how do I change an instrument in the middle of a score without affecting any previous bars?

• Sep 18, 2014 - 19:41

In my score from 10th bar on the viola part is changed for a flute, is there a way to do the same in musescore without affecting the part from the beginning?


Create two staves - Viola and Flute. Enter notes. Choose "Hide Empty Staves". A bug in 1.x means that text entered on to the top stave will go missing if the stave is hidden so you might need to re-enter it on the bottom (Flute) stave in that case. Ensure that the Viola part finishes at the end of a line to avoid overlapping the Flute part (a stave is hidden only if it is empty for the whole width of the page).

Several. The easiest with 1.x is 2 staves, one for each instrument, make sure to have a system break (or a frame) at bar 10 and 'hide empty staves'
In 2.0 you can have instrument changes anywhere you like, in 1.x this is possible too, but quite tricky

In reply to by magolirico

So the voice parts are empty, but you want to show them anyhow? You could place an invisible note in voice 2.

But I'm a bit confused by your description of the score. At the risk of a *slight* exaggeration :-), there are probably about half a dozen people in the entire world who play both viola and flute. I find it hard to believe there is a published score that calls for a single player to switch from viola to flute in the middle of the piece. Is it possible you are misunderstanding something here? Could you post an image of the original?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've actually seen that happening in a lot of classical scores, so it is actually weird for me to see that no one asked about this before. The chorus is a part from "Alceste", an opera from the classical master C. W. Gluck. Always happy to help people helping me of course ;). Here's the score:…

The chorus I speak of starts in page 47 and ends in page 64.
As you can see from 10th to 14th bar the Viola is replaced with a Flute (Fl. 1) then in 15th the Viola returns. I want to do the same in musecore and I chose to do so because it is easier to print the score that way and easier to read for my classmates in my Musical Analysis class (the paper is a little neglected you see). And I think keeping the writing customs would help me in my learning process, so I can study them further with my teacher's orientation. Eventough I know it is most likely not the original, it seems close to the period. That's why I want to transcribe it with the highest fidelity possible.

P.D. When I was talking about voices, I was referring to the ones in the chorus not to those of the instruments in general, sorry for being so vague there.

In reply to by magolirico

This doesn't seem to be a published score, and it's pretty hard to read. I still very much doubt he's literally asking a single musician to put down his viola and pick up a flute instead. I suspect he's just being lazy / trying to save space and combining two different parts onto one staff to save paper. That's not uncommon original handwritten manuscript. Published scores would seldom do that, although there are "condensed scores" that could *appear* to have this effect, but they'd be more clearly labelled to show that it is indeed two distinct staves.

Anyhow, *in general*, changing instruments mid-score is not unusual - it happens all the time between *related* instruments (eg, flute and piccolo). And you're *not* the first to ask about it - it's asked qwuiter commonly, in fact. And MuseScore *does* support this, exactly as we've already explained. It's done the same way as in most other notation programs - by creating separate staves and using the "Hide Empty Staves" command. Then, if you have staves that are empty but you don't wish to hide, you can plant invisible notes on them.

It is true that this method won't allow for a change within the same system. If you don't need the change to affect playback, then as mention, I'd recommend just using a plain staff text. If you do need the playback to be affected, then in MuseScore 2.0 Beta 1, there is a new text command that allows a single staff to change sounds midstream, if you care about playback. 2.0 will also contains a setting to prevent any given staff from being hidden.

Meanwhile, if you really need the change to occur mid-system *and* you need it to affect playback, it is possible to do this as well - just not easy. You need to edit instruments.xml, looking at the entry for "trumpet" as a model to see how it handles the open and muted sounds, and then add a "flute" sound to the "viola" instrument in the same way. Then you can change sounds the same way you would for open and muted trumpet - add staff text, right click, staff text properties.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

This score is clearly not for rehearsal uses, it would be very cruel to ask a violist to just look at the violins I part and transpose it inmediately while he is playing on a live performance, my guess here is that the transcriptor wanted the performers to have this for a general overview of the piece. extract the parts themselves and do the proper transpositions before the actual performance. And Mr. Sabatela, it is natural that the transriptor tried to save time and paper, try making a hand-made legible transcription of an entire opera yourself.

It's natural also that you don't understand what I'm trying to say since I'm NOT a native english speaker, but that doesn't give you any right to question my understanding capacity nor making fun of me with your arrogant statements.

I'm making my best yo make myself clear and I'm merely a trainee musician, so as hard as it is for me to manage musical therms in my language, it is twice as hard for me to do so in a language that is not my own. And before you say it, yes, I did look on the support spanish forum, but I hardly got any supportive answer. It was a priority for me to know this as soon as posible (my class is this saturday and I haven't even finish half of the score!); I did read the manual carefuly and there was nothing about changing instruments in the middle of a score, I did know about making invisible but I thought it was merely for sample purposes and they DID show in the final printed version (yeah laugh at me). That's why I decided to look for help here. I was only hoping not to be humiliated like this. I thought you were a little more professional.

In reply to by magolirico

I don't think Marc was trying to make fun of you here.

It is just that he hasn't had experience of this kind of score before, his expertise lying in fields of music other than musicology.

