Our Progress on MuseScore 4 - Update 2

• Sep 21, 2021 - 16:01

Hey everyone,

I wanted to give a quick update about our progress with MuseScore 4, which we had hoped would be ready for an initial alpha release by today. Although the app is clearly coming together nicely (as can be seen from checking the nightly builds), we feel we are a few weeks away from our first alpha. I will be posting a revised release timeline shortly.

Apart from that, here is an update on our progress:


Despite the delay on alpha, we're very happy with how things are going. The app has been completely rearchitected and is now running quickly and smoothly. We have implemented basic VSTi & VST support and our new interface is just about done. We have completely overhauled how the inspector works and how part scores can be generated and modified. We're still porting a few remaining functionalities and shortcuts from MS3.6 but the major work is complete. Our most significant remaining efforts will be spent on the default playback of MuseScore 4. Until this work is complete, anyone trying out our nightly builds will probably notice some unusual, overly soft playback.

Apart from the headline features, there are a lot of smaller changes in MuseScore 4: our MusicXML import is vastly improved and we will be including dozens of engraving improvements also.

Apart from that, it is also worth mentioning a few things that will be missing in MuseScore 4.0

The piano roll & automation (delayed)

Although the implementation of a new piano roll is already underway, we feel that the scope of the remaining work is too large and it would be unwise to try to include it in MuseScore 4.0. We will instead prioritise it for MuseScore 4.1 or 4.2 instead.

The Zerberus synthesiser (removed)

In MuseScore 3, the Zerberus synthesiser can be used to load .sfz files. However, it also has numerous problems and limitations and we think it makes more sense to focus our efforts on building up VSTi capability instead. For those who wish to still use SFZ sounds in MuseScore 4, good alternatives would be the open source VST samplers, Sfizz (Windows, Mac & Linux) or Sforzando (Windows & Mac), both of which support SFZ playback.

Documents side-by-side (possibly delayed or removed)

This feature allows users to have a split screen view where they can compare scores in the same window. In MuseScore 4, while working on creating a much more powerful audio engine, we discovered that it advisable to move to a new model for displaying scores, where each project opens in its own window (similar to how most other notation apps and DAWs work). The 'Documents side-by-side' feature is therefore likely going to be an unfortunate casualty of this new model. It may still be possible to retain the feature for individual projects (so users can compare the main score to a part score, for example) but we will need to investigate it further.

Release schedule

Below is an outline of how we intend to handle the release process for MuseScore 4.

1. 'Private' Alpha

A 'Private' alpha stage does not include all functionality. Its purpose is to lock down the 'core' components of the app (creating scores, working with parts, playback, opening old versions, exporting, etc.) We will also focus on identifying functional problems and missing behaviours. We're using the term 'Private' to mean that we would not encourage users outside of the developer community to try it out.

2. 'Public' Alpha

The public alpha will contain everything we expect to be in the final release of MuseScore 4, with the exception of optional plugins, such as the new MuseSampler library or MuseScore Drumline. At this point, we expect the alpha to have reached functional parity with MuseScore 3 (except where we are delaying features until a later release or replacing them altogether). We will be announcing a feature freeze and string freeze (to encourage early translations) during this stage.

3. Beta

This will proceed as beta releases normally do. Our focus will be on overall stability, refining usability problems and making sure there are no issues with opening older scores or uploading them to MuseScore.com. It is likely that this beta will be a long one to ensure that the transition (for users) from MuseScore 3 to MuseScore 4 is as smooth as possible. We will be extensively user-testing this release. 

4. Release Candidate

We will be exposing the release candidate to a large number of users to ensure quality and stability. Due to the size and scope of MuseScore 4, it is likely that we will need multiple release candidates before we are satisfied that it is ready for prime time.

5. Release

The thing itself!

About future releases

MuseScore 4 is a gargantuan release. It includes an entirely new (and much more powerful) audio engine. It has a new architecture, a new interface and has been relicensed to GPL3 too. All of this has taken a lot of time and we are painfully aware that many members of our community have (until recently) largely been forced to sit by, waiting for us to lay these foundations. We know this has been a frustrating wait and we're sorry about that. However, we only needed to do this type of overhaul once and we never intend to do it again! After 4.0 is officially released to the public, we will be aiming for a more regular release schedule of around 3-4 months.

