Chamber Symphony (2017-2021)

• Sep 10, 2021 - 19:34

Firstly I want to express my most heartfelt gratitude to Musescore developers and everyone who's made this wonderful software possible. I went to the "donate" page and was surprised to see monetary donations are not accepted. I hope to be able to find some way to contribute.. perhaps I can try helping out in the "support" forum.
Most composing I do by hand, and then in the final stages transfer to notation software. Though I began composing the piece in 2017, the engraving process in Musescore only began in August 2020, and I finished last July (score, parts, recording with musicians). In short, I spent about 11 months working intensively with Musescore; though I may mention having used Musescore for other projects, for something like six years now.
Here's the full score letter size:… and tabloid size:…
Here's a Dropbox folder where I've uploaded the parts:…
Here's the recording, performed by real musicians (each part recorded independently and then mixed/edited in Cubase):

Musescore has been a blessing, and I hate to jump so quickly into criticism mode.. but I thought I might share some issues I came across in case it's helpful. As mentioned, I was using version 3.5.2 - but browsing through the release notes for later versions I think most if not all these points are still applicable.

  • The first thing you may notice about my music is that it's microtonal (sixth-tone), so you may expect that I'd request more microtonal support/features. Actually though, things went pretty smoothly for me - I became adept at manually entering in tuning values in the "inspector." But yes, it would be nice, for example, to be able to assign a certain tuning/behavior for midi playback of microtonal accidentals.
  • I found unpitched percussion formatting/entry cumbersome.. took some time to figure out, and even then I couldn't make it feel intuitive. I know there are probably good reasons why "drumset" percussion works so differently than normal staves, but I thought I'd mention since the issue I think has come up elsewhere.
  • I use open-ended ties (laissez vibrer) a good deal, and it's common enough in music that I think it should have better support. I used various methods - grace note after, tie to invisible notes, use of the symbol from the special symbols pallet.. all these workarounds seem to me too complicated and each with its own disadvantages.
  • The most challenging aspect of the entire engraving process for me was inserting cue notes in the parts. Instrumentalists I've worked with have expressed appreciation for cues, and I admit to going cue-note-happy (to the extent of doing away almost entirely with multimeasure rests). Here are the steps as I remember them for converting a normal passage into cues: 1. select the passage meant to be cues, in "inspector" select notes, check "small" under "chord," 2. select any rests (and anything else, like dynamics) within the passage and make those things small also, 3. insert full measure rests in a different voice (or exchange voices 1 and 2, automatically generating whole measure rests in voice 1), 4. set cue-note beam directions to up, then reposition all articulations (slurs, accents, etc.) which end up appearing above rather than below the note-heads (sometimes above is ok, but usually not), 5. vertically reposition full measure rests to not conflict visually with the cues. It seems this process should be less cumbersome.
  • Colors: Having included so many cues in the parts, I decided to change the cue-note color to grey - to make cues more readily distinguishable, visually, from the regular music. I found there was a bug changing the color of various elements. After saving, closing and re-opening the document, I noticed text, dynamics, and sometimes slurs/articulations (if there are changes to formatting, like new line breaks) would revert to black - so I'd have to change the color of those elements again, separately, in order for the colors to be saved.
  • Finally, I think it would be nice if it were easier to whiteout portions of a single stave, so that the visible portion appears to pop up or below another main stave only in certain places. I've seen horizontally floating staves in certain modern scores, but my main interest regards the use of a secondary cue-stave - as seen, for example, in the parts for Berg's Lyric Suite...
    I managed to get reasonably good results by saving a white png image and then dragging said image over the empty stave, uncheck "automatic placement" in the inspector, and then stretch horizontally/vertically as needed. The workaround is okay, but since the imported image must be manually adjusted most any time formatting changes are made (e.g. staff space scaling, line breaks, etc.), I'd be glad to see a genuine whiteout feature.
    Had the cue-note process been easier, all in all, I'd have probably been saved about a full month's worth of work! But part of it is my fault for going cue-note happy.
    I apologize for the multi-purpose nature of this post: sharing my piece, bug report, feature request. These should all be in separate places. My main purpose is to express gratitude for Musescore, the developers who make it possible, and to share something about my experience using the software in case others find it helpful.
    Lewis Krauthamer


Ciao Lewis.
As a simple end user (not a musician) I can only suggest you to try some plugins, set some preferences like Style and have a look at the How To's.
Then wait (hopefully) until the end of the year to download the next version.


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