What do the colors on the note heads mean?

• Sep 4, 2014 - 15:16

I've been using Musescore for the past 3 years and I have never figured out what the note head colors are for. I can speculate, but I can't find anything to confirm my theory.

I know these colors for sure:
Blue = Voice 1;
Green = Voice 2;
Orange = Voice 3;
Magenta = Voice 4;

Some notes, when they're on the high or low end of the "tone spectrum" will either be a GOLD color, or a RED color. I believe the red means that the instrument cannot play the note, and the gold is a warning that the note is getting too high or too low. Can someone confirm that? If I'm wrong, can someone tell me what these colors mean? Thanks a bunch.


Using the menu item: Edit / Preferences, then on the 'Note Entry' tab, you can clear the check mark next to 'Color notes outside of usable pitch range', if desired.


If the notes are black - an amateur can play them without a problem. if the notes turned green, it means that only a professional musician can reach the pitch of the green notes. if the notes are red, it means they are absolutely out of the instrument's range.

In reply to by omriavidov

But I have seen pieces where it is clearly telling the musician to play lower than the instrument's range. I see this especially on strings and with woodwinds I actually sometimes see the opposite of that happening.

For example I have seen pieces where a violinist would have to play a note lower than G in the small octave.

Likewise I have seen pieces where a flutist would have to play a note higher than C in the fourth octave or lower than B(as low as A in the small octave is what I have seen). In fact out of all the out of range notes I have seen, besides lower notes on an extended piano(one that extends to C in the subcontra octave), the flute is the most common instrument I see this on.

And this is all without changing the instrument.

In reply to by Caters

In the case of the flute, there are "foot" extension that can allow fora Bb below middle C to be played, and less commonly an A below middle C.

On strings, there is scorditura (alternate tunings) where strings are tuned normally a half or whole step below normal tuning. This make the instruments sound mellower and allows for lower notes to be played. In the case of the violin it normally plays down to a G-flat/F#.

When it comes to the Contrabass, many are modified to allow for playing below E so it can play a low C. I have seen scorditura for a contrabass that tells it to play an A.

In all of these cases, MuseScore colors the low notes red. I normally change the professional range on the the instruments in these cases to show me the notes are written lower than all players are capable of playing. The notes end up gold rather than red.

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