MuseScore 4.2 adds more guitar features and improves scores with parts

News

MuseGroup has released MuseScore 4.2, their desktop notation software, marking the second feature update since the MuseScore 4 release nearly exactly one year ago, and the first since the summer of this year.

This update is significant and encompasses many areas of the application, but the primary focus is MuseScore’s support for many new guitar notation and playback features. There’s support for notating and playing guitar bends and alternate string tunings, and a new free sample library, Muse Sounds Guitars, Vol. 1, to complement the other Muse Sounds already available in MuseScore.

In addition, with MuseScore 4.2 it’s now possible to separately synchronize the position and the styling of notation elements between the main score and parts. There are also improvements in the areas of harp pedal diagrams, arpeggios, ties, Braille, MusicXML import, sharing, and many other fixes and improvements.

Guitar features

Bends

MuseScore 4.2 adds the ability to quickly enter four main kinds of bends directly from the Guitar palette, or via customizable keyboard shortcuts.

The Guitar palette in MuseScore 4.2, which can be customized as desired

The types of bends that MuseScore supports are:

  • Standard bend
  • Pre-bend
  • Grace note bend
  • Slight bend
Bend it like MuseScore: Standard bend, Grace note bend, Pre-bend, Slight bend

Bends in MuseScore connect two notes together: a starting note and an arrival note.

Bends are contextual, meaning if the arrival note is higher than the starting note, an upward bend will be created. Conversely, if the arrival note is lower than the starting note, a release will be drawn.

Whenever a bend is added to a tablature stave, both the starting and arrival notes will be entered as a fret position. The arrival note, however, will be hidden by default. This allows you to create sequences of multiple bends — such as bend-release combinations — using only the tablature stave, without needing to input notes in the standard stave.

Both the pitch and the playback speed of bends can be subtly adjusted by clicking and dragging an interactive curve in the Properties panel in a Customize bend graph.

Dragging the end point of the curve up or down will adjust the bend amount:

Dragging the end points of the curve left or right will adjust playback speed without affecting the rhythmic notation in the score:

It’s also possible to apply bends to chords and also to create unison bends, by selecting the notes to which you want to apply the bend and adding the desired bend.

For unison bends, it may be helpful to apply the bend in the tablature staff so you can see which string is being bent.

Hold lines are drawn automatically where a bent note is subsequently tied to one or more notes, and indicated by a dashed horizontal line between two bends. It is only ever shown in the tablature staff.

To have and to hold

If needed, you can manually show or hide a hold via the Properties panel.

There is a new Bends category in Format > Style, from which you can modify the thickness of bend lines, the arrow width and height, the label for full bends, and the size of tab fret numbers.

Alternate string tunings

There is a new system for displaying alternate string tunings in MuseScore 4.2. Applying a string tuning instruction is done by dragging the String tunings element from the Guitar palette into the score.

A tuning fork will appear to signify that a tuning instruction has been added. Once you select the tuning fork, a widget appears from which you can choose various common tunings, or set your own custom tunings. The tuning fork will be replaced with conventional tuning text instructions with circled numbers corresponding to each of the strings, as well as the pitch of each string.

Muse Sounds Guitars, Vol. 1

Released concurrently with MuseScore 4.2 is a new sample library from Muse Sounds, called Guitars, Vol. 1. This library, which sports a variety of acoustic, electric, and bass guitar samples, supports MuseScore 4.2’s new guitar features and can be downloaded from the Muse Hub for use in MuseScore.

MuseScore product owner Bradley Kunda, an accomplished pianist and guitarist in his own right, created a brief example demonstrating this library and the notation updates in MuseScore 4.2.

Synchronization of score and parts

MuseScore 4.2 makes it possible to separately synchronize the position and the styling of notation elements between the main score and parts, in ways that will be both familiar and novel to users of other notation software. MuseScore uses the terms “synchronized” and “desynchronized” in a Score and part synchronisation area of the Properties panel in a way that is similar to “linked” and “unlinked” in Finale, for example.

