Behind the scenes with MuseScore 4’s design and engraving improvements

Scoring Notes
Behind the scenes with MuseScore 4's design and engraving improvements

The release of MuseScore 4 is a major update and quite possibly the most significant one in the open-source application’s history since the release of MuseScore 1.0 in 2011. It includes major improvements to the user interface, layout, engraving, and playback features.

Not coincidentally, this is also the first major version of of MuseScore to be released under the product leadership of Martin Keary, Muse Group’s vice president of software. Coming nearly two years after the last MuseScore update (3.6) and nearly four years after the release of MuseScore 3, Martin said, “I’ve worked on a lot of complex creation software and this is the largest release I’ve ever put out,” including the launch of Paint 3D and a variety of PS3 games.

Martin returns to the Scoring Notes podcast along with Simon Smith, Muse Group’s head of engraving, to talk with Philip Rothman and David MacDonald for a thorough discussion about MuseScore 4’s design and engraving improvements. We go behind the scenes to hear about the decisions, roadblocks, and good fortune that happened along the road to the release of this version of the software.

They discuss their philosophies about creating tools for musicians and how they approached the challenges of modernizing an existing application, all the while keeping both existing and new users in mind. We cover the details of engraving, including ties, beams, note spacing and more. Martin and Simon tell us their favorite “under-the-radar” features in MuseScore 4 and highlight some items that users might not be aware of. Finally, we learn what’s missing in MuseScore and what to expect as they continue to develop the product for MuseScore 5 and beyond.

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  1. Josh Pettus

    Thank you, Thank you for again interviewing the MuseScore team! I’ve been waiting for this interview since it was announced MS4 was going to be a thing and was not disappointed! Even as open as the MuseScore team are about their product, I couldn’t help but feel there was a real fascinating story behind some of these giant changes they were making. Which while I am amazed at the end result, I couldn’t help but wonder how the heck did they make it all happen in only 3 years of development. Especially as they they were coming from MS3 and GPL2 (even a vastly improved MS3 where 3.6 led by Martin was by no means a small update). I’m use to seeing open source projects, even the larger ones with corporate backing, generally being fairly iterative with each update. Not such a huge refactor of everything, forget being coupled with a huge overhaul of the whole UI. It’s such a huge accomplishment what they’ve managed to pull off.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for the comments. We are glad that you enjoyed the interview!

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