Basic playback functions are accessed from the Play toolbar at the top right of the program window:
From left to right, the icons are:
To the right of the playback controls are counters showing
This panel can also be undocked giving you access to additional controls—see play position and tempo, (below).
Notes: (1) If no selection is made before activating Play, playback returns to the place it stopped at previously; or, if no previous playback, to the start of the score. (2) The Play button changes to a "stop" icon while music is playing.
To rewind playback click on the Rewind icon on the Play toolbar. Rewind returns the playback to the beginning of the score or, if a loop is set, to the beginning of the loop.
To loop playback over a section of music:
In the example below, playback will cycle over the selected two bars of Violin 2 and Viola, the region marked by the blue flags. Use the "Loop playback" button to toggle the loop on or off.
If you want to hear a metronome tick during the performance, click on the metronome button. Click again to turn it off.
The current playback position is shown by counters to the right of the playback controls. One shows the position in terms of time elapsed, the other in measures and beats (see image in overview).
The numbers in the time and measure counters can be edited after clicking on them; playback will be resumed from the edited position.
When the Play toolbar is undocked from the toolbar area, it automatically expands to include two slider controls. By dragging the sliders you can adjust the playback position and tempo of playback. Note that tempo overrides are only temporary, and do not affect the actual written tempo(s); returning the slider to "100%" restores normal playback.
In the following example the position of playback is about one third of the way through the score, and the playback tempo slider is set to 78 quarter note beats per minute (bpm); or 130% of the nominal metronome mark, 60 bpm, displayed in the score.
Click the settings button (cogged gear) on the Play toolbar to show the following controls:
You can uncheck or check these options as desired.
Enable MIDI input to write music to your score with a linked MIDI device (such as a keyboard or drum machine) during playback. See Working with Midi for details.
Uncheck this option if you want playback to ignore any repeat indications in the score.
Uncheck this option if you want playback to ignore chord symbols in the score.
When checked, this option pans the score during playback; uncheck if you want the view to remain stationary.
The mixer allows you to
A channel strip is automatically created for each instrument in the score (this includes when a mid-score instrument change is applied to a stave). There is also a dedicated metronome channel strip and master fader.
Users of previous versions of MuseScore should note that the concept of a “part track” with subsidiary “channel tracks” does not exist in MuseScore 4 due to compatibility issues with the new playback engine. It may be reintroduced in later versions.
You can display/hide the mixer by:
Each channel strip contains the following controls (described from the bottom of a channel strip upwards):
Mute and solo controls can be used in combination to change which instruments are heard during playback. For example, it is possible to put multiple staves into solo mode, so that only those staves are heard. It is also possible to mute a soloed stave.
Sound row: the virtual instrument to use, exactly one must be selected. Supports three types: SoundFont(.sf2,.sf3), Virtual Studio Technology instrument(VSTi) and MuseSounds(MuseGroup proprietary).
Audio FX row: VST effect to use, allows stacking of multiple, is optional.
Compatible VST plugins installed on your computer will be automatically made available, find VSTi inside Sound drop-downs, find VST effects inside Audio FX drop-downs.
Manual sf2, sf3 preset/bank selection is unsupported (yet, as of Musescore 4.0). In the meantime, try workaround methods in SoundFonts.
sfz files are supported indirectly through a VST sampler, see SoundFonts.
Exactly one sound (virtual instrument) must be selected for each instrument.
The plugin will load as a separate window above your score. When you load an audio FX plugin, a new slot appears in the track
This deactivates the plugin without removing it from the mixer.
This removes the effects plugin from the mixer.
MuseScore supports the SoundFont format (.sf2, .sf3), which is a single file containing one or more virtual instruments. MuseScore comes packaged with, MS Basic, a essential set of instrument sounds for common score creation. Visit Handbook (for MuseScore 3)'s SoundFonts and SFZ files Chapter for a list of downloadable sf2, sf3.
For a more realistic, high quality virtual instrument experience,
Once you’ve downloaded a SoundFont to your computer, there are two ways to install a SoundFont in MuseScore 4:
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By default, MuseScore looks for SoundFonts in the following directories:
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You can also specify in which folder(s) on your computer MuseScore looks to find SoundFonts. If a SoundFont is installed in a recognized folder (“directory”), it will automatically be available in MuseScore.
First, specify the SoundFont directory in MuseScore 4:
Once a SoundFont is installed, all you’ll need to do is choose the SoundFont you want for each instrument in your score. To do this:
Repeat this process for each instrument. In most cases, MuseScore will automatically map instruments to their correct sounds in the specified SoundFont, as long as that SoundFont is using the correct MIDI instrument definitions.
To uninstall a SoundFont, simply open the folder where its file is installed and delete it.
When you select a SoundFont for a given instrument, MuseScore uses the General MIDI standard to automatically select the corresponding sound from within the SoundFont. However, this may not always be sufficient. The SoundFont in question might not be GM-compatible, or there might be multiple variants of a sound you wish to choose between, like fingered versus picked for electric bass.
