Can you really make music with Muse Sounds?

• Dec 13, 2023 - 15:29

Past year I wrote some instrumental pieces using Muse Sounds and it has the potential to sound realistic. However oftentimes I had to change instruments in which I would play some notes, change notes dynamics and articulations or even change the notes themselves I would use due to Muse Sounds instabilities and limitations. Let me quote some.
Several instruments have uneven volume accross the melodic range, like the harp where some notes like F# in the middle octave sound quieter than the others and others like its bass notes that sound too loud. Some instruments are uneven through dynamic changes, like the trumpet that in mf sounds quieter than other instruments and in f sounds louder than the others. In the string section when using staccato, pizziccato and marcato violins become louder but violas become quieter. Violin 1 solo plays several legato notes as slides and it sometimes happens in violins sections too. Some notes when played after each, specially in strings section, overlap each other, are played off time in relation to other instruments or even in rare cases, the second note of a legato disappears completely.
That is to mention only some few bugs. The samples are realistic and high quality, but the performance renders muse sounds almost unusable. We can't write what we have in mind and hope it will play correctly, instead the best we can do is to change our music to mask its imperfections.
Some might say that I should report at github to the developers, but honestly, I can't spend the rest of my life reporting each and every bug I find in each possible melodic combination or orchestration.
Is there anyone out there who can really make music with muse sounds, writing whatever music you have in mind and can overcome all those challenges? If so, please, tell me what you do because I find no way out.


Face it. Music written in notation software is never going to sound realistic. Some programs produce better results than others. I was once told by some DAW users that I should write what I know will sound right. Easy for them to say. They have invested thousands of dollars in software and sound libraries. The rest of us have much to consider. My composing predates computers. I composed on the piano, but wouldn't pretend to be a piano player in the least. Beethoven would write at the piano then transcribe the piece for orchestra. And then after he heard it live he would go back and fix things. So the idea that you write what you know to be correct doesn't always work. Your medium dictates what you write. You wouldn't write for a quartet the same as you would write for orchestra.
Which brings us to MU4. Remember that Muse sounds are recordings and not live players, as such. Recorded sounds don't blend and mix like live players do. I've, also, run into situations where the flute and oboe clashed and produced a weird overtone that was awful. So I have to make a choice about what is most important. Should I have to sacrifice my desire because of a software shortcoming? I never use Violin 1 solo or section. Or most any instrument 1. Muse sounds are updated now and then.

In reply to by bobjp

I thought of the approach of writing for what I have. Indeed I was able to write 10 slow to moderate homophonic orchestral pieces that were approved by Pond5 curators. But when I can't write half of a fast movement in contrapunctal style without hitting one of the bugs above.

In reply to by hamsandwichnow

True. They have improved. But I don't understand why almost all instruments, including the new nylon guitar I tested this week, have irregular volumes accross the melodic range. It's so easy to take all the samples and normalize them. I normalized samples in several soundfonts. I don't know why they didn't do it in muse sounds. If they come up with paid instruments in the future I will not trust enough to spend with them seeing how they treated the free ones now.

If you are already used to paid samples, DAWS, and software, there is a good chance the free Muse Sounds samples will fall short with expectations. As for everyone else used to the MS Basic and other synthesized soundfonts, Muse Sounds is gold for them for the most part.

All is said from my observations the past year.

And yes, we can make music with Muse Sounds. Here is one:

In reply to by fernandoamartin

The only way I was able to get that low string sound was to write it just the way I did. I would never hand string players that part written that way. They wouldn't need it. There are, then, two concepts at play here. I write a score. MU4 plays it as best it can. But often I have to do things to get the playback I want. All real players would need are staccato 1/8 notes at the beginning. But MU4 made those notes short but softer. I could put accents, or any number of markings(which may or may not work) on them. But for whatever reason, staccato 1/16 notes gave me the playback I wanted. So in the end, I may have 2 scores for a piece. One I would hand to real players and one that plays the way I want. Should it be this way? It depends. Notation software is meant to produce......notation. Not polished audio.
So for me, the solo trumpet is not romantic or in many cases, even musical. I can't imagine a real player doing some of those things. It's getting better. But still....
Yes, problems need to be reported. But any notation program is not going to be perfect. So working around problems is important, also. Which is another reason the forum exists. That is to see if other users are having the same problem. Because the issue might not actually be a problem. It might be the result of trying to do something that may not be possible. But here is a different way to do it.
But to answer the question. No, playback is not as clean if I make that figure regular 1/8 notes. But I wouldn't expect it to be. Remember, you can lower or remove the reverb to help clean things up. And MU4 has some really good effects you can try. You can download them in the HUB.

In reply to by hamsandwichnow

I did say that. And the way to fix that is to download EQ effects in the HUB and fix some of the sounds. Real players do this internally depending on the situation they are in. Room, size of the ensemble, and style of music, all determine how a player plays. We just have a generic sound that may or may not need to be adjusted.

In reply to by Karol - Composer

I think trying to classify Muse sounds is not the point. The difference between instrument 1 and 2 is that 1 is supposed to be more expressive. In any event, you can't just drop a score into Muse sounds and expect it to play what you see in the score. Because there is so much more going on. I downloaded a 5 star version of the 1st symphony and played it in Muse sounds. This is a version created in 3.6.2. As expected, it was dreadful. This score is setup for playback in MU3. It doesn't work in MU4. It needs the same type of tweaking that it did in MU3. Strings not articulate enough? It can be fixed somewhat. Dynamics need to be adjusted. Hairpins are not correct in this version. Instruments need to be balanced and panned in the mixer. MU4 strings don't need much, if any, reverb. And on, and on. Don't forget that Brahms wrote for a real orchestra. Software is different. A conductor needs to figure out how he wants his orchestra to play something they've never seen before. A notation software user needs to do the same thing. In both cases it might mean changing or interpreting the score, somehow. Don't think conductors change things? There has been much disagreement over how the first 4 notes of the 5th symphony should by played. Remember. Notes on a page mean nothing in and of themselves. They must be brought to "life" somehow.

