Warning: the word "Part" mentioned in this chapter and the window heading is is currently a wrong use of wording in Musescore 4 due to be updated (a outdated data from Musescore 3). Inside this chapter, the word means Musescore Instrument, but note that everywhere else inside this handbook and Musescore 4, it means Parts (the feature to create different versions of the same score)
- Right-click onto either an empty area in a staff, or the instrument name, and select Staff / Part Properties….
Clicking on Navigation arrows ↑ and ↓ buttons at the bottom left will cancel any unsaved changes and switch to edit the previous or next staff.
There are four different types of staff:
1a. Standard staff I. A pitched staff used for most instruments except fretted, plucked-string ones.
1b. Standard staff II. A pitched staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, with options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
2. Tablature staff. A staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, which displays music as a series of fret-marks on strings. Also contains options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
3. Percussion staff. A pitched staff for percussion instruments.
four instruments shown above are examples of the four staff types respectively. Download this testing score file https://musescore.org/sites/musescore.org/files/2023-10/ms411_stafftype…
For each type, there are pre-defined Template to choose from in the Advanced Style Properties (Edit Staff Type) window
Replacing an instrument also changes staff types but may create unreasonable result and wrong playback. For example, replacing Piano (a standard staff, type 1a) with Drumset (percussion staff, type 3).
The top section of the dialog allows you to adjust many aspects of the appearance of an individual staff. The following options are common to all types of staves:
- Style group: Display the staff Types. Type 1a and type 1b as Standard , type 2 as Tablature , type 3 as Percussion.
- Lines: The number of lines making up the staff. For tablature, this number usually matches the number of strings in the String Data dialog (exceptions being the Baroque Lute, Theorbo etc. which have more strings than lines).
- Line Distance: The distance between two staff lines of the current staff. Changes rarely needed. See how to change the scaling of all staffs in Page layout concepts chapter.
- Extra distance above staff: Increases or decreases the distance between the selected staff and the one above in all systems.
Note: (1) This setting does not apply to the top staff of a system, which is controlled by the minimum/maximum system distance (see Formatting). (2) To adjust the spacing above just one staff line in a particular system, see Fitting systems on a page: Spacers.
- Scale: Changes the size of the current staff and all associated elements as a percentage. See how to change the scaling of all staffs in Page layout concepts chapter.
- Hide when empty: Staff level setting for empty staff hiding along one system, see Showing staves only where needed chapter.
- Show clef: Whether the staff clef will be shown.
- Show time signature: Whether the staff time signature(s) will be shown or not.
- Show barlines: Whether the staff barlines will be shown.
- Hide system barline: Show/hide barline at left-hand edge of the staff.
- Merge matching rests: Check if you want matching rests in different voices to be merged rather than separate.
- Do not hide if system is empty: Designate as the staff to show when all staffs in a system are empty, see Showing staves only where needed : Choosing the staff to show when all staffs in a system are empty chapter.
- Small staff: Create a reduced-size staff. You can set the default from the menu in Format→Style…→Sizes.
- Invisible staff lines: Make staff lines invisible.
- Staff line color: Use a color picker to change the color of the staff lines.
- Cutaway: Setting for hiding empty measures, see Showing staves only where needed : Hiding empty measure chapter.
- Advanced style properties: (see below)
Advanced style properties
Clicking on Advanced Style Properties… opens the Edit Staff Type window, the properties available vary depending on staff type.
Advanced Style Properties: common to all four staff types
First row: Lines, Line Distance: duplicated UI for the exact same property as above
Second row: Show clef, Show time signature, Show barlines: duplicated UI for the exact same property as above
At the bottom of the window:
- Template dropbox
Assigning a template changes the number of lines (type 3 percussion staff) or switch staff types altogether (type 1a, type 1b and type 2). To apply a template:
1. Make a selection from the drop-down list labeled “Template”;
2. Press < Reset to Template;
3. Press OK to accept the changes and exit the dialog (or Cancel to cancel the operation).
Advanced Style Properties: settings for standard and percussion staff (Type 1a, type 1b and type 3)
- Show key signature, Show ledger lines: Option to turn the display of these elements ON or OFF.
- Stemless: If checked, staff notes will have no stem, hook or beam.
Advanced Style Properties: settings for standard staff (Type 1a, type 1b)
- Notehead scheme: See Notehead scheme.
