Audio playback is provided by MuseScore's onboard synthesizer, which houses a large selection of virtual (or software) instruments—including percussion and sound effects.
MuseScore supports virtual instruments in two formats:
MuseScore comes with its own GM (General MIDI) SoundFont, MuseScore_General.sf3, containing over 128 instruments, sound effects and various drum/percussion kits.
GM (General MIDI) is a universal format, so once your score is set up for correct playback using MuseScore's native Soundfont, you should be able to export it in a format of your choice and have it play back on any other user's computer.
Many different Soundfonts are available on the Internet: some free, some commercial. For a list of free soundfonts, see below.
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 Ctrl-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:
Windows x64 (64-bit) / MuseScore x86_64:
xxx being the MuseScore version)
To uninstall a SoundFont, simply open the folder where its file is installed and delete it.
An SFZ is a collection 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.
After downloading an SFZ (see →below), you need to manually extract all the files that belong to the SFZ (the SFZ file(s) and all the sub-directories and other files) into the directory listed above. Leave the sub-directories and their contents as they are. Note, however, that on occasion, an SFZ file in its folder may seek the actual WAV sound files inside the SFZ sub-directory itself, usually in a folder labeled "Libs". If the SFZ zip file you download has a Libs folder in it, move it into the main SFZ sub-directory.
To uninstall an SFZ, simply open the folder where its files are installed (see above) and delete them all.
The Mixer allows you to easily change the sounds for each staff (even while the score is playing). For further details, see Mixer.
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_General.sf3(35.9 MB) (
SF2 version(208 MB)) and are being updated from time to time (see the Changelog).
Since soundfonts 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.
sfArk is a compression format designed especially for compressing SoundFont files. To decompress it, use Polyphone (cross-platform software); or this online service: https://cloudconvert.com/sfark-to-sf2
.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 may not be able to handle the SoundFont being used. The following advice may help: