Better grace note behavior

• May 30, 2016 - 22:53

referring to:

I noticed that grace notes can have attributes " " (standard) and "after". The "after" attribute I think is made for upbeat effect, because of grace notes group lacking the properties "inbeat" and "upbeat" *.

Conceptually wrong in my opinion: grace notes are referred to THE note, not the previous one. Now in current MuSco 2.0.3, to have the "upbeat" grace notes I have to append them to a previous note in previous measure, in order to appear before the beam. (by the way there's currently a bug that prevent them from playback, already issued, original post ). More complicated if the previous measure is empty...

It would be easier to assign a group property "inbeat" and "upbeat":

  • if "upbeat": notes appear before the beam (if at the beginning of a measure), or in the very same measure if it's the first in the row**. they must play before the beat, so they should decrease the playback time of a previous note (if there's one)
  • if "inbeat": notes are always in the same measure, between the beams. The playback behavior should be the same as the one (and only) currently supported in MuSco.

From a musician point of view: inbeat grace notes are used mainly only in <1700 partition (bach, mozart...). Since romantic period, all the grace notes are all upbeat.

maybe I'll post images / scores if I wasn't clear enough.


* sorry guys, I hope I wrote in correct english. I mean in my native language (ITA): "in battere" and "in levare". If any administrator can edit my post to correct my lack of vocabulary, be my guest.

** to be discussed: for readability I think that the described is the correct behavior. By the way, one could state that the grace notes "upbeat" should always appear in the previous measure, independently if it is in an end-row measure, or even in another page. Maybe an editor choice?


FWIW, I don't really understand what you are saying, so I guess pictures might indeed help. I'm not aware of any musical term "inbeat" so I don't like the idea of inventing one, and I don't understand your propsoed meaning. The word "grace note" is well known, the words "before" and 'after" are perfectly clear, so I don't understand the problem you are trying to fix.

In reply to by n.costacurta

A Clarification first: Grace notes after the beat (Musescore slang) are not actually grace notes, they just have the same size and general appearance. They are the turns you often see at the end of trills (earlier versions of MS didn't give that option and required an awkward work around). They do belong to the previous note.
Also one needs to distinguish between appogiatura (German "Vorhalt" or "langer Vorschlag") where the grace notes are played for half the value of the note they are attached to--therefore on the beat by definition; and acciacatura with the "crossed out" grace note, played as short as doable--opinions differ if they ought to be on the beat (in battere) or before the beat (in levare). As far as I can see groups of grace notes generally belong the second case.
I am not quite sure, but I don't think it is common practice to signal the preference for on-vs.-before-the-beat of grace notes by their placement. As far as I remember the main notes are always aligned and the grace notes appear ahead of the chord. I have certainly not met a group where a barline was between the grace note(s) and the main note.
BTW your example 7 is doable the way you want it:
1. Enter a note in the second voice into the empty bar (choose the second voice to preserve the whole measure rest, you'll see it moving up two staff lines).
2. Attach the grace notes to that note.
3. Set the note on invisible and not playing (in the inspector) without making the grace notes invisible.
The whole measure rest will jump back to its original location and the grace notes will be placed the way you want them. How this would play back is another question I can't answer.

In reply to by azumbrunn

Thank you for your answer, i think it is the best "workaround" for what I need.

By the way, probably I'm wrong about the grace notes position before the beam.
Sure I'm not wrong about when to play them: it is baroque practice to play them in the note, while in more modern style they take place before the note. not sure how to explain... would you like an mp3 with Bach/Mozart vs Chopin/Liszt/...Gershwin? Right now I have no time to record, but if it is common to put all the grace notes on the same measure, so be it (as said, probably I'm wrong)!

The only last concern of mine is the playback, which is not essential for MS purpose.

thank you all, forgive the confusion that I created ;-)

In reply to by azumbrunn

Do you know if it's possible to make multiple notes function as an accitatura (it is, but they look silly)? Multiple grace notes used that way are very common in percussion notation, and the current playback implementation leaves much to be desired. I don't want them slashed-out, since that only is meaningful for flams: drags and 3-stroke ruffs are never written with the slashes, but always played before the main note.

It seems the best I can do it add multiple acciaturae and then change their duration to 16th notes (drags & 3-stroke ruffs are typically notated with 16ths and not 8ths or 32nds), but that still leaves a slash through the stem of the 1st note that's never used in actual percussion music.

If I add "normal" grace notes, I get the proper look, but the playback is all wrong (since the "normal" grace notes are appogiaturae).

This is quite desperately needed. Musescore's grace note functionality is... well, it's considerably lacking. You cannot put a clef between grace notes and the main note. You cannot tie grace notes to the main note else the playback is screwed up. You cannot without considerable effort (and only in the cases where the two measures are on the same line) put a grace note to a note at the end of the previous measure (which is what this whole post addresses). You cannot add any articulations or ornaments whatsoever to grace notes.

