Can you change the DEFAULT tempo for a score?

• Feb 21, 2022 - 16:53

Good day to the MuseScore Team.

(I may already know the answer to my question, since I always read-and-link-and-read before calling for help.)

I'm aware that you can temporarily change the playback tempo for a score via Play Panel. However, I'm a relative beginner to mandolin and don't yet play anything at 120 bpm. Being even more of a beginner at MuseScore, I created a number of useful practice scores, unwittingly setting the default playback at 120.

Q: Is there a way to override the DEFAULT playback tempo?

Thanks for your time and attention to this question.


For creating new scores with a set tempo, first create a blank score, set the tempo and save it as a Template. You then use that template to create any new scores which will have the tempo that is set in the template.

If I understand correctly, sounds like you simply forgot to enter a tempo marking? It's not too late, just add it from the Tempo palette, or with the shortcut Alt+Shift+T. Or if you already entered a tempo of 120, simply double-click it to edit it to say what you want.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"The default, in absence of a tempo text, is 120 BPM, hard coded."
Already knew that.
"So if you want a different one, use a tempo text."
Does Tempo Text change the default Playback Tempo, as shown on Playback Panel, so that every time you open the score it will play back at the new default speed?

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

Yes, of course. If you change a written note in the score from F to G, then it plays as a G every time you open the score. If you change the written dynamic marking from pp to find, then every time you open the score, it plays ff. And if you change the written tempo marking from 120 to 76, it plays at 76 every time as well. What you see in the score is what MuseScore plays by default.

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

Tempo markings are the playback tempo. At least, they are if you aren't explicitly overriding it via the Play Panel. The default speed for a score is whatever the tempo marking says.

In other words, the symbol that tells a human how fast to play, is the very same symbol that tells MuseScore how fast to play. just like the very same dynamics control both human and MuseScore playback, as do the very same notes, etc.

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

The answer to your question is "No". Although why the default is 120, I'll never know. You can set the tempo either as you are creating a new score, or after it is already started. But you have to do one or the other the first time. This is true of other notation software that I know of. This is because not every piece is played at the same tempo as every other piece.

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

A tempo marking is not there to "manipulate" the default tempo, it is there to set "the" tempo of your score.
The default tempo=120 hard coded in the program is just there to allow MuseScore to play your score when you haven't added an explicit tempo yet.
Others possibilities could have been:
-offer a setting to change the global default hard coded 120 value (but... how would any other value be better as it would be as arbitrary as 120 (well if somebody always work on the same type of scores one could imagine that changing the default might be useful))
-or for MuseScore to refuse to play a score without tempo marking like MuseScore can't play a score without notes... A terrible idea probably I'm mentioning it in a rhetorical way only

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

I wouldn't pretend to understand computer jargon. Yet I'm pretty sure "default" means just that. A baseline. Something to return to when all else fails. For you, here are some things to consider.

  1. The time it would take you to reset the tempo I suspect is going to be different for each thing you practice. As well as almost each time you practice. So for you, I think the play panel is your friend. I've never had any instance to use it as I only use MuseScore for composition. It seems to me that as you practice something, you need to be pushing yourself. I can't imagine that every piece you try to learn is the same tempo. No matter what style. My wife gets out her mandolin every so often.

  2. I'm sure you saw that there is a count in on the play panel. Just one measure. You might consider an inexpensive footswitch that acts as a mouse.

  3. I think MS4 will have a revamped manual. I must confess that I I have seldom found the manual for any of the software I own to be satisfactory. I always seem to what to know the one thing that is hardly if at all covered.

In reply to by DiegoInSeneca

If you don't want to see a marking but do wish to hear its effect on playback, simply press "V" to make it invisible. Same as for dynamics, same as for notes, etc.

If the goal is to eventually reach 160 BPM because that's the correct performance tempo, that's what you should add as the tempo marking. Then if you wish, use the Play Panel to override that to play more slowly for practice purposes. But the tempo marking in the score itself should be the one that it would normally be played back at, whether you choose to show it or not. After all, if you then save the score online or otherwise share it with anyone else, they'll want to hear it at the correct tempo.

BTW, while you might not have noticed tempo markings in the published tabs you've looked at, they are definitely very common, especially in pop songs, where it is intended to tell you the actual recorded tempo. See for example this one:

Tempo markings would be less common in arrangements of folk songs that have been recorded many times at many different tempos.

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