Developing MuseScore 3.0: Making things easier

Posted 7 years ago

Part 3 of 3

MuseScore 3.0, currently under development, is on track to be smarter, faster, and easier than any MuseScore you’ve seen before.

We’ve previously discussed the first two of those areas of improvement for the next major version of the world’s most popular, powerful, and easy-to-use free and open-source scorewriter. This May, we started by introducing you to the ongoing Smart Layout project, working towards making MuseScore 3 smart enough to automatically offset overlapping elements and avoid collisions. In June, we gave you a preview of the speed difference, as we revamp MuseScore’s layout algorithms so score editing is just as fast no matter how big your score is. In this post, we’ll take a look at how the work is going on the last of our three overarching goals: making working with MuseScore 3 easier in various ways.

This is, of course, really the ultimate goal of all of the above; the motivation for making MuseScore smarter and faster is to make it easier to work with. When MuseScore is smarter, you won’t have to spend time manually fixing collisions. When MuseScore is faster, well, it will be faster—the advantage is self-evident. So we’ll start with an update on how those efforts are progressing.


The Smart Layout initiative is still a work in progress, but moving fast, as Werner Schweer (the father of MuseScore) implements “smart” handling of one type of element after another. As an example of this gradual refinement, as of July 1st, ottavas (octave lines) are intelligent, and will automatically move up or down as notes, articulations, or dynamics get too close—but for pedal lines, the same hasn’t been implemented yet. With the similarities between pedal lines and ottavas, though, you can bet it will be soon.


Most edits are now processed very quickly, independent of score size and number of parts, but some editing functions, including note input, still use the same process as in MuseScore 2, and are still slow in large scores. Resolving this is on the agenda.


A whole host of new features and improvements on the side have already been added, or are planned—many of which are specifically aimed at making various stages of the MuseScore workflow easier. Here, in no particular order, are what may be the top ten to look forward to.

  1. Real-time MIDI input: This is one major new feature coming along in this area that you may have already heard of. Peter “shoogle” Jonas is working on it over the summer. While interpreting the input accurately is necessarily a challenge to implement (particularly because a human player might not be able to play the rhythm with mathematical precision), this has the potential to save you significant time on note input.

  2. Swap Clipboard and Selection: A way to to trade two selections—e.g., exchange the contents of two staves for a time, or change the order of two measures—was first requested in 2012. Four years later, the ideal solution turned out to be one that’s gradually becoming more common, and Jon Enquist joined the community as a first-time contributor with his solution. (This is one that you may get enjoy sooner, in MuseScore 2.1.)

  3. Custom toolbars: MuseScore 2 allows you to customize palettes, and create different workspaces with different sets of palettes. You can also choose to show and hide various toolbars and drag them around, but the content of each toolbar is locked. In MuseScore 3, thanks to Werner, toolbars will be fully customizable and able to change with workspaces, with preset Basic and Advanced options. So far only the Note Input toolbar is under control, but the framework is there.

  4. PDF Copying Assistant: In addition to the experimental online PDF-to-MSCZ converter, MuseScore 3 will be able to recognize the basic structure in a PDF (systems, barlines, line breaks), provide a blank score matching those specifications, and synchronize it visually with the PDF, making it easy to transcribe what you see on the right into the empty measure on the left. Work on this actually began some years ago, but was cancelled before MuseScore 2.0—now new contributor Liang Chen has rebooted the effort. See how it works in this video.

  5. Temporary/Cutaway staves: Mentioned in a previous blog post, this falls under the “easier” umbrella of MuseScore 3. This will make it easy to temporarily add another staff to an instrument, or create a one-measure ossia above a staff. Implemented by your friend and mine, Marc Sabatella.

  6. System dividers: If you ever wanted to put “//” on the side between systems in MuseScore 2, you had to manually add each one from the Symbols palette and position it by hand. In MuseScore 3, just switch on a style option, and there you are. Marc Sabatella did this as well.

