First MuseScore experience

Recommendations concerning notation and publishing software in a non-partisan environment.
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swetom2011
Posts: 27
Joined: 01 Oct 2022, 06:09
Location: Germany

First MuseScore experience

Post by swetom2011 »

Having used Lilypond for engraving music for years, I decided to give MuseScore (today 4.2) a try for a piece we are going to play at our next summer concert. It's not very long, 74 bars but with 29 instruments, among these, 2 harps. I've a relatively bad x-times printed/copied score, the instrument parts are handwritten, quality from good to bad.

Compared to my Lilypond workflow, the process is very much different. In Lilypond I wrote common elements on separate files as well as the music. From there, I could generate any instrument part, parts of the score or the complete score as needed.

In MuseScore, you work on score level where normally one instrument is one part. Now, in this case, I need to combine many instruments to fit the music in the score on one page in a readable size. This means, I’ve combined Flute 1/2, Oboe 1/2, Clarinet 1/2 etc. For this, I haven't yet found a good solution comparable to Lilyponds \partcombine which combine two (or more) instruments into one stave merging common rests and music whereas it’s identified if it’s a2 or “a due” and when there is only one instrument, automatically write Flute 1 above the stave etc.

As a work around solution for MuseScore, I’ve therefore generated single instrument staves as well as combined instrument staves, increasing the number of instrument staves in the score to 38. Now, for the score, you can hide which instruments you don't want to see, still having them available for the instrument parts so that's ok. However, this approach is risky and error prone as you must remember to correct errors in two places.

The default score and instrument layout in MuseScore is not as good as in Lilypond, but it’s relatively easy to change as you need it. If you have made a lot of layout, page setting or style setting changes and lost track of what you’ve done, you can reset everything to default again, but then you loose all manually performed changes and you have to start over again.

I’m not yet that far, but it’s possible to generate “personal” templates which probably can cover many of the desired changes but working on the first piece, I’m still experimenting to achieve what I want. Hence, to keep track of the changes performed, I’ve to document these in a separate list
In Lilypond, all “tweaks” are parameter controlled and these can be kept in a separate Lilypond file, and if there is a need, use a parameter to define if it is for an instrument or the score so it’s quite easy to keep control over them.

Except for Capella, I’ve not used any WYSIWYG engraving software so I cannot compare to other tools like Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, etc.

This is a first summary of my MuseScore experience after maybe 2 months of active usage. I also have some engraving questions but this is independent on the software used and will be a separate posting.
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OCTO
Posts: 1751
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: First MuseScore experience

Post by OCTO »

I think that MuseScore can produce an exceptional good output.
There are many things that I miss in MS4 but there is one thing that all other programs (Finale, Sibelius) lack is: "move an item and keep it there until I touch it"—setting.

My journey you can see here: viewtopic.php?t=341
And a part of the result here:
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Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 27.5 • Sibelius 2024.3• MuseScore 4+ • Logic Pro X+ • Ableton Live 11+ • Digital Performer 11 /// MacOS Monterey (secondary in use systems: Fedora 35, Windows 10)
benwiggy
Posts: 847
Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: First MuseScore experience

Post by benwiggy »

swetom2011 wrote: 17 Mar 2024, 10:34 In MuseScore, you work on score level where normally one instrument is one part. Now, in this case, I need to combine many instruments to fit the music in the score on one page in a readable size. This means, I’ve combined Flute 1/2, Oboe 1/2, Clarinet 1/2 etc. For this, I haven't yet found a good solution comparable to Lilyponds \partcombine which combine two (or more) instruments into one stave merging common rests and music whereas it’s identified if it’s a2 or “a due” and when there is only one instrument, automatically write Flute 1 above the stave etc.
I think Dorico is the only WYSIWYG notation software that automatically merges separate instrumental staves into pairs on the score, while keeping them separate in the parts. In Finale, you can put two instruments on different Layers on the same staff, and put each Layer in a separate Part; though there are limitations and problems arising. Most people use two separate documents, one for score and one for parts.
swetom2011 wrote: 17 Mar 2024, 10:34 Except for Capella, I’ve not used any WYSIWYG engraving software so I cannot compare to other tools like Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, etc.
The scores I've seen from Capella are universally awful, though I don't know if that's pilot error. I wouldn't trust it as a 'standard' for graphical apps!

(Oh, shouldn't this be in the "Digital Notation Tools" section of the forum....? :) @OCTO? )
swetom2011
Posts: 27
Joined: 01 Oct 2022, 06:09
Location: Germany

Re: First MuseScore experience

Post by swetom2011 »

@benwiggy
Maybe, I wasn't sure when I made my posting but if somebody can do it, just move it.

Anyway, thanks for the replies. Maybe a remark, when I engrave something, I obviously tries too get it as correct and nice as possible but not necessarily for publication but for "my" symphony orchestra. The pieces I engrave are those for which I cannot find printed music and in some cases only handwritten scores/parts or really bad copies are available. Similarly, I'm only an amateur musician and not a composer which I believe many of you in this forum are.

In Lilypond it's quite easy to combine instrument with \partcombine which then automatically merge common music, rests and add a2 if both play the same music and if only one continues, e.g. flute 1, add flute 1 above the stave etc. In MuseScore (I'm now using version 4.2 and have no experience whatsoever with earlier versions) there is a possibility to merge common rests but not (yet) the music.

The problem I've with my current solution, with for example one part for flute 1, one for flute 2 and one for flute 1/2 is that it's no single source anymore for the music and you have to, in case of corrections, remember to correct in two places.

In MuseScore, it's possible to change a lot of layout parameters but it's also, at least for me, to get lost in what you've done so if you want to go back some steps, you have forgotten what you've done in detail. There is a possibility to go back to the factory settings, but then you lose all manually performed modifications and you have to start from the beginning again.

In the latest piece, I've a number of engraving issues, but this will be subject of a separate post on this forum.
benwiggy
Posts: 847
Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: First MuseScore experience

Post by benwiggy »

swetom2011 wrote: 20 Mar 2024, 12:24 In MuseScore, it's possible to change a lot of layout parameters but it's also, at least for me, to get lost in what you've done so if you want to go back some steps, you have forgotten what you've done in detail. There is a possibility to go back to the factory settings, but then you lose all manually performed modifications and you have to start from the beginning again.
I think I'm right that one of the stated aims of Dorico was to be 'a bit like Lilypond', in the sense that it can process music automatically. It has a huge range of Engraving and Notation Options; and having configured them to your liking, it's possible to produce a document with any manual adjustments. (Though usually a few system breaks are needed at least.) Manual 'overrides' to the settings are clearly identified, using a variety of graphic indicators.
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