Struggling with playback issues

• Aug 29, 2022 - 01:53

I struggled a lot with the attached file (MuseScore 3.6 Portable), getting playback as I wanted it. It's still not perfect in some respects. You'll find it full of hidden (invisible) playback tweaks. These comments are about a few of them.

At the beginning of the piece you'll find both an explicit and a hidden tempo for the same speed. Before I added the hidden one, the piece began at the set tempo just once. After it encountered the slower tempo at the end, when I tried to play it again, thereafter it always started at the slower tempo until I added the hidden one. I remain puzzled why.

At measure 16 the tempo picks up, and the dynamic changes from pianissimo to piano. But the volume in playback jumps to forte. I don't know why.

Trying to get a cresc. or dim. to sound that way I added a number of invisible hairpins, but they seem to make no difference unless they end at a dynamic change. So for example in measures 26 and 27 the hairpins do nothing but in measure 28 the volume quickly scales down to piano because of the dynamic change in measure 29.

In measure 25 there is a sforzando that is supposed to be effective just on the initial note, but it raises the volume for all the measures that follow up to the piano at measure 29. The invisible hairpin I added after the sforzando to try to bring it down does nothing.

In the cresc. passages in measures 30 and 31 and in measure 39 I added invisible dynamics to approximate it, since hairpins did nothing. That works, but the change is in steps, not gradual. In the cresc. molto passage in measures 43 and 44 the invisible hairpin in measure 43 does nothing but the one in measure 44 works because measure 45 begins with a fortissimo dynamic.

In measure 44 I had to approximate the allargando with an invisible tempo change at the beginning, and again at the end (measure 46). I suppose that's the only way to do it. Likewise for the riten. molto at measure 52. I don't know if it will ever be possible for these kinds of directives to have their own effect.

Then during the entry of the score, unlike in version 3.5, the next note after one already entered was several times two octaves away from where it should have been. (I type the notes in by letter. The next note should always be within a fourth or a fifth of the last note unless I change it, never two octaves away.) I don't know why this happens only in this version.

Attachment Size
Agnus Dei (low voice).mscz 48.54 KB


1) The tempo issues are probably caused by the way your tempo markings are set. You do not only have two identical tempo markings - you also have a third, which is set to 71 BPM. That would be the "Maestoso" text. If you click on the text and look in the inspector, under the "Tempo Text" section, you can see it is set to play back with its own tempo. I would recommend deleting the invisible tempo marking as well as the Maestoso text, and just editing the text of the visible quarter = 88 tempo marking to say Maestoso at the beginning. You may encounter issues again with the tempo at m.16, as again you have two separate tempo markings.

2) I do not hear any issues with the volume at m.16. I do hear the change from pp to p, but it is about as large of a change as I'd expect. The only sudden jump in volume I hear is at m.25, though that is to be expected from the sf marking.

3) This is the way that dynamics work in MuseScore. You need to specify what dynamic you want the crescendo/decrescendo to end at. You can do this either by adding invisible dynamic markings, or alternatively by specifying a Velocity Change value for the crescendo in the inspector.

4) See 3 re: crescendos. The sf marking can also be configured to have a velocity change. By default it is set with a dynamic of 112 and a change of -18, meaning it will go from roughly fortissimo down to forte. You can increase the value it will change by, or add an invisible dynamic marking on the next note to bring the volume back down.

5) Again, see 3.

6) Tempo changes are in the works for the next release of MuseScore. In the meantime, you can use the TempoChanges plugin to create gradual accelerandos or ritardandos. See for the download page for that plugin.

7) I have also encountered this, and it usually happens when I resume entering notes after a clef change. Not sure exactly what causes it, but it is probably a bug.

In reply to by dragonwithafez

Good answers, I'd just add, the bug where on rare occasions notes get entered into entirely the wrong octave has been around for many years, but so far I don't think anyone has found precise steps to reproduce it. So it just happens once randomly every few hundred scores regardless of which version of MuseScore one is using. And yes, most likely connected to clef changes.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

I've made several helpful changes to the score based on this reply. Thank you. But I also did some testing of velocity changes on hairpins and was not able to observe that they did anything. I still had to add a target dynamic (in the proper direction, louder or softer) at the end for the hairpin to change the volume.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I just retested, but with a much greater velocity change (96 instead of 16) and it worked. Perhaps 16 isn't enough to hear. After looking at the default velocities of the various dynamics I noted that 16 is just the difference from one to the next, such as piano to mezzopiano.

I'm not clear whether the velocity change value is the difference from the initial to the final volume or the target volume to be reached at the end. The language ("change") makes it sound like the difference, but the volume I heard sounded like the target (forte [velocity 96], up from piano [velocity 49]). If 96 is the difference I should have heard 145 (except that 127 seems to be maximum). But even 127 should have been much louder than I heard.

It also surprised me initially that velocity changes are always positive, even on decrescendo hairpins. I tried entering a negative velocity change initially and couldn't, but the positive value worked.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

Re, dynamics and balance.

In the old days, we used to call the final result of all the audio work, "mixdown". Your final mixdown would be tailored for your target audience. If your music was meant for those who listened on the old "Boomboxes", then you would make certain adjustments to the audio so that the music would sound best on that device. We all want the best playback we can get. However there are practical limits. I listen to music I create on several different systems. It sounds different on each one. All the care I put into getting the trumpet volume and balance just right is lost on some of my systems. I can hardly hear the trumpet. On others the trumpet is too loud. Wait, the bass guitar is blasting on one system, but not another.
I use MuseScore for composition. For the fun of it only. Of course I use lots of dynamics and hairpins. And some tempo changes. But sometimes too many of those things get in the way of letting the notes do the talking. Rather than all the stuff I could pile on them. I try to write good notes and let the other stuff support them.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

Velocity change is, as it says, the Amon t of change, not the final velocity. And yes, I agree it is odd for it to always be positive. 127 is the max velocity as per the MIDI standard. So if you entered enough change to end up with a velocity of 127 and it wasn’t loud enough, you’ll need to turn up your speakers, because that’s as loud as it gets.

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