When you select a SoundFont with only a single sound or only a single drum kit, MuseScore will use that. But for SoundFonts that represent collections of sounds, manual selection of individual sounds within a given SoundFont is currently not supported (as of Musescore 4.0). Therefore, if you need to select a sound for an instrument other than the one specified by General MIDI, you will need to employ a workaround for now. The ability to select individual sounds within SoundFonts is planned for MuseScore 4.1, but meanwhile, the following methods provide similar functionality:
You cannot edit .sf2, .sf3 and sfz files inside Musescore. Use a 3rd party software such as Polyphone, see Soundfont, MIDI velocity and instruments.xml.
Users of MuseScore 3.6 and earlier may be accustomed to using the Zerberus player, which supports the .sfz file format. In building a new system that now supports VST instruments, changes were required that necessitated the removal of the Zerberus player, as well as the Synthesizer found in previous versions of MuseScore. Consequently, some functionality has been lost in this process, including the ability to map specific instrument sounds like pizzicato and tremolo to specific MIDI channels. Our highest priority in future releases of MuseScore 4 is to again support this functionality for VST, SoundFont and the Muse Sounds libraries. Users who rely extensively on mapping .sfz sounds to specific performance directions are advised to continue using earlier versions of MuseScore until we re-enable this capability in MuseScore 4. It is worth mentioning that the new systems we are planning will be much more flexible, easy to use and powerful than those found in MuseScore 3.
For those who wish to still use SFZ sounds in MuseScore 4, good alternatives would be the open source VST samplers, Sfizz (Windows, Mac & Linux) or Sforzando (Windows & Mac), both of which support SFZ playback.
Visit Handbook (for MuseScore 3)'s SoundFonts and SFZ files Chapter for a list of downloadable sf2, sf3 and sfz.
Muse Sounds is a library of sophisticated plugins that provide realistic playback for MuseScore.
Muse Sounds are installed using the Muse Hub application, which can be downloaded here on musescore.org.
Once installed, Muse Hub can be opened by clicking the application icon in the menu bar (macOS) or system tray (Windows). Click Get under any sound you’d like to have in your library, and it will begin downloading and installing right away.
Muse Hub also contains a range of effects plugins. Download and install these from the Effects tab.
Once a plugin is fully downloaded, it will appear in the Mixer the next time you launch MuseScore.
Any Muse Sounds plugins you’ve downloaded will be automatically assigned to the appropriate instruments in your score.
You can tell MuseScore to always use available Muse Sounds plugins via the Playback Setup dialog.
The Muse Sounds playback profile will ensure that all Muse Sounds plugins will be assigned to every available instrument in your score. You can also manually assign a Muse Sounds plugin to a single instrument via the Mixer. This can be helpful for scores with more than one instrument, where you may wish to combine Muse Sounds plugins with other VSTs or Soundfonts.
Muse Sounds currently supports the following instruments:
Any instruments not supported by Muse Sounds will remain assigned to MS Basic by default.
MuseScore allows you to transpose the playback of a staff without changing the music notation (written pitch). This simulates the effect of a capo on a guitar (or other stringed instrument).
Use one of the following:
Note: Any capo playback settings apply until overridden by a subsequent Staff text with “Capo Settings” enabled.
Music in “straight” time is performed strictly as written in the score. By contrast, music in swing time interpets straight eigth and sixteenth notes as triplet pairs, with the first of the pair being roughly twice as long as the second. This gives the rhythm a characteristic bouncy feel—often asssociated with Jazz music. e.g.
Rather than notate swung music exactly as performed, it is accepted convention to write it in straight time and simply provide the written indications “Swing and “Straight” at appropriate points in the score.
Swing markings have a playback effect on the score. The default swing ratio is 60% (3:2) but you can vary this to suit the feel of the piece if required.
Alternatively, you can drag and drop the Swing text from the palette onto the note or rest in question.
You can, if desired, add a visual swing marking as well.
Note that the above markings are a form of System text and therefore the playback effect is applied to all staves in the system. If you want swing to apply to only one staff you can use Staff text instead: see below.
In the Swing settings tab edit the “Swing” and “Swing ratio” as required.
Note: Swing settings are found in both system and staff text.
If you want swing to apply to only one staff in the system, use staff text instead:
This section needs to be organized / written by someone with an understanding of how to use MIDI input/output in MuseScore 4. If JACK is still supported, it could be discussed here too, or in a new page.
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface licensed under Steinberg that integrates software synthesizers and effects units into digital audio workstations. Most VST plugins are either instruments (VSTi) or effects (VSTfx); VSTi includes software simulation emulations of well-known hardware synthesizers and samplers.
In MuseScore 4, any compatible VST plugins installed on your computer will automatically be made available in the Mixer, where you can easily switch between VSTi plugins, stack multiple VST effects, and access plugin interfaces for further customization.
MuseScore 4 supports VST3 plugins only (VST2 is not supported due to licensing restrictions). Support is currently only for Windows and MacOS, but Linux support is in the pipeline.
For alternatives to VSTi’s, try one of the following:
Note: (1) Any sounds you load in the Mixer are automatically saved with the score. (2) SFZ files are not directly supported—host these in a third party VSTi sampler instead. See SoundFonts.
To learn more about working with VST plugins in the Mixer, see Audio FX and Sounds.