Glossary

Updated 1 week ago

The list below is a glossary of frequently used terms in MuseScore as well as their meaning. The differences between American English and British English are marked with "(AE)" and "(BE)", respectively.

A

Acciaccatura
Acciaccatura A short →grace note which appears as a small note with a stroke through the stem. It is quickly executed and technically takes no value from its associated note.
Accidental
A sign appearing in front of a note that raises or lowers its pitch. The most common accidentals are →sharps, →flats or →naturals, but →double sharps and →double flats are also used. Also →koron, and →sori and other quarter tone or microtonal accidentals. Accidentals affect all notes on the same →staff position only for the remainder of the measure in which they occur, but they can be canceled by another accidental. In notes tied across a →barline, the accidental continues across the →barline to the tied note, but not to later untied notes on the same →staff position in that measure. See also →Key signature
Ambitus
Note (or vocal) range used in a →staff. Used particularly in Early Music
Anacrusis (mostly BE)
See →Pickup measure.
Anchor
The point of attachment to the score of objects such as Text and Lines: When the object is dragged, the anchor appears as small brown circle connected to the object by a dotted line. Depending on the object selected, its anchor may be attached to either (a) a note (e.g. fingering), (b) a staff line (e.g. staff text), or (c) a barline (e.g. repeats).
Appoggiatura
A long →grace note which takes value from its associated note. Its functions include: passing tone, anticipation, struck suspension, and escape tone.
Arpeggio
An arpeggio tells the performer to break up the chord into the constituent notes, playing them separately and one after the other. An arrow on the arpeggio indicates the direction in which the player should play the notes of the chord.
Arpeggio

B

Bar (BE)
See →measure.
Barline
Vertical line through a →staff, staves, or a full →system that separates →measures.
Beam
Notes with a duration of an →eighth or shorter either carry a →flag or a beam. Beams are used for grouping notes.
BPM
Beats Per Minute is the unit for measuring tempo, traditionally counted in quarter note durations. See →metronome mark
Breve
Brevis
A double whole note or breve is a note that has the duration of two whole notes.

C

Caesura
A caesura (//) is a brief, silent pause. Time is not counted for this period, and music resumes when the director signals.
Caesura
Cent
An interval equal to one hundredth of a semitone.
Channel
1. Instrument and channel in Musescore are software abstractions, see Instrument abstraction in Musescore.
2. A MIDI output data layer, see MIDI controls in Mixer
Chord
A group of two or more notes sounding together. To select a chord in MuseScore, press Shift and click on a note. In the Inspector, however, the word "Chord" only covers notes in the same voice as the selected note(s).
Clef
Sign at the beginning of a →staff, used to tell which are the musical notes on the lines and in the spaces.
Some transposing instruments make use of octave transposing clefs or have different clefs in →concert pitch vs. written pitch.
See also Courtesy clef.
Concert pitch
1. The sounding, or real pitch of a note, used to distinguish against the written pitch.
2. A score viewing mode in Musescore, see Concert pitch and Transposition.
3. The frequency of A4, see Synthesizer.
Courtesy clef
A reduced-size clef applied to the end of a system indicating a clef change at the start of the next system.
Cross-staff notation
A musical phrase extending across two neighboring staffs eg bass staff and treble staff.
To notate crossbeams3.png visit Cross-staff notation.
To notate longstem2.png visit How to span a chord or stem over two staves.
Crotchet (BE)
See →Quarter note.

D

Double Flat
A double flat (♭♭ or 𝄫) is a sign that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be lowered two semitones.
Double Sharp
A double sharp (♯♯ or 𝄪) is a sign that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be raised two semitones.
Demisemiquaver (BE)
A thirty-second note.
Duplet
See →tuplet.
Dynamic
A symbol indicating the relative loudness of a note or phrase of music—such as mf (mezzoforte), p (piano), f (forte) etc., starting at that note.
Dynamic, Single note
NOTE: Single note dynamics (SND) has several meanings, see Single note dynamics (SND)
A dynamics symbol with non-zero "Velocity change" property. When setup properly, it creates an Attack envelope simulation effect (wikipedia) on note playback, eg sfz symbol on violins, for more info see Dynamics
* Two popular build-in SNDs : sfz (sforzando), fp (fortepiano)
* It is designed to work on certain instruments only eg sfz symbol's effect on violin does not exist on piano.

E

Edit mode
The program mode from which you can edit various score elements.
Eighth note
A note whose duration is an eighth of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a quaver (BE).
Endecalineo
endecalineo.png
Endecalineo or endecagram, the stave for Solfège, to create see Solmisation.
Endings
See →volta.
Enharmonic notes
Notes that sound the same pitch but are written differently. Example: G♯ and A♭ are enharmonic notes.
Explode
explode.png
A Musescore feature that split (explode) the chords in a passage of music in a single staff into their constituent notes or voices, see Tools
Also see Implode

F

Flag
See →beam.
Flat
Sign (♭) that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be lowered one semitone.

