Enter note anywhere within bar - grid style (no rests required!)

• Sep 14, 2021 - 14:06

I know this will probably fall on deaf ears at it appears that the way things have to be done in Musescore is the way they've always been done, but I would love the ability to enter a note where I want it without having to pre-fill the preceding portion of the bar with rests.

Most other notation programs do this. It would save so much time. And it really ain't rocket science...


Personally I have no objection to an alternative mode of note entry, provided that it is not set as the MuseScore default.

My guess is that 100% of transcribers and a good majority of composers work left to right, entering rests as they go. See below for a transcription example which requires the use of Voices 1,2 and 4 in the Piano RH. I cannot imagine typesetting this easily unless the rests are all present and visible initially. Which rests are hidden is then decided after note entry, on an individual basis.

Cornelius - Weihnachtslieder Op.8 No 3a - Die Könige.png

I don't think anyone objects to having even more note input options than we already do. I think most users using efficient entry methods like the keyboard left-to-right will have no interest in reverting back to the mouse, but people are still using the mouse and who are not "thinking" left-to-right might find it useful indeed.

So no deaf ears, just a matter of finding a developer willing to take this task on. Making MsueScore more beginner-friendly is as important as making it more efficient and thus expert-friendly, for sure. It's just vital that, as mentioned above, such features don't interfere with normal use of the program, so any such grid optional must default to off.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"but I would love the ability to enter a note where I want it without having to pre-fill the preceding portion of the bar with rests."

If this is systematic in one of your files, and you are really dependent on mouse input, you can add the shortest desired rest in another voice (by continuously pressing the shortcut 0 for rests input - it provides you with a kind of grid).
Then enter the desired notes with the mouse. Finally, go to the "Tools" menu and use the "Regroup rhythms" function. If it helps.


In reply to by cadiz1

Why is everyone assuming I'm talking about mouse entry?? I am talking about entering a note at any position in the bar using whatever input you like, midi keyboard , computer shortcut or mouse. As you can in Sibelius, Dorico and probably Notion, et al.

Gosh there's a died in the wool intransigence here! No change is good change! Users MUST go from left to right. Blimey!

In reply to by Scardo

I assumed you were talking about mouse entry because you specifically talked about hovering the cursor and clicking. And I've never seen a keyboard implementation of this sort of idea before - it's something I've seen only for mouse, personally.

But indeed, I could imagine a keyboard-based version, where rests auto-fill as you cursor right, when in that special mode so that it doesn't adversely affect normal use of the program where cursor simply moves from note to note without altering anything. Or perhaps it could be a special modifier like Ctrl+Shift+right.

No need to insult the volunteers who spend their time helping users and developing the software in the process of making your requests though. That doesn't put anyone in the mood to help.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

With Tabledit this is the standard method of note entry. The position within a measure can be selected by mouse-click or by keyboard control.


This short video shows some of the nice features of Tabledit input including automatic duration and automatic voices. There are manual modes too.


This would definitely be a useful, additional input mode for Musescore.

In reply to by cadiz1

here's how it works in Dorico:

Press ENTER to enter note input. Move orange cursor left or right via left or right arrow keys. Enter note. Grid value is determined by note value that you can set to any note value. Easy, fast and nothing to do with the mouse obsession you all seem to think this is about!

In reply to by Scardo

"Gosh there's a died in the wool intransigence here! No change is good change! Users MUST go from left to right. Blimey!"

Please calm down. There are many of us here who have been trying to understand and help users for many years, without counting our time, and sometimes we fail (I fail) by understanding incompletely. If Dorico input is more to your liking, well, go ahead, what else can I say (but before this, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05f6fzmOu7A&t=2s)
And maybe one day MuseScore will offer something else equivalent, I don't know.

In reply to by cadiz1

yes I should calm down! I do not mean to be offensive.

I've had a great deal of help from people on this forum which I really appreciate. It's just whenever there's an issue of operability it does seem to elicit a response of "why would we want to change that?" - and I think there are very good reasons to change that, not least to compete with commercial applications - Musescore is definitely snapping at the heels of them, but is lacking in one or two key areas, and the flexibility of note entry is one of them. This is not the first time that a request or suggestion I've made has been dismissed more or less out of hand because it's not how MS does it - I'll continue to use MS and appreciate it's strengths but at the moment there's a certain irony in the fact that I'm finding it quicker and flexible to do all my note entry in Dorico then export the XML to finalise and do the "engraving" - works for me but it's a shame, being able to place the note exactly where I want in one click is such a small issue but a major stumbling block with MS.

