How can I change note duration after input without deleting future notes or adding rests?

• Feb 5, 2019 - 20:01

I input notes with a MIDI keyboard, and since Musescore doesn't support note duration from it I have to go back and edit the durations manually, but when I try to edit them it either deletes the next note(s) or adds unnecessary rests. Yes I know they're necessary because of the time signature, however it's confusing and difficult as a beginner to figure out how to format it so that the note durations all work with the time signature so that it sounds the way it does in my head. Is there no way to edit durations after input without having to basically change the entire rest of the score, like having it automatically move notes into the next measure instead of deleting them? If not, is there a better way I could be doing it so that I don't have to go back and edit everything?


This is a feature that has been asked tons of times (you can find epic discussions about it in the forum), but is quite difficult to implement in MuseScore due to the internal way the data structures are organised (everything is saved "by measure").
Since Version 3 it is available by measure though, which is already a progress (under Timewise input mode).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yeah, I gotta say, I'm not getting this either. Say I have a long passage written in one measure. I want to repeat that same series with different time values (changing from 16th to 8ths, maybe), so I copy the first two beats of that series into a measure of four beats, then... how do I change those to eights? I've got plenty of empty space in the measure but when I change the first 16th to an 8th, I lose the next 16th, so I've gone from 8 notes to 7.

It's also counter intuitive that I can dot a note (making it longer) and MuseScore will just trim the following note by the same value, but if I change the note value (16th to 8th) MuseScore deletes the following note. I'm doing the same basic thing in both cases, changing duration, but one elongation keeps my input while another one deletes it.

Similar problem if I have half + three 8ths but decide, no, this should be half then a quarter note triplet. I'd like to be able to delete the tied 8th, select the remaining 8ths, tap '4', then add tuplet. \

What I actually have to do seems to be just to rewrite the whole measure, correct?

In reply to by [DELETED] 35205082

When you go from a two 16ths and you make the 1st one a 1/8th, MuseScore also "trims" the following note by the appropriate duration, just like when you'd add a dot to the first note. It just so happens that the remaining "trimmed" duration is 0. And a note of no length at all is no note at all.

For the half/double duration, you can make use of the paste as half/double commands

For turning non-tuplets into tuplets (or vice versa) MuseScore indeed has no easy solution. So rewriting is in order then.

In reply to by [DELETED] 35205082

As mentioned above, if the goal is literally to replace all 16ths with 8ths and similar double everything else, just coup the measure then use Edit / Paste Double Duration.

If it's not so straightforward, realize MsueScore can't read your mind about what you'd like to have happen to subsequent notes. Currently, MuseScore tries very hard not to let changes to one change have the side effect of effect of moving other notes earlier or later. You say it's counter intuitive, and it might be for the specific note you were changing and your specific reasons or changing it, but it's actually extremely intuitive in many other cases.

For example, if you have a quarter note on beat one, then a couple of rests, then another quarter note on beat four, then you change the first quarter to a half, you probably don't want that quarter on beat 4 to move at all. Or if it's the other way around - the first note was originally a half then you shorten it to a quarter. In cases like these, you'll be very glad MuseScore doesn't move other notes earlier or later every time you change a duration.

For the cases where you do want other notes to move, cut and paste works great, and it allows you to specify exactly which notes to move and which to leave alone.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Ah, yes, I should have written that more clearly. Perhaps it's more clear to say that outcomes between different modes and input methods have a matrix of relationships and exceptions that are hard to predict.

So, the handbook says that insert mode "allows you to insert and delete notes and rests within measures, automatically shifting subsequent music forwards or backwards." Reading that, I expect insert to mean non-destructive editing within the measure, which is simple enough. In fact, if I'm in note input-insert mode the behavior is to overwrite if I enter the pitch on my midi keyboard (just like step time), but to push notes out into a now arbitrarily lengthened measure when I enter pitches on the computer keyboard. So, that's perplexing.