When you make changes to the content of the score — such as adding or deleting an item, or changing pitches and durations of notes — these changes are always reflected in the parts, and vice versa.

However, just as you can apply different styles to score and parts, you may want the properties (position, style/appearance) of certain items to differ between score and parts. Therefore:

  • When you change any property of an item in a part, that change will not be reflected in the score and the item will be marked as desynchronized from the score, if it is not already;
  • When you change any property of an item in the score, that change will be reflected in the part, unless that item is already desynchronized.

When an item in a part is desynchronized, its color when selected changes to orange, which has become the standard behavior in all major desktop notation applications.

Further, according on which properties have been changed, the toggles which appear in the Properties panel under Score and part synchronisation will switch off:

Position refers to offset, leading space, minimum distance, auto-place, direction (up/down, above/below), alignment, and a few other properties specific to certain types. Style/appearance is, essentially, all other properties.

If you have made changes to an item in the part but wish to resynchronize that item with the score, you can turn these toggles back on to reset those properties to match the score.

Interestingly, text items have a third toggle, Text, which allows you to control not only the synchronization of the formatting of a text item, but also its content, which is both powerful and potentially dangerous, if the user is not careful, as demonstrated here:

Unlike other properties, this must be manually switched off before you make changes to a text item in a part which you do not want to be reflected in the score, as shown above.

Excluding items from parts or score

In some cases you may wish certain items to be in the score but not to appear in the parts at all, or to appear in a part but not in the score. This is not the same as simply making the item invisible, as invisible items sometimes affect the layout.

This option is available for frames, clef changes, ottava lines, staff text and system text. In the case of clefs and ottavas, excluding these items from one view will cause the notes there to be repositioned accordingly.

To exclude an item from parts:

  1. Select the item in the score
  2. Open Properties
  3. Under Score and part synchronisation, check Exclude from parts

To exclude an item from the score:

  1. Select the item in the part
  2. Open Properties
  3. Under Score and part synchronisation, check Exclude from score

Many other improvements

MuseScore 4.2 is a substantial release, and there are many other improvements besides the guitar and parts features.

Playback

  • Ability to choose specific sounds within a SoundFont
  • Harp pedal diagrams now affect glissando playback
  • Microtonal accidentals now affect note playback
  • New “a tempo” and “primo tempo” palette elements that return playback to earlier tempi

Engraving

  • Support for arpeggios spanning voices

  • Refinements to key signatures, time signatures and parts
  • Various other fixes (see list)

Accessibility

  • 6-key Braille input via the Braille panel

Mixer

  • Ability to choose specific sounds within a SoundFont

Import/export

  • Support for Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) format
  • Various MusicXML fixes and improvements

Share to Audio.com

  • Ability to update existing audio on Audio.com
  • Option to publish to MuseScore.com and Audio.com at the same time
  • Optional list view for scores on the Home tab, which shows more details than the default grid view
  • Ability to open scores from MuseScore.com directly in MuseScore (no need to manually download and save the file)

Microtonal accidentals

  • Playback support for microtonal accidentals (this is expected to be refined in future releases)

Performance

  • Optimizations for note-input

Support on macOS Sonoma

Although no major issues were reported with MuseScore 4.1 and macOS 14 Sonoma, MuseScore 4.2 is now officially supported on the latest Mac operating system.

Availability

MuseScore 4.2 is free and available now for Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download it directly from MuseScore.org (note: not .com!) or through Muse Hub.

MuseScore users should be aware that MuseScore 4.2 changes the format of the .mscz file that MuseScore saves in, so scores saved in MuseScore 4.2 will not be able to be opened in earlier versions of MuseScore, unless they are first exported via MusicXML.

Learn more

For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.

Comments

  1. John Johnson

    Awesome update! Been waiting a long time for guitar sounds.

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