Add all microtonal accidentals to the accidental palette

• Jun 7, 2020 - 23:15

Currently many microtonal accidentals are available as "symbols", but not as accidentals. This includes Sagittal notation, Johnston accidentals, arrows and arrowheads (which are also used as accidentals), and various other systems and extensions for microtonal notation. As far as I can see, a consequence of their unavailability as "accidentals" makes it impossible to actually use them as accidentals (i.e. contrary to accidentals from the "accidental" palette, they cannot be tuned in playback, they are not aligned properly, and they cannot be used in key signatures either).
It would be great if all of the accidentals are available in the "accidentals" palette, so they can actually be used as accidentals.


So you'd like Sagittal and Johnston, what pitch offset would those have (normally, as a default)?
Johnston are just 8, but Sagittal are some 215!

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Does that need to be defined? It depends on the tuning system what these symbols do exactly. Both 22EDO and 24EDO use quarter tone accidentals, for example, but with different effects.

I'm not sure whether I'd use Johnston notation myself. I just would like more options for accidentals. (Pluses, minuses, arrow heads, arrows, etc. would be particularly useful. But other people will have different preferences. I know sagittal is popular; that's why I mentioned that. I'm not sure whether I'd use sagittal myself.) And I'd handle their effects by means of plugins.

(Edited to that add: If could just add two accidentals, it would be open arrow heads ^ and v.)

It is pretty unlikely for MuseScore to support all existing accidentals as accidentals, It'd soon become a maintenance nightmare. There's (at least) one line of code per accidental, and there are some 500 of them.
All 'real' accidentals are kept in an array, adding all would increase that array by a factor of 5.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I understand.
Would it be a good idea to ask in the microtonal community which accidentals are most desirable and limit it to a small number? Maybe 20 or so? Would that be possible? Or would that be too much already?

The two I would like to see most of all are the up and down open arrow heads encircled in the attached screen shot.

Attachment Size
updown.png 89.37 KB

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Variants of up/down notation use symbols like this. Perhaps there are similar-looking symbols elsewhere, but I thought these are the symbols typically used.

Edit: I just checked, and I don't see any similar symbols elsewhere.

In reply to by Rayosu

Adding those arrowheadOpenDown and arrowheadOpenUp as accidentals would be possible (and rather simple, 4 added lines plus 2 modified ones to have these names translatable), but would a) be quite a miss-use and b) have them to show half a space too high.
So would require more special-casing in the code, not good.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

There seems to be something off with alignment of symbols in the "symbols" palette in general. Most of the accidentals I have tried from various subsets thereof show half a space (or more too high), like what you found for these arrow heads.

I'm not sure whether this is really a "miss-use" of those arrow head by the way. Do the arrows and arrow heads have designated use? (If they do, and that designated use is not as accidentals, then I understand you don't want to add them as such. I have seen microtonal scores that used these or very similar symbols for intervals smaller than a semi-tone however. It seems, in fact, a fairly common variety of up/down notation, which is one of the most widespread microtonal notation systems. If those ^ and v symbols are not these; then which symbols are they?...)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Being a Microtonal composer, and not limiting my self to a particular EDO or even working with unequal divisions of the octave, let the users chose their symbols and what they mean. Personally I think, the Musescore developers are over thinking it. It's not about conceiving every possible division of the semi-tone or some other division, but allowing the composers to define what it means. All the symbols except the # and b's if inserted change the heard pitch during Musescore playback, but all the other accidentals are just a picture, they do not change the heard pitch. I would be perfectly happy with being able to define a custom palette of my own symbols which do not change the Musescore playback pitch. Sure the transpose functions may be a bit sketchy, but at least we notate our compositions.

As an alternative and perhaps even more efficient, allow users to define a lookup table of your 128 midi note inputs (pitch IDs) and the corresponding position on the staff and the custom accidental. (An extension of the custom drum definitions). That way, we can freely compose our creations outside of Musescore in our favourite DAW (for me Ableton Live + custom microtonal additions), then export to Musescore along with our custom lookup table. It would also allow for closely spaced cluster chords where some notes share the same position on the staff but are differentiated by the accidental. Simples -- yes?

So currently my only option is to split the tracks composed of chords (multi-voice) into one track one voice (painful and time consuming), apply some custom mapping of pitch IDs (done in the DAW), export to Musescore and apply accidentals as text. Very tedious and error prone.

Please do not try and second guess what tuning the users will conjure up, it's changing all the time, let the users define what the notes mean.

Regarding the issue of much used microtonal accidentals that are missing in the current "accidental" palette — research and a bit of discussion has suggested that Helmholtz-Ellis, Up/Down, and Sagittal notation are the three most widespread notation conventions.

Most of the Helmholtz-Ellis accidentals are already available. The "Extended Helmholtz-Ellis Accidentals" has several more, and it would be useful to have those as well. Adding the ones that are missing might be problematic, however, as several of those are supposed to be used either as an accidental or in addition to another accidental, and that doesn't seem to be an option right now. Nevertheless, it might still be useful to have the first 8 "combining" accidentals even if they cannot be combined with other accidentals.

Up/Down notation uses sharps and flats with arrows and either arrows or arrow heads or naturals with arrows. Currently, naturals with arrows are the only option, but those are not ideal because if you can keep only one eye at a score, they can look too much like sharps with arrows. (And they tend to make scores look overly busy as well.) For that reason, arrow heads (or arrows) are often preferred, but are not available in all software. (In Musescore, it seems that arrow heads are, unfortunately, not an option.) Up/Down arrows as accidentals are available in both "Extended Helmholtz-Ellis Accidentals" and "Gould Arrow Quarter Tone Accidentals". The best option would be to add the up and down arrows from the "Gould Arrow Quarter Tone Accidentals" because they are very similar in style and function to the up and down arrows used in Up/Down notation.

