MuseScore 3.6.2 -> MuseScore 4.x: What the heck?!?!?!?

• May 6, 2023 - 00:01

Seriously, what in the world has happened to MuseScore?

I switched to MuseScore upon throwing Windoze out the window, switching to Ubuntu (currently on 22.04 x64 LTS) so I could actually tell my computer what to do, instead of the other way around. I came from Finale at that point, and was pleasantly surprised to find that MuseScore 2 and then MuseScore 3 was completely capable of handling everything I had been doing in Finale--and was completely free to boot.

Fast forward SIX years later to today, when I downloaded MuseScore 4, looking forward to a solution to the instability/crashing/hanging upon startup issues, plus new functionality. The new icon and splash screen are beautifully refreshed. Install was uneventful, etc.

Then........!@#""%(@#&! What in the world were you guys thinking?!?!?
This isn't just a set of regressions and eliminations of functionality. It might as well have come from outer space. I spent half an hour frantically searching for options and settings to try to figure out how to get the program back to usability.... heart jumped when I saw a menu button that looked like it would solve all of the world's problems: "View -> Restore Default Layout." Alas, it did absolutely nothing when clicked...

You guessed it: Settings are so "yesterday." There basically are no settings for MuseScore anymore.
Don't like something in MuseScore 4? Tough luck: you can't change it.

My findings/complaints/issues thus far:
- Complete removal of multiple document support. OK, OK, I've read through the other forum posts on this topic, and I can (grudgingly) understand the reasoning behind this move (soundfonts, It's annoying, but I can get over it. A regression for sure--as now I can no longer open MuseScore and have all of my projects open right where I left off.
- Score Parts now look like an afterthought that you have to beg for. This was one of the MAIN reasons that I enjoyed MuseScore 3.x so much: parts were a beautiful set of tabs right below the "open documents". VERY easy to access and go through. (Finale treated parts as a difficult afterthought.) OK, doesn't look to completely be the end of the world here, but...
- We have a useless (to me) new tab system that there is no way to hide. (Home / Score / Publish.) All this does is waste precious screen real-estate. The other items on this row include "Parts", which now has a separate button (making it appear as an afterthought). And since when did "Mixer" need to be so important?? (It's got a hotkey--F10--for crying out loud!) There is no way to hide any of these unnecessary items to get back valuable screen space.
- There is no longer any way to adjust the width of the left-hand panel ("Palettes" / "Instruments" / "Properties"). In MuseScore 3.6.2, I could just drag the width to adjust it. GUYS, WHAT HAPPENED TO OPTIONS??!
- Playback is similarly hacked up...this one's a REAL annoyance. I used to be able to click on any part of a score, hit "Space" and it would start playing from that position. NOW...I have to zoom in so I can hit ONLY a note or rest--otherwise MuseScore 4 will highlight the whole measure, and play JUST that one staff in solo. What the heck?! If I want to solo a part, I'll pull up "Mixer" with F10, click "Solo" on the channel, and then go back and play it. AGAIN: this would not be a problem IF there was an option to override it back to what used to be perfectly usable. But I can't find one.

That's my feelings after half an hour of trying to make sense out of it. Let's see what in-depth usage turns up...


"Let's see what in-depth usage turns up."

I wouldn't bother - yet. At least in ubuntu it's easy to have the AppImages of 3.6.2 and 4.x co-existing. I use 3 for composing and only use 4 to check and respond to forum postings.

In reply to by underquark

PROBLEM is that 3.6.2 likes to hang/lock up on me, especially at startup. And if it locks up after I've been using it for a bit, I always end up having to terminate it--losing any unsaved work. THAT is why I decided to try 4.x and see if that had been fixed.

SECOND PROBLEM: as mentioned by others on the forum, MuseScore 4.x files cannot be opened via MuseScore 3.6.2.

In other words, as soon as you save a document in 4.x, you're stuck with 4.x. Yes, yes, MusicXML, yada, yada--but you lose SO MUCH formatting when you do that. A hack at best, only to be used in desperation.
AND as if that wasn't bad enough, the new MuseScore 4.x MSCZ files are TEN TIMES the size of the old ones! I opened a MuseScore 3.6.2 file (31KB), and saved it in MuseScore 4.0 (under a different name, of course). Result? 340KB--for the EXACT SAME SCORE! What the heck, guys??!

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

But that would be an option, which MuseScore 4.x is notably devoid of.