About VST & NotePerformer

Some users have been asking whether the initial release of MuseScore 4 will support NotePerformer. Although it is true that we initially intended to support NotePerformer for 4.0, we have instead decided to focus our efforts on our own orchestral playback plugin (codenamed 'MuseSampler') which will be available to download and install for free. We will be releasing more information about this plugin soon. Please note that the MuseSampler will likely not be available until late in beta testing.

Thanks a lot!


Fabulous! Very exciting, can't wait.
Can you confirm the oldest OSX version this will work with? Some on here have said High Sierra, others differ ...it'd be good to know whether my old MacBook is going to have to be replaced.

This is amazing! I'm so thrilled for MuseScore 4 that I google it all the time in hope to find news on it - and here I am, one hour after the post was released.

Just wanted to shout a big thank you to the whole MuseScore team and Martin Keary (Tantacrul)!

(Anyways, I'm not going to use this software until you finally give some feedback about the feature most people asked for! Will it come with PRO-Level Chords?)

Question related to the uncertainty of side-by-side view; does this also impact the score comparison tool? Does it just mean that the score comparison tool will be delayed to a later release as well?

mi dispiace molto che Note Performer non verrà implementato in MuseScore poiché è molto valido: io lo uso con Dorico e ne sono molto soddisfatto.

I am probably way too late to ask this question - but: given that musescore 4 is a major re-architecting has, or could, consideration be given to taking a step towards support for diatonic tablature? For example, architectural support for non-numeric characters in fret numbers (e.g., the plus symbols used in mountain dulcimer diatonic tablature).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

So the underlying data structure of the score is staying the same. Understood.

Tho this suddenly brings a question to my mind - is TAB represented internally as it's own data structure, or, internally, are the notes just stored as, say, pure numbers - i.e., MIDI values - with TAB being generated as needed in the UI and engraving subsystems using the one common underlying representation for the note values?

OK, now, having asked it, I can take a shot at answering my own question. Because you could perform a given note using several different string/fret combinations you do have to be able to store the specific fret and string numbers into an underlying TAB data structure. And I have seen this reflected in the Plugin API as well.

If you will be put Zerberus out of the new project, there are more than one SoundFont Players (bad named as "Synthesizers") inside Linux.
The only one problem is about almost all of them work better, or only, with Jack Audio Connecting System, which is not easy to use to the beginners.
Why not to build some "internal" new player? ???
Blessings and Greetings from Chile!!!

Thanks team! Just on that last point for total clarity, does that mean the intention will be for MS4 to still be Noteperformer compatable at some point, just the priority re-shifted to your own first party playback, or has the compatability with Noteperformer been entirely scraped?

In reply to by KriegerischeMikrobe

I thought that the latest updates in the Progress thread pretty well ruled out NP. Firstly MS is developing it's own "similar" version, and from reading between the lines I suspect cost of licensing NP was / is an issue. So I wouldn't get your hopes up. I'm a little annoyed as I'm more than halfway through the NP monthly rent to own scheme (which is great) - I bought it when I was using Dorico a lot, but as I've more or less given that up for MS I'm not going to get a lot of use out of NP by the looks of things! May as well finish the last 3 months and own it otherwise it's money down the drain.

I'm more concerned that MS4 will only work with OSX 10.14 and above - the nightly builds won't run on my High Sierra laptop, only on my Mojave MacPro. Meaning (as I do a lot of scoring away from the studio) I'll have to buy a newer MacBook. I did ask this question but answer came there none.

In reply to by [DELETED] 37205164

I doubt that it would have been a licensing arrangement between MuseScore and NotePerformer. But NotePerformer restricts the host apps it will initialise inside, and so to support NP in MuseScore, they would have to get co-operation with NotePerformer to add support, and sort out any idiosyncracies in the MuseScore playback vs NotePerformer's other supported products (they all behave differently as far as I know). So, I imagine (just speculating here) that in the interests of making sure there's something decent available inside their control (not relying on co-operation of external parties) they went with their own thing. I think as long as the MuseScore VSTi playback engine supports the latency advertised by the plugins, then it will be up to NotePerformer to add support for MuseScore, rather than the other way around.

In reply to by [DELETED] 37205164

May I ask why you prefer Musescore over Dorico? I purchased Dorico a few months ago, but did not really start to learn it; before I worked regularly with Musescore. For me it was mainly the playback aspect, as you can use sample libraries with Dorico and even connect key switches to playing techniques. And you have the possibility to record Midi and keep the deviations in time and you can edit these, so it is much easier to get a human like or human made playback regarding the "micro" time structure. But of course I love Musescore and still use it.

