Dynamics do not work on treble and bass clefs separately in some soundfonts

• Dec 6, 2021 - 16:45

HI all:

I use the default MuseScore soundfont extensively in my songs, but on occasion, I need to load another free, publicly available soundfont. For example, the Yahama Grand Piano .SF2 soundfonts available on "soundfonts4u", sound quite a bit richer than the grand piano on the default soundfont. Likewise, I occasionally use a different violin and strings font from a different free font site in my work.

The problem is, almost never can I assign a separate dynamic (pp, p, mp, mf, f, etc.) to the treble and bass clefs when using these other fonts, and have them work. When I try, MuseScore will use only one of the two dynamics marks, not both. So, I cannot assign a louder dynamic to the treble clef (e.g. - f) and a softer one to the bass clef (e.g. - pp). It is most annoying. The separate dynamics work fine in MuseScore's default soundfont, but not in most these other free ones.

I emailed John at soundfonts4, but he doesn't know what is going wrong or how to fix it.

Does anyone know how I can fix this? I'm grateful for your advice. Thanks

Frank G


Be sure that the soundfont you choose supports single note dynamics, or if it doesn't, that you disbale that feature for any staff using that soundfont (see Staff?Part Properties). That's the most common reason people encounter problem with dynamics.

If that doesn't solve it, and you've verified you really are setting the dynamic range to "staff" (that would be necessary with the default soundfont as well), then please attach your score and explain which specific dynamic marking is not working for you, so we can understand and assist better.

Note that actually applying separate dynamics to separate staves is very rarely done in piano music. The norm is tojave just one dynamic marking and to leave it to the discretion of the performer to know which notes to bring out (eg, the melody, or other important moving lines). And the way to do that in MuseScree isn't using dynamics but using the Velocity settings in the Inspector.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

OK, I don't understand Single Note Dynamics. If I understand your comment, it may be possible to set some controls in the Synthesizer to allow both the treble and bass clefs on a grand piano to be assigned different dynamics using dynamic marks. For example, this is what I am after:

I have to set volumes precisely because I use the onboard synth to play back all of my music, and it demands it. Separate dynamic marks for treble and bass staves work just fine in all of the instruments in the default MuseScore SF2 soundfont. If I can do something similar with the soundfount4u Yamaha Grand Piano soundfont by making some adjustments in the Synthesizer controls, then I'd be most grateful if you directed me to the manual which explains exactly what I have to do. If this is not true, and the only way to get different volumes of sound between treble and bass staves is to raise or lower the velocity numbers for each note in each measure in the Inspector, I do know how to do that, but it obviously is more labor-intensive.

As always, thanks for the time you spend answering my questions. Fortunately, as I've learned this great program, I've only had to ask an occasional question now.

In reply to by fsgregs

To be clear: single note dynamics are not actually relevant here - that is, you don't need to understand anything about them in order to have separate dynamics on each staff. it's just that if you are doing something unusual - and loading non-standard soundfonts is unusual - then you do have to make sure you don't do something that causes dynamics to function incorrectly.

Normally, you don't need to think about single note dynamics at all. Just add the dynamics, and if you want the unusual effect of having them effect only a single staff, then use the Inspector to change the range from Paet (the norm in music, and the default in MuseScore) to staff (the special setting you need to use when creating this special effect).

So again, if you attach your actual score (pictures don't help), we can understand and assist further.

For the record, single note dynamics are when a single note gets louder, for example. Piano is incapable of that, and MuseScore knows that, so if you don't go out of your to mess with this, everything works. But if the process of experimenting with alternate soundfontes you accidentally turned single note dynamics on for your piano part, that would indeed cause some weirdness in how all dynamics work for that part. That's the only reason I mentioned it.

But again, using dynamics isn't really the right way to do normal piano things of bringing the melody out slightly. That's done with much more flexibility, and not really more labor at all, using the Inspector. Worth a separate topic if you are interested in more realistic playback of ordinary sorts of things like making the melody slightly louder. Attaching separate dynamics is more like a sledgehammer and will likely confuse musicians reading the score if your intent is just to tell them to bring the melody out lightly, which they would normally already do naturally.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

GOOD GRIEF! In all this time, I had the words "Part" and "Staff" reversed in my mind in a grand stave. When I wanted the treble and bass staves to have different volumes, I was placing a Dynamic mark in each but making them both "Part" in the Inspector. No wonder things were getting confused. Wow!!!!

