Completely dumbfounded

• Jan 2, 2022 - 00:40


I'm sorry to clutter the forums with such a ridiculous request for help, but I have to figure this out somehow. Basically, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I have virtually no experience with written musical notation, first of all. But more importantly in the short term, I don't find the software intuitive at all.

Nevermind what I'd like to compose in the future, to start with I only want to write out a particular song that's already finished. It has dozens of chords, and I found that it was too difficult for me to play on the guitar for the demo I'm trying to record. Even editing my recordings sounded terrible, because at the tempo I need, the edits are just too obvious. So, I thought this might be a time to finally download software like this, so that I could create a midi file and finish the demo with that.

I started by trying to write standard notation for a piano, just to get the chords down. But figuring that out note by note was too tedious, given my level of experience and the confusion of translating the voicing from guitar. There didn't seem to be a way to write in the chord names directly, so I changed my strategy. I realized that I could also create guitar tabs with the software.

But something is definitely wrong, either because I don't have the intricate knowledge of tabs necessary, or because I'm missing something about the software itself. First of all, the midi isn't playing with the swing-beat that this jazz song should really have. I don't know how to set it differently, or mark it in order to accomplish this. More crucially, the program isn't listening to me and is refusing to do things for reasons I can't explain. I had selected 2/4 time, which I believe is right, but who the hell knows. So, two beats per measure. I would think it would allow me to enter two chords per measure as well, and at first it did. The first measure had one chord, but the next two measures had two chords each. Then for some reason, the fourth refused to allow me to enter more than one chord! It won't let me fill in the second beat, and pushes me into the next measure.

Additionally, one chord also has a symbol underneath that is different from the others. All the other chords have simple lines that popped up automatically-- the program calls them 'stems.' But on this chord, there is a 'flag' instead of a stem, and the chord sounds shorter or more abrupt. It won't let me delete the flag or change it. I don't even know where it came from.

Every time I try to select something or place my cursor, I end up accidentally adding a note, or changing a note that I then have to fix. It's very maddening. But there seems to be no way to move easily to the next thing.

I assume that I am the problem, and not the software, but I really need some kind of answer, and I didn't know who else to ask. So, what can I do to solve this and proceed more smoothly? For the moment, I only need the simplest backing for a demo version of the song, just to have it down for the sake of communication.


It's important to understand that "intuitive" is very subjective - what's intuitive for one person might not be for another. But in general, no notation software is likely to seem very intuitive to someone not familiar with music notation. So my first recommendation would be study up on that. And then try reading the Handbook for MuseScore, also watching the various tutorial videos, to get a sense of how things work. And if you have specific questions after all that, then post questions here and attach your score so we can understand and assist better.

To try to address particular points:

  • to make eighth notes swing, add the corresponding text from the palette
  • different types of notes have different durations (quarter notes, half notes, etc), so yes, it's normal that some measures might have only one note while others two. if you feel the time values don't add correctly for some specific measure, as noted, please attach your score
  • a flag indicates that a note is an eighth note, it takes half a beat. definitely do study up on music notation so this kind of stuff will make sense - it's not unique to MuseScore, but fundamental to how music has been written for centuries
  • to select things, leave note input mode, otherwise as you notice you will indeed input notes, as the name of the mode says. this is where reading the Handbook and/or watching tutorials helps a ton.

Try starting here:

Maybe notation software is not your best starting point. You mention "dozens of chords" so, would a chord sequencer be more appropriate / easier to use?

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