G

Grace note
Grace notes appear as small notes in front of a normal-sized main note. See →acciaccatura and →appoggiatura.
Grand Staff (AE)
Great Stave (BE)
An instrument or →part of two or more staves, featuring treble and bass clefs, used to notate music for keyboard instruments and the harp.

H

Half Note
A note whose duration is half of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a minim (BE).
Hemidemisemiquaver (BE)
A sixty-fourth note.

I

Implode
implode.png
A Musescore feature similar to, but not exactly, score reduction (wikipedia), see Tools
Also see Explode
Interval
The difference in pitch between two notes, expressed in terms of the scale degree (e.g. major second, minor third, perfect fifth etc.). See Degree (Music) (Wikipedia).
Interleaved
interleaved.PNG Two interlocking, oppositely beamed sets of notes. To recreate, use the voice function and the beam palette, see Interleaved beam directions
Instrument
Instrument and channel in Musescore are software abstractions, see Instrument abstraction in Musescore.

J

Jump
In MuseScore, "jumps" are notations such as "D.S. al Coda", found in the "Repeats & Jumps" palette.

K

Key Signature
Set of →accidentals (usually →sharps or →flats) at the beginning of the →staves. It gives an idea about the tonality and avoids repeating those signs all along the staff.
A key signature with B flat means F major or D minor tonality.
Koron
An Iranian →accidental which lowers the pitch of a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the →flat which lowers a note by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →Sori.

L

Local time signature
localts.png Staffs with different time signatures running at the same time, to create see Time signatures
Longa
A longa is a quadruple whole note.
Ledger Line (AE)
Leger Line (BE)
Line(s) that are added with and for notes above or below the staff.

M

Measure (AE)
A segment of time defined by a given number of beats. Dividing music into measures provides regular reference points to pinpoint locations within a piece of music. Same as → bar (BE).
Metronome mark
Metronome marks are usually given by a note length equaling a certain playback speed in →BPM. In MuseScore, metronome marks are used in Tempo texts.
Minim (BE)
See →Half note.

N

Natural
A natural (♮) is a sign that cancels a previous alteration on notes of the same pitch.
Normal mode
The operating mode of MuseScore outside note input mode or edit mode: press Esc to enter it. In Normal mode you can navigate through the score, select and move elements, adjust Inspector properties, and alter the pitches of existing notes.
Note input mode
The program mode used for entering music notation.

O

Operating System (OS)
Underlying set of programs which set up a computer, enabling additional programs (such as MuseScore). Popular OSes are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux.
Not to be confused with a sheet music →system.
Ossia
ossia.png
An alternative passage which may be played instead of the original passage, from the Italian for "alternatively", meaning "or be it". To create see How to create an ossia with another staff

P

Part
1. Music to be played or sung by one or a group of musicians using the same instrument. In a string quartet, 1st part = Violin 1, 2nd part = Violin 2, 3rd part = Viola, 4th part = Cello, in a choir there might be parts for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. A part has one or more →staves (e.g. Piano has 2 staves, Organ can have 2 or 3 staves). MuseScore 3 Dynamics's Dynamic range property use this definition.
2. A single melody line in a polyphonic musical composition. MuseScore 3 never use this definition, but there is a similar feature Voices.
3. MuseScore 3's automatic score separation and printing function, see Parts
Pickup Measure (mostly AE, also known as an Anacrusis (mostly BE) or Upbeat)
Incomplete first measure of a piece or a →section of a piece of music. See Measure duration and Create new score: Pickup measure and also Exclude from measure count. May or may not be compensated for at the end of the score or section.

Q

Quadruplet
See →tuplet.
Quarter note
A note whose duration is a quarter of a whole note (semibreve). Same as a crotchet (BE).
Quaver (BE)
See →eighth note.
Quintuplet
See →tuplet.

R

Respell Pitches
Tries to guess the right accidentals for the whole score (see Accidentals).
Rest
Interval of silence of a specified duration.
Re-pitch mode
Allows you to rewrite an existing passage of music by changing the note pitches without altering the rhythm.

