MuseScore is now in its 2.1 version so I thought I would do an update to an earlier tutorial for getting started in MuseScore.
Not used MuseScore before?
It is free music notation software which is simple to use but has many ways to help you produce a professional looking score of your own.
First download the setup files from - https://musescore.org/en (for the English version).
When you have downloaded it and followed the prompts to install it on your computer open it in the usual way when you will be presented with the following screen.
Here you are invited to join the MusuScore community (free) where you can share your compositions and maybe save you the trouble of writing out a piece of music as someone else may have already done it for you. Just follow the on screen instructions to visit the community and sign up. You can then do a search for the music you want.
Not found the one you want? OK let us start to create our own.
For this exercise I will be writing out the music for “Sherry”
Creating and Editing a new song
I won't go into all of the procedure as it is covered in the “Help File” which comes in MuseScore but will briefly show you what can be done.
I set out to make a lead sheet from a full score. - Having a full score on your music stand can be a bit of a page turner which only distracts you when all you want to do is play the music.
This is what I did.
First – Count how many bars are in the music to be written and make a note.
Then open MuseScore. A new window will open with a blank score in it. If it doesn't select “File” - “New” and complete the following windows by giving your song a title etc. and follow this through giving the key (use the original key that the original sheet is in (in this case “C”) . The images below show what to expect. You will also be asked what format / instrument you are writing for.
Eventually you will see your new empty score like this -
Now it is time to start entering the notes you want – It is easier to have a printout of the original on your desk and something to keep your position (a ruler or pen).
First click the “N” (highlighted in red) and select the first note type to be entered
and start clicking on the appropriate position remembering to change the type of note as appropriate (Select the note length in the area highlighted in yellow. Note also that a rest length is determined by highlighting the appropriate note length and rest (rest highlighted blue). Also any additional slurred lines can be added by using the “lines” menu at the left and dragging the appropriate line to the first note to be slurred.
Carry on until you have all the notes in the right place. You may now want to add the chords. So, after deselecting the”N” (note input), for the first chord position click on the note where the chord change is to be made and then click “Add” then “Text” then “Chord Name” Now enter the name i.e. Am7 etc.Now use the space bar to tab along to the next chord change and enter it as before and carry on like that to the last chord change.
If you would like to have the lyrics in your new sheet go back to the first note at which lyrics start (so after any instrumental intro) and, after deselecting the “N” (note entry button), click on the note and then go to “Add” at the top of the page then “Text” then “Lyrics” - Now you can start typing your lyrics. - Each time you press the space bar you will move to the next note so remember that some words cover more than one note so you may need to press the space bar or line button to move to the next note for each syllable where necessary.
OK – You now have all the Notes, Chords and Words of your song in place so now it is time to make it look pretty and in a key you are happy with.
First add in returns or other instructions you may want to see on the score.
Lines may be added by selecting “Lines” from drop down menus on the left of the screen. Just drag and drop the appropriate line to where you want it – Note if you have a “slurred note” you can drag the “Slur” from the same box and place it on the first note to be slurred when it will automatically bracket that note with the next note. “Barlines” may be selected from the “Barlines” drop down menu on the left and dragged to where you need them.
I add colours to my copies to help in spotting where to return to whilst playing. To do this click on “View” at the top and select “Inspector” from the drop down menu now you can change the colour of most elements so they are easy to spot. It is also handy to use a “Return” to separate the “CODA” from the rest of the score so that it stays on its own line(s) – See the image below.
If you are not happy with the original key it is quite easy to change it to a more suitable one. Press “Ctrl” and “A” and you will see that all of your music is highlighted in blue.
Click “Notes” at the top of the screen followed by “Transpose” when a new window will open.
Click on the down arrow next to the current key then from the list select the key you require and hit “OK” You will now see that the notes, key symbol and the chords have now been transposed to your new key.
Depending on how far you have changed the key you may find that the notes have moved either a long way north or south of the stave. You can bring this back to something playable by again selecting “Notes” followed by “transpose” then in the new window ticking the box “Transpose By Interval” and selecting either up or down then click on the down arrow and selecting the last option. In the right hand drop box, which is “Perfect Octave” then “OK”
You may now wish to alter the layout so that it fits on to one or two pages – you can do this in “Layout” - I use “A4” and “scaling” “Space” 1.764 – This gives a decent size for reading from a music rest at the back of a keyboard (depends on how good your eyesight is). Your dots may then just go over on to a new page so press “Ctrl” and “A” then when the music is highlighted in blue select “Layout” and “Reduce Stretch” and keep doing that until it fits. - Check that you haven't distorted the words and squashed the chord symbols too much. If you have then it would be better to keep increasing the stretch until it fits nicely on to 2 pages.
If you have the “Wikifonia” database you will already know that much of it is badly formatted – You can use the same principles to clean up any sheets you want and make them more readable.
If you have MIDI music you can open it with “MuseScore” and transpose that music in the same way and then clean up the layout as above.
The first time you write a score it will inevitably take a while but once you have practised the basics a couple of time you will find that it gets much quicker.
Happy music writing.