Normal mode is another example, where it mostly operates as an overwrite mode within the bounds of the measure except on the last beat, when it turns into note entry mode for a moment and creates pitches in the subsequent measure (destructively, overwriting anything already there).

Does that make more sense?

In reply to by [DELETED] 35205082

The HandbooK is inaccurate with respect to insert mode, so I can see how it would be confusing. It isn’t meant for ordinary editing, really it’s more about creating long measures (eg, for meterless music). But I’ve never tried it with MIDI, if it is not inserting there, that sounds like a bug worth reporting to the issue tracker.

I don’t understand your comment about normal mode, though. It’s always overwrite - overwriting the full duration of the nite you just entered. That can indeed include overwriting content in the next measure. Not doing so would be inconsistent.

First: I highly recommend against trying to enter pitches first then durations. Simply enter durations along with pitches. It's easy, you can either select the durations with the mouse, computer keyboar,d or customzies keys on MIDI keyboard to send the duration keys. You will save yourself a ton of grief; MuseScore simply was not designed to allow generic notes and then changes lots of durations later. No more than a word processor would allow you to type in one paragraph and then magically change it to another without retyping it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That is just stupid, insanely stupid - how can you have a program not being able to do this... I thought this was a most perfect program, and then finding out it is not possible - you really need to fix this feature or people will look other places. How ridiculous!
I'm toying around with old songs that does not have these 4/4 or whatever, they have them where there is a break in the song lyrics. And some needs to have a replay but because of this insanity I can't put it where it should be, and I have no possible way of moving the notes?
And making mistakes, I can't go into it and edit it and fix something - oh come on, that does not make any sense. Or if I want to change something because I find it better suited, I have to rewrite the whole piece? Oh, come on, get a grip on yourself. This is outrageous.

And I thought I had find the perfect program for doing some small jobs, and you haven't even gotten a standard feature as such in the problem. I would advice you guys to do something about it - this is bad, very bad!

In reply to by Shoichi


Dunno as I was running it on Linux - I do have an installed version on Windows as well which should be the newest.

Nope I have not looked much into the handbook, I looked on some youtube video's and then used google when I hit into this problem and to my horror saw this thread.

Yea, just wonder why something like this would not be in a computer score sheet program by DEFAULT - it seems some of the other programs iv now tried to check for the same indeed have the same issue. Like whats the idea of that, the idea for myself for beginning to go into music and these programs was to be able to edit as I go as there are different versions of some of the old 1600 protestant melodies. Their listening to them and be able to edit them on the fly would be the way to go for me.

By the way I'm still pretty newbie to all this music and such - but in the old books of the 1600 century you don't have these 4/4 or whatever numbers. They actually use the upside standing lines to show where the Lyrics breaks which makes total sense to me in replacement of putting and battling these lines like every this and that 1/4 notes times 4 and a line.

Like if I want to put a repeat I have to follow the the order of the ending measure?

I can see the version of linux installed is 2.3.2 - windows is so maybe I should try using that and looked at the link you gave.

Have a good day and Jehovah bless! :)

In reply to by [DELETED] 32910369

Again, it's not really clear what you are having trouble with specifically. As I said, MuseScore handles the operations you mentioned quite easily and well, so without seeing your specific score and a clear description of what you are trying to do, it is difficult to assist well. Most likely once you attach your score and give a clear explanation of the problem you are experiencing, we'll be able to provide you with step by step instructions to accomplish your goal and we'll have you of minutes.

In reply to by [DELETED] 32910369

Not to worry, MuseScore handles this kind of music quite well. You don't need a time signature, you can split measures wherever you want, add line breaks anywhere, and easily move notes earlier or late r- none of these things are difficult at all in MuseScore. So it's not clear what specific aspect of this you are having trouble with, but feel free to attach your score and describe in more detail what you are having trouble figuring out how to do, and we're happy to help!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry for being a little harsh in my words. I just thought it would have been a standard feature to be able to edit things easily from one note length to another. I found out by doing some notes and finding out I had forgot to do the real length of the notes and I thought the feature would have been standard to easy fix it yet I saw my minor work deleted in the same time fixing the issues.