  7. Complete shadow notes: When entering notes with the mouse, MuseScore 2 displays a shadow notehead to help you place the note on the staff, but it doesn’t show you the rest of the note. In MuseScore 3, the shadow note is complete with appropriate stem, flag(s), and dot(s), letting you know exactly what you’re about to enter. The first contribution from 19JoHo66.

  8. Metric modulation: When you have a time signature change and want the same beat to carry through, that’s commonly notated as something like ♪ = ♩. It’s not easy to create that kind of tempo change in MuseScore 2. In MuseScore 3, metric modulations will be as easy to add as any other tempo, thanks to this summer's synthesizer wizard Johannes "hpfmn" Wegener.

  9. New templates for band and percussion: In 2.0.3, the only template under the Band category is Concert Band. In MuseScore 3 (and probably even in 2.1), under Band and Percussion, there will be Concert Band, Brass Band, Marching Band, Battery Percussion, Small Pit Percussion, and Large Pit Percussion. Courtesy of variously first-time contributor Henk De Groot, first-time contributor Chris J. “duck57" Matlak, and yours truly, Isaac Weiss.

  10. Simpler menus: A few months ago, LibreOffice (an incalculably larger open-source software project) put some effort into making their user interface simpler to navigate, with some thoughtful reorganization of the application menus in LibreOffice 5.1. I took it upon myself to do something similar for MuseScore 3, and I’m very happy with the results. This is a sure guarantee that we’ll get a couple hundred million users, too.

  11. Bonus! This was going to be a top ten list, but here's a last-minute addition. Formerly, when you changed MuseScore's language, it was necessary to restart MuseScore to fully translate the interface. Not anymore. Core team member Nicolas "lasconic" Froment committed this change literally one hour ago.

Notice how many of these improvements came from first-time contributors—musician/programmers answering the call to help develop MuseScore 3, or “scratching their own itch” and sharing the benefits with the community. In an open-source project, that’s not surprising, but it is really nice to see, and worth pointing out. A hearty congratulations and thank-you to everyone helping take MuseScore to the next level!

You can help, too! Please test the latest features in the nightly builds, and report the problems you encounter. Your feedback is very welcome in the Technology Preview forum, and precise bug reports can be directly posted in the Issue tracker. If you’re a programmer as well as a musician, we would appreciate your help fixing those bugs—as MuseScore is free and open source, anyone can get the source and share code contributions on GitHub. Don't forget that you can also support the future of MuseScore with a donation.

So, there you have it. The MuseScore of tomorrow is being sketched out today. I, for one, can hardly wait.


I am looking forward to finally getting the full 3.0 software. The only thing that I hope someone who actually can program and all that do is change the default SoundFont. I actually would do it myself, however, I don't know how to program at all nevertheless create another SoundFont.

The PDF copying assistant seems extremely epic. I look forward to trying it.

In reply to by Elwin

@Elwin most open source developers did not study computer science, but instead learnt to program by checking out code, change something and see what effect it made. The same applies to many of the MuseScore developers.

So don't look at software development as something only someone else can do. Nothing you can stop you from checking the MuseScore code, adjusting the default soundfont and build your own version of MuseScore to test your changes. And who knows, your changes might end up in the next version of MuseScore, affecting millions of composers on how they hear their composition.

A young fellow MuseScore user wrote about the same topic back in 2012 when MuseScore 2 was still years away from release. It's worth a read:…

Finally there is the SoundFont forum where you can post any issue with the default soundfont and/or ask for help how you can edit and improve the soundfont yourself:

In reply to by Thomas

Thanks Thomas.
Mabey I'd try to learn to program by doing what you said. I have posted in the SoundFont forum before. I did one time consider creating my own SoundFont that involves studio recording the instruments and voices, however, I don't have the money required.

*I'm a little nervous about just doing cause and effect. Usually, if I try something like that, I just end up crashing the program.

