Guitar strumming

• Aug 25, 2020 - 18:20

I have a stupid question from someone who is not a guitar notator. I can play guitar (if I follow written tablature ) but I never notated guitar. Here is my question: How do I get the guitar to have a strumming sound in Musescore? Lowest string to highest string, like you would normally play a guitar. Even bigger question: How would I then notate that strumming sound?
Being a Piano player, that only way I know to do it is to notate 8th (or 16th) note arpeggios on the piano, then convert that to guitar. Is that how you have to do it in Musescore? I was hoping (maybe an empty hope) that there is a "built-in" way of doing this.
On a related question. I initially was writing chords "Am" "Dm", etc on a staff with a guitar instrumentation (not a tablature staff). Oddly, the sound that I hear is piano when the chord plays, not guitar. And, of course, it plays it like a piano (all notes sounding at the same time).
Thanks for any help in this area.


In the arpeggio and glissandos palette there are strum directions arpeggio symbols (they have arrows on them). You my need to look at the master palette or More...

In reply to by mike320

OK. So I guess that is the only way to do it. I was just hoping there was a guitar "strumming" feature built-in. You probably know this, but it looks funny on a guitar tablature to have the arpeggio symbol on every chord.
BTW: how bout my second question: Why is it that the piano sounds when I put chord symbols on a guitar staff? Is there some setting that can change that? Looked in preferences and style but nothing.

In reply to by odelphi231

You can make the arpeggio symbols invisible. Or you can use the piano roll editor to simulate the strum effect if you prefer, probably a plugin could even automate that.

As for why piano is the default (changeable in the Mixer) for chord symbols, it's because the default has to be something, and it made no sense to just use the current instrument if the current instrument happens to be flute, or voice, or drums, or really just about anything except those very few instruments capable of playing chords. And after all, the chord symbols are normally played by someone other than the person playing the notes. But as noted in the linked issue, we are considering changing the default for guitar specifically to also be guitar. It's still not actually all that likely a guitar player reading a lead sheet would be simultaneously playing the melody and the chord symbols together - it happens, but not nearly as often as being accompanied by another instrument. But since it seems to be what people are requesting, we've gone ahead and implemented it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you. I understand. Looks like someone has already mentioned this issue so I am glad it is being fixed.
" . . . And after all, the chord symbols are normally played by someone other than the person playing the notes."
Not sure what you mean by "playing the notes". Do you mean the melody? Yes, the chords are usually played by someone other than the person playing the melody. However, I play from jazz fake books all the time, so I am playing the chords and the melody.

In reply to by odelphi231

Yes, I mean the melody. While certainly a solo guitarist will play melody and chords at once, this isn't necessarily the most common scenario. So originally it didn't seem worth adding a special case just for guitar. But based on feedback so far, it does seem a number of guitar players do expect it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I am having another problem and maybe someone has seen it before. I am entering tab chords on my guitar tablature. I can enter the chords fine. But if I want to change a chord or rearrange the chord (use different frets), the program keeps bombing out. It must have bombed 10 times in the last hour. The error reporting utility comes up and I send the error report. Does anyone have access to those error reports to see what keeps happening? It doesn't tell me.

In reply to by mike320

Here is the score. Here is what I am doing to get it to crash.
1. Put a chord tab (from the palette) in a measure on the piano linked staff (the staff above the guitar tablature staff). Adjust the fingering in the inspector for the chord fingering you want.
2. Do Ctrl+K to put the chord notation above the chord tab because, most likely, the palette chord will not be the right chord. My palette only has about 20 ready-made chords.
EDIT: 3. Do a Tools > Realize Chord Symbols on that chord. This will put notes on the linked guitar staff.
4. Go into the guitar tablature (staves) and adjust some of the fingering. What I did was get rid of the fingering on one of the strings. But it also happens if you adjust the fret that the chord uses or attempt to add a string to the chord.
5. Hit space bar in that measure to start the piece. Boom, it bombs.
I noticed once it bombs, every time I attempt to play that chord, it bombs even if I don't touch it. I have to delete that chord and start over.
EDIT: By the way, before you do the Tools > Realize Chord highlight the chord and go into the inspector. You can set the "duration" of the chord. For guitar tablature linked staves, the "Chord/Rest Duration" and the "End of Measure" is not respected. It only uses the "Until next chord" Duration. This is another annoyance. On staves of other instruments, the three chord duration settings work; however, oddly it will only realize a quarter note chord even if you put the chord on a half rest. Hmmmm.

