OpenScore: First editions available! How to submit scores.

Posted 6 years ago

So far our Kickstarter campaign has raised 65% of the funding required to make OpenScore a success, and we only have 10 days left to get to 100%. Kickstarter funding is all-or-nothing, so if we don’t reach the target then we won't be able to review your contributions and turn them into OpenScore editions. You can help us by sharing the campaign on social media, telling all of your friends about it, and backing it if you can.


Another way to help is by sending us your existing transcription. Thanks to the generous contributions of the community, we have been able to put together the very first OpenScore editions over at If you want to see your transcription added to the collection then keep reading to find out what you need to do.

How to submit a transcription

Make sure your transcription is uploaded it to your online MuseScore account, and then send us an email containing:

  1. A link to your score(s) on
  2. The link to the IMSLP page for the work you transcribed.
  3. The reference number of the particular IMSLP edition you used.

Send the email to with "OpenScore submission" and the name of the work in the subject line. (If you are sending multiple works just put one or two of them in the subject line.)

Requirements for submissions

We can only use your transcription if it meets the following requirements:

  1. It is complete. (A few mistakes are OK, but there mustn’t be any music missing.)
  2. It is an exact (or near exact) transcription of an IMSLP edition - not your own arrangement.
  3. The IMSLP edition is in the public domain worldwide (not only in certain countries).
  4. You agree to waive all rights on the transcription under Creative Commons Zero.


These are suggested requirements which are prepared to overlook in certain situations:

  1. Where possible, we prefer transcriptions to be based on printed editions rather than handwritten manuscripts.
  2. Transcriptions should stick to the language of the original. All titles, instrument names and text should be in the same language as the IMSLP edition. Exceptions may be made if the IMSLP edition uses a non-latin alphabet.


Can I submit multiple pieces?
Sure! Please send them all in the one email, or as a reply to the original email if you have already sent it.

Do I need to extract parts and submit them separately?
No, you do not need to extract parts. Just submit the full score.

My piece has multiple movements. Should I submit them together or separately?
Ideally you should use a separate file for each movement and send us one email with links to all of the movements. If you joined the movements together into one file that is also acceptable.

Can I submit a single movement from a piece with multiple movements?
Not at the present time. If you transcribe a work with multiple movements then you must have transcribed all of the movements.

What if there are multiple pieces in one IMSLP edition?
There will be one OpenScore Edition per IMSLP edition, so if there are multiple pieces in a single IMSLP edition then you must have transcribed all of them (ideally in separate score files). For example, this IMSLP edition contains two pieces, so we cannot accept a transcription of one without the other. However, the two pieces on this IMSLP page have separate editions, so you only have to send one. As another example, each of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos has its own IMSLP page, so it’s OK to send us a transcription of just one of them.

Thank you for your support. Please remember to share the campaign. We look forward to seeing your transcriptions!

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I'm transcribing at time the orchestral suite No. 3 (BWV 1068) (hope no one other has done it before ;).

My questions:

  • It's better to better to use section breaks between the parts/sections/movements (better for the output, but with the known bug with playback) or using line breaks (=no pause in the playback)?
  • Are there somewhere resources for tempo indications for the individual parts?

In reply to by kuwitt

For longer works it's actually best for each section/movement to be stored in it's own separate file, but for shorter work like this a single file is fine. Please use a section break to divide the movements. If you experience the bug where the section break pause is played on repeats then right-click on the section break and set the pause to be 0 seconds via the "Section Break Properties".

In general you should only include information that is in the edition you are transcribing. One of the few exceptions to this is tempo markings, which are required for correct playback. If the edition you are transcribing doesn't contain a tempo marking then you can insert a suggested tempo in square brackets.

"[Allegro (♩ = 120)]" or "[♩ = 120]"

If you can't find a tempo in any IMSLP edition or other trusted source, listen to some recordings and try to determine if there is "conventional" tempo at which the piece is usually performed. If there are no good recordings then you are free to suggest a tempo that seems appropriate for the piece, based on its title, theme, musical content, etc. (Naturally, we may change the tempo later if new information becomes available, or if there is a debate about tempo and the consensus is to use a different one to that which you suggested.)