In reply to by Elwin

What I do to develop my personal soundfont (that I might share on the forum at some point) is to compile the best individual instruments/samples from all the free soundfonts I can find. So far I've found a few really good ones and also managed to somewhat replace the particularly nasty default soundfonts (like trumpet and saxophone).

Actually it is not so important but while Joachim had the idea about metric modulations I was the one implementing it. ;)

can you add an instrument: I wouldlike to ask if you could add windchimes for effects and or openings,closings,and slow parts in songs.

Is here any way that you guys can fix the fact that a suspended note doesn't crescendo or decrescendo but different articulations do. For example I cant crescendo a whole note so I have to write in four quarter notes and crescendo those. That has always been a huge pet peeve of mine.

I'm a bagpiper and just started using Musescore. Musescore is a pretty extensive app, I'm impressed. I've been using "Electric PIpes", a scorewiter for bagpipes/drums, and it's system for entering gracenotes and embellishments is easier enter, but it's layout capablilities are limited compared to Musescore.
I was wondering if easier embellishment entry could be added to the wishlist? Currently you have to open a palette and double-click or drag the embellishment to the score, slows the entry of the music having to switch back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse.

Thanks for the great app.

In reply to by wesweber

@wesweber Making the palette accessible by assigning shortcuts is a future challenge. That said, you can work faster by simply selecting the note (or notes) to which you want to prepend the embellishment(s) and double click on the embellishment in the palette. So no need for drag and drop.

I only have one suggestion (though I guess it's more of a request) which goes a long way for me personally...and that's Soundfonts.
Could you PLEASE add an intuitive and easy to use Soundfont system to MuseScore 3.0 akin to how SynthFont2's is? :D
That would make MuseScore 3.0 the all around BEST music composition and arrangement program I have ever used if so.

... are there any plans when to integrate the Real-Time MIDI input into the nightly builds? Could you plase make a short note here in the forum as soon as it is available?

so i found this in an article:
" Available for both Mac and Windows ScoreCloud presents itself as more than just a point and click notation tool, in fact their biggest selling point appears to be the ease of which you can sing or play notes into the program using either the ScoreCloud desktop app or the free ScoreCloud Express iOS app. In both cases ScoreCloud promises to record audio of you performing a line of music and transcribe that music into notes on the staff without needing to know the tempo or time signature of the music you are playing."
I prefer muse score over the latter becauseyou can come up with your own melodies, but wouldn't it be cool if musecore would adopt this feature?

In reply to by Penguinlvr

Yeah, that's one thing I've seen that ScoreCloud does have the advantage over other programs in. However, their saving system works like Google Docs, it is saved in a cloud. Also, ScoreCloud's a huge Freemium in regards to the program itself. If I remember correctly, they only allow 10 cloud savings, and there are other restrictions such as a watermarked print. If you want to have maximum features, you'll need to pay.
MuseScore, on the other hand, is not a freemium in regards to the program. The only service that requires payment would be if you want to have a pro-MuseScore account.
Plus, when (yes, I'm saying when) MuseScore does find a way to include that ScoreCloud-like feature, that's going to move them up quite a bit in capabilities, and will grant them a feature ahead of Finale and Sibelius (correct me if I'm wrong, I do not remember a feature like that appearing on Finale and Sibelius) that is IF they're still around by that time. If they die down by that time, then we can hope that Dorico will not have a feature like that.
*In case you didn't know, Avid laid off their development team for Sibelius at around 2012. This was after Sibelius 7 was released. Sibelius 7.5 was made using the codes that the old development team left behind. The former Sibelius Development team was recruited by Steinberg and now at Quarter 4 2016, a new notation program called Dorico will be released, and will possibly nail both Finale and Sibelius in a coffin.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Since there are no downloads for musescore that will work natively with Chrome OS, will you ever come up with the software in the near future that actually WILL work natively with Chrome OS instead of using workaround features that half way work and that can potentially destroy your computer?

I like some new features in MuseScore 2 version however I have to stick with the older version because in the second version the words stick to each other too often. I really hope this issue will be fixed in the 3rd version.