Wonder if its related to bug: 309380: Crashes when pasting fret diagram without chord symbol in score with parts #6480.
Found that bug on the Github site.
Thanks for your help

Attachment Size
SONG FROM MASH.mscz 23.88 KB

In reply to by odelphi231

I know it's not the bug reported in #309380: Crashes when pasting fret diagram without chord symbol in score with parts since you have no parts generated in the score.

I did get it to crash following your instructions. I don't see an issue that has a crash related to this. You should report the issue at with a severity of S2-Critical (because it causes a crash) and set the Reported version to 3.5.

There is a workaround so check that box also. The workaround is to add a fretboard diagram, edit it as you described above. Put it in a palette. Delete the one from the score, then reapply it to the score from the palette. I know it's a bit drawn out, but it does let you continue working.

I would call the bug report "Editing Fretboard diagram with linked tablature leads to crash" or something similar. The details will be explained in the body. It will no doubt get the attention of a certain French guitar teacher who may find a more precise way to get the crash from scratch.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks you Mike. You don't know how much I appreciate this. I know it will take 3-4 months before it gets fixed but at least it gets fixed.
EDIT: BTW: I think, but my memory is hazy, that it happens even without a linked tablature. I think it was doing this before I linked the tablature but I would have to retest it to see.

In reply to by odelphi231

Nightly builds represent the current state of the art with respect to MuseScore - all work that has been done towards the next official release. And the whole point of making them available is so users can help test and let us know if any new bugs were introduced, so we can fix them before the next actual release!

There are times, like say maybe three months before a new release, when the nightlies might be kind of unpolished, some new features only partially implemented and/or not as fully tested as we hope they will be by release. But there are other times, like right after a release, when the nightlies mostly just contain bug fixes and can generally expected to more stable than the current release. I'd say that's pretty much the case right now and will be until 3.5.1 releases. At some point after that, work may begin on 3.6 (at this point, it's still entirely unclear if that will be a thing, or if we'll just be moving full speed towards 4.0), and then I'd expect a period of instability again.

Speaking of which, do be sure to grab a 3.x nightly, not one from "master" - that's the work going towards MuseScore 4, which is definitely nowhere near ready for real use yet (but can be fun to play with).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

By the way, speaking of version 3.5.1, I went to Github to see the list of PRs being rolled into the next version. I did not see these issues on the list:
1. Cannot drop pedal and other lines onto element in voice other than 1
2. When adjusting soundfont priorities in the synthesizer, you have to hit "Save to Score" before you can hit "Set as Default".

In reply to by mike320

Thanks. I looked at your link. They are on the "active" listing but I brought these issues up about 4 weeks ago. There has been NO additional discussion about these issues since then. Oh Well. They are not BIG issues, but annoyances and there are workarounds.

In reply to by odelphi231

Indeed, there are probably hundreds of bugs not yet fixed. We try to prioritize, the one that cause serious problems when performing common operations, that don't have trivially simple workarounds, that are reported often, that broke only recently but used to work, etc.

The first of the two you mention is definitely very minor by all those counts. The second is harder to gauge, workaround is simple enough, but so far it seems no one has done any investigation to see if it's a recent regression (which would make it higher priority to fix) or not. So that's something you could do to help - see if you can ascertain if it worked as expected in previous releases.

BTW, generally you don't need to go to GitHub to get any sense of whether a particular bug has been worked on yet though - you'll see it's status in the issue tracker change to "PR created" once someone has implemented a fix, and "Fixed" once that fix is merged and will be present in a nightly and slated for release.

