean that using some files with a wide range of colours - particularly GIF files - might not give the desired results. I've not tested that exhaustively. PNG files should generally work.

Here are examples showing a green ellipse and a reddish rounded rectangle superimposed on a MuseScore score. Unfortunately it's not always possible to get things exactly right, as MuseScore will try to reformat the score as the images are themselves moved around, or resized. I was wondering if this technique could be used, for example for marking up existing scores - for example by performers wanting to take a score, and add in their own markings.

That would require a layer (at least one) above the MS score - which could then be "written" upon using graphic or other images with transparency where appropriate. This could, for example, be useful if several people wanted to write on the same score, as each could have one or more layers linked to them, and they could "write" on their own layer in colours which would be appropriate for each of them.

Although the functionality I'm imagining doesn't quite exist yet in the current versions of MuseScore, the example here shows that it ought to be feasible.

On this occasion I went the extra mile to upload the example to so that it would display here - and maybe attract attention - but this does seem extraordinarily clunky. I shouldn't really have to do that - IMHO. :-)

If the file is downloaded users can click on the ellipse or the rounded rectangle, and move them around to see how the format and layout changes. This does work - but attempting to do a live update "inline" will not work. To see this download the example file.

Someone round here was recently asking about notation for a Messiaen score - and this technique could perhaps be useful for that kind of score - at least until MS becomes even more developed. See

This could be useful for future versions of MS - perhaps!

Attachment Size
PNG-test.mscz 19.2 KB
PNG-test.pdf 39.37 KB


In reply to by dave2020X

Where I wrote - "for example by performers wanting to take a score, and add in their own markings." I was actually thinking of musicians who would have a score on a screen - such as a tablet - and actually just write their own markings directly on the tablet.

I might have found that useful a year or more back, when I was actively playing music in a small ensemble.
I haven't yet been able to do that quickly enough to be useful for me, but I think that some pro players might already be well able to do that kind of thing.

While this could be done on a desktop computer in a graphics tool it would not be quick enough for use in a performance or rehearsal situation, but a feature like that could be really useful for performers who are now becoming increasingly more comfortable with using tablets and similar technology for showing their scores in rehearsals and performance.

A half way approach would be for such performers to create PDFs of their scores, and then use a suitable annotation layer package on top of the PDFs, but that would still require update of the original scores if the markings were to remain useful.

Also each layer might need to be date stamped, or otherwise annotated. For example, an orchestral part score might be marked "Layer 1: Rattle", Layer 2: "Mirga", Layer 3: "Gardner", Layer 4: Vasily Petrenko, Layer 5: "Haim", etc., as different conductors might want different markings on the same score and the players would need to know which to use during a rehearsal or performance. The same conductor might return after a few years and having changed his or her mind, might want different markings - hence the need for a date/time stamp.

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