After watching the recent videos about work being done to bring Musescore up to a level competitive with the "big boys" of commercial notation software have to say I am incredibly excited about its future.

Martin and the rest of the team are showing real enthusiasm and attention to quality and usability in their vision for Musescore as it moves ahead. The engraving and font improvements in 3.6 are a huge step forward and their plans to continually develop version 4 with a frequent update schedule, combined with the team's hands-on approach with the community lead me to believe that Musescore has a real chance to compete head to head with any other notation software on the market.

Keep up the great work guys and please, more videos about the design & development process! They have a massive impact and are your best tool for outreach to notation software users worldwide.

Small features and bugfixes should be independent enough to have atleast montly releases.
3-4 months cycle sounds old-school :)

Also what is the stand on a new 3.x release?

Some questions relative to nightly builds for the 4.4.0 prerelease :
- Where can I find the source code used for these builds ?
- Where is the correct place to report about them ?

Thank you for the awesome update! You guys are doing a great job and we all appreciate all the hard work of the Musescore team. We will be patient and excitedly look forward to Musescore 4!

This is great! However, with MuseScore 4, will you finally be able to switch between pitched and unpitched clefs in the same staff, even in the middle of a piece? That’s a feature I think is really lacking on MuseScore 3, and it’s really helpful to those writing for percussion especially to be able to switch between, say, a pitched treble clef and an unpitched percussion clef in the middle of a piece.

I like what I saw in the nightly version of Musescore 4 but I don't understand why people feel the need to make the UI so flat and uninteresting, the UI in Musescore 3.6.2 is so much more interesting, why do people these days think that a UI with skeuomorphism (beveled or slightly raised icons and elements) is so evil that they must flatten everything, its like an obsession that I see done with many apps and software. The flat minimalist look is getting really tired and boring looking. If I was a programmer I would build software with the skeuomorphism look just to go against the grain of the popular modern minimalist flat look.

It's almost like it's being rebuilt into sort of a DAW. Why not the other way around and turn Musescore into a VST3 plugin for use in DAWs? It could interface to DAWs through MIDI connections. I hear some DAWs are lacking in notation of any kind. I'd love to be able to write via score notation in my DAW, FL Studio, when transcribing from scoresheets. I have to continually jump between the DAW Software and Musescore, very inefficient.

In reply to by CF.Productions

Maybe it's because some people use musescore mainly and want to use VST and effects on musescore too. I mean, why would the team of musescore prioritize helping other company than making their product better. I really like how it is going to be and since I do think the user experience on musescore is much better than most daw, at least to me, this is such good news to me.

In reply to by s1033121

Musescore is central to my little musical efforts because of the how the software behaves, generally speaking. Being able to hear a better "interpretation" (sound?) would actually be a timesaver, because I do tend to write to "how it sounds" ... and how it sounds in MS vs Reaper (my DAW of choice) is significantly different. I'll definitely still work in Reaper for final rendering, but what's being promised for MS4 is going to make the to-ing and fro-ing from MS to Reaper back to MS happen a lot less.

I was reading elsewhere on this site that the album function was coming back to version 4.0. I've seen that on only one page, however. Is the album function coming back in 4.0? It would be so handy if it did.

In reply to by km2002

There was work done on this a couple of summers ago and it was hoped that this would make it in, but for various reasons, that didn't happen. It's still something we'd all like to see someday, and hopefully the work done already can still be adapted to use, but there would still be some significant design work required to integrate it.

In reply to by km2002

As mentioned, it's definitely something we want to bring back at some point, but there are on ly so many volunteers to work on this, and only so many hours in the day!

Meanwhile, though, there are other ways of laying books, including use of PDF merge tools, or just working in one large score. if you start a new thread in the Support forum and describe what you are trying to do in more detail, we can understand and assist better.

Musescore 4 on macOS seems to lack jack integration. Is that on purpose?

Are you planing on adding other means of synchronizations to DAW? (like MTC?)

I also would like to know your plans on native apple silicon builds - it seems you're still running on Qt5 which probably makes this harder. Is it planed to migrate to Qt6 at some point in the future?

Having no luck opening MS4 either the Beta or nightly builds since yesterday. It keeps crashing.. I noticed instrument updates this afternoon which I downloaded... bummer.
I'm on a Mac OSX 12.6 Mac Mini Silicon M1. Anyone else having issues?

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.