In reply to by Scardo

Well, it's not as much a "why would you want to change this" as it is a "why is the current method not enough and what is the gain in your proposal"?

I for one was also under the assumption your request was about mouse input, perhaps because we've almost exclusively received such a request from mouse users, as rest entry with the keyboard is a single keystroke anyway.

If you wish to start note entry on the 5th 1/8th note from the start of a measure; if I gather you correctly your current flow would be:
Note Entry, 1/8th duration, right arrow (4 times), enter note: 7 actions, of which 4 are very fast because of repeat button mashing.
The current MuseScore flow is:
Note Entry, half duration, rest entry, 1/8th duration, enter note: 5 actions.

To be clear though, I support the request (both for mouse and keyboard btw) and see little downsides to adding it as a possibility, but I wouldn't want it instead of the current model, nor see a straight-forward way to have the functionality of both without complicating shortcuts or making them separate note input modes (which seems overkill).
So a bit more design thought should be poured into this imho.

In reply to by jeetee

Yeah. I'm the one who keeps asking about mouse input. Sorry Scardo.

Note entry, duration, click note in almost any position: Three operations. It's not faster, but it is consistent. And I don't have to move either hand. I'm not interested in changing the current keyboard method. But not interested in using it either.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

No I do not. Please read more carefully my previous posts on this, and in particular the note entry system of Dorico. However, I hadn't realised that mouse entry was such a taboo on the forum. I'll make sure I don't bring up the subject of the devil's claw in any future posts. May we expect voice-activated note entry soon?

In reply to by Scardo

"May we expect voice-activated note entry soon?"

That would depend on the existence and availability of an open-source program for voice recognition, under the correct GPL licence, and working cross-platform. I doubt that the MS developers have any time to develop such software as an internal project.

In reply to by Scardo


There... I've shouted it... no problem... ;-)

Sorry, but when I read:
...being able to place the note exactly where I want in one click is such a small issue but a major stumbling block with MS.
I mistakenly assumed that by "one click" you meant a mouse; but you replied: No I do not.
You did not mean mouse input?. OK, what else can you "click once" to place a note exactly where you want, other than by using the mouse?

You wrote: Please read more carefully my previous posts on this, and in particular the note entry system of Dorico.
Move orange cursor left or right via left or right arrow keys....Easy, fast and nothing to do with the mouse obsession you all seem to think this is about!

Certainly this is using the keyboard and not "one click". Not even one keystroke. MuseScore, too, requires multiple keystrokes to align note entry into a 'downstream' beat position in an empty measure. The difference is that Dorico uses arrow keys. MuseScore uses 0's (for rests).
In either case, once measures are already populated with notes and rests, beat selection becomes simpler (like when editing full measures).

You have made your point about the "grid" that facilitates placing a note into a targeted time slot in an empty measure, and added:
...it's a shame, being able to place the note exactly where I want in one click is such a small issue but a major stumbling block with MS.
This shows the importance you place on such a feature.

It might seem "a small issue", but even small issues need all the details to be worked out.
For instance: When a single 16th note is placed downstream using the 16th note "grid" in an otherwise empty measure, should rests be displayed at all? (e.g., for printing?)
After that, coding is needed to communicate the feature to fussy computers - which insist that every text, every number, be in the appropriate spot. A comma or a slash entered in the wrong place, or a bad instruction which breaks some other MuseScore feature, and it's game over.
So, "small issue" may not be "simple task". (That's not to say 'mouse grid' can't or won't ever happen.)

,,,a major stumbling block with MS.
It is not "a major stumbling block" for many of us (including many mouse users). That might seem to you like ambivalence.
Also be aware that MuseScore is concerned with accessibility features. Certainly to a sightless person, using a mouse to zero in on some grid and drop a note is not a major stumbling block.