There are very many Sagittal accidentals, but only a small subset of those is used much. What would be needed for the vast majority of users is all of the accidentals in "Spartan Sagittal Single-Shaft" (16 in total) and the first 10 in "Spartan Sagittal Multi-shaft". Inserting accidentals from the current "symbol" palette suggests that none of these are correctly aligned, however, so this needs to be checked.

So, my provisional recommendations based on this would be to:
- check whether accidentals from the "symbols" palette line out correctly when they are added to the "accidentals" palette;
- add "arrow up (raise one quarter tone)" and "arrow down (lower one quarter tone)" from the "Gould Arrow Quarter Tone Accidentals" (there already are accidentals available that look exactly like the other symbols in that set, so that would effectively complete the Gould set);
- consider adding the first 8 "combining" accidentals from the "Extended Helmholtz-Ellis Accidentals" (which appear to be the most used of the missing symbols) (and perhaps the remaining missing Helmholtz-Ellis accidentals as well);
- consider adding all of the accidentals in "Spartan Sagittal Single-Shaft" (16 in total) and the first 10 in "Spartan Sagittal Multi-shaft".

In reply to by Rayosu

- check whether accidentals from the "symbols" palette line out correctly when they are added to the "accidentals" palette;
This would be an entirely different issue, nut restricted to accidentals, but for all symbols I guess.

- add "arrow up (raise one quarter tone)" and "arrow down (lower one quarter tone)" from the "Gould Arrow Quarter Tone Accidentals" (there already are accidentals available that look exactly like the other symbols in that set);
Low hanging fruit, indeed those 2 are the only missing ones from that set.
Pitch offset obviously +/- 50 cent (a quarter tone).

- consider adding the first 8 "combining" accidentals from the "Extended Helmholtz-Ellis Accidentals" (which appear to be the most used of the missing symbols;
I see 12 "combining' missing from that set, plus 3 'enharmonic' ones.
What would be their pitch offsets?
Edit: added to

- consider adding all of the accidentals in "Spartan Sagittal Single-Shaft" (16 in total) and the first 10 in "Spartan Sagittal Multi-shaft".
So basically Spartan Sagittal single and double shaft, right?
What would be their pitch offsets?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Pitch offsets for the Helmholtz-Ellis accidentals:
17-schisma (tilted =) : lower/raise by 6.8 cents
19-schisma (tilted –) : lower/raise by 3.4 cents
arrows : lower/raise by 16.5 cents
31-schisma (+ and –) : lower/raise by 1.7 cents
I don't know about the others.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I hope this helps:

Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 5.8, SymId::accSagittal5v7KleismaUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -5.8, SymId::accSagittal5v7KleismaDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 21.5, SymId::accSagittal5CommaUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -21.5, SymId::accSagittal5CommaDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 27.3, SymId::accSagittal7CommaUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -27.3, SymId::accSagittal7CommaDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 43.0, SymId::accSagittal25SmallDiesisUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -43.0, SymId::accSagittal25SmallDiesisDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 48.8, SymId::accSagittal35MediumDiesisUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -48.8, SymId::accSagittal35MediumDiesisDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 53.3, SymId::accSagittal11MediumDiesisUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -53.3, SymId::accSagittal11MediumDiesisDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 60.4, SymId::accSagittal11LargeDiesisUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -60.4, SymId::accSagittal11LargeDiesisDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 64.9, SymId::accSagittal35LargeDiesisUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -64.9, SymId::accSagittal35LargeDiesisDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 70.7, SymId::accSagittalSharp25SDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -70.7, SymId::accSagittalFlat25SUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 86.4, SymId::accSagittalSharp7CDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -86.4, SymId::accSagittalFlat7CUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 92.2, SymId::accSagittalSharp5CDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -92.2, SymId::accSagittalFlat5CUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 107.9, SymId::accSagittalSharp5v7kDown),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -107.9, SymId::accSagittalFlat5v7kUp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, 113.7, SymId::accSagittalSharp),
Acc(AccidentalVal::NATURAL, -113.7, SymId::accSagittalFlat),

In reply to by Rayosu

The 53 limit commas (Helmholts Ellis) are +/- 10.9, by the way. (I still have no clue what the three remaining "enharmonic" accidentals mean.)

Edit (1)

There has been no change in the recommendations for added accidentals. There are, of course, people who want more Sagittals, and some other more exotic suggestions for symbols that aren't in SMUFL yet have been made as well. But it seems that the additions you're working on now should be sufficient for most purposes.
Thanks again for your help.

Edit (2)

In the file at Github, most accidentals have names in capitals added as comments (at the end of the line after //), but the proposed new accidentals don't have such names (yet). How are names those decided and implemented?

Hello there! I work on maintaining and developing Sagittal notation. I regret missing this conversation! I certainly could have helped out. In the future, the Sagittal forum is a great way to contact Sagittal experts to weigh in on important decisions like this:

The good news is, given the constraint of not wishing to support every Sagittal accidental natively, I think you made a reasonable choice about where to stop. And thank you so much for including Sagittal and for making this effort. I'm very excited about this, as a MuseScore user myself.

So I see this commit to "add the most important (Spartan) Sagittal accidentals" was made recently:…

But I do not find the Sagittal symbols in my Accidentals palette yet. I have the most recent version of MuseScore (just updated yesterday). Should I expect to find them already? Or is there another step to the process?

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