Question concerning acceptable typographical adjustments: If I'm using a score that writes choral SATB parts with soprano/alto/tenor/bass clefs, should I keep them in those clefs or convert to the modern treble/treble/treble/bass clefs?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thanks Jojo, but no trickery please! All instruments should use MuseScore's default clef, except for instruments where the clef is allowed to change (e.g. piano, viola, cello, etc.) or when the correct instrument doesn't exist in MuseScore (e.g. "Canon" in the 1812 Overture) and your are forced to adapt the closest matching instrument that does exist in MuseScore.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

It's an interesting idea. I'm trying to balance the needs of users (who will want the modern vocal clefs and transposing instrument clefs) and OMR training (which wants the score to look exactly like the original). It's not possible to satisfy both needs with the single toggle provided by the "Concert Pitch" button. Perhaps this is something that could be handled by the "layers" feature if it ever arrives.

But am I right in thinking you had to edit the XML manually to make this happen? That's not really a user-friendly solution. ;)

In reply to by violin-altair

Good question! You should convert them to the modern clefs (note that the tenor uses an octave clef - treble clef with an 8 underneath), but you might find it easier to keep them in the old clefs while doing the transcription and change the clef just before submission.

Note that if any of the SATB parts split further into 1st and 2nds (e.g. Soprano I, Soprano II, etc.) for more than a few notes then you should use a separate staff for the 1st and 2nd on each part (S I, S II, A I, A II, T I, T II, B I, B II). The 1st and 2nd lines should be identical everywhere except where the split happens.

In reply to by shoogle

Thanks! I do have another question: For instruments that frequently switch clefs (e.g. cello and bassoon flipping between tenor/bass clefs), should I stick to the clefs provided on the reference score or am I allowed to switch to other commonly used clefs? I have a section in the cello part that's giving me spacing nightmares (ledger lines + ornamentation + every string staff has a dynamic), and it would be extremely easy to work around if I change just 2 measures from bass clef to tenor clef.

In reply to by violin-altair

Clefs should be the same as the original, except where the original uses a clef that is never used in modern score. If this causes layout issues then that's unfortunate, but we consider accuracy with the original to be more important.

To be honest its probably easiest if you keep everything in the original clef and we will decide which need to be changed after you submit the score. It only takes a second for us to change the clef, but transcribing a score into a different clef, or checking for errors in the wrong clef, is much more difficult.

You shouldn't worry about spacing, page turns or collisions until you have finished everything else, because the best layout will probably change as you add more symbols. The exception to this is you might find it easier to transcribe if you add line breaks in the same places as the original. Reduce the stretch and stave space size if you have to.

Some further questions:

I've begun to transcribe "BWV 232" of Bach (about 25% completed).

  1. I'm not sure, but could it be that in original scores is supposed "f" as default dynamic while MuseScore is using "mf"?
  2. With full orchestral accompaniment it seems for me that the voices sounds too silent (such as attached files). It's allowed to use additional dynamics, which are not indicated in the original score?
  3. For basso continuo I've chosen violoncello as instrument. But I saw that it's often used as booth violincello and harpsichord. Would it be useful to add the harpsichord too (maybe with the indicated figured bass)?
  4. Without having a pro account I decided to upload the score into the four parts ("Missa", "Symbolum Nicenum", "Sanctus", "Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei et Dona nobis pacem"). Will you still see the scores when I upload more then five files or will there be in future another place to upload them?
Attachment Size
Gloria.mscz 108.12 KB
GratiasAgimus.mscz 41.67 KB

In reply to by kuwitt

Sounding beautiful so far! Which IMSLP edition are you transcribing? (e.g. #33302.)

Note that MuseScore has many of the baroque instruments like the Oboe d'amore built-in. Go to Edit > Instruments and change the dropdown from "Common Instruments" to "All Instruments".

