MuseScore 2.0 new features
Q: Would you like to comment or elaborate on MuseScore 2.0’s new features and describe their purpose and intent? (Answered mostly by Nicolas Froment, MuseScore co-founder and CTO)
Dynamically linked parts
This allows you to create parts and sync them with the main score. Any edit made in the score will be reflected in the parts and vice-versa. This feature is intended for band, choir or orchestra scores and it gives more workflow flexibility for these types of scores.
Tablature support was one of the most requested features. It was wanted so badly that some users were creating tablatures by hiding notes in a standard staff, adding a sixth line, and positioning fingering numbers manually, one by one! Fortunately, Maurizio Gavioli was interested in implementing lute tablature and somehow, guitar tablature was a by-product of his implementation.
MuseScore 2.0 now supports tablature for guitar, bass, lute, ukulele and more. The number of strings and the tuning are customizable. The appearance of the tabs can be changed from displaying rests to using letters instead of numbers for fret markings. Tablature staves can be linked with standard staves the same way linked parts are linked to the score. A notable new feature is also import of Guitar Pro files (GP3, GP4, GP5 and GPX).
When you start up MuseScore, you get greeted by the Start Center window. It lets you chose to start a new score, learn how to use MuseScore through a worksheet, or pick up your previous projects. If you’re online, the Start Center will feature a MuseScore user and one of his or her works from musescore.com.
The inspector gives you access to all properties of one or more similar elements in a score. This is much more powerful than the 1.x implementation, where editing properties was behind a contextual menu. The inspector also lets you edit properties in a single place that many elements have in common, such as color or visibility.
Custom workspaces and palettes
Together with note input, the palette is the principal way to add elements to a score. With MuseScore becoming more powerful, the number of elements has grown substantially, making the palette unwieldy. So we introduced Workspaces, which comes by default with a basic and advanced workspace. The Basic workspace gives a slimmed-down version of the complete palette and should be suitable for the majority of users. The Advanced workspace gives access to all the symbols. Creating custom workspaces is also possible, allowing for the creation of a custom palette. For example, a teacher might want to make an even more basic workspace with just the treble clef and the 3 accidentals. Workspaces are exportable, so they can be shared.
Adding a continuous view was among the most requested features. Users working on larger scores need to see their score in a continuous strip.
It is now possible to select all elements of the same type, e.g. all articulations, in a single voice, staff, range selection. It’s very powerful since you can then move them all and change their color, style, and more with the inspector. The selection filter comes on top of that and lets the user choose which voices are selected in a range selection, or if the range selection should contain dynamics, for example.
This was a popular plug-in in MuseScore 1.3, and it has now moved into core. It lets you explode chords to staves, or implode notes from staves into chords. It’s a time saver for creating piano reductions, or creating individual SATB lines from piano scores.
During the development cycle of MuseScore 2.0, Elaine Gould published Behind Bars. Obviously it had an impact on our development. Many engraving improvements have been implemented by Marc Sabatella following Gould’s advice. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- Seconds in multiple voices are now handled better
- Accidental stacking
- Tie shape and direction
- Dots in multi-voice context
- Beam angle, subbeam direction, cross staff beaming
- Vertical position of rests in multi-voice context
- Lyrics alignment with melismas, hyphens
- Grace notes layout improvements
- Automatic spacing of chord symbols
These improvements came together with visual tests to make sure no regressions were introduced during development. These tests were generated automatically for any modification in MuseScore’s source code.
Playback improvements, swing control
MuseScore now plays single-note or two-note tremolos, appoggiatura, and trills. Of course, many of these markings are played differently depending on the instruments or the period, so MuseScore makes a choice. MuseScore also features a new audio architecture and a new SoundFont for overall better playback.
Image Capture (graphic export)
It’s now possible to select a part of a score and export it in PNG or SVG format. It’s also possible to paste the selection directly into a word processor. This feature is meant for teachers or book authors who need to create lots of score snippets and include them in a text document.
In MuseScore 2.0 you can re-enter the pitches without changing the rhythm. (I think it was implemented after our trip to New York and a chat with a music engraver who happens to be my interviewer now!)
Section breaks make it easier to create several pieces or movements in the same score by resetting the measure count, the key signature, and more.
Some more new features
- Flexible chord diagrams — so you enter chord symbols using any common spellings including support for German and solfege note naming and lower case minor chords
- Dynamic text styles — changes automatically apply to all elements with that style
- More supported notations — support for Steinberg’s new open source Bravura music font, more flexible time signatures, pedal change markings, grace notes after (trill endings), falls/doits/scoops/plops/bends, bagpipe embellishments, figured bass, ambitus, early music notations, and a huge set of additional music symbols from Bravura
- MusicXML import/export improvements — greater compatibility with other applications, ability to control degree of layout preserved