The only place I have found any reference to "MS Basic" is in the Mixer. And it most definitely is being used...because I have not attempted to change any soundfont settings or configurations. I haven't changed any soundfont settings partly because I don't toy with that stuff, but mostly because there are no longer any settings for said items. (And of the few placeholders, they're all disabled.)

Totally agree with Fullsound on this one. MuseScore 4 is a tango 1 step forward 2 steps back.
MuseScore 4 should be relegated as an adjunct to MuseScore 3.6.2 for web interface only. MuseScore 4 is certainly not a patch on ease of use and breadth of functionality of MuseScore 3.6.2
[OS: Linux Mint 21, Arch.: x86_64, MuseScore version (64-bit):, revision: 3224f34]

In reply to by Mcl1552

Interesting - I upgraded from Mint 19.2 to 21.1 and found that MS would not start. MS4 started OK, but would not run under Mint 19.2 (instead of overwriting 19.2, I kept it as a separate partition for dual-boot). Started a thread here re 3.6.2 not running under 21.1 - figured it was a library incompatibility. One of the responses I got was from Jojo-Schmitz, who has been developing a personal fork of 3.6.2 (effectively "3.7 unstable") incorporating the queued changes and fixes to 3.6.2 as of the date when development was officially stopped; I downloaded the most recent AppImage from his GitHub and installed it under my 21.1, and it seems to be working OK. Since 19.2 has just hit end-of-life, I'll soon need to abandon it and transition over to 21.1, but before I do that, I want to be sure I have a working version of MS 3.6.2 or something equivalent that will run under 21.1. Jojo, if you're reading this, what are your plans for your 3.7 version?

Seems like there are some misunderstandings here, hopefully I can clear some of them up

  • Multiple documents are absolutely supported, via separate windows, which allow more flexibility for sound and better performance as noted. The option to "continue last session" still exists, but indeed seems to not support multiple files. that seems like just a bug, so I encourage you to open an issue for it on GitHub - I don't think it's been reported yet.

  • Parts are actually simpler now than ever before, not sure what you mean here. Click Parts, click Open all, done. The tabs are then presented in a row like as before,. except now it's only two clicks, no menu needed. Plus you can open and close parts at any time - never possible before. This is all a huge step forward; not sure what you are seeing as problematic?

  • It's true there some things take more room than before; hopefully a future release will allow more flexibility.

  • You don't need to zoom in to start playback. If you accidentally select a full measure when you mean to select a single element (note - doesn't have to be a note, can be anything), just hit Esc. And yes, of course, it's possible to solo using the mixer, but it's much more work. most other programs allow this form of simple soloing. Takes a minute to get used to but it really is a nice feature once you spend more than half an hour with it.

Anyhow, the short answer to "what happened" is, incredible improvements in playback and engraving, and a user interface thought through by professional UI designers with extensive usability teating with a focus on the new user experience. This does mean there are changes that old-timers like me or apparently you might need to adjust to, but in the end most things really are easier.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"Multiple documents are absolutely supported, via separate windows" -> that's an oxymoron. Single-document interface (i.e. MS4) simply is not "multiple document interface" (MS prior). But, whatever.

"Plus you can open and close parts at any time - never possible before. This is all a huge step forward; not sure what you are seeing as problematic?" -> I'll have to give you that, though use of parts does balloon the file by 10x (in my case). I was expecting that "closed" parts would cause them to lose all page setup configuration--but to my surprise after testing, the page setup was not lost on reopened parts.

"You don't need to zoom in to start playback. If you accidentally select a full measure when you mean to select a single element (note - doesn't have to be a note, can be anything), just hit Esc." [] "Takes a minute to get used to but it really is a nice feature once you spend more than half an hour with it."
-> You're completely missing my complaint there. My issue is that I am working with 18-20 staves on a 15" laptop screen...which does not provide much resolution if zoomed all the way out. Normally, to enter notes, I'll zoom in so I can feasibly enter notes, articulations, etc., etc. But then to listen to the whole section, I zoom out (so I can see all the staves), click the spot where I want to start playback, and hit Space to start from that point.
In previous MuseScore versions, that was perfectly fine. Didn't matter what I hit--the staff, a note, a measure, an articulation, a slur, the barline, or even a key signature change--I could hit Space and start playback from that measure. Perfection in simplicity.

