Using insert mode

• Nov 8, 2021 - 10:04

Insert mode can be a really useful tool for some purposes. It basically allows notes to be inserted and the bar extends indefinitely. This can be a very good way to set up phrases for working into new compositions.

There are some "gotchas" though.

  1. If the notes are then copied and pasted into another part of the score, they will almost certainly be forced into a 4/4 bar pattern, or the time signature of the current section. If the section being pasted into is in 3/4 then the free format notes will be in 3/4, and so on. It may be preferred to keep them as free format with extended length bars for a while.

However this is not necessarily disastrous - and there are work arounds.

The easiest fix if this has happened - and the copied notes are now in 4/4 - is to select the bars containing the pasted in notes, then using the Tools->Bar-> Join Selected Measures option from the top menu. This will now give just one bar with more notes similar to - though perhaps not the same as - the original long bar. This should work for all time signatures - though I've not checked all possibilities!

  1. The second problem - which is the one I really want to know about here - is "how do I delete notes from a bar with inserted notes?". Deleting the notes works - but simply replaces them by rests. What is really wanted is a remove note and shorten the bar by the deleted note length option, so that the timing conforms to what is imagined.

That is something I don't know how to do - yet! Somebody help, please!


I may have found the answer myself. This is unfortunately one of those areas in MuseScore where there is a lack of knowledge or clarity, and I notice that someone else [NOT ME] tried to ask a similar question a while back, and was then considered to be RANTING. I won't do anything like that here - right now.

The problem is that there is a Delete command - which is usualy just the Delete key. There is also a Remove command which not only removes the selected note or range of notes, but also modifies the timing. Thus Deleting a minim [US half note] simply replaces the minim by a minim rest - or equivalent, while Removing a minim not only deletes it, but shortens the bar by 2 beats. Bars which remain extended - relative to the current time signature will be notated with a "+" sign, while if the deletion results in fewer beats than the current time signature indicated, there will be a "-" sign put over the end of the measure, to indicate a shorter bar.

Just to make things slightly more complicated, the Remove command is equivalent to CTRL-DEL in Windows systems, but in MacOS it is usually CMD-DEL.

I think this solves the issue.

Indeed, Ctrl+Delete (which I think is one of the few commands that actually works as such on macOS with or without replacing Ctrl with Cmd) is the way to remove beats from a measure, or measures from a score, whether using insert mode or not. The command is called "remove selected range". Be forewarned that on macOS specifically, there is a so-far-unsolved (because no one has been able to come up with steps to reproduce it relibaly) where every once in a while for no obvious reason, the command stops working, and then you need to restart MuseScore. If you ever encounter this and figure out steps to reproduce it, definitely let us know!

Something else you should find very useful in conjunction with your of insert mode is this recently-developed plugin - It allows you to change note durations and subsequent notes are moved earlier or later as appropriate. So unless you literally entered too many notes and now need to remove one, you won't actually need the "remove selected range" command this plugin is all you'd need to turn a string of quarter notes into some other rhythm.

I have found this to be useful, but there does seem to be a snag. This is perhaps partly because of user unawareness, but there may be other factors. It would be highly desirable to know whether the "inserted" note is going to follow the current position, or be before it. Due to the combinations of key codes, the following possibilities can happen:

  1. Change the pitch of the "current" note - whatever that is.
  2. Put a new note to the right of the "current" note - after it.
  3. Put a new note to the left of the "current" note - before it.

Option 2 is great for free format bars - but sometimes things get tricky and I find that I'm getting behaviours corresponding to 1 or 3. Sometimes one does want to put new notes in between existing notes. Something about the way that MuseScore operates seems to make this difficult - I don't believe it's just due to the user getting it wrong. When it works it's really helpful, but when it doesn't it's a real nuisance and sems to require a lot of extra key strokes to sort out.

In reply to by cadiz1

Which plugin?

I don't normally use the mouse to point at note length values - preferring to use the number shortcuts.
I can just about get the final effect if I faff around for a minute or two - but that's no good. I really want to just be able to think of a note and put it in either before or after the current note, or even replace it. I don't want to have to spend seconds or minutes inserting or deleting notes or rests in order to get the correct sequence of note pitches.

In reply to by dave2020X

What plugin? Well, the link was given to you in this same thread and comment:
So, this one:

"I don't normally use the mouse to point at note length values - preferring to use the number shortcuts."

I understand. This plugin is already a good step forward.
It remains to be seen if (and when) it will be implemented natively in the program one day ? Which would make it possible to do without the use of the mouse, I suppose.
In the meantime, you will have to adapt :)

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