  1. If the original has no starting dynamic then don't add one yourself. (The exception would be if the score gives some kind of expression marking (e.g. "quietly") in which case you could add an invisible "p".)
  2. Don't use dynamics which are not in the score (even invisible ones) because they can interfere with dynamics that are in the score. (The exception here would be if there is a crescendo/diminuendo that is not followed by a dynamic; in this case you would need to add an invisible dynamic so MuseScore knows how much louder/softer the cresc./dim. should get.) Use the Mixer if you need to adjust the balance to make the singers audible. You could increase the singers to 100% and put the other instruments on 50%.
  3. You are correct that "Basso continuo" usually means bass stringed instrument (cello/double bass/violone) + keyboard instrument (harpsichord). You should copy this line out onto two staves, one for each instrument, and only write the figured bass under the keyboard staff. Perhaps future versions of MuseScore will provide a better solution, but for now use two separate staves.
  4. Upload as many as you can and attach the rest in an email to


In reply to by kuwitt

I'm afraid IMSLP edition #24490 is not in the public domain, so you'll need to base your transcription on a different edition if you want it to be included in OpenScore. Try #103364, #33302 or #465397. You don't need to start again, just make whatever changes are necessary to ensure that your transcription matches the new edition. Be extra careful to ensure that nothing in your transcription only appears in the non-public domain score.

For future reference, you can tell whether an IMSLP score is in the public domain based on its copyright notice. #24490 says "Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 3.0". For OpenScore, we can only accept transcriptions of editions that say "Copyright: Public Domain" or "Copyright: Creative Commons Zero".


In reply to by shoogle

I switched to #103364 (it's worse to recognize the numbers of figured bass :-( )

Next steps will be to correct the changes for the already created parts (done for "Kyrie I" - but still not uploaded), before adding new parts.

Concerning the issue of playback from figured bass (strings+harpsichord) I will care about later.

In reply to by shoogle

Dear Shoogle, I'm a little bit confused about this post. You say "If you want to see your transcription added to the collection then keep reading to find out what you need to do." But on a previous post you responded this in the comment section: "the focus for the Kickstarter will be on making new scores available that were not available before" followed by "in the short term at least, OpenScore is meant to contain new content. It is not meant to be a showcase of existing content." Then, by uploading our transcriptions to aren't we making those scores available and thus making them unsuitable for the project?
Also, nowhere in this post I've found the warning you make in your following post: "for the time being we will only accept transcriptions of pieces which were liberated by the Kickstarter campaign" which I have just read. It would have been nice to know that because I took the time to transcribe a piece (Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun", which is not in the list) and was very excited about it but now I think I may have done it in vane.
Of course, I knew from the beginning that there was no assurance my transcription would be included but I thought it would at least be considered. Now I see the chances of that are very slim. It seems then it would have been better to transcribe one of the pieces liberated by the campaign.
Maybe you could clarify all of this in a new post so people don't waist their efforts on pieces that have little or no chance at all of becoming part of the OpenScore catalog (not in the short term, al least) and instead focus on pieces with better chances.
For my part, I think I'll just join the transcription team. Maybe I should have done that from the beginning. It wasn't all in vane, anyway. I learned a lot transcribing that piece.

In reply to by Antonio Gervasoni

Hi Antonio,

When I said we would focus on new content I was working on the assumption that the Kickstarter backers would want to pick pieces that hadn't been transcribed before, but (naturally I guess) they all picked their favourite pieces regardless of whether they had already been transcribed ;)

As for only accepting pieces on the Kickstarter list, this is only a temporary measure, and at the time I wrote the previous posts we didn't yet know what those pieces would be. However, if you email your transcription of a non-Kickstarter piece to then I will give it a quick check and, if I think it looks good enough, I will add it to a list of scores we will look at immediately after we've finished all the pieces on the Kickstarter list.