I'm looking forward for a new version hoping it would work much better although I'm already happy with this absolutely affordable and mostly easy in use note writing software and a lot of tutorials here on your website!

In reply to by ovitruk

@ovitruk Please open a new forum post explaining the problem you are facing with MuseScore 2. It's important to do this because otherwise we may not be aware of the problem in the first place, and so it doesn't get fixed in v3. Thanks in advance.

Wow. I'm currently debating whether to change to Finale, mainly because the real-time note input, but reading this is such a relief because, as little as I've used it, I'm starting to get the hang of Musescore and with the addition of real-time note entry it will be perfect! No switch needed.

I'm so overjoyed at the moment.

Sorry to be one of those guys asking this, but any time frame even of when will it come out? In a few months? Early 2017...?


In reply to by KenKeff

The release will be determined by when we've got MuseScore 3 in good shape, rather than by adhering to a predetermined schedule. It's definitely nowhere close to ready yet, but an optimistic forecast suggests it will be sometime next year:

For the specific question of real-time MIDI recording, however, you could perhaps utilize the unstable MuseScore 3 nightly builds as an intermediate step: do your note entry using the real-time feature in the nightly build, export as MusicXML, then open that in MuseScore 2 and continue your work from there in a stable environment.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss


I downloaded and testet the MIDI input in the nightly build of last sunday (2016-09-04-1730). In general it seems to work, at least it detected my keyboard and I can play. But at the moment I'm not sure how to use it. I can hear the notes, when I play them on the keyboard, but they are heavily delayed (~200msec) which makes it very hard to play to a metronome etc. in Real-time (automatic) mode. Besides I did not find any information about the Real-time (manual) mode, where you probably can use one key to give the quarter notes. Looking at the symbol now it looks like a pedal ... but how to use this mode with a very small 3 octave keyboard without pedals? Can I define a key myself, which can be used for the quarter beat? And I didn't find something like a pre-roll beat, it just seems to start recording as soon as you press the first note?

Thanks and best regards,

I need help getting the marching percussion to actualy sound like marching percussion on the website. It sounds fine on the app, but whenever i uploaded it onto the actual website, it sounds very jumbled and muddy.

It would be great if you could add a way to end a movement.... but not the song. It would be the traditional double bar line but instead of ending completely it would waite and the play the next movement. I'm not sure how to implement this as I am not an experienced programmer. But it would be nice to see that happen. Basically this would allow you to copy all of a Bach Concerto on Musescore instead of one movement at a time, or to separate it with a double line. Even though this is a small thing I think it would benefit users greatly.

One other thing. I think since you are trying to make it easier to use I have a couple other suggestions:

Get rid of the note input button:
Although I have adapted to this feature I think it would be a lot easier to just click the note value and place it on the paper.

Don't only use a shortcut to access a tuplet:
The only real downside to musescore is it is very difficult to place a tuplet. You haft to have note input selected, have the value set to the one above you use, and press Ctrl 3, 4, etc. to use them. It would be much easier to just select a note, and then press a button indicating that it is a tuplet.

Add Accelerandos , ritards , and A tempo:
When I want my music to slow down gradually I was shocked to find you didn't have this feature. I believe something like this is mandatory. You can't actually replace it with a new tempo because a ritard or accelerandos g r a d u a l l y go faster or slower. then A tempo should return it to the original speed. You can imitate this by setting a slightly higher tempo every note but to be honest That is Painstakingly Slow.

Hopefully you can use these in your new version. I don't want to be a pest but I think some of these need to be implemented. (Some of these things I lost when I switched from Finale Notepad to MuseScore) for me, even though MuseScore is way better overall, I still think you do not have all of the mandatory features a music composition software should have. Now with all of this said. Whether you use these or not. I will always be a die-hard MuseScore fan! Thanks for making such a great software!