Ahh, I can actually do without Time signature - like in the 1600 century? Like a whole measure alone for itself and be able to do line breaks where I want them? The old 1600 music books I have used the line breaks for showing where the lyrics stops, it made pretty good sense to me, before looking at now a day score sheets, wondering what was going on with all those lines.

I'm going to try to move over on Windows, I have an old version on Linux - at least I will know it is not an older version in regards of the any issue.

Thanks both of you, for your quick replies and soft words, as I was somewhat frustrated :)

In reply to by [DELETED] 32910369

Actually what you don't have in MuseScore is an insert mode. You must simulate it by cut and paste.
So if you have entered e.g. 30 notes, and the 16th one has a wrong length, the trick to keep the notes 17 to 30 as they are and must be is to cut and paste them 'at the right place' (making the 16th note longer or shorter).
If you insist on having a insert mode, there are three possibilities:
-submit a PR
-use Dorico
-use Lilypond

In reply to by frfancha

On the other hand I fully agree on the fact that cut and paste give you full control.
Still when you enter a long string of notes by keyboard and must after that correct several mistakes cut and paste is painful compared to true insert mode.
But once the piece is more or less in place, an insert mode doesn't make sense anymore and only cut paste small chunks does, that's for sure.
Insert mode would mainly be useful in the beginning of the process of entering the score.

In reply to by frfancha

Changing the measure length is exactly what you want in meterless music, and exactly what cut & paste do not accomplish. So I'd claim what we have is the true insert mode. What Dorico has is no doubt useful in some special situations, like changing durations in notes that were for whatever reason entered incorrectly, but that's really a different use case what is being discussed here now (even if it's closer to what the original poster in this thread was asking about).

In reply to by frfancha

But you can (ab)use insert mode for correcting things like this. Assuming you've entered a rhythm not quite correctly and measure lengths shouldn't change, but content should shift instead:

  1. Use insert mode to lengthen notes where desired (yes, it'll change measure length)
  2. Use ctrl/cmd-delete to remove remainders of notes you need shortened after shortening them (yes, it'll change measure length)
  3. Cut the whole thing once all these corrections have been made
  4. Remove the (now irregular) measures
  5. Insert new (regular) measures
  6. Paste

Sure, still not as fluently as words flow in a text editor, but not quite impossible either; with less hassle than the old multiple cut-and-paste solution.

In reply to by jeetee

Yes, this does the trick if it's just about correcting a note or two. But not so much for the workflow in the original post, where someone had entered a whole string of notes with no thought to rhythm, then wanted to go back and change the duration of pretty much each and every note. For that, I'd suggest just opening a scratch score, entering the pitches there if that helps you remember what they are, then as you figure out the rhythms, just enter the notes into the real score normally (pitch & duration together), referring to the scratch score to help you remember the pitches. You could even use the "rhythm" input mode to enter just the rhythm, then go back and re-enter the pitches using "re-pitch" mode. I don't know, still better to just enter it correctly to be begin with. If that requires using pencil and paper to help you organize your thoughts, there's no shame in that.

In reply to by frfancha

I would expect most good writers do use pencil and paper to work out ideas. Way faster and more efficient for many things. But, I'm not saying one has to use pencil and paper, just it might be the best choice as it will save the trouble of re-entering things that you failed to get right the first time. But if you're OK with re-entering, you can skip the pencil and paper. Just as in a text editor, if you type the word "cat" and decide to change it to "feline", you need to retype the word, and no one says that's only because the text editor's capabilities are poor. If you get it extremely wrong to begin with, you might need to rework it. That's just a fact of life. If pencil and paper helps you get it right the first time, it's a win, whether we are talking about music or text.

Anyhow, while I agree if MsueScore functioned both a "composer's scratch pad" and as a notation program, to me that's two separate functions, really. In order to function as a composer's scratch pad there's really quite a but more you'd need. I mean, composing linearly - starting with the first note of the piece, working your way measure by measure to the end - that's not really how real composing is done. I'm not saying a change-duration-and-push-some-unspecified-number-of-subsequent-numbers-to--the-right command couldn't be useful, but it hardly solves the bigger picture problems that will still have composers using pencil and paper a lot.

