Best way to create a new dynamic that others can understand???

• May 22, 2022 - 19:21

Hi folks:

In writing new song notes, I can set their volume/dynamic by inserting an existing dynamic symbol from the Master Palette under them, then clicking on that dynamic symbol and changing its velocity if I want it higher or lower. So, if I want a "pp" dynamic, the default velocity is "32". If I want a "p" dynamic, the default velocity is "49". If I want something in-between (say "40"), I can insert a "pp" and increase its velocity in the inspector to "40", or insert "p" and decrease its velocity in the inspector to "40". The problem is, anyone reading the sheet music will not know what volume I am hoping to have the notes played. All they will see is "pp" or "p". They will not know I edited it to a different value.

So, one way it seems around that problem is to edit the name of an existing dynamic in my sheet music to reflect its new dynamic. I can insert a default dynamic, double-click on its name, & change its name so others can understand it. For example, if I edit a "pp" dynamic in my sheet music from 32 to 40, I can change its name to "pp8". Hopefully, someone reading my sheet music will understand what I mean by the custom dynamic. (32+8). If I place a "p" dynamic then lower it from 49 to 45, I can rename it ("p-4").

Alternatively, I can create a whole set of custom dynamics (i.e. - "pp8", "pp10", "mf6", etc.), place them in a custom dynamics folder and display them as a new palette. That will make it easier for me to use in the future, but users still will not know what actual dynamic I want. So, my question here, is whether a custom dynamic of "mp6", is vaguely understandable to a musician indicating that the dynamic for notes in that measure(s) is mp (64) + 6 = 70?

I'd appreciate your thoughts. thanks


You can do what you think is best.
It is the job of a musician to play your music from their own vantage point. It will change depending on the room they are in, how many people (if anyone) are listening, and what your music is saying to them. They are not playback machines. And there is much, much more to worry about than dynamics. Just because you write a pp at 64 bpm because it works for you on your computer, doesn't mean it works for the performer in their situation. You have put notes on a page. The performer makes music.

Note that you enter values based on how a particular soundfont responds to the velocity values you type.
The player's instrument (or soundfont) can have different dynamics at the same velocity. So it may be better to think in terms of the average.

Yes, you may want to fine-tune the playback of the computer and hear it according to the nuances you want.
But if you're writing for a human player, the existing dynamics are enough (or more than enough).
A human player will create the most accurate playing according to his own feeling, understanding and interpretation of music.

Most familiar: (pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff)

For a musician it means:

ff: higher volume
f: high volume
mf: average sound level
mp : slightly less than mf but slightly more than p. (in some schools there is a direct transition from p to mf)
p : low volume
pp: lower volume

You can see that everything in the list above is relative.
// in some cases even p, mf and f are sufficient.

Two rarely used and last:
fff: maximum volume that the instrument can reach (under normal conditions)
ppp: the minimum volume that the instrument can reach (under normal conditions)

The lower and upper limits of these dynamics are determined in the General-MIDI standard between 0 and 127. But which dynamic will have which value may differ from software to software. Some increase the values linearly, while others determine some different values according to the algorithmic increase. Some define the middle value differently (eg 64, 72 or 80) and define other dynamics accordingly.

In reply to by fsgregs

What part of making music do you not understand. You can write p+6 or f-8 all you want but the musician (you know, the reason we write music) has the final say. This is nothing new. Ten different orchestras play the opening to Beethoven"s 5th ten different ways. Tempo and volume. Music.

In reply to by bobjp

It's your rather offensive phrase, "What part of making music do you not understand?" that really bothers me. Not very nice.

I share my music so that anyone who likes it on will be able to download and play it, only if they want to. I do not upload my work to please other musicians. To ease their task of reading my songs, I try to make my work musically correct, readable and properly notated, but if I make a mistake, I do not appreciate some telling me harshly that I am doing it wrong. I just learned music notation a few months ago and am still quite a novice!

That said, thanks for the help you've been giving me. I value your professional advice and input, as I do all the other forum members.


