Opening and editing MuseScore PDFs in a vector editor

• Oct 3, 2020 - 07:08

I'm working comfortably, quickly and confidently in my first 6 weeks with MuseScore ... while noting many UX/GUI oddities.

Today—for the first time—I viewed and edited a MuseScore produced PDF in Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator vector editors.

Before sharing reflections on that experience I want to emphasize that I don't expect any notation application to entirely fulfill my needs for a particular score. However if my commitment to achieving a goal is strong enough—and I can't find a viable way to accomplish it in the scorewriter at hand—I want export to PDF and make changes in Designer or Illustrator and use the edit PDF as my final score.

So here are some thoughts on editing MuseScore score PDFs:

  • Apparently MuseScore fonts are not installed as system resources. This became apparent when I opened an exported PDF score and Illustrator reported missing fonts.

Granted the PDF score looks find in Illustrator but Illustrator posted a "missing font notice" citing that:

  • it would apply substitutions for FreeSans, FreeSerif, FreeSerifBold, and MScore [sic]
  • and that some text would be outlined (That applied only to the music font itself ... presumably "MScore" is MScoreText, aka Emmentaler. A quick look at MScoreText in FontLab shows quite a collection of music symbols.)

        MuseScore Illustrator PDF edit Missing fonts.png

The font substitutions are bad enough, but when the notation font is not installed as a system resource Illustrator has to render the font to vector outlines on PDF import! Looks fine, but it's very inefficient on a few levels.

I'm on a Mac and I figured MuseScore's fonts were likely resourced into MuseScore's application package, and sure enough, here they are:

         MuseScore font resources MacOS 10.13.6.png

Of course, via FontBook, I can install the MuseScore fonts so Affinity Designer/Illustrator can access them. But others who might choose to edit PDFs shouldn't have to figure that out, so:

a) I've posted this solution
b) I'd recommend that the MuseScore installer query the user to see if they'd want to have the fonts installed as a system resource (and perhaps mention that this is necessary for full PDF editing.)

I just installed MScoreText but Illustrator still outlines the music notation symbols.

What's a perfectionist to do? (Is there an actual MScore font somewhere?)



In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

> Are you using File > Print > PDF, or File > Export > PDF?

I tried:

  • File>Print>PDF>SaveAs PDF (i.e. CUPS)
  • File>Print>Adobe PDF 8.0 (driver)
  • File>Export>"PDF File(*.PDF)"

I got the same results from each method.

> MScore is the Musical Font (Emmentaler), MScoreText is the Musical Text Font

When I saw so many music symbols in MScoreText I wondered if it was simply a badly named music symbols font. And as mentioned I do not find the MScore font in MuseScore's resource folder. And on opening a MusicScore PDF score Illustrator never lists MScore as missing.

Indeed I see the choice of Emmentaler in MuseScore>Format>Style>Score>Music symbols font but I don't see where Emmentaler (aka MScore) is located on my Mac. Again, once I know its location I can install Emmentaler/MScore as a system font and my problem is solved.

I set MuseScore>Format>Style>Score>Music symbols font to Bravura and exported to PDF and, as expected, on opening the music PDF in Illustrator all the music symbols appear as font characters rather than outlined vectors. That works simply because Bravura is installed as a system font.

So back to my original question.

How can I install MScore as a system rescource?



In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Hi Jojo

I don't think font embedding is the issue. I can view and place MuseScore fonts wherever I try: Preview, Pages, Acrobat, etc. When this "portable" behavior occurs, and the font is not installed as a system resource, that means the font is imbedded in the PDF.

And indeed Adobe Acrobat show a list of imbedded fonts in the PDFs regardless of how I generate them:

         MuseScore imbedded fonts (Acrobat Properties).png

Whether fonts are imbedded or not, still no luck in Affinity or Illustrator while the font is not installed as a system resource.

Thanks for the GitHub link!!!
MScore is indeed a TrueType (.ttf) font.

I was able to download MScore from GitHub and installed it via FontBook:

  • Now Affinity Designer shows font chars for the music notation rather than "Missing font/glyph rectangles".

  • Oddly Illustrator does not "see" the MScore, nor do MScore or MScoreText show in the font menu of other applications. I'll try restarting my system and report back.

I have been editing scores in Illustrator for a long time. The export function works very well, just FYI: if you want the selection tool to be able to select single elements of the score, you need to open the pdf in Illustrator, delete the frame (direct selection), copy all and exclude one element (e.g. the page number). Then paste the notations into your Illustrator page template and the selection tool works properly. If you don't do that you use it and the whole score is selected (this is also working with other notation software btw, took me some time to find out).

I was bedeviled by the same situation -- I was unable to import a MuseScore-generated pdf file into an illustrator file. My workaroud was pretty simple. Open the MuseScore-generated PDF file in Photoshop (which rasterizes it) and save it as a PSD file. Then place the Photoshop file into the Illustrator document as if it was the original PDF.

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