In reply to by mnmwert

Thank you for sharing your ideas. Some responses:

  1. Happily, we actually have this already. Look for the section break in the Breaks and Spacers palette.

  2. The note input button is also important for turning note input off, so you can click without placing notes.

  3. There is a menu option you can click, under the Notes menu.

  4. This has been requested before. In the meantime, there's a plugin that makes it happen pretty easily.

Thanks for the kind words!

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

How about a button "Not to use note Input" but instead of a single boolean like the note input is now you could try linking that boolean to the notes so that: (This is not actually accurate it just makes a point Using c# from unity)

public button 8thNote, NoInput;
public bool toggle;
public void update()

if(8thNote.OnClick() && toggle == false)
toggle = true;
//code goes here
if(NoInput.OnClick() && toggle == true)
toggle = false;
// code goes here

I think this would work but im not sure. plus I haven't been coding very long :)

In reply to by mnmwert

You can use section breaks to separate mvements, and double barlines are available too, so that part is sorted.

Accelerando, ritards, A tempo are possible, as System- or Tempo Text, but don't affect playback yet, I believe a corresponding feature request exists in the issue tracker, but playback is not the primary goal of MuseScore. There is however a plugin that does this for you, see, this does affect playback.

Darn, Isaac was quicker ;-)

It would be great if Musescore had a double measure repeat. I have been putting jazz scores into the program recently, and if the bass player for example had to repeat two measures, it would save space if there were a double measure repeat, like in the original score.

In reply to by Bobj2018

Thanks, Joshua! Let us know about the problems you encounter (and there will be problems). And remember, despite the temptation, not to use it for real work—an MSCZ file saved from today's nightly build might be impossible to open with tomorrow's.

Is there going to be a new user interface for advanced users, or is the interface going to be the same, old screen as in version 2.0.3?

Like this 2.0.3 interface for example:


That's really exciting news - thanks you to everyone who's involved to make it happen!

I just came across the requirement to use MuseScore as a tool for practising music instruments. Some music teachers supply .gpx files to be used in "GuitarPro" where it's possible to define loops to practice just a few measures.

All this can easily be done with MuseScore2.02 as well using the [F11] Play Panel with just one small but important exception:
Some software provides an option to increase speed each time a new turn starts in the loop. So a musician can define that each turn the speed should increase by - let's say - 4 %. Then he starts practicing in the loop mode starting at - say 50 BPM, the 2nd turn it will automatically increase to 52 BPM and so on.
If you consider improving Muse Score as a practising tool, a feature like this might be interesting to realise. What do yo think?

UdoMM <><

I left MuseScore and moved to Sibelius, mostly because I was not satisfied with the playback system. Will you be able to use sound bases like Sibelius Sound or Garritan? Even Harmony Assistant Gold Base 2 is better than any sound font that I know off.

I have a suggestion!

So, I'm working on a piano arrangement of a piece my school band played last year:
As you can see, I'm just putting on the finishing touches.
I'm working on implementing the french horn part, which is very repetitive with lots of staccato notes. However, one of my biggest pet peeves is that the articulations and ornaments aren't selected when I select the measure that they're in, making copy and paste a hassle. If you could get rid of that, it would mean a lot to me.
Oh, and a little suggestion for the website.
You should be able link and/or merge accounts with the passwords of each account. Just a thought.

In reply to by EdoardoVolpiKe…

At some point before release (I would bet on at least 6 months from now though no one knows yet) these forums will start talking about the final layout for a 3.0 score being set, much like it has done recently for 2.1 At that time you can consider it to be beta, but there are people testing each new item on a daily basis and reporting the problems they are finding. From the beginning there has never really been a beta for the next release. Currently there is no guarantee that a score made with the 3.0 development build will open tomorrow night much less when 3.0 is released, but you can feel safe using the 2.1 nightly build (which is in practice a beta version, but it may change nightly) and expect its score to open once the final 2.1 is released in the next few weeks.

HEY folks! what about iPad and Android version of my favorite MuseScore? it would be fantastic to write notes with keyboard on iPad or Android tablets!