S

Section
In MuseScore, a region of the score between section breaks; also from the start of a score to the first section break, and from the last section break to the end of the score.
Semibreve (BE)
A whole note (AE). It lasts a whole measure in 4/4 time.
Semiquaver (BE)
A sixteenth note.
Semihemidemisemiquaver (Quasihemidemisemiquaver) (BE)
An hundred and twenty eighth note.
Sextuplet
See →tuplet.
Slash chord
See Slash chord (Wikipedia).
Slash notation
A form of music notation using slash marks placed on or above/below the staff to indicate the rhythm of an accompaniment: often found in association with chord symbols. There are two types: (1) Slash notation consists of a rhythm slash on each beat: the exact interpretation is left to the player (see Fill with slashes); (2) Rhythmic slash notation indicates the precise rhythm for the accompaniment (see Toggle rhythmic slash notation).
SF2
A virtual instrument format developed by E-mu Systems and Creative Labs, see SoundFonts.
SF3
An invention of Werner Schweer, the Musescore developer (source). This format supports sound sample compression, see SoundFonts.
SFZ
1. Dynamics symbol sfz (small letters) , see Dynamic
2. A virtual instrument format supported by MuseScore (along with →SoundFonts). An SFZ library consists of one or more SFZ text files, each defining a particular instrument setup, and many audio sound samples.
Shared note head
sharednotehead2.png A note notated with two beams. To recreate in Musescore, use the voice function and the notehead function and see Noteheads
Sharp
Sign (♯) that indicates that the pitch of a note has to be raised one semitone.
Single note dynamics (SND)
Due to continuous software development, Single note dynamics (SND) has come to bear several different meanings:
1. A dynamics symbol with non-zero "Velocity change" property. When setup properly, it creates an Attack envelope simulation effect (wikipedia) on note playback, eg sfz symbol on violins, for more info see Dynamics
* Two popular build-in SNDs : sfz (sforzando), fp (fortepiano)
* It is designed to work on certain instruments only eg sfz symbol's effect on violin does not exist on piano.
2. The audio creation mechanism on which the definition 1 is based. This mechanism is utilized to simulate 'variation of loudness' effect by hairpins on certain instruments. eg crescendo on one violin long note, for more info see Hairpins
* It is designed to work on certain instruments only eg you cannot create crescendo while pressing a piano note
3. The notation interpretation setting of an instrument: 'Use single note dynamics' in Staff / Part properties. See definition 1 and 2 for more info on notations. The setting in default definition file instruments.xml is named <singleNoteDynamics>. Instruments' settings can be ignored by the master control in Synthesizer.
4. A soundfont's attenuation response to MIDI CC messages. Musescore can only create correct audio for all dynamics and haripins with a compatable soundfont. Because musescore synthesizer setting is global, and the default soundfont responses to MIDI CC 2 only. For most users, SND compatable soundfont means soundfont that reponses to CC 2. More on Synthesizer, also Edit a soundfont to use MIDI CC
Slur
A curved line over or under two or more notes, meaning that the notes will be played smooth and connected (legato).
See also →tie.
Solmisation
see Endecalineo
Sori
An Iranian →accidental which raises the pitch of a note by a quarter tone (in comparison to the sharp which raises it by a semitone). It is possible to use this accidental in a →key signature.
See also →Koron.
SoundFont
A virtual instrument format supported by MuseScore (along with →SFZ). A SoundFont is a special type of file (extension .sf2, or .sf3 if compressed) containing sound samples of one or more musical instruments. In effect, a virtual synthesizer which acts as a sound source for MIDI files. MuseScore 2.2 comes with the SoundFont "MuseScore_General.sf3" pre-installed.
Spatium (plural: Spatia) / Space / Staff Space / sp. (abbr./unit)
The distance between the midpoints of two lines of a music staff (or one-quarter the size of the full five-line staff, assuming a hypothetical staff line thickness of 0). The sizes of most elements in the score are based on this setting (see Page settings).
Staff / Staffs
A set of lines and spaces, each representing a pitch, on which music is written. In ancient music notation (before 11th century) the staff may have any number of lines.
Staff Space
See Spatium (above).
Stave / Staves (BE)
See Staff (above).
Step-time input
MuseScore's default note input mode, allowing you to enter music notation one note (or rest) at a time.
System
Set of staves to be read simultaneously in a score. MuseScore 3 Dynamics's Dynamic range property use this definition.
See also →Operating System (OS).

T

Tie

A curved line between two adjavent notes of the same pitch to indicate a single note of combined duration:

  • Quarter note + Tie + Quarter note = Half note
  • Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note = Dotted Quarter note
  • Quarter note + Tie + Eighth note + Tie + 16th note = Double Dotted Quarter note
    See also →slur.
Transposition

The act of moving the pitches of one or more notes up or down by a constant interval. There may be several reasons for transposing a piece, for example:

  1. The tune is too low or too high for a singer. In this case the whole orchestra will have to be transposed as well—easily done using MuseScore.
  2. The part is written for a particular instrument but needs to be played by a different one.
  3. The score is written for an orchestra and you want to hear what the individual instruments sound like. This requires changing the transposing instrument parts to concert pitch.
  4. A darker or a more brilliant sound is desired.
Triplet
See →tuplet.
Tuplet
A tuplet divides its next higher note value by a number of notes other than given by the time signature. For example a →triplet divides the next higher note value into three parts, rather than two. Tuplets may be: →triplets, →duplets, →quintuplets, and other.

U

Upbeat
See →pickup measure.

V

Velocity
The velocity property controls how loudly the note is played, from 0 (silent) to 127 (maximum), see Loudness of a note This usage of the term comes from MIDI Velocity: on a keyboard instrument, it is the speed with which a key is pressed that controls its volume.
Voice
1. In Musescore, voice is a software feature, you can use up to 4 voices per staff, see When to use Voices, also see →staff.
2. Daily usage of the term voice refers to a musical line or part which can have its own rhythm. MuseScore does not have a feature to implement the exact same idea, if the voice feature does not suit your need, try adding separate instruments instead.
Volta
In a repeated section of music, it is common for the last few measures of the section to differ. Markings called voltas are used to indicate how the section is to be ended each time. These markings are often referred to simply as →endings.

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