Play only one instrument (or several selected instruments)

• Nov 11, 2016 - 02:49

A cool feature - assuming it's not already present - would be to allow the playing by the synthesizer of only certain selected instruments. For example, you could play only a clarinet's part. Or you could play only the trombone section. One way would be to select the instruments you want to hear by highlighting them and then hitting Enter (rather than spacebar). The current method of selecting parts is to click on one measure, then click on a measure directly above or below so that all the parts between those two clicks are highlighted.

If you wanted to add the ability to select parts that are not contiguous - for example the bass and lead trumpet parts - it would be necessary to add the ability to use the Ctrl key instead of the Shift key to add non-adjacent parts. In other words, Click on a measure in the bass part, hold down the Ctrl key, then click on a measure in the lead trumpet's part, so that both are selected (but not the instruments in between), then press Ctrl-Spacebar (or whatever) to play only those instruments' parts, starting with the highlighted measure.


If I understand you correctly, you are describing an existing feature - see View / Mixer. You can solo or mute instruments as you wish in one convenient window.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Didn't know about that feature. The only downside is that you have to go back into the mixer and turn everything back after you're done, and there's the potential for accidentally neglecting to return the mixer to its original state. But it will certainly do the job.

I think it would be a little faster to select the instruments directly, without bringing up that mixer window. Click one part first. Then if you want other instruments to play along with the first, select them as follows. If all the desired instruments are contiguous, hold down the Shift key and click another part to select all in between, as we do now - or if not all the instruments you want to play are contiguous, hold down the Ctrl key and click the individual parts one by one, so that there could be multiple blue highlight boxes, not just one tall one. Then hit Ctrl-Spacebar (or whatever) to play only those instruments selected. If you hit plain Spacebar, it would play all instruments (except for those muted in the mixer, of course) as it does now.

Whether it would justify the additional programming work, I don't know. Worth considering for a future version?

In reply to by Craig Wilson

Well, a mixer is generaly how you'll do that anyway, it's like most DAW you'll ever work on, as you can at least see which track are soloed/muted. To make it more easy to access they programmed a shortkey (I think it's F12 ;) ).

Hope it'll do it for now! :)

In reply to by Craig Wilson

If you are doing this sort of thing often, simply leave the Mixer up. And the advantage is, the settings stick even while you make selectiosn for other reasons. Having the selection mechanism double as the way to specify which instruments play would be severely limited in comparison. I'm not seeing any possible advantage, only disadvantages.

I write again to emphasize how cool a feature what I had suggested before would be. Let me try to explain it better this time.

1. You want to play one instrument only. You select a measure of that instrument and hit ENTER (rather than SPACEBAR) and it plays only that instrument from that point. You don't have to bring up the Mixer window, scroll to find that instrument, and click on Solo for it, then once you're done, go back in and unclick Solo. One mouse click and one keypress and it plays. Much faster, and without the danger of forgetting to restore to the original.

2. You want to play the trombone section alone. You select a measure of the top trombone staff, hold down the SHIFT key, then click directly below on the measure for the bottom trombone, thus selecting the whole section, then hit ENTER, and it plays the whole trombone section from that point. You don't have to go into the Mixer and click Solo for each trombone, then once you're done, go back in and unclick them.

3. You want to play the lead alto and the string bass only, or the trumpet section and the rhythm section only, or any combination. This would require adding a new capability - that of selecting two or more measures which are not adjacent. The best way would be that once a measure is selected, hold down the CTRL key (rather than the SHIFT key) and click one or more additional instruments above or below, which would put a blue box around each of the selected measures. Then hit ENTER and it plays just those instruments.

I don't mean to be a pest and fully understand if this would all be too much work, but I'm convinced that if implemented it would make it a lot easier for a composer or arranger to hear individual instruments or sections, if that's important to anyone. The mixer box is a bit cumbersome, in my opinion, although it certainly works fine, and that option would still be available if you want to work on the same group of instruments over a period of time. Thanks for listening.

In reply to by Craig Wilson

I like this idea. It makes sense. You should be able to shift select adjacent instruments or ctrl-select to add non adjacent instruments like many other types of programs. ENTER does not have to be the way to activate this feature if that conflicts with another default setting. It would be able to be user defined like other shortcuts.

In reply to by Wim Leo

Me to. It would be so nice to only play one or more selected instrument. If this facility is made, please remember to add the possibility to export in MP3 and other formats for only selected instruments. When rehearsal, this would be very useful!

Thanks for a very nice program.

This is basically how I expected the playback to work, as I previously used Sibelius quite heavily.

Using the mixer is a bit of a PITA for quick testing of internal harmonies etc. But I appreciate the code change to implement this might be quite difficult.

I just want to boost this again. Coming from Sibelius, which uses more-or-less the proposed approach, and having spent some time now working on an orchestra score in MuseScore, I can attest that the Sibelius approach is way better when using the program as a composition tool (as opposed to simply an engraving tool).

