Basic playback functions are accessed from the Play toolbar at the top right of the program window:
From left to right, the icons are:
- Rewind to start position: Playback returns to the beginning of the score, or to the start of the loop (if one is set).
- Start or stop playback: See Start/stop playback.
- Toggle loop playback: See Loop playback.
- Play metronome: Toggles metronome ON and OFF.
- Playback settings: Opens the playback settings dialog (see below).
To the right of the playback controls are counters showing
- Time elapsed from the start of score to the cursor position.
- Bar number and beat at the cursor position.
- Tempo in 1/4 notes (crotchets) per min.
This panel can also be undocked giving you access to additional controls—see play position and tempo, (below). To redock the Playback Panel: click and hold down the "6 dots", then drag the Playback Panel to the top right of the MuseScore screen and release.
To play back all the instrument parts
- Click on a note or rest to establish the starting point.
- Press the Play button, or press Space.
To play back selected instrument parts only
- Select a measure that you want to start from (by clicking on a blank space within that measure);
- To play back more than one instrument part, extend the selection up or down as required.
- Press the Play button, or press Space.
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 stop playback
- Press the Play button; or press Space.
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:
- Stop playback (if it is on);
- Ensure that the loop playback button is "off" (i.e. not colored blue);
- Select a range in the score, encompassing the instrument staves you want to play back;
- Click on the loop playback button in the Play toolbar. Flags will appear around the selection and the button change color.
- Click on the Play button.
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.
Musescore can automatically add metronome ticks sound to playback if desired, use the metronome button.
How many ticks are added onto each measure is determined by the time signature and tempo. It does not depend on the note value (duration) used on metronome markings (both crotchet ♩ = 60 and quaver ♪ = 120 markings create identical result).
There are two tick sound clips, strong ticks and weak ticks. Which one is added is determined by the beat and written tempo (not affected by the tempo slider). Beat is dictated by the time signature only, but not affected by the beaming style, or the note value (duration) used on metronome markings.
- For simple meters, the top number of the time signature is the number of beats in each measure. 2 = duple, 3 = triple, 4 = quadruple. Strong ticks are created on each beat. No weak ticks are created.
- For compound meters (6/8, 9/8, etc), the top number of the time signature divided by three, is the number of beats in each measure. 6 = duple, 9 = triple, 12 = quadruple. Strong ticks are created on each beat. Weak ticks (two weaks following one strong) are created only if it is below 60 beats per minute. For example, onto measure using 6/8, both dotted crotchet ♩ . = 59 and quaver ♪ = 179 markings create the result of two strong ticks and four weak ticks in each measure.
These ticks are not added to any exported audio files. If you want to include these ticks to exported audio, try these:
- Add a percussion staff, fill the first measure with the desired rhythm and the rest with measure repeats, then hide that staff, source,
- Metronome SoundFont (CC0) provided by mirabilos,
- Add metronome part plugin by sal.vador.
Play position and tempo
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
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.
Play chord symbols
Uncheck this option if you want playback to ignore chord symbols in the score.
Pan score automatically
When checked, this option pans the score during playback; uncheck if you want the view to remain stationary.