Arpeggios and glissandi

Updated 6 months ago

    Arpeggios, strum arrows, glissandi (slide), portamento (glide), brass or woodwind instrument bends and Guitar techniques: Slide in and slide out can be applied from the Arpeggios & Glissandi palette:

    Arpeggios and Glissandi palette

    Many have an adjustable playback effect (see below).


    Adding an arpeggio/strum to your score

    To add an arpeggio/strum to a score:

    1. Click on any note in a chord (multiple selection is possible)';
    2. Click on an arpeggio/strum symbol in the palette.

    Alternatively you can drag an arpeggio/strum symbol from a palette onto a notehead.

    Adjusting the height of an arpeggio/strum

    Click on an arpeggio and two adjustment handles will appear at the top and bottom of the symbol. You can move either up or down by dragging, or by selecting a handle and using the up/down keyboard arrows.

    Creating multi-voice or cross-staff arpeggios

    Arpeggios only span the voice to which they are input initially, but then can then be adjusted to span multiple voices in the same instrument, even across multiple staves.

    To adjust an arpeggio to span multiple voices:

    1. Select either the top or bottom handle of the arpeggio
    2. Press Shift+ or Shift+ to move the handle up or down to the next adjacent voice

    The handle will jump to the next voice above or below that has any notes at that point. This includes voices on staves above or below, in the case of multi-staff instruments.

    The arpeggio is considered to 'belong' to the uppermost voice that it spans, and will be coloured accordingly.

    (Prior to MuseScore 4.2, only the bottom handle could be used, to extend an arpeggio to a voice of the same numberr in the stave(s) below. Any other adjustments had to be made manually.)

    Changing playback of arpeggios

    To change the speed of a selected arpeggio, press Playback in the Properties panel, and adjust "Spread delay".

    If you want to turn off playback altogether, untick the "Play" box in the General section of the Properties panel.

    Arpeggio style

    Default properties for all arpeggios in the score can be adjusted from the style menu at FormatStyleArpeggios:

    Arpeggio style settings


    To add a slide or "portamento" between two notes, add a glissando symbol and change its appearance and playback setting.

    To add a slide or portamento before or after a note before a note (a string instrument or guitar technique), add either one of the four brass or woodwind instrument bends or a Guitar techniques: Slide in and slide out, see also Guitar techniques. Alternative wavy symbols are found in the Symbols category in Master palette, those do not affect playback.


    Note: Guitar slides are covered in Guitar techniques.

    Adding a glissando to your score

    1. Select one or more start notes;
    2. Click on the desired glissando icon in the palette. A glissando is created extending to the next note in the same voice:

    Alternatively you can drag a glissando symbol from the palette onto a notehead.

    Glissandi can cross staves if needs be:

    Cross staff glissando

    Editing range of a glissando

    If required, you can change the start or end position of a glissando as follows:

    1. Select the edit handle whose position you want to change;
    2. Press Shift+///, to move the handle in the specified direction, one note at a time.

    This method can also be used to move the edit handle between voices and across staves.

    Changing appearance of glissandi

    The line type of a selected glissando—whether straight or wavy—and any text associated with it, can be changed in the Glissando section of the Properties panel. You can also turn off text by unchecking the "Show text" box.

    Changing playback of glissandi

    To change the playback effect, click on Playback and select an option from the dropdown list: chromatic, white keys, black keys, diatonic, portamento (this option for glissando symbol creates a portamento between two notes, to add other types see portamento).

    You can also choose to turn off the playback effect by unchecking "Play" in the General section of the Properties panel.

    Glissando properties

    The following properties are available in the Glissando section of the Properties panel.

    Glissando line: Choose from "Straight" or "wavy".
    Show text: Uncheck/Check this box to turn off/on the display of the glissando text.
    Text: Specify any text to appear with the glissando.

    The default style of all glissando text is determined by the settings of "Glissando" in FormatStyleText styles.


    Not to be confused with Guitar techniques: Bends.

    The Arpeggios & glissandi palette also contains bend symbols for brass or woodwind instruments:

    Brass bends

    These have a playback effect on the score.

    Types of bends


    if you are not sure what's what, mousing over the palette icon will display the name of the symbol in a tooltip.

    Adding a bend to your score

    1. Select a notehead;
    2. Click on the desired bend symbol in the palette.

    Alternatively, drag a bend symbol onto a notehead in the score;

    Changing appearance of bends

    To change the shape of the bend, click on it and four adjustment handles become visible. Drag the handles, or click on them and press the keyboard arrows, until you get the shape you want.