In reply to by frfancha

Ya looking at LilyPond - looks like it might be the way then. I don't understand why some can't see the issue of not being able to fix the length of a note on the fly.
If someone just put in notes - one should be able thereafter to fix the length of them all without destroying it all or needing to do gymnastic stuff to get the program doing what you want.
It's very sad, because the application looked very good and was running on Linux as well.

Thanks for the info - I even found Lilypond for Web - so you can do it in the browser. But I need to learn more about the program and see if I can figure it out on a higher level.

Thanks - Hope Musescore fixes an easy fix on length of note and that people don't just try to explain the issue away.

In reply to by [DELETED] 32910369

As explained already, you can fix note lengths if you make a mistake, it's actually quite easy, depending on the specifics of what type of mistake you made, when you notice the mistake, and how you want it fixed. Again, in order to advise better we need you to attach a specific score and describe the specific problem you are trying to solve. Different solutions for different problems, even though they might all involve fixing a note length. Until we understand the nature of the error you are trying to correct (and error noticed immediately after entering the note? an error noticed only after leaving note input mode? an error on one note or a whole sequence of them, like maybe wanting to halve/double them all?) and how specifically you want it changed (you want the duration of the measure changed? or perhaps some specific number of subsequent notes moved earlier/later?), we really can't tell you how to proceed. Give us the information we need to help you, and we'll gladly do so!

In reply to by [DELETED] 32910369

It is a standard feature to edit note lengths. Because far more music has meter than not here in the 21st century, the default behavior of this is to keep other notes on the beats where you entered them, but you can always move things with cut and paste as mentioned. Not sure exactly why you'd be doing that, though, it wouldn't be a very efficient way to enter music. Better to get the duration right to begin with, meter or no meter. And yes, no time signature, one bar per line, bars standing alone with space before or after with breaks wherever you want - all very easy in MuseScore. But indeed, easier with MuseScore 3 than MuseScore 2. No need to move over to Windows, MuseScore 3.2.3 is available for Linux as well. if it's not in your particular repo by default, just chek out the Downlaod page on this site to see the various ways of getting it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yeah. No. This analogy this kind of broken and (imho) so is this software.
In a word processor I have a choice when I change a word. Either I can shift everything to the right (insert mode) or I can over-write what is there.
In fact, this is common with video editors as well. I can "ripple edit" and auto-shift everything after I'm editing, or I can alter the length of the next clip while adjusting the current clip length.
It seems kind of broken that I can't do this in MuseScore.
Say I want to shorten the length of a note in the middle of a measure. It inserts a rest after the altered note (I have no choice about this). If I don't want the rest there I need to copy-and-paste the rest of the measure to get rid of the rest. PIA and kinda lame. Why can't I have a mode that says to insert needed rests at the end of the measure? Or even a mode the says shift the entire rest of the score "to the left".
This shouldn't be that hard.

In reply to by JR_West

Words are inherently different from music notation, you can simply shift them to the right without changing anything about their meaning or spelling. The word "whole" doesn't suddenly turn into the phrase "dotted half tied to quarter" just because you shift it right a little. but in music, that's exactly what happens if you shift a whole note right by a beat.

Normally notes exist at a particular point in time, and changes you make in measure 4 shouldn't be expected to change anything at all about measure 17. Again, this is totally unlike how words work.

So yes, technically it's possible to design a program to do this, but it would be awkward and very often not what you want at all. Instead, cut and paste gives you the complete freedom to decide for yourself how many subsequent notes you want to move.

If you think you've figured out an algorithm that wouldn't be hard to implement and would produce good result, feel free to try your hand - MuseScore is open source. Meanwhile, please accept that it is nowhere near as simple or straightforward as it might appear at first glance if you are comparing only to word processors.

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