In reply to by odelphi231

Understood :-). Realistically, both of these areas of code (drag & drop, and the synthesizer in general) are likely to be largely rewritten for MuseScore 4, so most likely those bugs will be replaced with entirely new ones :-). But I do still worry about the the synthesizer issue, that seems potentially more bothersome, and I don't remember it being like that before. So I kind of suspect we'll hear other reports, and I do hope someone who knows this area of the code takes a look.

Meanwhile, if it's any consolation, the fact that we do try to prioritize is why the crash with fret diagram issue you also reported did get fixed.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, the fretboard issue got fixed pretty fast. Thanks. One small glitch however. I downloaded the latest nightly version. I had a couple of hiccups with it after I started using it. It kept bombing (without an error message) after entering and adjusting some guitar chords. I deleted that chord, redid it and so far no problems. I will continue to monitor.
BTW: I like the cleaner looking inspector

In reply to by odelphi231

That was quick. I installed the 3.X nightly. Can't get the program to run. Every time I hit spacebar anywhere on the score, it bombs without an error message. I deleted the guitar chords that I installed with the V4 nightly and re-entered them, now it runs. Sounds like some weird incompatibility issue, between versions, with guitar chords. This also happened when I installed V4 and tried to run the program. The score also has flute, Sax, and drums, but no problems with them.

As For strumming, Sibelius does this with a plugin. You write the chords in the rhythm you want, set up the strum pattern ( let's say d d u u d ) and the plug in applies a fast stroke in the intended direction. It's not an arpeggio and nothing shows up on the page. Fairly good, especially if other instruments are playing along.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

The plugin API should be able to do this as it can modify note playback events (cfr the plugins from BSG).

Then again, if the only goals is to have those strumming arpeggios be invisible, one could select them and turn them invisible without having to resort to plugins?

Ciao, scusami se non parlo inglese.
Ti ho allegato un file come esempio; è questo il tipo di Chitarra che vuoi? Prova il Play.
Questo è un esempio di come dovrebbe essere scritto uno spartito di musica leggera:
pentagramma con melodia e sigle accordali; sotto l'intestazione le griglie degli accordi presenti nello spartito.
Spero di esserti stato utile.
Buona musica.

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Strumming.mscz 15.96 KB

In reply to by odelphi231

Oops, I misread the question. You can never see invisible staves that are hidden by Hide empty staves or unchecking visible in the instruments dialog. If you want to see an otherwise invisible staff you must put something on it like a note made invisible by pressing V. I have a white dot in my palettes that I use that has never caused me a problem. I apply it to several staves at once like any other palette item. Then when I hide empty staves, all systems with the white dot stay visible.

If you want the strums to be sound correctly in playback, you have to reverse the directions in guitar. The strum arpeggio plays from highest to lowest note for the down arrow. This is reverse on guitar, so a down arrow will give you an upstroke and an up arrow will give you the downstroke. The notation has to be reversed if you want correct playback.

In reply to by Claudio Riffero

Scusami! For guitar, playback is reverse of notation. And the strum is classified as an arpeggio in Musescore. But I agree, if you mean that a strum is not an arpeggio. You appear to say (in Italian) that an arpeggio consists of separately played notes. This is a point I've tried to make previously on this forum, to no avail. The pianists here insist that a strum is an arpeggio. For a guitarist, a rasgueado is not an arpeggio. It's a strum. Pianists are not authorities on strumming. They don't strum their pianos. Neither should they strum on this topic.

Neither should thrashing on an electric guitar with a flatpick be classified as an arpeggio, because the sound is counted as a isolated block of notes, much more like a chord than an arpeggio. But I referred to it as an "arpeggio" because Musescore classifies it as an arpeggio.

In reply to by Elena Anne

Can you explain in more detail what you are trying to do? Now that you've added the instrument, are you asking how to enter notes? See the Handbook under "Note input" to learn more about that. Or if you are wondering how to create the effect where notes that are part of the same chord are played not exactly at the same time (lower strings are a millesecond or so before higher ones), see the section on Arpeggios. If you mean something else, or have further questions, please let us know.

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