Renaissance Lute Tablature - MuseScore 3 (and 4)

• Feb 2, 2024 - 10:58


I am trying to set a Dowland piece in MS 3, in French tablature - he uses 6 lines, with the bottom F below the stave. I cannot find a way to set this.

As a "fix", I have tried to change the number of lines to 7 using Stave/Part Properties > Advanced Style Properties: but while this changes the number of lines to 7, for some reason I cannot input any notes in the bottom line (that is, the score still behaves as if it is standard 6-course lute tab, just with an extra line).

Finally, I attempted setting in MS 4: here, I can input notes to the bottom line, but I still cannot set the piece properly as Dowland did, with 6 lines and the bottom F below the stave.

Can anyone assist me with this, please?


"the score still behaves as if it is standard 6-course lute tab"

I assume that in the instruments selection when creating the score, you opted for the "Lute (tablature)" instrument. This is indeed the "default" in the programm for the lute tablature.

Changing the number of lines in Staff/Part properties is not the way to go.

With the Version 4, if you want 7 strings (and always 6 lines!), there are two possibilities:

  • either stay with this Lute (tablature), then in Staff/Part Properties, click on String data (at the bottom of the window), then "New string", and add the F. The result is: template lute 7c.mscz

  • or, in the instruments selection, choose the Tenor Lute: there's a short drop-down list. Choose 7- course -> Done
    By default, the score is displayed in standard notation (ditto for 8-course, 10-course, etc.)

Now, in the Instruments panel (F7), simply change the staff type (standard to TAB), if you know how? (See Handbook, if needed, or come back to us).
The result is the same!
In any case, remember to keep a Template so you never have to repeat the same operations again.

EDIT: About Version 3:

  • The first method is the same.
  • For the second method, it's a bit different with the V3, even simpler, since you stay in the same window to change the staff type. A questionable choice for the V4, in short...
    So, choose Lute 7-course, then, in the right-hand column, select and change the staff type (via the drop-down list)

NB: "I am trying to set a Dowland piece in MS 3". Out of curiosity, which piece is? I practice this repertoire:)

In reply to by cadiz1

Hi, thanks for your reply.

I'm still having problems - when I try Method 1 (in MS3), the F2 (or D2 if I choose that) defaults to the second string. And I cannot get the strings in order, despite editing each string individually - they won't stay in the order I set in the edit window. There appears to be no method of ordering the strings (like there is in ordering instruments, for example). I note from the template you provided (which is MS4), the F2 appears as the second string here too, rather than the seventh.

And when I try the second method, I can't see how to change the stave from standard notation to French tab - I get Italian tab, which isn't what I need. There isn't a 7-string French tab option.

Do you (or does anyone) have any other suggestions?

In reply to by CMHdeV

The TAB French style is in the drop-down list (bottom) in the right-hand column (MS3) of the instruments dialog.
But why editing each string? You never have to do that. There is some confusion or mistake somewhere.
Please share your score for understanding the cause of your problem and get better help.

In reply to by cadiz1

Hi again,

I have documented my attempts in the attached Word doc (with screen snips and explanations of what I did), and have also uploaded the MS3 and MS4 (from template) files.

Thank you so much for helping me sort this out!

Oh - as a thank-you, I've also uploaded Goodnight, Mr Dowland by Paul Svoboda (which I have transcribed for Renaissance lute) in case you'd like to try it - it's rather lovely.

In reply to by cadiz1

Hello again!

I have tried as you suggest, and yes, the 7th string (I'm using D2 here) does now appear in the right spot. (It is a bit confusing that there is a check-box as well as highlighting options for the existing strings - I had been ticking the box rather than highlighting).

However - the score still appears with 6 lines, rather than 7, and I still cannot input any notes below the 6th (which is G2). I am clearly doing something else wrong...

I have attached an updated Word doc with (4) at the bottom showing what I have been doing.

Btw - I am in Australia, and you're somewhere in the northern hemisphere I think, hence the delay in my replying to you.

I really appreciate your help in getting this sorted!

Attachment Size
MuseScore Lute Tab fixing problems.docx 509.27 KB

In reply to by CMHdeV

" I am in Australia, and you're somewhere in the northern hemisphere I think"
Indeed, in France (9-hour time difference!)

" the score still appears with 6 lines, rather than 7, and I still cannot input any notes below the 6th (which is G2)"
Well, that's perfectly normal. Tablature for lutes, whether 7ch. or 10ch. or 13ch. displays only 6 lines (never 7 or 10 etc.). And if the strings are set up correctly, you can then easily input the notes/frets below the staff by navigating with the right and down arrows and tapping a key on the keyboard (say, the "a").


Never check the boxes in the "open" column when editing strings. It's a mistake that causes bad things to happen. This "open string" feature, which is intended for baroque lutes, or theorboes, and never for 7ch lutes, serves this purpose (rare... otherwise useless for me!) :

As for the second method, as I said before, to change the staff type in MS3, you don't need to click on the instrument name, but on the staff name, to access the drop-down list.

At this stage, I think it would be best for you to re-start with this new template (for MS3), correctly configured: template 7ch. TAB French.mscz

Finally, in your next comments, rather than producing a long document with several photos and several issues, and alternating MS3 and MS4 (all of which is complicated to follow and answer), content yourself with raising just one specific point per new message (e.g. about check the boxes in the "open" column). And so please: not mix MS3 and MS4.
For my part, at this stage of the V4 development, I still prefer use the V3 (3.6.2)

In reply to by cadiz1

Lucky you, living in France! One day, I shall, I hope... though I had better get my French back up to fluency by then... (though I am not too bad, seeing there are few people I can speak French with here).

I wasn't expecting to have more than 6 lines - the only problem I had was that I couldn't work out how to input anything lower than G2. Using Note Input (mouse or keyboard), the lowest I can go is G2, and using the down arrow does nothing, as it can't go lower than the a fret (open string). Using Step-Time has the same effect.

But - I think I have solved it using Re-Pitch via Ctrl+Shiift+I while the G2 a fret is highlighted, then using the down-arrow to get below the stave, then typing (say) a on the keyboard (which can then be pitched up to c or d or whatever fret, by using the up-arrow). Of course, it is unclear whether this a-fret represents a D or an F, but in period these generally weren't particularised, and the player had to decide what was the correct note. As you will know, Dowland often uses a six-course lute with the bottom string tuned down to D or F. (I haven't used Re-Pitch before today, hence not thinking of it or knowing how to operate it correctly).

I would assume that if I were to change the score to 8 strings, then I could use the same method to input notes below the 7th string (I haven't tested this yet).

I'm writing this out in full, so anyone else who has the same problem can see the fix applied.

Thank you again for the MS4 template, which I shall also use. (I do prefer MS3 at this time, though - I set many scores for my chamber choir I Progetti - we specialise in the Renaissance period), and I find MS3 easier and quicker to use).

And thank you again for your kind (and most patient) assistance!

Mes amitiés, Charis

In reply to by CMHdeV

In the meantime (crossed posts), I've edited my previous comment and attached a template for MS3, sorry. Read again please this comment.
You don't need to use the Re-pitch function, it's a wasting time and a bad workaround. Better to well configurate the score in the first time :)
I'll produce a GIF with the template so you understand how to act.

In reply to by cadiz1

Ah, perhaps the problem was also that you were trying to enter the notes with the mouse?
This method cannot work to input notes below the staff (the 7th string for example) - since there are only 6 lines in the TAB .
Keyboard navigation is required (as showing with the GIF)

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