In reply to by fernandoamartin

Writing for strings is nothing like writing for piano. What sounds good in one won't automatically sound good in another. So your definition of correctly may not be possible. Strings articulate and blend much different from piano. Piano has a clean and clear attack of every note. Strings do not. Sure you can try and add accents and other articulations. But the nature of strings articulation is just different. They are not a piano. And I'm talking about real players. The problems are amplified in software. That doesn't mean you can't get clean articulation in Muse sounds. But it does mean you need to write idiomatically. If you have spent any time playing any instrument in an orchestra, you will hear the types of things I'm talking about. You can't write a fanfare for Brass, and expect it to sound the same played by strings or mallet percussion.
As I said, turn off reverb on the string channels if you need to. And write for strings to begin with. Not in piano first. That's the beauty of software. You can start out with the instruments you want. I grew up playing trumpet and guitar. But I went all through school, college and beyond, playing in all kinds of groups. My composing predates software by more years than I care to think about. So yes, I plunked out stuff on a piano first. Even though I'm not a piano player (and pretty much didn't really pass the college piano proficiency test). I had pretty much stopped composing when we had to get rid of our piano. Years later the opportunity to buy Sibelius 4 came up. What a magic revelation.
OK, so no one cares about any of that, Sorry. The point is that composers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the instruments they are writing for.

I have found a few bugs here and there and reported them, but for the vast majority I write and encounter, Muse Sounds works beautifully. Tempo is not a factor.

In the time it took you to type this, you could have reported your top three or four most critical bugs. I would recommend focusing your effort on that going forward. Posting here won't help improve Muse Sounds. Reporting issues will. But do note, some of what you describe is already reported. so do check first.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It's nice to have someone who strongly defends muse sounds in the discussion because you can show its bright side for us. But the point here is not only talking or complaining. I had already given up MU4 and was using MU7 fork. The I decided to make this thread to see if someone is having good results out there. Learning to use what we have is also important to make things work. If several users came here showing what they did and telling how it would be very helpful.

In reply to by fernandoamartin

What I did is what I said - when I found bugs, I reported them. Most the ones I reported were fixed long ago, because I reported them long ago. That's how you get good results - by reporting the problems you find.

One other useful thing you might not know is that you can switch from solo violin 1 to solo violin 2 if you prefer a less "Romantic" and more "Baroque" sound for a given piece.

Beyond that, no need to resort to older versions of MuseScore if you have some music for which Muse Sounds isn't working well. You can still take advantage of all the other incredible engraving and other improvements in MU4 even without Muse Sounds. Just switch to MS Basic and the playback will be pretty much identical to MU3 (except you'll have better control over reverb and some other nice advantages).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I would like to have everything in one software, but I also don't mind combining more than one to do a task. I remember that when MU2 transitioned to MU3 the 3.0 version was very buggy. I had to keep using the 2.x series for a while until the next releases fixed the bugs. In time 3.x became the most stable ever. I imagine that MU4 will improve too but currently I still need to use 3.x to handle soundfonts with dynamic layers like realistic pianos, to change presets in the same staff like the register changes of a harpsichord or to use round robins in sfz drumkits.
Using both versions is not an issue to me and I like the freedom of choice of open source software. My desire is to write some orchestral music and muse sounds have amazing samples. So any help to handle them is appreciated.

For everyone who are helping here, here are some pieces where I used muse sounds following the principle of adapting the composition to the sound library available. However I would be very glad if in the near future we could write the music we imagine in our minds using muse sounds.………

I don't know if it was because 4.2 has just been released with some improvement or if it was due to following the tips above, but turning off reverb made an enormous difference to make the string section sound clearer and less muddy.

In reply to by bobjp

Unfortunately I can't. I use Linux. For Linux the hub has only muse sounds and nothing less. There are several features in MU4 that were not implemented in linux and are promised to be from long ago. They left some of them to the community. If someone there is able to implement, good, if not, we have to go on without them.

I have gotten used to using hidden dynamics to achieve better playback results. I appreciate that musescore automatically uses the most recent dynamic marking when more than one are placed on top of each other, so I put the written one down first, then put the playback one down and immediately hit "v" to hide (can't remember if that's a personalized shortcut). I set an easy shortcut to hide/show invisible elements, and it quickly becomes part of the workflow. It's not ideal but it works for me.

A worse problem I'm having now is (only recently) Solo Violin 2 and Solo Viola are out of time. Just horribly, horribly early on any 8th note or higher rhythm. I can export them individually and shift them in a DAW, but that becomes a nightmare because quarter note or slower rhythms are IN time. It's a total mess. If anyone is experiencing this and has any tips that would be much appreciated! Notably when I replace Solo Violin 2 with Solo Violin 1, the problem goes away. I don't have a replacement for Solo Viola, maybe I'll try Viola section.

In reply to by chrismcqueenmusic

Can you attach a score that demonstrates this? There was a bug in an earlier Muse Sounds update a few weeks back that could cause this, but it was fixed along with 4.2 last week. I'm not aware of any reported cases where it still happens with the 0.5 Muse Sampler. Go to Diagnostic / Muse Sampler / Checkl Muse Sampler to see if you are on 0.5 or later, and if not, be sure to update using Muse Hub (Muse Sounds Manager, on Linux).

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