MuseScore 4: per-staff dynamics in multi-staff part

• Dec 16, 2022 - 17:50

In MuseScore 3 there was the ability to add a dynamic that only applied to a single staff in a multi-staff part (for purposes of audio rendering), by opening the inspector and changing the "Dynamic Range" attribute from "part" to "staff". There doesn't seem to be the ability to do that in MuseScore 4, and when importing existing scores from MuseScore 3 that use this feature, the feature no longer works (it appears to always apply any dynamic to both staves).


I'm having the exact same issue. I used it for my scores but, now, the only solution seems to be to add dynamics to every note individually.

I'm having the same issue. Was startled when both clefs of the piano started playing fortississimo instead of just the bass staff

Another workaround (if you don't need cross-staff notation) is to split the score into two 1-staved instruments instead of the one 2-staved instrument.

In reply to by jeetee

cite: Another workaround (if you don't need cross-staff notation) is to split the score into two 1-staved instruments instead of the one 2-staved instrument.

They can't do other things either, like arpeggios between staves. So unfortunately this is not a solution.

Yes, that's my big problem too. Where can this deficiency be reported? I use MuseScore to create background midi files and now it's completely unusable.

It is by design that playback settings are removed from dynamics. The new design is, all playback settings belong to the notes themselves. So make your adjustments there instead. Note Muse Sounds currently doesn't support this but should in a coming update,

In reply to by Petr Mach

You can set the notes of as many notes at once as you like - just select them all then change their velocity together. It's not a joke, it how the new design works. Currently you need to use the Properties panel for this, in the future the plan is to provide a "volume lane" for making these sorts of changes using more powerful controls.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It makes logical sense that the dynamics are attached to notes, but from a practical point of view, it is really vital that there is an automation lane as you mention, otherwise it becomes impossibly tedious to edit individual notes if your music has, e.g. lots of crescendos/hairpins. It would be extraordinarily handy if the automation lane could at least be initialized from the dynamics that are placed in the score, and even better if that could happen on a per-staff basis.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Oh god, you've ruined what was good about MuseScore.

'Volume lane' is nonsense in notation, it is suitable for DAW in piano roll scheme. Will you have a volume lane under each stave, like in a DAW under each track?

If not, it's wrong (you won't be able to see the volume progression for each stave), if yes, it's also a waste (because it's confusing, because in DAW I can display the track as one line that fits the width of the screen, that you can't do it with the staff).

I have several DAWs. If I wanted to use a DAW, I'd use Waveform Pro, for example. But I want to write sheet music, not use a DAW. And then I need those notes to play as written, not according to some invisible independent setting.

Who will keep it in sync? After a few edits, the notes will play differently than they are written. I was happy that MuseScore started to apply other music tags when playing, such as ritarando, this is a step in the right direction. The fact that he stops applying other musical marks, such as dynamics, is very bad.

In reply to by Petr Mach

I'm not understanding the distinction you are making here between changing an "invisible independent setting" in the Inspector in MuseScore 3 versus changing a different "invisible independent setting" in a volume lane. Either way, the score as written is the starting point, and you have the option of tweaking the playback further through "invisible independent settings". Only difference is what specifically you click to access them. And since the new system hasn't been designed or implemented yet, it's a bit early to assume it won't be one that works well :-) Maybe don't judge it until you've seen it...

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

When I set one dynamic for a piano part, I expect it to be applied to both staffs (right and left hand). When I set up two dynamics, each for one staff, I expect them to each apply to their own staff. This can be achieved in MuseScore 3, it's intuitive and visible, and I don't have to set individual notes in any way. It cannot be set in MuseScore 4 and you say that I should set each note individually. This is invisible. it has nothing to do with the musical 'mark'. After a few tweaks and editing of the notes, each one will play at a high volume and the notes will not respond to changes in dynamics written in the notes.

MuseScore should always respect written notes when playing notes. The playback settings should not go beyond the musical interpretation of the notes.

That is, it should be possible, for example, to set the relationship between the music mark of dynamics and the midi velocity, because different sound banks can react to velocities a little differently, and the velocities need to be adapted to the bank so that the music sounds natural. Or we can set the length of the fermata, since it is not specified exactly how long it should be.

But one should never sound anything that is not written in the notes or even contradicts the written notes. And that's because it's invisibly (invisibly in the notes) set in hundreds of places. That is, to set the volume of each note separately and then ignore the dynamics written in the notes, this is an extremely bad approach to the matter.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Because you yourself stated it. And because you're turning MuseScore into another dozen DAWs, of which there are dozens, and you're throwing away what made MuseScore unique.