With MuseScore 4, now I basically have to win gold in Olympic archery in order to get the same result. To say that this is exasperatingly frustrating is an understatement. Especially with low zoom levels (I have to use a zoom of 41% on my laptop for the current score I'm working on), MuseScore in general will more often than not select the entire measure even though I may have happened to click a note. And as a result, I get either a single solo line, or dead silence for playback (as I prefer to click an empty measure to avoid accidentally "dragging" a note, slur, articulation or something else to Timbuktu.)

You might say that it's "a nice feature once you spend more than half an hour with it"--ONLY if you're dinking around with just 2 staves on your 60" LED TV at 300% zoom, "oh, lemme click on that note right there so we can start playback from that location."

The automatic "solo" function gets a pure and clear F- from me. Maybe it's useful for grade-school music theory. But it's an absolute productivity killer for pretty much everything else.

I have a very innovative novel solution to this problem: Make it an option to disable the !@#$& automatic solo playback feature? Please?

In reply to by FullSound

No need to be insulting. This is a feature that many people using many program rely on - it's not going to help you case by dismissing the thousands of professional musicians using this daily. Better to try to understand and discuss rationally how to meet everyone's needs.

I work on a 13" laptop screen and don't tend to have problems with starting playback even on orchestral scores. I rarely work with the score so zoomed out I can't select notes, though - that would make everything difficult, not just starting playback. So I simply select my start point hit play, and if for some reason I feel like zooming out, I do it after. or, as I mentioned, simply hit Esc. I guess I remember it taking a few days to get used to hits. but a year later, it's a non-issue.

Anyhow, I am not in favor of providing options to disabling important features. I'd rather simply find a way to enable measure selection to not always trigger soloing - like two different playback commands, one that solos and one that doesn't. Then you don't have to give up the feature completely just because you don't feel like using it in one given moment. There are other possibilities as well.

BTW, regarding parts, not only can they be opened and closed on command, they can also have instruments easily added and removed from them on command also never possible before.

I'm not sure the distinction you making regarding number of documents, unless you mean number of documents per window. Also not sure why the ratio of windows to documents should matter, though, except on systems that don't support this well (macOS unfortunately being limited in this regard).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

As someone who wrote several programs for Windoze some time ago, there's a big difference between SDI (single-document interface, what MuseScore 4 now is) and MDI (multiple-document interface, what MuseScore 3 is.)
and yes, SDI does hugely clutter up the taskbar with any program if a lot of documents are open. Whereas MDI leaves a clean taskbar that you can quickly and easily switch between programs in.
not saying MS4 has to be MDI; it was just a "change shock" to find a function that I really liked to be gone.

"Anyhow, I am not in favor of providing options to disabling important features. I'd rather simply find a way to enable measure selection to not always trigger soloing - like two different playback commands, one that solos and one that doesn't. Then you don't have to give up the feature completely just because you don't feel like using it in one given moment. There are other possibilities as well."
I didn't say the feature had to be completely done away with--just providing a little option in the Preferences dialog to "Disable Automatic Solo Playback" or something like that.

Honestly, I don't know why "solo playback" is considered so important. Just looking at the part will give you a pretty good idea of how it sounds--hearing it in context is considerably more valuable, as that's when you hear whether it clashes with something else or not.

Heck, why not simplify things way more?
- "Space" toggles normal playback (as in MS3)
- "Shift + Space" does solo playback (as is normal with MS4).
That way choosing between the two options isn't a matter of target practice.

In reply to by FullSound

I'm not familiar with Windows-specific terminology like "SDI"; I'm using the normal English meaning of the terms as they apply to operating systems in general. But - are you saying on Windows you are seeing lots of taskbar icons? That certainly should not be the case. Only macOS has that limitation of the several operating systems supported by MuseScore. On Windows, Linux, and ChromeOS, you should see only one icon with a list of open documents you can easily switch between.

Solo playback is used by many people in many situations - many of us highly experienced professional musicians and composers. So best to accept that and move on to trying to figure out how to best meet everyone's needs. Providing an option to disabling the feature is, as I said, terrible design. Then you have to completely give up the feature always (until you go to the trouble of re-enabling it). Programs don't make you disable basic features like copy & paste until you're ready to use them - they should always be available to use when you want, and this is no exception.

The idea of Space vs Shift+Space is precisely what I've been advocating for and was alluding to above - two separate commands. I'd like to see this, and if enough people can make that case rationally, it may well be considered.

