Sort instrument list in mixerPLEASE !!!

• Jun 7, 2020 - 08:24

The attached picture shows the instrument list in the drop down list in the mixer (F10).
Instruments are not sorted, so the only way to find another instrument is to browse the - long - list, and check them one by one.
And if we want to come back to the previous instrument - scan again one be one.
Very time consuming.
Any way to sort the list in alphabetical order ?

Thank you!

Attachment Size
MS Instruments in Mixer.jpg 129.65 KB


They are sorted in the ordered General MIDI uses. Or rather in the order the soundfont has the sounds, and that in turn is defined be General MIDI.

In reply to by cadiz1

Thank you Cadiz for your reply. I see this concern has already been dealt with. Sorry for posting a question already asked. BTW, I haven't find yet how to search the forums. When using the search field, it seems to browse the existing MS scores, not the posts in the forum?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Hello Jo,
I've been a programmer approximately 18 years in my carrer, so I get the point.
Seemingly, we are talking of two different things:
- Point of view of the user: improvement, user-friendliness, new useful features...
- Point of view of programmer: underlying complexity.
Troubles come, when the programmer tend to reject user's request based only on underlying complexity.
My way out when I was a programmer was:
- Acknowledge relevance of user request in terms of user benefits. Yes, undisputabely, dealing with a sorted list makes more sense in this case than dealing with a chaotically (from a user point of view) sorted one.
- Informing users of the impact in terms of complexity.
Sometimes, it was easy to safisfy the request, sometimes more complex. Which in turn a user can understand.

The same is true for other situations than programmaing: when you have a house built for example. Yes it is possible to have a rooftop terrace. A rooftop swimming pool might be doable to, but probably more costly :)

It's worth noting that the mixer doesn't have a list of instruments at all, merely a list of the different sounds that any one instrument might happen to be able to produce. You shouldn't be using the mixer to change instruments, that's what Change Instrument (under Staff/Part Properties, after right-clicking a staff) is for. The mixer is for things like changing from "Clean" to "Palm Mute" sounds for your guitar instrument, and for that you'll be glad they are organized logically and not alphabetically.

For the few cases where you do need to choose a new sound that is not related to the normal sound for the instrument - can happen when using alternate playback sounds for voice staves, for instance - the typing-first-letters approach works great, though.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hello Marc,

Thank you for you answer and explanation. If the mixer is not meant to select an instrument, I'll use the change instrument on the staff properties instead.

Now please excuse the following questions coming from a dummy end-user, knowing nothing about the internals of Musescore, and eagerly making sure he knows nothing about it, since he doesn't have to :)

>> 'the different sounds that any one instrument might happen to be able to produce'.
We'll certainly agree that, from a pure user perspective, the meaning of a saxophone producing a piano sound, or a flute producing a horn one, is rather hard to understand :) When a user wants a piano sound, he selects a piano. If a saxophone, he selects a saxophone.
Now what might be relevant from a user point of view, is to choose the few possible variations for a given instrument : grand piano, jazz piano etc. Baryton, Tenor, Alto, for a Saxophone.
But then, what's the purpose of presenting the whole list?

>> 'and for that you'll be glad they are organized logically and not alphabetically.'
Still remaining ground based from an end-user perspective, whenever a list is displayed, especially if there are numerous items, I find it frustrating to have to browse all items of the list to find the one that I need. Is there a logic that I missed, to more easily retrieve a given item ?
I noted the 'Quickly-type-the-first-few-letters' hint. Thank you about it, it really helped. I see it as a rather non-user friendly (how do I guess if I don't ask in the forum?) workaround? Did I miss something?

Last note, my purpose of making these points is, especially since a redesign is being considered, to really help if possible, by bringing yet another angle of view. Needless to say that I'm grateful everytime I use MS for this amazing product - sincerely ! And am aware that we owe it to very devoted and skilled people like you Marc, and few others :) Thank you for that and your valuable help in these forums.

Best Regards.