In reply to by yonah_ag

Although not very common, the terms poco and piu can also be used before dynamics.
You can use it for informational purposes such as:
piu = more
poco = less

poco piu mf = slightly more mf
poco mf = less mf
piu mf = more mf

We can see that these terms are used more commonly as::
poco a poco crescendo = gradually (little by little) getting louder
poco a poco allargando = slow the tempo gradually (little by little)
poco piu mosso = a little faster
piu Allegro = more quickly (cheerful)
poco meno : slightly less // It also means "slightly (a little) slower" when used without any other term beside it and at the top (with bold-font indicating tempo).
poco meno mosso = a little less motion

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Thanks. That's very good to know. It seems I can use "piu p", "p+", "p8", "poco mp", mp-9, or "mp-", to represent a dynamic of "40". Alternatively, I can just ignore it all and let the musician decide. Somehow, I feel that if the song contain notes whose volume of note should increase from a default of 32 (p) to 40, but not all the way up to 49 (mp), I should tell the musician to play those notes louder than p but softer than mp. So, if it really is up to me, using "piu p" or "poco mp" as dynamics notation would make the most sense, since musicians are use to seeing those terms. p+ and mp- are also not bad terms.

Question: If I type poco mp" as a dynamic on Musescore, will the program know the text phrase is a dynamic? Will it give me the dynamics inspector screen, or must I enter only "mp", then lower the velocity to 40 in the Inspector, then edit the character "mp" on the sheet music and change it to "poco mp"?

In reply to by fsgregs

OK, Frank. We seem to have misunderstood each other. I took your repeated post, " It is nice to feel I do not have to micromanage the musician and let him/her change dynamics as they see fit.", as a bit sarcastic. You have sent conflicting signals. Within this tread alone you have said that you don't write for musicians to read. Then later say you are trying to make it easier for them to read your music. So I apologize If I misread you.
If I may make a suggestion. Listen to your music on as many different systems as you can. Why? Because different systems will sound different. Some will bring out the lows more and others will accent the highs. Some will make your dynamics less different and some will will do the opposite. I have spent much time trying to get stuff just right in my headphones only to have the trumpets too loud in my car and not loud enough in my BT speaker. All you can do is the best you can and leave it there.
MuseScore has no idea what poco mp means. Or piu, meno, ritard, or accel. Yet, anyway.

In reply to by bobjp

Thanks Bob. No problems!

I will continue to use the inspector to edit dynamics, then return to the text and change it to indicate lower or higher volumes for certain measures. So, "p" > "poco mp", or "p" > "P+", both seem understandable. I do get your point about listening to my songs on different systems. I use both my computer 7-speaker surround sound system, or my 2 speaker earphones, and so far, they have seemed reasonably close in volume, but I won't expect too much from the mixer on musescore. Thanks for the advice.

In reply to by bobjp

A little suggestion on listening to your music on different systems/players:

To listen for mixing (as a producer): Make sure the equalizer is set to "flat". For example, if it's on one of the "Pop Music", "Full Bass and Treble" or "Dance Club" or "Seagull wings (called)" settings, what you'll hear will be completely different.
Because in music production, it is best to listen "flat" with studio speakers (or good headphones) before mastering. Assuming that the user will use the necessary setting on the device to be listened to, mixing are made flat. Mastering is another matter.

If you want the best playback sound on your device (as a end-user): Equalizer should be set to match the music you're listening to ("Classic" according to the current topic).
Because each type of music and listening tool has its own weaknesses. Equalizer is used to fix these weaknesses.
In classical music there is a excess from mid-treble to high frequencies (6kHz to 16kHz). In other words, the treble frequencies may obscure the mid frequencies or cause the mid and bass frequencies to sound as if they are in low volume. Here you need to balance it with the equalizer settings (-3 to -6 dB).

Maybe you already know all this. And this topic is not directly related to that. But by the way, I wanted to say it.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Wow, thanks for the tips. Frankly, I am not sure how to adjust the sound to flat. My 7 speaker computer "Realtek" surround system turns up to 7 speakers on or off, but I have not found an equalizer on it. The MuseScore mixer does seem to have "Eq1" and "Eq2" settings in the Master Effects panel, but I have never really played with them. I just leave them at default. I have boosted the reverb by boosting the "Mix" to 50%, but nothing else. I'm afraid I don't grasp it well.

Is there something I should do in Musescore to play with its sound settings, or just leave things be?

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