Suggestion for more efficient note selection

• Mar 14, 2021 - 16:51
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

I originally posted this as a comment in on 5th March, but didn't get a reply, and thought that might be due to that issue's status being "by design". So I hope it's ok for me to repost it here.

I decided to give MuseScore a try for my latest composition a few months ago, and I am frequently frustrated by the fact that control-clicking individual notes is often the least tedious way of selecting the notes that I want. Carefully positioning the cursor over each note head, and having to occasionally go back and attempt to deselect nearby things that I selected by accident (e.g. other note heads), is much slower than Box Select would be if it only selected the notes within the box, rather than always automatically expanding to include the chord. The options under "Select>More..." are useful, but it's tiresome having to do the following every time I want to e.g. select a single voice in a single bar:

  1. Select a note;
  2. Right-click it;
  3. Go to "Select";
  4. Click "More...";
  5. Locate the "Same Voice" option;
  6. Click it;
  7. Locate the "Same Bar" option;
  8. Click it.

That's already an excessive amount of work. And yet, if the phrase that I want to select spans multiple bars, I have to repeat those 8 steps for every bar.

I understand that there are cases where it's useful for Box Select to automatically include the whole chord, but for me personally this feature has annoyed me more often than it's helped me. There really should be an efficient way of opting out of this feature. E.g. Ctrl+Drag Select does nothing at present, so how about if that action selects only the notes within the box, while Shift+Drag Select continues to automatically expand to include the chords? There should also be keyboard shortcuts for indicating when you want the box to add to or subtract from the current selection. E.g. perhaps you could use Ctrl+Shift+Drag Select for the former.


Also, for selecting a single voice within a bar, why not simply use the Selection Filter? That's a far more direct and efficient way of doing the job than hoping it just so happens to be the case that a box can be drawn around those notes without encompassing anything else. After all, in most real world use cases, the voices wouldn't be so cleanly separated, which is why we provide more direct ways of doing selecting by voice that don't depend on whether or not it happens to be possible to isolate them within a rectangular box.

But even when using the Select / More dialog, you certainly don't need to do this one measure at a time - not sure where you got that idea. Select as many measures as you want prior to bringing up the dialog, then use "In selection" rather than "Same bar".

For more help with using MuseScore, it's usually best to ask on the Support forum, people are always happy to help each other find more efficient ways of doing things! It might also turn out that whatever it is you are attempting to accomplish here is actually done even more simply - eg, using Implode to combine voices, using the Mixer to control sound on a voice-by-voice basis, or other techniques. So if you do post to the Support forum, be sure to attach your actual score and describe what you are trying to accomplish.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I read all of the replies in issue 290854 before I posted my comment, and before I created this issue. As I said, I created this issue because nobody replied to my comment on that issue, so firstly thanks to both of you for replying so quickly here.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting removing the current behaviour, nor am I suggesting that a single box is likely to contain the exact set of notes that anyone wants. My suggestion is that you implement additive and subtractive selection boxes that only select/deselect notes within the boxes, not the whole chord, and that you allow users to use keyboard shortcuts to choose between this new selection behaviour and the current behaviour. Windows Explorer is a good example of this functionality: hold Ctrl+Drag, and you can very quickly create a complex selection by drawing multiple boxes, as shown in the attached screenshot. If you draw a box over files that are already selected, they will be removed from the selection (when I created this post, it hadn't occurred to me that a single shortcut suffices for both addition and subtraction. So MuseScore could potentially use Ctrl+Drag for both, which would match the expectations of new Windows users).

Marc, by "Selection Filter", are you talking about the 8-step "Select>More..." process that I described above? Don't you agree that there are cases where it would be much quicker to just draw a load of boxes to at least get a good starting point, and then if necessary use Ctrl+Click to select/deselect a few extra notes?

