How do I get notes to line up the way I want them to? (and other stuff)

• Dec 4, 2021 - 01:53

Hey folks, I first downloaded MuseScore a few years ago, and have played around with it only occasionally since, so I'm still pretty much a newbie with this fine piece of software. I have the latest version of MuseScore installed and I'm running it on a Win10 machine.

Whenever I try to use it, I run into roadblocks that I can't figure out, so I usually have to post messages here to get unstuck. So here comes another one.

I'm running into a couple of different issues:

The first one is getting a figure to display properly: a dotted 8th note followed by a 32nd triplet, which should be the equivalent to a dotted 8th-16th figure, correct? When I enter this, there is a 32nd rest left over. I may be a bit hazy on notation, but I thought a 32nd triplet was equal to a single 16th note, just as 8th triplets are equal quarter notes, and 16th triplets are equal to 8th notes. And with a preceding dotted 8th note, a 16th note is expected to complete a quarter note's value. So I'm wondering why I have that left over 32nd rest when I enter a 32nd triplet. Having a left over 32nd rest may seem trivial, but it throws things off when I try to add notation after this.

Next, and perhaps more frustrating, I'm trying to enter onto a single stave two different time values. I have a half note in a lower register and above it a dotted quarter-8th figure. After entering the half note, when I attempt to enter the dotted quarter note, I can, but the half note is moved over and changed to an 8th note value. I've played around with various orders of input and it doesn't seem to matter, I can't get what I want. If I go back and input the half note after I've inputted the dotted quarter, the dotted quarter disappears. For whatever reason, MuseScore doesn't seem to like having a half note and a dotted quarter sharing the same space on a staff. I also tried changing the selection in the N dropdown from Step Time to Real Time (both automatic and manual). I even tried Insert. None of these selections made a difference. Anyway, I'm stumped on this one.

Finally, in other sorts of music software I'm used to using, specifically Cakewalk and Band in a Box, I'm used to being able to "grab" a note with my mouse and drag it where I want. I can't seem to do this with MuseScore. When I click on a note to try and grab it, if I'm not absolutely precise, another note is generated. If I am absolutely precise, the note is erased. Hmm . . . So I try doing a right click and I discover that any notes within the blue rectangle are deleted with a right click. Well, now I know two different ways to delete notes, but not much when it comes to being able to push them around. I mention this because I]m not always precise when I enter notes. Usually, if I miss, that isn't a problem. In the other software I use, I just grab ahold of the note and move it to where it should be. But it appears that with MuseScore I have to do an undo and try again. If this sort of drag-around feature is something that MuseScore doesn't possess, then perhaps those amongst the MuseScore sainthood may want to consider it. Okay, I will admit that MuseScore's feature of "ghosting' a note before it's been clicked on greatly improves input accuracy, but I still manage to miss occasionally. Besides, often I will adjust melody and harmony on the fly by dragging notes around. This is a big reason for wanting to be able to do this sort of edit.

Okay, I guess that's about it for now. I'll be back the next time I get stuck, but in the mean time, any suggestions you'd care to offer with respect to my problems would be greatly appreciated.


  1. Enter the dotted 8th. Select 32nd note. Hit control 3.
  2. Look up voices in the manual. That allows different note values and lines on the same staff.
  3. You can drag notes around but it's safer to select the note and use the up and down arrows.

It's way easier to understand and assist if you attach your score. So I'll try to guess at what might be going here, but if you still have questions, attach your score and we can help.

  • In entering any tuplet, start by selecting the total duration of the tuplet. So, don't select the 32nd duration first, select 16th, then hit Ctrl+3

  • See the Handbook section on "Voices" - that's the music notation term for what you are trying to do, have two different independent rhythms on the same staff

  • Not sure where you'd want to drag a note, it should already be positioned correctly according to standard rules of notation. Every once in a while it could occasionally make sense to make very slight adjustments to the position of a note for some special reason. In those cases, drag does work, bot not in note input mode - you need to be in "normal" mode. Also, depending on the exact nature of the type of manual adjustment to position you are tying to make, you either need to click or double-click. If you need further assistance, please attach your score and explain which note you are trying to make slight manual adjustment to the position of, and also explain what specifically about the default position of the note is causing you to want to override it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

OK, thanks very much for your replies. Guys, when I was reading your messages, I had no score to upload because I literally couldn't get to first base. But now, thanks to your tips, I've managed to complete a few measures before getting stuck.

