opening foreign midi files = total mess

• Feb 14, 2016 - 02:45

I open a midi file with simple piano and voice so 3 staves. The voice is actually two voices in one treble staff. The midi was made in Sonar. The notes were filled out... so a quarter lasts exactly a quarter and so on.

When opened in MuseScore it is an incomprehensible mess involving bass clefs in the treble clef line, treble clefs in the bass clef lines, and impossible combinations of the vocal lines. This is very simple music and I can't comprehend how any program could miss the mark by this much. It's unreadable and unfix-able.

Very disappointing



In reply to by John Gessner

Indeed, it seems MuseScore has trouble interpreting this file. A few changes will help a lot, though:

1. Set "Max. voices" to 2 (in the "All" line to apply to both tracks), rather than 4.
2. Check "Split staff" for both tracks.
3. Uncheck "Clef changes".
4. Check "Is human performance" (that one often helps).

Click "Apply." The result is not perfect, but it should be much better.

I'm not a MIDI expert, but I suspect that MuseScore makes the decisions it does make (as to staff assignment, and so on) because of things that are actually indicated in the MIDI file itself. I'll let those who are MIDI experts analyze that, though. ;-)

I'd also be interested to see the Sonar PDF version.

EDIT: Can Sonar export to MusicXML format? That would almost certainly work way better.

Yes MuseScore's MIDI parser certainly coughed on this one!

In general you are better to use Sonar's MusicXML export feature which is found on the Print menu in Staff View rather than MIDI import into score engraving software.

As you're probably aware, MIDI data is entirely performance related which means score engraving has to make guesses about the intended layout, particularly if a track is intended to be split over a grand staff.

Even so there will be a considerable amount of cleaning up to do such as enharmonic shifts of accidentals, and the fixing of some layout issues, but at least you get a better starting point.

I've attached raw MusicXML export from Sonar's staff view so you can see the difference.

Attachment Size
MoneyForVicky.xml 154.6 KB

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Thanks for all the suggestions. It's better but I still can't get it even near to good looking. Isn't there some place to indicate where the split is for a piano staff? It seems to try to make the number of notes in treble and bass about even rather than split the two logically. So you get a c5 in the bass cleff with dozens of lines... really strange.

I can not get it to do an eighth pattern and a dotted eighth pattern together on one stave. Keeps combining them one way or another. It can't seem to handle having two voices on one stave.

Why is 4 the maximum number of voices allowed? What about chords? Again it seems to split up the chords according to how many notes in each staff rather than logically.

I never heard of midi xml files before. That's a new one for me.


In reply to by John Gessner

Which version of Sonar do you have?

MusicXML has been supported certainly since Sonar X1, but if your version is before that then they hadn't added MusicXML support, despite the fact that it has been around since 2002.

I used to use it to interface between Finale 2003 and Sharpeye Optical Music Reading software which was far better than Finale's offering in that department.

In reply to by John Gessner

No it won't have. They introduced MusicXML support in Sonar X1

I don't think you'll find the leap too great.

I went from Sonar 3 to Sonar X2 in one swoop, which was a bit of a learning curve, but I'm now at the stage where I know where to find all the stuff I was used to, and am just about to sign up for another years worth of rolling updates.

I work the opposite way :)

I compose in MuseScore and then render playback in Sonar.

In reply to by John Gessner

Real piano music doesn't split staves at some arbitrary place - there are almost places where the bottom staff contains notes higher than the lowest notes of the top staff (and vice versa). MuseScore attempts to sort out what it thinks is actually playabale - splitting a chord so that neither hand needs to play more than octave, for example. Often this produces good results, but not always.

Basically, there is no getting around the fact that MIDI is just not a good mechanism for recording score information - it lacks way too much basic information like which staff to use, where multiple voices should be used, how to spell accidentals, etc - to say nothing of the fact that the rhythms are often not exactly representable in standard notation. If there is anyway to get a MusicXML file, you'll get *MUCH* better results. MusicXML has nothing to do with MIDI. MusicXML was specifically invented to record information abut how to *notate* music. MIDI was never intended to do that at all; it is intended only to record information about how it *sounds*. Trying to recreate a score from only a MIDI file is like trying to build a copy of a house from only a picture of the exterior. MusicXML is more like having the actual blueprint.

I think you are confused about what voices are four, though. They are for recording *independent* lines on a single staff. Chords are totally different - you can put as many notes into a chord in single voice as you want. It is extremely unusual to ever need more than two voices per staff, and viortually unheard of to need more than four.

So most liekly, you are allowing MuseScore to use more voices that it really should need. Limiting the number of voivces to two or one will almost always be better. If you tell it to use more voices than is really appropriate, it will try to do so pretty much anywhere note values overlap, which can happen just from playing a single voice legato but MIDI doesn't contain any information that would let MuseScore tell what your intent actually was.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yeah... never heard of MuxicXML before so thanks for that. I understand the rest of what you said.

I do my arranging/composing in Sonar and want to finish up the score in Musscore. So far has worked great except this case. If I can switch to MusicXML should be perfect.

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