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

The Mixer indeed is not for selecting and instrument, but for selecting a sound.
And some instruments can produce multiple sounds, like e.g. violin: arco, pizzicato and tremolo, and also faster or slower vibrato and expr. (for single note dynamics)
For a SATB you may not want Choir Aahs, but some woodwind sounds

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Exactly, I usually choose Baryton Sax for Bass in SATB. But then, I'm fine with changing the instrument. This logic of differentiating sound and instrument still seems to me an abstract, technical-driven concept, rather than the concrete experience of an end-user.
And even, coming back to what I said above, in real life, a grand piano and a jazz piano are two different instruments. Each one producing one specific sound.
I'll be glad to get the point of differenciating instrument and sound, but have read nothing yet that helps me to do it...

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

It is not that abstract, but necessary. The Instrument really is the human bass voice, you just don't like the sound that goes along with it.
It is the instrument for example that determines the amateur and professional range
Or for plucked strings the number and tuning of stings and number of frets. Still might be a distorted guitar sound or a clean, or nylon strings etc.
Also MuseScore supports many more instruments than sounds (in a GM soundfont), so needs to pick the closed approximation for quite a fe

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I think I'm partly getting to the point, somehow. For some of your examples, it seems to address situations were slight modifications of a given instrument changes the range of sounds produced.
Then yet, why not just display the very few variations, instead of a complete list that does not ?
So in the staff property, change the instrument, and in the mixer, change the (reduced) range of 'sounds' available. That would fix the issue.

For the human voice, it seems more tricky. If I want a baryton sax sound for a SATB Bass voice, I know that it has nothing to do with a human voice, even if it is on the SATB Bass staff. And then it's seems ok to me to change the instrument.

Thanks for having shared your viewpoint, it helps me get to it...

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

Actually, here, no, definitely don't change the instrument. Changing the instrument will make MuseScore think you literally are changing which instrument you are writing for and it will thus change the transposition, range, clef, and staff name accordingly. You don't want any of that, in this particular special case you do actually do want to just change the playback sound. So in this case selecting it from the mixer is the right way to go.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I understand your point entirely,but perhaps for people like myself who have modest requirements
(as my monicker might suggest) it is not,I think,unreasonable to use MUSESCORE as someone with a
casio/yamaha keyboard might use their keyboard..
I came to MUSESCORE to write some simple songs for a Nativity play,unable to read or write music
(just play a bit of guitar by ear).I found it ideal to use a "Voice + Piano" format,initially.
"Voice" was the melody line and I would use whatever instrument sound complemented the song.
To begin with the "piano" became an organ so i could easily create back-up chords.
Plaudits to MUSESCORE for allowing me to use it in this rudimentary way.
Reproducing the sound of a strummed guitar (mainly due to the limitations of free sound fonts)
has always been a problem for me - the ringing tone of a banjo is perhaps the closest I have got.(LOL)
but I flip between nylon strings,12 string,natural etc and various additional fonts.
SO - after the long explanatory pre-amble -
could you tell me if there is a file on my Linux system I could interrogate to see where the drop down
list of instrument sounds come from? (I appreciate it might not be as simple as that..)

In reply to by strumathon

The thing is, MsueScore is a program designed for music notation, not just playback. That's a huge difference between it and a keyboard. So when you change which actual instrumen t you are writing for, you have to change the transposition, clef, and so forth. Otherwise when you print the music and give it to the players to play, it will sound entirely wrong. That's why it's vital to change the instrument not just the sound - because otherwise it might sound right when played within MsueScore, but it will be wrong on paper and will sound wrong when human musicians play it.

The list of sounds is the General MIDI standard, in use by pretty much every synthesizer produced over the past few decades. Almost certainly the same list on your casio/yamaha keyboard. So the manual for it probably has the list printed out, but if not, just do a web search for "General MIDI".

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I appreciate the points you are making.
My "compositions" - such as they are (LOL) - are conceived with a guitar and
I don't expect that I will ever write a piece that uses instruments other than
voice/guitar/mandolin & -or fiddle/banjo/whistle/harmonica/organ or piano/drums.
Those instruments will be correctly delineated.
All I do is to change the playback sound for that instrument if I don't like the font sound, for "demo" purposes.
e.g I often find the sound of the viola is more natural than the fiddle,and the ringing sound of a strummed acoustic guitar sounds better with the banjo font (imo).
Some members of the community have gone to great lengths to explore the possibilities of guitar playback,
for which I am grateful.
Tbh I am quite pleased with the demo versions I have,from the "playback" point of view,(but obviously
the score for keyboards is bound to look awful,on account of the fact that I cannot play one!)
OK - I will get hold of a "Generall Midi" list and go from there.