Especially in an orchestra score, if you just want to hear the strings, it is a hassle to individually check solo on all the string parts, and then to have to un-check solo individually again afterwards to prevent it remaining in that state. As a composer, I frequently want to test by ear various different combinations of parts, and the mixer is a very inefficient way of doing that. For instance, what if I want to hear just the strings for a passage, then just the brass, then strings + brass, then winds alone, then all three? It takes zero effort using the proposed approach, whereas with the mixer it would take ages of checking and unchecking solo. Even worse, with an orchestral score, the channels of the mixer don't all fit on the screen, so you have to scroll to access the parts that you're individually checking and un-checking.

I know that MuseScore isn't Sibelius, that it has a different history and trajectory. Sometimes this is actually really great, and I run into things that MuseScore has implemented in a smarter way. Still, I think there are a lot of valuable things that could be borrowed from Sibelius / adapted to fit within the MuseScore workflow, and to me, this is a big one.

Let me know, though, if there's some currently implemented way to test different orchestral sections (as I described above) that doesn't involve so much clicking and un-clicking. I don't pretend to be a MuseScore expert and I may well have missed something!

In reply to by MarcEvanstein

To me the logical design would be to have a modifier like Shift trigger playback of selection only. So, selection a region, Shift+space or Shift+click the play button. This seems the least disruptive to the regular workflow.

As for better ways to do the job now, try generating a "part" for the section. I've done this from time to time and found it useful.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

This was my suggestion originally and looking back at the top post I had suggested Shift-Spacebar to activate playback and that is certainly a better option than the Enter key, which I suggested later. Maybe I wasn't sure that Shift-Spacebar was a thang but it's definitely more logical.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Shift-spacebar sounds like a smart approach!

Also, thanks so much for your suggestion about generating parts for the sections that I want to test. This helped a lot on my orchestra piece, and it's a decent workaround for the time being.

By the way, I'm a pretty decent programmer -- a ton of Python, but more and more experience with C++ as well -- and I was thinking about trying to contribute in some small ways in the future. I took a look at the code base a bit ago, and while it seemed understandable, it was so vast that it was a little overwhelming. Any thoughts about how I might go about finding my way in the wilderness?

In reply to by MarcEvanstein

Also, there should be a way to only hear certain notes from an instrument as opposed to all the sound coming from that one instrument. So for example, I'd like to hear only the notes/chords being played in the bass clef of the piano and not the higher notes on the treble clef (or vice-versa). Or perhaps for even more freedom, we can have some way of selecting only the notes we want to be played (using Shift or Cmd/Ctrl such that they are highlighted) and then have them played in time following the measures and stuff while other unselected notes are ignored/not played. This could work in lots of different and useful ways like having certain notes from even multiple instruments played together in time while other notes (including those from the same instruments) just ignored as pauses or something. This would be extremely helpful when trying to isolate certain sounds on the fly as you try to see what would fit among the myriad of sounds playing.

In reply to by cafabarce1

You can mute per voice and per staff in the mixer.

Selecting notes for playback seems very selection-intensive and to me personally less useful. Selecting a Range of instruments and then triggering a special playback command to only play those instruments, a request made before by several others, makes a lot more sense to me.

But if you want to go into click-selection-land for playback of only a given set of notes, consider first selecting all notes and unchecking "play" in the inspector (to silence all the other notes). Then make your desired selection and re-enable "play" for them in the inspector.

2022 - It's still not implemented. I absolutley dont understand why they dont.

Always going to the mixer and clicking things on and off, forgetting to turn it on again when I come back - going back to the mixer klicking a hell lot of small buttons, scrolling ... its a pain in the arse and one of the biggest dowsnsides for me now switching from Sib.
The Mixer option "like in a DAW" is not really workflowing.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

JoJo, I found out this feature by accident. If I click on an instrument in the score, only that instrument plays. Cool feature, but it has a downside. What if you wanna play ALL instruments starting in the middle of the score. You have to click on all the instruments in the score, then hit play button (at the top) or the spacebar. A little inconvenient. Or do you know a quick way to start in the middle of the score to play all instruments (nothing muted)?

In reply to by odelphi231

Just click a single note, or really, anything that doesn't create a range selection.

I love the feature of being able to solo staves this way, but still do not like how awkward it is to play the whole score. It was designed this way on purpose, so that people would discover it accidentally, but as you're seeing, it's by no means as obvious how not to do this.

In reply to by odelphi231

V4. If you want to hear just the trombone part at measure 25, select the whole measure 25 in the trombone part. Hit play to hear only the trombone part. To hear all instruments at bar 25, select the first note of that measure in any instrument. hit play.

With MuseScore 4 it is now possible to easily play a single part or adjacent parts, and this is indeed very nice and useful. But unfortunately it is still impossible to select non adjacent parts (using e.g. Ctrl+click), because the play selection mechanism is bound to the range selection one, which doesn't allow for non-contiguous selection,

While I suppose (hope) there is a rationale for not allowing the selection of individual parts in a range selection, I see no reason why one could not select any combination of parts to play. It sounds (no pun intended) totally arbitrary / absurd to only be able to select adjacent parts.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I know it's possible, but - as pointed out by others - frankly inconvenient. This is just too bad that MuseScore4's new and efficient way of selecting the parts to play doesn't include the selection of non adjacent parts...

This is a minor criticism, I love the new MuseScore, the UX has really improved and the Muse sounds are great!

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