MuseScore 4 on Ubuntu a huge disappointment

• Jan 29, 2023 - 02:50

As a very long-time user of MuseScore, I was hoping for great things from MuseScore 4. Instead I'm so disappointed I could weep.

On a fresnly-minted Kubuntu 22.04 I installed and ran muse-hub to get the full collection of samples, then fired up MS4 from the AppImage. Right off the bat there was a problem: the fonts were so small I couldn't read anything. With the aid of a magnifying glass, I navigated to Preferences=>Appearance=>Body text size and bumped the size up. It worked, except the Menu bar remained as tiny as before. I consulted the forums and discovered that others had reported the menu bar bug but that tantacrul had summarily closed it without fixing the issue. Not very confidence inspiring.

Next I created an orchestral score. When the template loaded, it was minuscule at 100% zoom. MS4 wasn't picking up the system default DPI. That seemed a bit amateurish, a detail I would not expect to be overlooked in software written by people who presumably know what they're doing. I quit and restarted the AppImage with the - D option set to 96 (the system default). The score rendered at the correct size.

Having hit these two snags right at the start, my confidence in MS4 was starting to dwindle.

I then entered a short flute phrase and hit the playback button. Nothing. The mixer levels showed something going on but there was no output. I went to Preferences=>I/O and discovered, to my dismay, that there was no option to select the preferred sound system. No ALSA, no PulseAudio, just a cryptic "System default" where clearly there is supposed to be a dropdown with choices. Worse, no JACK. All serious Linux audio applications have JACK integration. With MS, it's always been essential because high quality equalization, reverb, and chorusing have needed to be accessed via external plugins. JACK is even more important in MS4 since the Linux version doesn't offer any audio plugins ("effects") at all.

Dauntless, I explored a bit further. Right off the bat, I discovered that there's no longer a way to control the sounding length of notes, therefore no way to control détaché, staccato, or legato and no way to introduce breaks between phrases. In previous versions of MS, you had to use the awful piano roll editor
to control note length (or the DockArticulate plugin), but at least it was doable. I was hoping MS4 would add a note length field to the Note properties and take care of the troublesome issue for good. Instead, the functionality got taken away entirely, which makes MS4 completely unusable for the kind of work I've been doing with previous versions of MS going all the way back to 2010. My YouTube channel has plenty of examples.

So I'm back to battling with MS3. At least it works. I was so hoping composing at the computer would get a little easier.

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