In reply to by strumathon

And I think you will soon come to appreciate its organization which is perfect so exactly this scenario. Changing sound from banjo to one of the various guitars is precisely the sort of thing that is far simpler when these are all adjacent rather than spread all over the place alphabetically.

BTW, not sure what "demo versions" you mean?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

To complete my answer :

>> And some instruments can produce multiple sounds, like e.g. violin: arco, pizzicato and tremolo, and also faster or slower vibrato and expr.

Agree, and this is true for certainly most instruments. We're talking about the way a given instrument is played, aren't we ? This may change at any note (pizzicato, legato...) Fortunately, we don't have to change instrument at each note :) It is correctly handled by the same instrument all along the stave.
If the point is to diffenciate say 'Tenor Sax' and 'Tenor Sax Expr.', why not just display the applicable few elements, instead of the whole list?

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

"I noted the 'Quickly-type-the-first-few-letters' hint. Thank you about it, it really helped. I see it as a rather non-user friendly (how do I guess if I don't ask in the forum?) workaround? Did I miss something?"

Not user-friendly, I agree. I myself must have "suffered" from this kind of endless and annoying research. Before falling on Marc's trick on the forum. From memory, it's not specific to MuseScore, we find this principle or tip in other software (I really forgot where and which ones).
Tip relayed on the forums, the French forum for example:

This kind of request appears from time to time, but not regularly. Either people read the forums (at least at the right time!) and know this trick, or they use the Mixer rather little (possible, but not sure), or they always choose the same instruments - according to their own practice - and that they usually manage to find the sound of the instrument quite easily?

Either way, I'm not sure that the idea of alphabetical order would be the panacea. Take for example I'd like a Ukulele sound (although there is no specific one, it's just for the sake of example!) With the U, you'd have to go down to the very bottom of the drop-down list... annoying in the long run probably. Here I type the letter "U", bingo, I fall on it in a quarter of a second.

Maybe this trick could appear as a Note in the handbook. But I'm not sure that workarounds, however useful they may be, have a place in a handbook? In a "How to", probably, it would be better. Unfortunately, the "How to's" on the French forum, for example, are completely diverted from their function. Users think it is a place to ask "their" question! Whereas it is intended to have an answer on a particular topic. In short, not everything is simple :)

In reply to by cadiz1

Thank you for these comments, and the link to the original question. The same that I asked myself later in the French forum, I must acknowledge :(
I had not noticed the second search magnifier symbol below the main one, and then could not search the forums. I eventually got the point now, and for the next time, I'll make sure I continue existing discussionas much as possible, rather that opening new ones.

>> Unfortunately, the "How to's" on the French forum, for example, are completely diverted from their function.

Being french, I must say I hate in our latin culture this 'I-do-what-I-want' style, which leads to so much confusion. Believe me, II try hard to cure myself :)

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

The difference I am describing really isn't some arcane distinction due to the internals of MuseScore, it's a pretty fundamental concept.

An instrument - a real live physical instrument - is much more than just the sound it makes. Each instrument differs also in what it's playable range is (its highest and lowest notes), in how music is transposed for it (when writing for clarinet, music needs to be written a whole step higher than you want it to sound), in how the staff itself should be labeled, and more. MuseScore knows all of these things. If you change from flute to clarinet by only changing the sound, not the instrument, then none of those things will change, and the music will be incorrect when printed, because it isn't tranposed properly. There will also be all sorts of spurious warnings on screen about notes being out of range, etc. And of course, the staff and part will say "Flute" instead of "Clarinet". So when actually changing instruments, it's vital to do it correctly.

So again, when selecting instruments, you definitely should be using the change instrument command, not the mixer. Otherwise your music will be incorrect when printed, and will sound terrible when played by musicians, because some of the instruments will be in the wrong key.