When I reversed the Part to Staff in placing the dynamic marks, everything worked fine ... even the unusual other soundfonts. AGH! I should have discovered this on my own. Live. .. and ... learn!

Marc, please remember that I use the built-in Synth extensively to play back my music, since it is usually a multi-instrument adaptation or composition with up to 10 instruments. Thus, to get it to sound the way I need it to, I cannot rely on musicians reading and interpreting the music properly. Instead, I have to manually set the dynamics for each staff. While I can use the Inspector by selecting a bank of notes, then adding or subtracting velocity in the Note menu, measure by measure, I find it easier to use dynamic marks where possible.

Thanks for your help ... as always. Things seem to be fixed, at least at the moment.



In reply to by fsgregs

Yes, I do realize you are very concerned with the MuseScore playback, and that's why I am tryging so hard to advise you on how to get the better results with less effort.

No real pianist would play all RH notes louder than the LH -they'd play just the melody louder, So selecting just the melody notes - often as simple as right-click, Select / More / Same voice - and bumping up the velocity is the dead simple way to do, that. Much easier than constantly fiddling with dynamics - needing to add a two separate dynamics everywhere when one will do, and then updating both every time you change your mind, only to be stuck with the entire RHm being louder instead of just the melody

So in five seconds flat you can have the melody only louder, even in the face of dynamics that change over the course of the piece, just as a real pianist would do. And the adjustment remains good even if you alter the dynamics later, like changing a passage from mp to mf, the relative difference in the velocity still works with no further adjustment needed. It's far simpler and far more effective for the vast majority of music. No measure by measure involved - you can do it all once as easily I just said, although of course you can also override this measure by measure or note by note for even more realism.

Not something of interest to some who is primarily concerned with the printed page, but anyone concerned with the computer playback should be all over this. much better results with much less effort, what's not to love?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

See, this is exactly why I need your advice. I have NOT been using right-click--select-etc. to change notes in a given staff throughout a song. I am ignorant of it. Instead, I have been left-clicking on each note, or on the staff in each measure to select notes, then clicking on the Note menu in the Inspector, then changing velocity for all the notes I chose, then doing it again for future measures, etc, all while trying to get Dynamics marks working properly measure by measure. I can clearly see your method is quick and easy. The downside I see, however, is that anyone playing the song, cannot "see" my hidden volume/velocity changes. They are invisible. They can hear it on MuseScore if they listen to the song or download it to play on their own software, but cannot see it.

This causes a problem for me because almost all of my scores are in fact, my efforts to add instruments to piano pieces that sound identical to the same instruments used by an actual composer when he/she recorded their score for public release. For example, if a symphony performs a popular score with 40 instruments, it will dramatically vary the dynamics and volume of many notes in many different instruments. That is why the song is so popular. The variations in those instruments clearly add to the listening pleasure of the audience. To try to adapt that score to MuseScore, I may use 10 instruments instead of 40, but I will listen and listen to the original score and strive to duplicate not only its dynamics per instrument, but its timing, crescendos, decrescendos, retard, accelerations, etc. When done, my hope is that it sounds close to the original recording. To do that, I MUST use dynamics and tempo changes rather extensively on a host of separate instruments. If I want to convey to the MuseScore listener that effort, either through the player online or via download, I really do want them to see how to vary the dynamics and timing, if they also want to match the original recording. Thus, I use visible dynamics and tempo marks throughout the piece.

I realize it decreases the freedom of the musician who might want to play one instrument in my score to vary it as he/she sees fit, but at least they can enjoy the subtle sounds of all the other instruments if they want to accompany it.

Anyway, now that I know about right-click choices, I can much better and quicker make the changes I need. Thanks for the posts.

In reply to by fsgregs

It's an advantage, not a disadvantage, that a musician reading your score isn't confused by all those unnecessary dynamics. Again, it's just not done that way. Pianists know to bring out the melody, they don't need to be told with separate dynamics. All that does is make the score confusing - because music is not (normally published that way, so they will think you are trying to get them to do some unusual) and harder to read (because of the clutter of unnecessary extra symbols). The only time you ever need separate dynamics for the two staves are the very unusual special situations where it isn't just the melody you want played louder, but some very special effect you are going for involving other random notes being played louder or softer than others. The vast majority of music is not that, though - there is just a single dynamic between staves, and pianists are smart enough to identify the melody and bring it out.

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