Advanced Style Properties: settings for tablature staff (Type 2)
- Upside down: If not checked, the top tablature line will refer to the highest string, and the bottom tablature line to the lowest string (this is the most common option). If checked, the top tablature line refers to the lowest string, and the bottom tablature line to the highest line (e.g. Italian-style lute tablatures).
- Preview: A window at the bottom displays a short section of a specimen score as it would look with the current properties applied.
- Font: The font used to draw fret marks. A selection of eight fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 8 different styles—both modern and historic..
- Size: Font size of fret marks in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 9-10pt.
- Vertical offset: MuseScore tries to place symbols in a sensible way and you do not usually need to alter this value (set to 0) for built-in fonts. If the font has symbols not aligned on the base line (or in some other way MuseScore does not expect), this property allows you to move fret-marks up (negative offsets) or down (positive offsets) for better vertical positioning. Values are in sp.
- Marks are: Select from using Numbers (“1”, “2”…) or Letters (“a”, “b”…) as fret marks. When letters are used, the letter “j” is skipped and “k” is used for the 9th fret.
- Marks are drawn: Choice of placing fretmarks On lines or Above lines.
- Lines are: Choice of Continuous (lines pass through fret marks) or Broken (a small space appears in the line where the fretmark is displayed).
- Show back-tied fret marks: If unchecked, only the first note in a series of tied notes is displayed. If ticked, all notes in the tied series are displayed.
- Show fingering in tablature: Check to allow the display of fingering symbols applied from a palette.
- Font: The font used to draw the value symbols. Currently 5 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 5 different styles (modern, Italian tablature, French tablature, French baroque (headless), French baroque). Used only with the Note symbols option.
- Size: Font size, in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 15pt. Used only with the Note symbols option.
- Vertical offset: Applies only when Note symbols is selected (see below). Use negative offset values to raise the note value symbols, positive values to lower them.
- Shown as:
- None: No note value will be drawn (as in the examples above)
- Note symbols: Symbols in the shape of notes will be drawn above the staff. When this option is selected, symbols are drawn only when the note value changes, without being repeated (by default) for a sequence of notes all of the same value.
- Stems and beams: Note stems and beams (or hooks) will be drawn. Values are indicated for each note, using the same typographic mechanics as for a regular staff; all commands of the standard Beam Palette can be applied to these beams too.
- Repeat: If several notes in sequence have the same duration, you can specify if and where to repeat the same note symbol. i.e. Never / At new system / At new measure /Always.
Note: This option is only available if “Shown as: Note symbols” is selected (see above).
- Stem style:
- Beside staff: Stems are drawn as fixed height lines above/below the staff.
- Through staff: Stems run through the staff to reach the fret marks.
Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams” is selected (see above).
- Stem position:
- Above: Stems and beams are drawn above the staff.
- Below: Stems and beams are drawn below the staff.
Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams” and “Stem style: Beside staff” is selected (see above).
- Half notes: None / As short stems / As slashed stems.
Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams and “Stem style: Beside staff” is selected (see above).
- Show rests; Whether note symbols should be used to indicate also the rests; when used for rests, note symbols are drawn at a slightly lower position. Used only with the Note symbols option.
Warning: The wording "Part" used in the heading is a misnomer as of Musescore 4.1.1
The name of the instrument is shown here. To change the instrument,
- Click on Replace instrument and make a choice from the "Select Instrument" dialog. This replaces the instrument that this staff belongs to and changes all staffs this instrument has. It changes playback, staff name, and staff transposition etc. The Staff Type change may be unreasonable and create wrong playback.
- Long instrument name: Name displayed to the left of the staff in the first system of the score or section.
- Short instrument name: Name displayed to the left of the staff in subsequent systems of the score.
Usable pitch range
- Amateur: Notes outside the amateur range are colored olive green / dark yellow in the score.
- Professional: Notes outside the professional range are colored red in the score.
Note: To disable out-of-range coloration of notes, from the menu, select Edit→Preferences… (Mac: MuseScore→Preferences…), click on the “Note Input” tab, and uncheck “Color notes outside of usable pitch range.”
Set the octave, and up/down interval to ensure that transposing instruments are notated correctly. This is automatically done by the program for most instruments.
For transposing instruments an additional option is shown: "Prefer sharps or flats for transposed key signatures". There are three options:
- Default: Let MuseScore decide
- Flats: Prefer flats
- Sharps: Prefer sharps
Part Properties: settings for plucked strings only (Type 1b and type 2)
- Number of strings: Displays the number of instrument strings.
- Edit String Data…: This button opens a dialog box which allows you to set the number and tuning of strings. See Change tuning.