Now, as for changing sounds within the Mixer - again, the organization is quite logical for its intended purpose, which is for things like choosing which piano sound to use. So the ordering is helpful by placing related sounds together making them easier to find. If you are truly only changing sounds, then normally it's a related sound, so the sound you want it probably the one above or below the current one. Alphabetic ordering would be disastrous - the related sounds would be nowhere near each other. And unless you happened to know that the sound was called Mellow Grand Piano as opposed to Piano or Grand Piano or Acoustic Piano or any of a zillion other things it might be called, you might never find it.

You ask, why not actually limit the user by not even allowing him to choose a saxophone sound for a piano. Well, we could, but normally we don't like to impose limits for no particular reason.

Not sure what you mean about the standard UI technique of typing the first few letter in a combox as being unfriendly. It's the way pretty much every combobox in every program I know works, and it's pretty much required by most UI design guidelines.

Anyhow, the Mixer redesign will be very different, and hopefully things will be more clear.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hello Marc,

This makes clearer the difference between instrument and sound, thank you.
True, now you're mentioning it, I had to transpose back the staff when changing the instrument. Not a big deal. Then change the title. Fair enough. As for the out-of-range notes, I disabled them in the preferences. For my usage, it was not very useful. Even if, naturally, I understand it may be a key features for say, mutli-instruments composers.

Regarding your explanation about keeping this specific sorting order, there are two different appreciations apparently here:
- those who understand the underlying logic on one hand, and find the sorting order consistent;
- on the other hand, as the number of questions in this forum and others shows, those who don't.
Having different viewpoints on it is fair enough, though. We're all different.

>> You ask, why not actually limit the user by not even allowing him to choose a saxophone sound for a piano. >> Well, we could, but normally we don't like to impose limits for no particular reason.
A good reason for me is: simplifying the display, thus removing confusion. But I understand we don't share the appreciation of confusion, so I appreciate that your viewpoint is consistent, too.

As for the first-letter-typing, I'm 58, have been a programmer the 11 first years of my career, have always worked in software companies since then, using 8 hours a day softwares of various purposes and generations, from character mode to desktop to various generation of WEB , and now mobiles, and I didn't spontaneously thought of it. If everyone else except me find it natural, fair enough. But is it the case?

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

In fact, to complete the UI topic, what is natural, on most systems, is to have an entry field above the list and see the list changes and get reduced as characters are entered.
The 'universal' example, the one everyone knows, is Google search field itself, obviously.
From an UI perspective, the entry field intuitively suggests to type characters in it. While the read-only list intuitively suggests not to, since it is read-only.
Actually, I can't remember having ever used this first-character-fast-typing-technique in any system I've been using all these years...

In reply to by jeetee

Me too, but only the first letter. Typing three times 'F' brings me from Fidji to Finland to France.
And I tend to do it only if the list is alphabetically sorted, because it shows me how far I am from the target, and when I have gone beyond it.
In a non-alphabetical list, it jumps randomly from one position to another.
Typing 'fra' seems to me less intuitive, because I would first think that typing R after typing F would bring me to the first country starting with 'R'. The - for me non-natural - hint here being to type the sequence of letter fast enough.

In reply to by Lapiz_Lazuli

It's not a question of who understands the logic or not - or rather, it only is until it is explained, then everyone should be on the same page. It's just a question of the right organization for the job. If I point to you a screwdriver you designed and tell you it doesn't drive nails well, you don't respond by removing the tip and thus ruining its design for driving screws; you respond by showing me the hammer you designed. Then I thank you for educating me on the difference, and we all get on with life.

Please check out the discussions of the Mixer redesign and feel free to participate in the discussion: I could certain imagine a way to integrate an optional "temporarily show me this list sorted the way I would need it for the rare cases I choose to hit nails with this screwdriver instead of use it to drive screws" button, but the trick would be figuring how to best integrate that into the new design.

I didn't follow the whole discussion. But would it really make sense to sort it alphabetically? For example several piano sounds would be separated from each other. Rather I could imagine to have a search field/selection filter, similar to the instrument dialogue. In this case if I'm using several (piano) soundfonts I've a fast overview about all piano sounds for the score.

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