Meanwhile, though, as I said, it works fine to simply select before zooming out, or press Esc. Which is why although I too was surprised annoyed by this at first, I got used to it and have come to appreciate it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Not on my Ubuntu 22.04 LTS x64 system anyway...

SDI / MDI aren't OS-specific terms--they're document management concepts. And lemme tell ya, there's a HUGE difference "under the hood" in coding requirements between the two.

"Providing an option to disabling the feature is, as I said, terrible design. Then you have to completely give up the feature always (until you go to the trouble of re-enabling it)."
I completely and totally disagree. For an extremely simple basic reason:
- If I'm looking for the setting to disable the function, it's because I don't want the function! No one else on the whole planet will know or be inconvenienced in the slightest by my choice.

"Programs don't make you disable basic features like copy & paste until you're ready to use them"
If arbitrary solo playback is such a "basic feature" as copy and paste, how come it wasn't part of MuseScore 1.x?????? I mean, functions like copy and paste are like the foundation of a skyscraper!
And who said the feature has to be disabled by default? All I want is the ability to disable it. Didn't say it had to be disabled by default.

I'm tired of nebulous idioms (i.e. "it's used by many people in many situations") being used as an empty defense for why something is done a certain way--without providing real-life examples of where it is functional.
I write as someone who has arranged just under 6,000 pages of music (most all for "improved string quartet", namely, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double-bass), and I went through nearly a million measures of music in the process. Wore out the buttons on several mice along the way (as most of it was done in Finale, where you had to double-click + drag to insert slurs.)
Oops, I ended up with carpal-tunnel in both hands (confirmed by doctor tests--as if symptoms of numbness wasn't enough) as a result of doing all of the aforementioned from a too-tall table instead of from an ergonomic tray. As a result, I can't use a regular computer mouse anymore (I have to use a touchpad). My arms and wrists will go numb in minutes if I use a regular computer mouse.

SO: Can we make MuseScore SIMPLER for people like me, instead of forcing me to contort myself around new undesired functionality?

Also, worth noting that I've lately started working with several musicians who "play for fun" (i.e. not seasoned professionals who know everything about the latest MuseScore 4)--and I send them MuseScore files so they can hear the arrangements and/or practice along to them. The MuseScore concept is perfect for this, being free and fully cross-platform--but the new stupid "solo playback" functionality WILL confuse them silly: "The file won't play!" When it's actually playing "as designed"--just completely unbeknownst to them in solo mode on an empty staff.
As a programmer myself, it took me a minute or two in order to figure out that MuseScore was "soloing" if a measure was selected--but for people who aren't used to trying to identify software behavior patterns, it's an exercise in frustration resulting in, "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't!"

(makes me THAT why they seem to be having problems getting the scores to play back? Because MS4 was released?)

In reply to by FullSound

Weird, it works fine on my Linux and Windows systems. Maybe it's window-manager specific on Ubuntu? Anyhow, SDI wasn't an acronym in use when I got my masters in CS, so again, I just know the more general English terms. Sorry for any confusion. Let's not worry about what you call it, but instead focus on, why it isn't working correctly on your system. Unfortunately, I don't have any answers there, but sounds like you know the right buzzwords to be looking up as you try to figure it out.

Anyhow, the reason why forcing users to disable a feature just to avoid using it accidentally is a terrible idea is that, while Uou personally might never want to use the feature (just like some might never use copy & paste), others do want to use it - just not always. In other words, there are tons of users out there who value the feature but simply want a way to make it less likely they'll invoke it accidentally.

The point is, if you don't start by writing off half the population, it's actually possible to meet everyone's needs. So again, let's please not derail the discussion when we could be working together toward actual solutions that benefit all

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"The point is, if you don't start by writing off half the population, it's actually possible to meet everyone's needs."

Umm, seriously?
"Writing off half of the user base" over a feature that literally didn't exist in the past 20 years of MuseScore development? (MuseScore being released in 2002..)

In reply to by FullSound

The length of time people have gone without a feature like this has no bearing on estimates of how many people might welcome it. Also, it was probably the #1 request from people coming over from
Sibelius etc.

The point is, again, if you stop dismissing the concerns of others and start working toward solutions that everyone can be happy with, we can actually make progress.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I never have "dismissed the concerns of others" here.

Reread my posts from the very first one opening this thread, to the end here.

Never have I requested that the feature "be totally removed"--or even for that matter, to be "off" by default.
I've only wanted--from the beginning to the end--an OPTION that I can use to disable it. Not a single user will be inconvenienced by my request.