In reply to by Scardo

If I understand currently, in your example of wanting to enter an eighth note "C" on the "&" of 4, the key sequence you propose is:

4 Right Right Right Right Right Right Right C

as opposed to the current

6 0 5 0 4 0 R 0 C

Same number of keystrokes, but I could see in some cases at least the former feeling more natural (while in others clearly the second is). So both options could indeed be nice someday.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Actually not quite, since once in note entry mode the mouse can hover immediately to the grid position and then the note can be entered - by mouse, key click or midi keyboard. So: Enter (or N in MS), hover, note entry. 3 actions. And I find the sequence of 605040R0C entirely non-intuitive I'm afraid! Of course I understand it, and no doubt could get used to it, but I'll continue to maintain that it is not efficient use of the tools available. I do not think that mouse entry alone is efficient, but the combination I've proposed is extremely efficient -such that I cannot think of a combination that would be more efficient - other than speaking "1/8th note at bar 34 position stroke 8 please" (and that is a joke, spelled J.O.K.E. = 8 key presses, with rests)

So I appreciate the debate here, and apologise if my comments have upset or offended anyone. Certainly my dry sense of humour has been mis-understand by a few. Voice activated was a joke. As was devil's claw.

For the record I also apologise for assuming that everyone would understand that I make little distinction between mouse click and key click. The above description of note entry should make that clearer!

EDIT - forgot about one key click for selecting note value but that's still a ton less than 605040R0C

In reply to by Scardo

I was talking about keyboard entry, since elsewhere you made a point of emphasizing that you were not talking about the mouse.

It's true that if one wants to spend additional time moving one's hands away from the keyboard and over to a mouse and thus breaking the normal smooth flow of keyboard entry, one can reclaim a portion of that lost time using this grid method. But it's not an insignificant amount of time lost - moving to the mouse, moving back, and most important, carefully positioning the mouse at the exact grid position and staff line position, which may involve also zooming in more than you otherwise would need to. I predict there is almost no chance anyone could ever do that faster than typing nine characters, but it would be interesting for someone to prototype it and do a series of timed tests. In any case, it's not always about what's faster if that were th case we wouldn't support the mouse at all. It a significant percentage of users finding it easier in some unspecified way, it's potentially worth doing.

Not sure what you find nonintuitive, though, about a perfectly straightforward lefty-to-right sequence of duration, rest, duration, rest. It's exactly as intuitive as how you enter notes as duration, pitch, duration, pitch. I mean, literally, it's exactly the same process for entering rests as for entering pitches, and either one is comfortable with that process or not. If the specific shortcut used for rest is difficult to remember or reach, you can of course change it. Same with the durations. But again, that seems a red herring, since obviously if you are talking about keyboard entry, you're already using the duration shortcuts.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

One person's "intuitive" may be another person's "does not compute". In Microsoft Office apps there are often 3 ways of achieving the same thing. One may be more efficient but another may be more intuitive.

It also depends on how you are scoring. When I'm trying to tab a fingerpickng guitar video from YouTube I often put the bass notes in first because they are easiest to see/hear on the videoand provide a rhythmic framework for the melody and fingerpicking accompaniment. Most of the time is spent watching and listening carefully and repeatedly to the video in slow motion. The time spent notating is much less, so efficiency doesn't really matter but entering notes at any point in the score would be helpful.

If I'm simply copying a public domain printed score I will work measure by measure.

Tabledit facilitates cursor positioning by offering fixed width measures and a beat ruler. Simple.


In reply to by yonah_ag

MuseScore also provides multiple ways of doing the same thing - I count at least half a dozen ways to enter a note as it is. The only question is about the introduction of even more methods, and again, no one has suggested that introducing additional methods is inherently out of the question.

In any case, the question of what is "intuitive" is indeed subjective, but here, we are talking about a very narrowly-defined case: someone who is already comfortable and efficient at entering notes by keyboard alone and now wants to consider how to enter rests. We are not talking about the intuitiveness of keyboard entry in general, we are talking about whether or not someone who is already entering notes as a sequence of keystrokes duration-pitch-duration-pitch-duration-pitch etc. should find it surprising to also enter rests as a completely analogous sequence of keystrokes, duration-rest-duration-rest-duration-rest etc. Most people would rate "consistency" as an extremely important element in defining what makes something intuitive. so it's pretty hard to make the argument that one is intuitive but somehow the other is not. It's the exact same sequence being used to accomplish the exact thing: entering a series of standard music notation symbols left to right. each of which as a specific time position and duration.

