Arrange Parts

The following notes are included in the download.

This is a complicated plug-in for reasons noted below. Please let me know of any problems you find with it. It is always wise to work with a copy of your work rather than the original.

MuseScore Arrange Parts plug-in Release Notes

This plug-in attempts to take the grunt work out of writing arrangements. By this we mean that we
assume that the composer has written an arrange for piano and now wishes to allocate it to
instruments of an orchestra or some other ensemble.

The plug-in does not add or remove notes except in one special case. It simply breaks down the piano
chords and distributes the chord voices to the ensemble instruments.

The case in which the plug-in may appear to add notes is that it will duplicate notes to make up the
voice numbers. For example, if the piano part has a mixture of two and three notes voicings, Arrange
Parts will distribute the notes amongst three instruments and double the lowest note where
necessary. The alternative would have been to insert rests, but if an arrangement was using a mix of
two and three, for example, chords, then the third part would stutter in a peculiar way.

What Arrange Parts does is fairly straightforward in musical terms, and only displays any
"intelligence" in the case of the woodwind in orchestral arrangements. Here it knows something of
the ways that Rimsky-Korsachov recommended the different woodwind instruments should be used
together in order to maintain balance (Treatise on Orchestration: available from
Where there are different possibilities. Arrange Parts chooses one at random. If its choice in a
particular phrase isn't to your liking, then undo and try again.

There are considerable technical difficulties in making this plug-in work satisfactorily die to
limitations in the interface available to a plug-in writer. Attempts have been made to overcome
these, but by following the few simple procedural rules detailed below the user of Arrange Parts
should not encounter any problems (other than bugs: report them to me immediately!).

One problem is that Arrange Parts will create staves for instruments it does not find existing.
However, it cannot name them. The composer has to do this themself. At the same time the composer
needs to set the synthesizer sound because although Arrange Parts details the sound, the synthesizer
ignores it, at least in MuseScore v1.3.

Also, when a new staff is created, MuseScore does not set the key signature although it is a
property of the score, not the staff.

Best advice:
1. Begin your arrangement with a template chosen from MuseScore's library that most resembles your
target ensemble. This will then enable you to set the key which will be applied to all staves and
all of the sounds will be set correctly.

2. Switch to Concert Pitch if you are using transposing instruments. This will look odd if you are
used to reading transposing instrument staves, but it saves many problems later on.

3. Do not change the order of staves. If you need instruments in a different order, leave it until
you have finished. Arrange Parts tries to keep track of instruments, but it can easily lose track.
Don't fiddle! Leave that to the violinists (sorry!).

4. Do not rename the parts. Arrange Parts relies on the default names.

V1.0 Knows of two ensembles, the orchestra and Jazz Big Band.

Known bugs:
Makes no attempt to bring notes into range. Arrange Parts is not aware of the ranges of instruments.

Issue Tracker

API compatibility
Attachment Size 13.53 KB