MuseScore 4 - Make it the Film Scoring Release

• Mar 7, 2021 - 23:07

It's not a secret that movies are one of the biggest homes for orchestral music these days. Having seen the amazing planned features for the next major release, MuseScore 4, I thought I'd write up a post to find who's like-minded and to collect some feature ideas only related to this specific use case.

Being not professional, but having worked with Dorico, Cubase, Sibelius Pro, Notion and Ardour, I still always come back to the friendly free MuseScore - the nice boy you wanna play with amongst all those serious adults. And in a time where Alan Silvestri states he manually exports his scores from Dorico (Steinberg Notation Software) and manually imports them into Cubase (Steinberg Digital Audio Workstation) for proper editing, I think with MuseScore's simplicity approach, together with the newly planned killer features like VST support, there's a real place out there for MuseScore for every kind of professionalism.

So, here's a list of some features that came to my mind:

  • VST-Support (already planned)
  • LV2-Support (quite important for staying Open-Source-friendly)
  • Video + Video's Audio playback & sync (built-in, not requiring JACK etc. and with support for the audio stream of the video)
  • Time Markers for marking specific video timestamps in the score (see @oscarcar's comment)
  • MuseScore General Soundfont as a LV2/VST plugin (making the features mentioned henceforth just possible)
  • Expression Curves (already planned afaict, I don't know how to make them play well with the dynamics though)
  • realistic Tremolos, Vibratos etc. (via the aforementioned VST plugin)
  • smooth Glissandos across large-ish intervals (technically not impossible in MuseScore 3 by manually creating a lot of pitch bends and gluing them together, so just a question of implementation - sounds like a good job for the aforementioned VST plugin, and in fact even the cheaper paid instrument plugins don't support them - let's beat them)
  • real Cymbal and drum rolls out of the box
  • a filter/fx system (already planned afaict)
  • a filter where you just choose a room type (i.e. "Concert Hall" or "Recording Studio") and then get a 2d-space where you can position your instruments, just like in a real orchestra. Essentially a plugin that takes into account: reverb, panning and a few hundred more complex physical laws - well, it's just a sketch of an idea though and not at all that necessary to make good orchestrations

I guess I've missed some features, so feel free to add your ideas. I'm really thankful for the work and commitment, the MuseScore developers have shown in all these years. If you find the time to implement any of those features, that'd be wonderful.

I'm looking forward to the release of MuseScore 4.0, aka. MuseScore NT ;) . Best,

(P.S.: I built some not-so-performant but still quite usable Video+Audio player which plays in sync with MuseScore via JACK. I was able to score some short film with it. So if anyone's interested, feel free to tell me who's your favorite composer and that you'd like to use it :) )


Lots of food for thought here.

I think that glissando support is quite well handled as of the most recent stable release. Once the glissando has been inserted, the inspector gives you an impressive range of controls over the playback of the effect. You can select chromatic, white keys, black keys, diatonic or portamento, and adjust the ease in/ease out of the playback as well. Quite impressive, actually.

Adrian, I really like all of your ideas, but the one that I like most is your last one. That would be a great plugin option to add, and I also liked your suggestion of real cymbal and drum roll soundfonts that you can use immediately, as you either have to create it, pay for one, or scour the internet endlessly for one until you find one, and in most cases it doesn't happen. I was lucky enough to get a cymbal roll soundfont from a friend of mine, but I'm not allowed to share it since he created it, which is a bummer for everyone who comments "What soundfonts do you use?"

I think flawless jack support would be better cause it solves other problems too.
xjadeo works great when it works. Unfortunately the bugs add up between "jack audio", "asio", "musescore", "ardour", "audacity", "xjadeo", and "Synchronous Audio Router (SAR)", and others. But that combo is pretty powerful! Someone has to organize the collaboration between these applications. Tantacrul is now working with audacity too so maybe he could go down the line and ensure that all of these test for compatibility at each release. Once NotePerformer is included in musescore, and IF it worked in linux, then we could have a linux film composer platform that would be very competent. Maybe NotePerformer in the cloud could be integrated in linux.

I'd love to see NotePerformer integration and if it can't keep sync'd with other stuff (cause of the extra real-time processing that NP does), then bounce it to an audio track beforehand using audacity or ardour and then start playback so that everything is synced.

Maybe I missed it, but it seems fairly trivial, is to allow putting Time Markers to signify when transitions occur in the video. Then displaying the time of a note that would show while changing the tempo to align a note or rest with a Time Marker. Ideally, you could select a starting note, an end note, and a Time Marker, and create or calculate the Tempo for the end note to start on the Time Marker. If repeats pose a problem, then just report that repeats must be expanded first for the feature to work.

In reply to by oscarcar

I agree with the JACK integration optimization idea - although I personally had no problems using JACK. I am currently using "xjadeo" to play a video in sync with the score. Unfortunately it doesn't play back sound, so I had to create my own JACK audio player in Python which was, well, not as trivial as it might sound. So now I finally have my video scoring tool and I even started writing some MuseScore 3 plugin which launches xjadeo and xjamo (my audio player) for a selected video file, but it somehow misses the point I love MuseScore for:

MuseScore is so damn simple. I knew nothing about the orchestra at all. Someday I just downloaded it out of interest and without ever reading any of its manual, I could nowadays notate a symphonic-orchestral score intuitively and without further thinking. MuseScore provides a lot of functionality out of the box and in a way that you would expect as a beginner.
So, if the MuseScore developers were going to enter the path of film scoring, they'd ideally just have a button where you can select the video and everything works out of the box.

And about the NotePerformer thing... I love that one. It would fit the MuseScore experience so perfectly. No GUI, no settings, no plugins. Just click play and NotePerformer does what you want to hear (most of the time). Unfortunately it's not free software, which would be amazing. But this will stay a dream I guess - what a pity.

Finally, I also added a quick bullet point to my original post referring to your interesting Time Marker ideas! They'd definitely make MuseScore more usable for film scoring.

In reply to by famecastle

Ardour has really good JACK integration. BTW, I'm more a technical person but my son does composing so I try to get him a decent setup. This is what I've been doing lately.

Musescore for the composition and use as JACK master, transport, etc.
In ardour, set ardour to use JACK (click on "INT"), and import the video WITH audio. Ardour will automatically launch xjadeo with the video, and put the audio on tracks, and show you frames on a timeline. If you have 5.1 sound or something similar it will automatically put each audio track on a different ardour audio track. You can then mute the audio, or only have dialog audio playing for instance.
When you playback and move around in Musescore the video will play along and whichever audio tracks you want.
Then export your audio in musescore to wav, and import that into ardour so you can combine all the audio however you want. Then you'll need to export to wav or something similar and integrate your new audio file with the original video.

Trying to figure out how users are doing any of this. I come from Sibelius, which easily sync'd with ProTools for video playback (and audio obviously). I don't see a straightforward way (or any way for that matter) to sync to my DAW (REAPER these days). I'm also surprised this hasn't been discussed more, at least that I can find. I'd appreciate any info/direction. I'm a Mac user, BTW. Thanks!

Please keep this discussion and request going. People need Musescore to sync easily with film (because we love MS4). The Youtube work arounds are super, but very involved. Thanks for reconsidering this as an addition to MS 4 as the developers continue their work going forward. - Best, Sora

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