So while defining what constitutes "intuitive" in general may be impossible, in this specific case, it's actually pretty straightforward from a UI design perspective to say that a successful design is one that allows symbols with a specific time position and duration that are read left to right in the exact same way to be entered in the same wa. Then, if alternate methods are created, and if someone for whatever reason chooses to enter notes using one method but notes using another method, that's fine. Just as it's fine if they choose to enter half notes differently from quarter notes, or notes above A4 differently from notes below A4 etc. But arguing that there is something not intuitive about entering half notes the same way one enters quarter notes would be just as hard to defend as arguing that there is something not intuitive about entering rests the same way one enters notes. Outlying opinions exist in the world, sure, but UI design can't be about optimizing for that. It has to be about considering what is actually common. And most people value consistency.

In reply to by yonah_ag

Sorry if it seemed sarcastic. It was not meant as such - it's actually a completely relevant and accurate observation. If one is to compare the relative efficiency of the two approaches, one absolutely must factor in both of those elements - the time it takes to move the hand to and from the mouse, and the break in concentration caused by the interruption in the note input workflow.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Beep-beep! Beep-beep! Beep-beep!

"Yonah what's that loud beeping noise?"
"Nothing to be concerned about: my bullsh**t detector just triggered".

The sarcastic part, as well you know, is the conditional clause, "if one wants to spend additional time moving one's hands away from the keyboard and over to a mouse and thus breaking the normal smooth flow of keyboard entry".

This clause is not relevant to the observation which you then make. Your observation would stand without this conditional as it holds true whether or not one wants to "spend additional time", so it was simply an unhelpful put down.

In reply to by yonah_ag

That clause is absolutely 100% relevant in exactly the way I described. It's factually correct and vitally important to the technical point being made. The fact that time is required is relevant, the fact that it breaks the flow is relevant, and the fact that this is something one does by choice as opposed to bing imposed upon you by an inconsistent UI design is relevant. All of those things are vitally necessary to the point being made.

Your post here, on the other hand, is blatant sarcastic and contains no technically useful information whatsoever. I'm not interested in pursuing this conversation further with anyone who cannot stick to the actual technical issues at hand and finds it necessary to resort to tactics like this instead. I spend enough time volunteering to help users in the forum as it is with technical issues to waste it defending myself against unprovoked personal attacks. So, I will take this as an opportunity to leave this thread.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The efficiency comment is true whether or not one wants to waste time. The "wasting time" clause was not needed and not helpful.

I've been on the end of your sarcasm before and seen it directed towards other users too - some of whom I have private message correspondence with so I know that they have felt this sarcasm.

Musescore is one of the best free apps that I have come across and I do appreciate that you and the other developers give much time on free support. I just dislike the dismissive comments that we sometimes see.

In reply to by yonah_ag

FWIW, and yet again, I use a rollerball mouse. My hand never leaves it. I use my thumb and forefinger. The left to right mentality is not 100% accurate. Years ago, using pen and paper, I would often enter notes later in a bar first. Then fill in the rests later. For me being able to mouse a note (along with the proper pitch) later in a bar first ( and have the rests automatically filled in) is consistent, intuitive and, efficient. There is no wasted movement because there is no movement. Mouse input is not something rudimentary for beginners. Is it faster than keyboard input? Totally unimportant to me. Not interested. I've done mouse input for almost 15 years. It's the way I work. But it's not for everyone. I get it.
I don't think that he who inputs notes the fastest is the winner. The winner is the software that caters to the most uses.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Oops, yeah you do need to press → after . sorry.
Also if you assign a shortcut key to "double augmentation dot" (not sure why it doesn't have one already, but let's say Ctrl+. ):
6 Ctrl+. → C
And you can always create plugins to add whatever compound length rests you like and assign shortcut keys to them of course!
None of which is to say there's no place for arguably more intuitive ways of "advancing" the note entry position by particular lengths but I wouldn't say it was a major issue for me, I suppose it depends how you think of notation in your head.

In reply to by cadiz1

and in fact you didn't need to mouse to that note value - could've simply hit the 5 on numeric keyboard. But yes, it is rather simple and elegant, as I've been saying all along. That functionality in Musescore would make me a 100% convert!

In reply to by Scardo

The closest I can think of with Musescore, in this specific case, is to entry the rests (eighth rests) - a continuous press of 0, so it's equivalent to moving with the right arrow in Dorico -, and input the eighth note.

Then, what Dorico does automatically (filling the measure with rests), MuseScore does it for you too, but with the "Regroup Rhythms" feature (menu Tools, a shortcut can be defined, which I used in the GIF below), which is also very fast, and therefore avoids entering rests of different values before reaching the end of the measure and entering the eighth note.



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