In reply to by shoogle

Hi Shoogle! Oh, I understand. Thanks for the info.
Well, I did send an email to that address... twice, because the first time I made a mistake and didn't include "OpenScore submission" in the subject. :-)
I'm sure you have tons of mails to check so it's perfectly fine if you overlooked it. Just in case, it's a transcription of Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

@Jojo, I think the question was referring to the fact that the instrument selected in the Mixer can be different to the one in Edit > Instruments. Even though @kuwitt was able to select the Traverso in Edit > Instruments, the Mixer has to use something else because there is no "Traverso" instrument in general MIDI.

@kuwitt, listening to the recordings of a traverso on Wikipedia I agree that it sounds somewhere between a flute and a recorder, so it's a valid question as to which sound is best to use in the Mixer. However, somebody has already made this decision for you because, by default, the traverso in Edit > Instruments uses the flute sound in the Mixer.

For the sake of consistency between OpenScore editions, you should always stick with the default Mixer sounds, except in the following circumstances:

  1. MuseScore doesn't have the instrument you need in Edit > Instruments. In this case choose an appropriate instrument and an appropriate Mixer sound. (e.g. for the canon in the OpenScore edition of the 1812 Overture, the "Thundersheet" percussion instrument was used along with the "Gun Shot" sound in the Mixer.)
  2. For solo singers. SATB chorus should use the default "Choral ahhs", but soloists should use a different mixer sound, such as the oboe. Try to use a different Mixer sound for each soloist so that they are audibly distinct from each other, just as real human voices are distinct. String, brass and woodwind instruments make good voices. Try to use instruments that don't appear elsewhere in the score (so if the singers are being accompanied by stringed instruments then don't use stringed instruments sounds for the singers in the Mixer).

Now, if you happen to think that MuseScore's default sound for a particular instrument is wrong (e.g. you think the traverso sounds more like a recorder than a flute) then you should start a discussion on the forums so that the community can decide whether the default sound should be changed.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

@jojo, @mike320, exactly. Listen to this and imagine having to pick out your line. Plus the "real" instruments sound better than the fake "ahhs" in my opinion, and it makes sense to audibly distinguish between singular singer and plural singers, like we do for strings (Violin vs Violins, etc.).

In reply to by shoogle

"Ahh Choir" and "Ohh Voice" is exactly that diff plural vs. singular.
I personally have a strong dislike for a voice cound like a violin or basson, even if these choir and voice sounds are not really good (and "Ohh voice" is even worse than "Ahh Choir")

Special downside for changing the sound via Mixer: on it shows that sound as being the Instrument, so a SATB doesn't show part names as 4 voices but as violin, basson, etc. That alone should be enough reason to not do this

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Ohh voice is indeed much worse than Ahh choir, and both are terrible compared to the "real" instruments. In any case, distinguishing between singular and plural was only one reason for using instrument sounds, I gave other reasons too. Swapping solo singers for instruments is standard practice in MIDI and Karaoke files and adds character to the voices. I repeat, imagine picking your line out of this score if the voices were all the same:

The issue with taking instrument names from the Mixer is a bug and will be fixed in due course, once the new is up and running.

Dear MuseScore/OpenScore team,

I have created a transcription of an edition ( of Bach's chorale harmonizations. It has been split into three parts due to the significant size (75+ pages each). The 3 parts:

My questions:
1. The layout differs significantly from the original. Is this a problem?
2. Especially in the first part, I have decided to change the order of the chorales to match the first edition (1784-1788). Do I have to "revert" this?
3. What musical instrument should I use? (According to, they are written in a 2-staves format "to make them more easily playable on any keyboard instrument")
4. I haven't found a MuseScore equivalent of the "oblique lines" between the two staves (eg. no. 3 and 4)

Am I allowed to send in a different piece than what's on the list right now if it will be wanted in the future (namely The Carnival of the Animals which I transcribed for fun a few months ago but which I could now have some use for)?

How do I make sure that a score I would like to transcribe isn't done or taken yet? The spreadsheet with the list of liberated works has a column that reads "COMPLETED", "ASSIGNED" or "AVAILABLE", but it's read-only. Specifically, are Debussy's arabesques taken? Thanks