...and none of this discussion would have happened, had you actually followed your own advice in the last paragraph.

In reply to by FullSound

Again, disabling it doesn’t address the needs of all users as I have already explained. What is needed is a way to make it harder to accidentally solo staves without disabling it. This is the concern that needs to be addressed.

So again, when you are ready to discuss ideas about this further, I stand ready to help as always.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You're still completely and totally missing the point.

I am not--and never did--advocate for total removal (or complete disabling) of the "arbitrary solo playback" feature.

All I have asked for--and continue to ask for--is an OPTION in the Preferences page that I can use to disable it if I so choose. There isn't a single MS4 user on the planet who will be inconvenienced by adding an option.
Or even a separate keyboard shortcut for solo playback like you alluded to "advocating for" (which ironically, would force the change on all users.)

I'd be happy with any solution I can use to disable it for myself alone, without forcing my opinion on everyone.
...which admittedly the "arbitrary solo playback" HAS been forced on everyone, "Like it or not, you're stuck."

The stinging irony here is that every one of your responses has been to blame me for basically "not thinking of anyone else"--only for all of your suggestions to literally be forcing your viewpoint on everyone.

  • I want an option to disable "arbitrary solo playback." Absolutely nobody on the entire planet will even know that it's there--unless like me they're also fed up with it and are trying to find a way to disable it.

In reply to by FullSound

I am not missing your point - you are missing mine, I'm afraid.

I get that you don't want to use this feature and therefore wish to disable it. I get that this solves a problem for you, and indeed, doesn't make the situation worse for anyone else. But what I have been repeatedly pointing out is that it does not help the rest of us, either. Many of us would simply like to see the feature improved so that it isn't so easily invoked accidentally. That's something everyone should be able to support.

There are many possible ways the feature could be improved so that it meets everyone's needs - those who would elect not to use it all, and those who value it but simply wish it to be less obtrusive. But spending time and effort to develop an option to disable the feature is a step in the wrong direction. That same time and effort would be better spent improving the feature so it meets everyone's needs. We don't need improvements and an option to disable it - we simply need the improvements so it works for everyone.

I don't know how to make this point more clearly, so at this point, I will bow out of this thread. Again, if you'd like to discuss how to actually improve the feature to meet everyone's needs, I stand ready to assist, but let's do that in another thread; I won't be checking this one further as it has run its course.

In reply to by FullSound

I think at this point, the only way you're going to get such an option is if you program it in yourself. Musescore is a collaborative effort, so if you know how to program things and make stuff go, give it a shot. Otherwise trying to get a new feature or option in Musescore (if they have made up their minds that you won't be getting one no way no how) will be a task akin to extracting yak's blood from a moon rock. Not that there haven't been sightings of yaks on the moon.

In reply to by [DELETED] 20089696

@FBXOPWKDOIR afraid you're right.
I can definitely program things--and finding the place in the (open-source) code where it decides to arbitrarily do solo playback may not be terribly difficult.

did a quick look in the Github, and found this PR:

And none other than the following in the comments on said PR.
Someone's looking extremely twofaced right about now.....

In reply to by FullSound

Wow, @MarcSabatella, I greatly admire your patience here (in fact, in all of your communications). What I read here is that @FullSound wrote a lengthy lament about MS4 after playing with it for ... half an hour. Instead of getting into this discussion with you (clearly not trying to get your points) @FullSound should have better spent more time trying to get into MS4 and appreciate the improvements. Of course, there is room for further improvement, after all, we're still on version 4.0.2, and MS3 is still around for those that don't want to take the plunge yet.
You are completely right that implementing options/preferences to accommodate for all possible personal use cases is bad design. And indeed, that option would remove the flexibility of playing solo vs all depending on the situation. Now we do have that flexibility to choose between both at any moment, and if you accidentally select the measure (space would trigger solo playback), than quickly hit esc and you get tutti playback.
It is hard to believe that people are too stubborn to adapt to (minor) new usage patterns.
So Marc and team, keep up the (very) good work! 👍👍👍

In reply to by edwing71

Marc Sabatella writes, "Many of us would simply like to see the feature improved so that it isn't so easily invoked accidentally. That's something everyone should be able to support."

Hitting ESC is a workaround, but the problem should really be fixed, as Marc Sabatella suggests. Otherwise your "usage pattern" will consist of a zillion workarounds patched together with duct tape.

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