If it weren't for the fact that you cannot manually add to a note the slash that goes through the flag of an acciaccatura, then I would never use Musescore's grace note functionality. Unfortunately I'm currently stuck on a piece because there's an acciaccatura of one note that lies in the previous measure, which happens to be on the line above. Other than horrible workarounds (for which I am getting sick and tired of having to do for something as common as grace notes), there seems to be no way to do this.

EDIT: Apologies if I sound irritated. This is just the most irritating part of using Musescore, and I see no reason why it should be this way let alone for so long.

In reply to by LuuBluum

Can you post a scan of the measure in question so we have a better idea of what you're trying to write?


I agree. MuseScore does need nicer methods of letting us customize our grace notes. Something in the Inspector or edit element to allow us to switch playback between acciatura and "normal" grace notes would be useful, especially for contexts where it's extremely rare that you'd want to play grace notes as anything but acciaturae (such as most percussion ensemble music) and you wouldn't the slash every time you want a drag on your snare (for example).

See the middle example in the bottom-right of this PDF on drum notation


Out of curiosity:
1. How often do you encounter the need for a clef change between the grace note and main note?
2. When would you need to tie a grace note to the main note, rather than slur the grace note(s) to the main note?

In reply to by LuuBluum

Have you submitted feature requests to the issue tracker for any of those things? Some of that sounds pretty esoteric, and I don't recall them ever having come up before. So no wonder no one has never thought to implement them.

Some of what you write I don't understand though. What would it mean to tie a grace note to a main note, and what effect would exopect this to have for playback (which of course is not the main purpsoe of MuseScor,e but still, nice to at least think about)? And what problem are you having putting a grace note at the end of a measure/ That works just fine for me. Articulations can be placed via the symbols palette, although admittedly it's not a great method.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

This will answer both posts, but I'll make the reply specific to here.

For the case of clefs between grace notes and the main notes, see Rachmaninov's Prelude in F-sharp Minor and G Major (the former of which I already transcribed). For the case of ties between grace notes and the main note, it is usually a quasi-arpeggio. A good example would be Satie's 5 Nocturnes, measure 16. Those are most certainly ties, not slurs. More examples would be Rachmaninov Etude-Tableaux Op. 33 No. 2, Manuel de Falla's Fantasia Baetica, and Rachmaninov's Etude-Tableaux Op. 39 Nos. 2, 3, and 5.

As for putting a grace note at the end of a measure, you cannot place acciaccaturas at the end of a measure. There only exists standard 8, 16, and 32nd "grace note after", as they're called. There are no acciaccaturas. As in this example:


You can see the acciaccatura at the end of the second measure in the left hand. It is an acciaccatura (you can just barely see the slash, but it is certainly there).

As for your remarks regarding the slurs vs. ties for grace notes to the main note, do note that as of now, using ties gets the desired notation (i.e. the grace note is tied to the main note) but actually breaks playback- the note only plays for the duration of the grace note, and then stops completely. So, playback is actually broken in this case. As for putting this on the issue tracker, I did. Back in August. You renamed it in November. The link is here. I suppose I should include pictures of the examples.

5 Nocturnes:


Fantasia Baetica:


Op. 33 No. 2:


Op. 39 No. 2:






I will admit, the bit about articulations is more for playback purposes than anything (modifying the "time length" of a grace note, if you will). Doesn't mean that it isn't a desirable change outside of playback intentions, though.

In reply to by LuuBluum

Thank you for providing all those examples. I was expecting articulations on grace notes to appear in notation (namely, accents) more than clef changes, but I am not a pianist, so thanks for showing us the cases.

If I'm not mistaken, you also have both an acciatura *and* 4 grace notes entering the chord. Would that also be something you would like in MuseScore?

In reply to by LuuBluum

To note, I did manage a work-around for my problem. I used the eighth "grace note after", and on the following measure, added in invisible acciaccaturas. Well, invisible for everything but the slash. Then I moved the slash all the way over to the previous line.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm slightly lost on this: is there a feature request or implemented feature to have a cluster of grace notes before the barline? If not is there a better workaround that the following which I am using:
define a second voice place a semiquaver in the final position of the 2nd voice. Append grace notes to that. Hide the semi and uncheck "play" from inspector. Deleted the preceding 2nd voice rests. Adjust stem directions and 1st voice rest positions. This works, but leaves an unnatural space between the hidden second voice final semi and the barline. I can't find a way of closing that gap. Someone mentioned in one of the threads on this topic that Shfit-Left could be used to move the grace notes before the barline, but I can't get that to work. I have tried an alternative approach, which is to notate the grace notes in regular notation in a second voice, but I can't get the beams to scale down in size to appear consistent with other grace notes. Any suggestions. FWIW the example I am typesetting is attached.

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