I'm sorry, I'll have to look for another product that will be able to play the notes the way I wrote them. MuseScore 4.0 can't do that, and that's too bad, and it's not considered a bug by your mouth, but a feature.

If on principle you do not intend to respect the dynamics written in the notes, then no instrument will fix it. You have simply ruined a good program.

Hopefully Sybelius can handle it, I can't think of any other alternative. So I can stop paying the subscription for

In reply to by Petr Mach

I stated no such thing. Not sure what part of what I wrote you misunderstood. But anyhow, currently dynamics are honored. Not sure where you got the idea that they aren't, but that's just fall out 100% incorrect.

And neither of knows what the new design will look like, so it's pointless to argue about what you assume it might not do well.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

cite: It is by design that playback settings are removed from dynamics. The new design is, all playback settings belong to the notes themselves.

If I set the dynamics for the right hand and the left hand, it is not honored. And the solution should be that I set the velocities for each note individually. That's the design you described, and it's a bad design. You need to be able to set the dynamics. And both which staves it should be applied to, as well as the specific midi velocity value.

In reply to by Petr Mach

Yes, but that never worked by default in MU3 either - you needed to fiddle with an "invisible independent setting" in the Inspector to get that to work also, because of course the norm in piano music is that dynamics affect both hands. So you sim;ply need to change a different "invisible independent setting" now. As mentioned, currently it's done by the Properties panel, but in a coming update it will be by a far more powerful tool.

So again, it's already possible now, and will become more powerful and more flexible in the future. no need to learn some completely new software whcih will also require some new and different method from how MU3 did it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It is not true. In MuseScore 3 I could see whether I was using dynamics for each staff separately or one for both, it was visible. And that's why MuseScore 3 reacted to every change in dynamics in the notes.

It doesn't work in MuseScore 4, I have to set hundreds of individual notes individually, I can't see how they are set in the notes, and MuseScore 4 no longer reacts to changing the dynamics in the notes. Something other than what is written in the sheet music is played and changes in the sheet music are ignored. And that's a huge bummer.

This makes MuseScore 4 an unusable tool because it requires the user to always remember how to set which note, otherwise they will not be able to edit the notes properly. And this is impossible, so it will lead to hidden errors. I have about 250 scores in MuseScore and sometimes I adapt and edit them. More than half are for piano. Until MuseScore 4 can play back what it has written in the sheet music, I won't be using it.

Are you the official spokesperson for this product? Can I trust that this horrible design flaw will never be fixed because you're going to pass it off as intentional? If that's the case, I don't have to wait for a fix and can switch to another tool now.

With keyboard instruments, it is common for each hand to play a different dynamic. Dynamics is one of the basic musical means of expression. A tool that can't work well with it is useless.

In reply to by Petr Mach

I am not an official spokesperson, I am just a volunteer user trying to help people use the software. I'd love to help you understand how to use the software as well, and to ease your fears about the coming system.

Anyhow, no, in MuseScore 3 you most definitely could not see just by looking at your score whether a dynamic marking affects only a single staff or whether it affected the whole instrument. That information was hidden in a side panel called the Inspector. You needed to use that side panel to change the default settings in ways not visible on the score, if you wanted to control dynamics for two staves independently.

That is, putting an ff on one staff and a pp on the other most certainly did not cause MuseScore 3 to play what was written. It would either play both staves ff or both staves pp. If you wanted it to play what was written, you had to go to the side panel to change those invisible independent settings.

That's still true in MuseScore 4. Exactly as with MuseScore 3, it remains the case MuseScore 4 won't play one staff ff and one staff pp unless you change some invisible independent settings in a side panel. It's just different settings in a different side panel than it was in MuseScore 3.

Yes, it's different and takes a little getting used to. But no, it doesn't make it unusable. I'm using quite successfully myself. And again, I'd love to help you too.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

So first I'll say, there was an awful lot of unmerited hostility in this thread, and I have a lot of respect for your continuing to respond in a calm and (attempted) helpful way!