Thanks for pointing out that you can select multiple bars, then right-click a note in a voice, then choose "in selection" and "same voice" to get all the notes of that voice that lie within the selection - I wasn't aware of that. That's still 8 steps, but I'm sure I'll get faster at doing it that way with practice. However, additive/subtractive selection boxes are much more intuitive, and they'd often be much more efficient, not least because they don't require the user to spend time scanning menus and checkbox labels and trying to figure out what combination of checkboxes will do what they need. E.g. in the attached score, suppose I want to select the part of voice 2 in the right hand that starts on the first accent in bar 1 and ends on the first beat of bar 2. If I Box-Select those notes (which also automatically adds the voice 1 notes), it's not immediately obvious what will happen if I don't choose "In Selection", and hence it's not obvious that I need to choose it to achieve my goal. If MuseScore supported additive/subtractive selection boxes, then instead of spending time puzzling over the meaning of the checkboxes, I could just spend a couple of seconds drawing 3 boxes and get on with the rest of my composition (i.e. one box to select all the notes up to C5, and two to deselect the four notes in voice 1 that lie within the first box).

I haven't tried the Explode/Implode plugin, but the description on the download page says it's only usable with homophonic music. I usually only use multiple voices when I'm writing polyphonic music, so it wouldn't help. The Mixer wouldn't help either, as I only care about notation efficiency, not playback.

Attachment Size
AdditiveSubtractiveSelection.png 70.26 KB
Two Voices.mscz 15.07 KB

The selection filter is what determines what will be included in a range selection. To open up the selection filter panel, go to View->Selection Filter, or press F6. Then you can uncheck whatever you want the selection box to ignore, or uncheck "All" and then check whatever you want the selection box to include. Just remember, the changes you make to the selection filter will remain in effect even after closing the selection filter panel.

In reply to by mattmcclinch

Ah I see, thanks. Using that to solve the example selection task that I described in my previous comment is probably no slower than the hypothetical method I described, in which you create three additive/subtractive selection boxes. Unfortunately, I didn't make notes of the many cases in which selecting notes took me longer than it should have, and I've finished my composition now, so I'm not sure how many of my note selection woes would have been efficiently solved by the Selection Filter.

I do think additive/subtractive selection boxes that don't expand to include the whole chord would be a useful complement to the current set of selection methods though. E.g. it would provide a more efficient way to select a subset of the notes in multiple successive chords (e.g. all the bottom notes or the top notes).

I would recommend starting a thread in the forum to discuss your ideas. Again, sure, no reason the box behavior couldn't be tweaked, but really, it's the wrong way to solve the specific problem you describe, so we'd really want a forum discussion to look at your actual real world use case in order to understand and assist better.

As for implode, it's not a plugin. Well, an ancient one exists, but for years now it's built in to the program. And it definitely does work to merge multiple voices, so if that is your ultimate goal with the selection, you don't need to bother selecting individual notes - implode does the job instantly. I mentioned the Mixer because again, you haven't said what you want to do with the notes once selected, but one common real world use case is to change their playback characteristics, so I mentioned that as another example of the sort of thing that doesn't require selecting individual notes to begin witht.

Anyhow, as I said, depending on what you plan to actually do with the notes of a single voice once selected, it could be you don't even need to bother selecting by voices, as the most common operations are supported directly already.

Again, the forum is the proper place for these kinds of discussions. Once a consensus among multiple users has been reached on what real world problems exist that don't already have a good solution for, and a good concept of a design has been agreed upon that meets the needs of a broad group of people who are experiencing that issue, then it makes sense to present that design here.

Status active closed

Ok, I'll close this issue then.

If I remember correctly, the issues that I had were generally to do with copying/cutting, deleting, transposing and temporally shifting subsets of the notes in one voice of my piano and drum parts. But as I said, I unfortunately won't be able to present the exact cases in which it seemed to be difficult to do these things with the current feature set until I start composing something else in MuseScore and I experience the same issues again. So I'll wait till then to create a forum post.