Audio playback for MuseScore is provided by virtual (or software) instruments, which can be either of two formats:
A SoundFont (extension sf2 or, if using compressed samples, sf3) is a special type of file containing sound samples of one or more musical instruments, and is used to play back MIDI files. MuseScore 2.2 uses the SoundFont MuseScore_General.sf3. MuseScore 2.0–2.1 used the SoundFont FluidR3Mono_GM.sf3, which MuseScore_General is based on with several improvements. MuseScore 1 used a completely different SoundFont, TimGM6mb.sf2. These are General MIDI (GM) sample libraries consisting of 128+ musical instruments and various kinds of drum/percussion sets.
Once your score is set up to play correctly through FluidR3, it should be able to trigger similar instruments from any other GM sound source. This makes it possible to share scores even with non-MuseScore users, by exporting them as MusicXML or MIDI files (see Export).
Many different soundfonts are available on the Internet, both free and commercial. Larger SoundFonts often sound better but may be too large to run on your computer. If you find MuseScore runs slowly after installing a large SoundFont, or your computer can't keep up during playback, then look for a smaller SoundFont.
Once a SoundFont has been installed, you can use it for playback in MuseScore (and control other aspects of the sound output) with the Synthesizer. To display the Synthesizer, go to View → Synthesizer.
After finding and decompressing a SoundFont (see →below), double-click to open it. In most cases, the SoundFont file type will already be associated with MuseScore, and MuseScore will start and a dialog will appear asking if you want to install the SoundFont. Occasionally an application other than MuseScore will be associated with the SoundFont file type; if this is the case, you will need to right-click or control-click on the file, so as to display a menu from which you can choose to open the file in MuseScore. In either case, when the dialog appears asking if you want to install the SoundFont, click "Yes" to place a copy of the SoundFont file in MuseScore's SoundFonts directory. This directory can be viewed or changed in MuseScore's Preferences, but the default location is:
macOS and Linux:
In contrast to user-added SoundFonts, the initial default SoundFont installed with MuseScore is located in a system directory, meant only for that purpose, which should not be modified. This directory and its default SoundFont file is:
xxx being the MuseScore version)
To uninstall a SoundFont, simply open the folder where its file is installed and delete it.
An SFZ consists of a bunch of files and directories, an SFZ file and a bunch of actual sound files in WAV or FLAC format, with the SFZ file being a text file that basically describes what sound file is located where and to be used for what instrument and pitch range.
Note: For full support of SFZ, MuseScore 2.1 or later is need, prior versions had only limited support, namely for Salamander Grand Piano
After finding an SFZ (see →below), you'd need to manually extract all the files that belong to the SZF (the SFZ file itself and all the subdirectories and the actual sound files within) into the directory listed above.
To uninstall an SFZ, simply open the folder where its files are installed (see above) and delete them all.
The Synthesizer is MuseScore's central control panel for sound output. Once a SoundFont has been installed, it needs to be loaded into the Synthesizer in order for MuseScore to use it for playback. To make a different SoundFont the default, load it in the Synthesizer and click Set as Default.
To display the Synthesizer, go to View → Synthesizer. For more details, see Synthesizer.
The following sound libraries conform to the General MIDI (GM2) standard. This specification gives you a sound set of 128 virtual instruments, plus percussion kits.
MuseScore 2 (as of version 2.2) comes with
MuseScore_General.sf3 (35.9 MB).
License: released under the MIT license
Since soundfiles are large, they are often zipped (compressed) into a variety of formats, including .zip, .sfArk, and .tar.gz. You need to unzip (decompress) these files before they can be used.
ZIP is standard compression format supported by most operating systems.
.tar.gz is a popular compression format for Linux. Windows users can use 7-Zip; Mac users can use The Unarchiver, or macOS' built-in Archive Utility. Note that if using 7-Zip, you will need to apply decompression twice—once for GZip and once for TAR.
If the toolbar play panel is greyed out, or not visible, follow the instructions below to get your sound working again:
If you are setting up a SoundFont for the first time, please use one of the recommended SoundFonts listed above.
If playback stutters, then your computer is not able to handle the SoundFont being used. Two solutions: