How to Use the Pianoroll Editor

• Aug 25, 2015 - 16:24

Does anyone know how to use the pianoroll editor? I was told to do that -- #74646: Incorrect Playback of Acciaccatura in v. 2.0.2 -- because grace notes worked differently in v.2.0.2 than in v.1.3. If someone could tell me how to do that, it'd be much appreciated. (Also, as a tangent, shouldn't that be discussed somewhere in the handbook? I couldn't find it anywhere...)


To use the piano roll editor, right-click a measure and select the pianoroll editor. Then, click on the note that you want to adjust. The things you want to adjust are OnTime and Len. OnTime is specifically what sort of delay the note should have from its default on time (which is zero). You can set this to a negative or positive value to make the note play early or late, respectively. The length modifier is just how long the note plays; 1000 for full length, 950 for non-legato playing.

In reply to by ViolinDude

The post to which you are replying tells you exactly how to enter it and use it. Be aware that on the Mac (at least), it crashes regularly and a lot, and you will have to get used to it. Apparently it's ok on Linux, I don't know about Windows. You blue-select measures, and click right, select "piano roll editor" on the menu. I suppose I should write a tutorial, but you really don't need to know much more than this (I don't). You can also try numbers a little greater than 1000 for legato effects, but many (very reasonably) find the unsmoothed "beginnings" dissatisfying. Watch out for numbers that go negative by accident (you'll have to find them by sound), and you often have to click on the neutral "blue area" before the little entry fields actually represent the note you will (next) click on. It is basically highly under-supported, undocumented, difficult and buggy, but the only access to fine note articulation.

In reply to by BSG

I've just discovered the piano roll editor and I can tell you that so far, it's working fine on Windows (just really tedious). There's a parameter called "velocity" that I'm wondering about. It has a drop-down menu from which you can choose "offset" or "user," and a field that is "0" by default. I tried to change the numerical value but it doesn't let you. Any idea what this parameter is? VelocityOffsetUser.JPG

In reply to by zhukeeper4

"Velocity" is a fundamental parameter of midi-based instruments and simulations that means "how fast you press the key", but this usually boils down to "how loud the note is", i.e., "volume". It ranges from 0 to 127 and 64 is "middle, neither loud nor soft." Velocity is adjustable from the Inspector, as well. "User" means you can set the velocity of the note to whatever you enter into the slot, and that will be the velocity. "Relative" takes into consideration dynamic markings ("p", "mf", etc.) that you set, which also specify velocities, but in "relative" mode, what you enter into the slot is relative (added) to the value in effect. Dynamic markings have built-in velocity values, although you can change it for any marking. Use the inspector, not the Piano Roll, if you wish to customize velocities.

I just used the piano-roll editor to create a massively phrased, articulated score,, and the result is as good as it would be from a performance-preparation program . Once you get used to it, it's workable (although the addition of legato is exceedingly laborious), but the facts that this facility is undocumented, barely supported (is buggy, and crashes left and right), and offered like under-the-table contraband in a general store need to be remedied. Everyone I know on, with no exception, uses it as the final showcase of their works, for others to hear. You don't need a website to publish paper scores. These controls on notes should be available in the inspector or something better. At very least, this obscure interface should be documented and promoted to right-click on notes, not just the measure.

In reply to by BSG

Hi, I've downloaded you're score and opened it in MuseScore, but somehow the downloaded version doesn't sound legato as it does when I listen to it online. And when I open it in MuseScore and check the piano roll, the values seem to be the default ones. Could you give me some details as to how to make it sound legato?

In reply to by Gemma Merin

We were suffering a version skew here. Thanks for telling me!

Fixed. Listen to it and study the PRE work now. Thanks again!

Part of the problem here is that edits made in the PRE are not visible unless you enter the PRE, so I did not know that I was losing them. Just one misfeature of the PRE's UI.

In reply to by BSG

I see, so it's a matter of increasing the Len parameter. There seems to be no other parameter that needs changing (unless I've overlooked something). Quite cumbersome to implement legato like this but it will certainly be useful for the piece I'm working on now, which sounds just awful without the legato. Thanks a lot for the input!

BTW, I really enjoyed the prelude, too!

In reply to by Gemma Merin

Yup. Len's the only guy there, except "Crashapp", a Mac-only feature, apparently, which you can't turn off. It is nothing if not cumbersome (well, I guess "fragile"). Not just increasing — often you want to decrease to express phrasing—it depends upon the instrument and what you want to do. Just about every note in the prelude is carefully phrased in one manner or another, including hidden fermatas. Ditto the renowned Sarabande from BWV 1011,

If you use the PRE, make sure to save your work regularly, and be aware that once you have used the PRE, you cannot edit any other score in that session, due to a bug which has been there for about a year, and may or may not be fixed. PRE-edited pieces sound leaps and bounds better than those left alone, but the road is a hard one.

Glad you liked the piece!! I've been lucky to hear human performances of it, which sound even better.

In reply to by BSG

For the sake of the thread, I note that the “locking out other scores” bug has been fixed in 2.1.0; the frequent crashing on the Mac has not. Other than that, and the lack of documentation for this SOLE access to articulation, the overwhelming problem with the PRE is that it is impossible to glance at either the score, the inspector, or even the PRE itself, and ascertain what you have already done and what still needs doing. Only listening, or clicking on the PRE's unmarked yellow bars, if you can even accurately identify the notes you want without crashing your Mac, while watching its “Len” box will tell you. This is about the worst user-interface possible: MIDI “length” should be in the inspector, alongside MIDI velocity already there, and the putative “piano editor” hurled from the roof.

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