I'm not going to claim to know how this future volume lane setup will work – for all I know it'll be great, whenever it shows up. I do think, though, that there were some meaningful concerns mentioned in here about the adjusting-volume-by-individual-notes flow that will apply until the new system does arrive (concerns which were not conveyed particularly well amidst all the hostility, I think) and I'd love to know if you know of workarounds for them. Namely:

  • You're right that the "hidden information" vs "not hidden" argument is a bit silly, because the MU3 "apply to single staff" setting was pretty sneaky, yes. But it was much more robust, I think, in that the dynamic's source of truth was fixed (inside that dynamic marking, even though it needed a hidden setting checked), rather than being vulnerable to being lost if a note was ever deleted or replaced. Having to be constantly thinking about whether I need to re-set individual velocity values on notes after changing them is stressful and seems incredibly easy to fail to do correctly (especially since the note velocity setting is incredibly far away from anything you can see at a glance, being buried two layers deep in menus).
  • Even if none of my velocity settings ever needed to be changed after being set once, this system seems fundamentally incapable of handling any kind of crescendo or similar effect – manually setting dozens of individual notes to gradually different values sounds a bit hellish.

I don't want to use the term unusable because I don't want to play into the combativeness that was happening here, but from what I can currently see, I don't really understand how I personally could use this interim system, particularly given the latter issue. Is there something I'm missing?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Is there anyway to see what the velocity each dynamic sets the notes to? Regardless of whether I put pianissimo or forte on the stave all the notes seem to always be at 64 velocity. It would be nice to be able to tell what value pianissimo sets the notes to so that we can then set the velocity for a stave manually ourselves.

In reply to by randomcat695

64 is a lie. It's just a convenient midpoint (within the MIDI range of 1-127) to mean "the same as the dynamic", and then you can turn it up or down from there. Think of it as a dial that goes from 1 to 127 and 64 is the middle point meaning, no change from what the dynamic is. Numbers larger than 64 mean louder than whatever the dynamic is, numbers smaller than 64 mean softer than whatever the dynamic is. So you don't need to actually know the values used by the dynamic to use this system.

It is expected that a come update will replace the 64 with a value that does in fact reflect the dynamic. That's all part of the long term plan mentioned, to get to the point of having "volume lanes" that will be more flexible and powerful than anything MuseScore has had before. Meanwhile, this is how you use it today.

In reply to by Petr Mach

In piano music, different dynamics per staff is quite common, in fact it is idiomatic of the instrument. Musescore 3 handled that quite nicely in playback. Musescore 4 currently does not, and, If I understand correctly what's been said above, that's by design and it never will.
I've noticed several apparent functional setbacks in the Musescore 4 in relation to Musecore 3, but I'm always ready to the discount my own "don't change my habits" syndrome and to allow some tolerance for a few bugs or even poor design decisions in an initial major release .
However, discarding the "per staff" property of a dynamics indication, if it's done consciously and on purpose, seems to me be a blatant case of gratuitously disregarding user needs.

In reply to by josemdavid

It is simply not true that MuseScore 4 doesn't handle this. It most certainly just - just differently, as has been explained: by changing the notes themselves. To be honest, I personally also miss the ability to set it on dynamics, but the designers and developers made a good case that there was no advantage to having these settings in two different places. And a future update will provide additional controls that go above and beyond what MuseScore 3 could do.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There still doesn't seem to be a way of doing this 2 months later. "Changing the notes" is ridiculous since every time you add notes to a part you have to update them as well. There really needs to be a way of putting a "forte" in the upper staff and a "piano" in the lower staff and have the playback respect that.
Different dynamics per staff is not at all uncommon in piano music. It's a shame that musescore doesn't support it anymore.

If it helps any, you can change the velocity of any given set of notes by clicking the beginning of a selection of notes then shift+clicking the end and it will select all of the range in between, then in the properties tab you can change all of them in bulk.

What worked well for me regarding playback piano dynamics was to add 2 pianos and then remove the bass stave from one and the treble stave from the other. That way, i could independently control the dynamics of each remaining stave. However, this function seems also to have been removed. I don't see the point of removing the ability to delete one or other stave of a piano score?

Just wanted to comment on this to add visibility, the "new" way to do this seems less efficient and extremely unintuitive, would love if they brought back a simple toggle between "part" and "staff" that just acts as a shortcut for the "new" way to do it

I think being able to set the dynamic range for dynamic symbols was a good feature
and that it should not have been taken out but rather expanded to feature
a per-voice dynamic too. And I would prefere to add dynamic symbols rather than
drawing lanes. In the end of the day the musician will have to read the symbols too
and not the invinsable lanes.

In reply to by oMrSmith

Of course you should still continue to add dynamics and these will continue to affect playback in the expected ways! The only question is how to go about overriding that playback. MU3 had a complex system where some settings were customized on the dynamic itself, other settings were customized on the notes, and then another setting entirely controlled how those two first two settings combined to yield the final velocity. MU4 simplifies that so all overrides are in the notes, and the then lane feature will simplify how how those settings are made.

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