The first problem I had was trying to get a quarter note pickup note to fit in the 4th beat of the first measure. The software insisted that the note be placed at beat 3. I messed around with some things, and I don't know exactly what I did, but I managed to finally get it set to beat 4. Then I read up on deleting rests so it would behave as a true pickup note, and now that is working right.

So, selecting 16th notes and then triplets from the dropdown (or ctl-3) took care of that leftover 32nd rest. I can see why the software wants to do it that way -- selecting 16ths instead of 32nds, but I still think it's weird.

So next came time to enter plural voices. I read through the topic in the online manual and followed their directions to the letter. And guess what? it's still doing the same thing, but instead, after selecting voice 2, voice 1 gets displaced. I tried this several times, even selecting different voices, and the same thing happened. So I don't know what I'm overlooking, but I can tell you this, the directions are less than clear if I've left something out.

Finally, I tried to enter an 8th note on "and" of beat 3, but it would not let me. Do I have to manually insert an 8th note rest? It isn't obvious how I would go about this, if this is indeed what I have to do, so I guess I'll read up on rests in the manual.

And another thing -- MuseScore isn't really guitar friendly is it? Why do I ask? Because each staff has a four note limit. SATB or whatever. And what if I want to write out a 5 or 6 string chord? Two staves? In Cakewalk, I'm pretty sure I can cram 16 notes into a single chord if I ever wanted to. Not that i would, but at least it has that level of polyphony.

This piece I'm trying to write out in MuseScore will violate the 4 voice rule, so I wonder if I should even bother.

I've attached it, such that it is. Please note how, in measure 3, voice 2 has pushed voice 1 over, and in measure 5, you can see where I want to place an 8th note on the upbeat of measure 3, but it won't let me.

Attachment Size
Semester_Project.mscz 14.71 KB

In reply to by cooltouch

  • Pickup measures are a thing the new score wizzared aske you about on score creation, but on an existins score you can turn any measure into a pickup one via the measure's properties (right-click into it).
  • For tutlets you need to start with specifying the grand total duration you want.
  • There is no 4 note limit per staff, but a 4 voice limit. You can have multiple (as many as you like) notes to a chord. So a 6 string chord is just a chord in a single voice with 6 notes.
  • Of course yho can ha an 8th on the "3 and" beat, you just need to have the rests in the front first (and can delete them later, if voice 2-4, or in all voices make them invisible using the V shortcut or the Inspector)
  • If there is just voice 1, the stem direction is determined by the position of the notes in the staff, but as soon as another voice kicks in, voice 1 is all stems up (as is voice 3), voice 2 (and voice 4) is all stems down. You can however change that, via the X shortcut or the Inspector

In reply to by cooltouch

Keep in mind, music is read left to right, and that's how you write it also. There is no way in music notation to have a note on and & of 3 without having something else - other notes or rests - filling up the first two and half a beats. You would read those first before seeing the the note on the & of 3, so you need to write them first too.

In your measure 3, the reaosn the voice 1 note moved is that you are using the special "insert" mode, which does exactly what it says - insert a new note in front of what there. You basically never need that unless you're deliberately trying to create measures with more beats in them the time signature calls for (e.g., for cadenzas, or for Renaissance music with no meter at all). So it's not that you left something out, ti's that you sdid something that you were never instructed to do - switching to the special "insert" mode. Just switch back to the standard step=time note input mode and don't change it without reason (then remember to change back).

While it might seem logical to be able to select the 32nd note duration when creating a triplet that happens to consist of notes of the same duration, that logic doesn't work so well when creating mixed tuplets (eg, quarter and an eighth in the space of one beat). Not that it couldn't be designed that way and make you guess which of the two note values to select, but entering the total duration is always unambiguous.

As mentioned, you can have as many notes as you want in a measure, or in a single chord. You never need more than 4 voices for guitar music, in fact you seldom need more than 2. Ditto with piano. A six note chord is only one voice, so is a 16-note chord. You only need a second voice if there are two independent rhythms at once. That happens often enough - a low string sustaining while other notes arpeggiate or play melody or whatever.

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