I have seen published scores from the 18th century far more difficult to read than this, in fact as manuscripts go it is incredibly clear and well written, obviously done by a professional copyist.

Having examined the section in question it is clear that the copyist was using a technique which we would call "Hide Empty Staves", and is probably a conductor's reduction of the score. This was done to save time and money. At the time music printing was in its infancy and most orchestral scores were copied by professional copyists paid for their services, so reducing the score in this way was saving the copyist time and the client money.

As to how to reproduce this in MuseScore, the best way would be to use Hide Empty Staves as that is what the transcriber was doing here. This should be reinforced by staff text showing the part name where necessary.

I hope my English is clear enough for you to understand Magolirico :)

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

As these changes are mid-system, 'hide empty staves' won't do the trick. Unless in the actual score you manages to place system breaks in a clever manner, so they occur exactly at the instrument changes.

Hmm, maybe 'hide empty staves' would work, considering that the measure before the instrument change are empty anyway

In reply to by magolirico

I am sorry, I really do not understand why you think I was making fun of you. I can only guess that the language barrier is getting in the way. Please believe me that I was *not* trying to humiliate you at all, and accept my apologies for whatever it was I said that led you to believe I was. I was simply trying to explain what I meant as plainly and clearly as I could.

As I tried to explain, and others has well, it appears this score is a form of "condensed score". Indeed, Gluck (or whoever wrote out this particular manuscript) is *not* asking the violist to change to flute. He is simply trying to save space by combining two separate parts onto a single staff. I am sure your instructor will be happy to verify this for you. It's just a shortcut, similar to the "Col" instruction that was used to save time.

The reason I thought it important to point this out is that really, there is no particular reason your own version of this score needs to take the same shortcut. You could simply have separate staves for the separate parts like one would do normally. And then, as as we have said, the "Hide Empty Staves" option would allow you to create condensed score if you like. This would then produce almost exactly the same results, since "condensed scores" are the main reason this option exists.

The limitations are the ones we have already mentioned:

1) When using "Hide Empty Staves", it will hide *all* empty staves, so if there are some you do *not* wish hidden, you need to put some invisible notes on them. Or, in MuseScore 2.0 Beta 1, you will be able to specify that certain staves should never be hidden.

2) This will not allow one to create the illusion of a instrument change mid-system as was done in this manuscript. That is why I explained the various workarounds that would be required if you require playback to work correctly. If you do not, again, simply use a single staff and add a staff text.

Again, I am sorry if somehow my remarks offended you. That was not my intent. I am simply trying to help, both by explaining how MuseScore works, but also by explaining the intent behind the marking in question is not for a single player to switch instruments, and that therefore you *could* choose to not use that particular shortcut and simply notate this normally.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I sort of mistook your remarks between "**" for mockery , so that made me upset. but since you clarify that was not the intention, then I apologize for my previous behavior, I deeply apreciate your help, specially due to you all being more experienced musicians than I am :).

Also, forgive me if I don't understand correctly but by "sraff text" you mean the notes marked as invisible, some kind plain text to keep the staves visible or a particular text that works as a direction?

Again I apologize for my rude comments before, you clearly did not deserve to be adressed in such way. I'm sorry.

In reply to by magolirico

No apology necessary, misunderstandings happen all the time. As you said before, I do tend to be "plainspoken", and sometimes that sort of directness doesn't come off well.

By "staff text", I mean, just a plain text item "Fl. 1" that you create using Ctrl+T. In other words, don't create a flute staff at all. Just add the staff text "Fl. 1" to the viola staff. It will then *look* like the original score. It just won't affect playback unless you also edit instruments.xml and use "staff text properties" to tell MuseScore to change instruments at that point. And as mentioned earlier, in 2.0 this will become easier - you won't need to edit instruments.xml kn order to add a text directive to change sounds mid-score.

In reply to by magolirico

As I look at the score, it appears to me that what you want is the instruction to change instruments to appear in front of the stave. I do not believe that can be done in the staff name section, and I see that attempting to place a frame before the 1st bar on a staff puts the frame at the end of the previous system.

Does this accurately describe your apparent conundrum?

In reply to by xavierjazz

Please forgive me if I don't get what you're saying correctly, I know very little about musical concepts in english. But what I want is not an instruction, I want the flute to visibly take the place of the Viola for the bars indicated. I just want to make a copy of this score that is easier to read for my classmates but I'm not good in handwriting myself. Also as far as I have transcribed in this awesome program, I already managed to make more visible the viola part (my teacher explained me that "Col. V. I" means "play as Violin I"). Of course I would like to hear the score as well as it is, I really love this composer and think it is a shame that most of his works are forgotten ( French version of this opera is "better known"), but if it is not possible to do everything at the same time I will try writing notes and make them invisible for the printed version (as said in comments before) and delete them when I play the score with MIDI.

Thank you.

In reply to by magolirico

As you're using violin already, and if you don't need pizzicato or tremeolo, you could use a normal staff text and it's properties to switch channels and the mixer to assign a flute sound to that channel.
And to save others from having to download that 40MB PDF and locate the place you're talking about:
So it really is just ordinary staff text here, that is needed to make it look right. And, in 1.3, the trick mentioned to make it sound right

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