Tips for writing out guitar music?

• Dec 25, 2018 - 14:37

I've recently downloaded Musescore v3.0, having used v2 a couple of years ago. I'd like to write out a guitar piece in Tablature with a linked standard 5-line stave, using Musescore. My intuition tells me to notate RH thumb notes in Voice 1 (blue) with downward pointing stalks on the stave and 1, 2, 3 RH finger plucked notes in Voice 2 (green) with upward stalks. Is this the best way? Is there any guidance on writing techniques, e.g. to write the thumb part first for a section, and then go back to write the finger part? I find it difficult to switch frequently between voices. Any help/techniques gratefully received.


You are thinking backwards. When you use more than one voice MuseScore automatically puts the stems for the blue voice 1 notes pointing up and green voice 2 notes pointing down. There is no reason to override this since the colors don't show up in printed music.

In reply to by mike320

Yeah, I may have got the colours the wrong way around. The colour is neither here nor there, and I know they don't show once input. I was really wanting to know whether using two voices was the best way of doing it, and general advice on techniques for writing out a finger-style guitar part.

You may find that to achieve notes ringing out as you would actually play them that you need to use 4 voices, especially with classical pieces and fingerpicking songs. Having said that, v3 may have introduced a new "let ring" feature as it was on the development list.

In reply to by IanKR

It's mainly for playback to allow notes to sustain more realistically. If you put all your non-bass notes into a single voice then it can sound a bit staccato as each note in the voice will stop the previous note in the same voice even if they are on different strings.

I often use two voices, even three.
Be sure the notation does not get too confusing in the pursuit of accurate playback.
Also don't forget: if the part is rhythmically simple (everything rings) you can write everything in voice one and use the un-labelled piano pedal bracket with a "let ring" text on the first one.

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guitar example.mscz 7.48 KB

In reply to by mkjnovak

In the pursuit of accurate playback I usually resort to using all 4 voices to achieve correct note sustain but your comment on "confusing" is so true. To keep my scores looking simple I make all the sustain notes, ties, stems and hooks hidden – but this takes quite a bit of effort.

There is a guitar "let ring" function in the Lines palette of v3 but it's quite labour intensive. By default it extends the playback of a note through to the end of the measure, even if another note occurs on the same string before the end of the measure. In reality a note would gradually fade to zero, (across multiple measures), unless stopped in some way: e.g. another fret played on the same string, fret released, palm mute etc. So it's better than using the piano pedal and easier than my workaround but it needs enhancement to be more accurate and user friendly.

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