What is wrong with this musescore file?

• Jun 17, 2023 - 04:04

Hi all. I need your help here. I have been working on a big project to adapt a big score to MuseScore 3.6. It has 15 instruments, including violins. I just discovered that something has gone wrong with the dynamics in this particular file only ( It works fine if I create another test file and try it out). Here is a quick screenshot, and below is a "Trouble" file of the problem. The file is the same one I am working on, but with all other notes and instruments deleted.


The problem is the dynamics. I am using (Violins Fast Expr.) for the instrument, per the default soundfont. For reasons I cannot fathom, I tried to set the treble clef note at a loud "ff" dynamic" using the Inspector, set to 112 velocity with "staff" chosen as the dynamic range for the treble clef (see image). I also want the bass clef notes to be play quietly at a "pp" dynamic, using 33 for the velocity and "staff" for the dynamic range. Unfortunately, this is not working in this particular file. Both treble and bass clefs are sounding as "pp", even though I am clearly using "staff" in both for the dynamic range, and have selected "Violins Fast Expr" in the Mixer menu, with single note dynamics on. They are not playing at two different volumes.

Can you examine what is wrong and let me know how to fix it? Is the file just screwed up, or did I do something to it that can be undone? Help!

Thanks so much

Attachment Size
Trouble file.mscz 2.08 MB


When I open the mixer for this file, you have one instrument. Not two. You need one for treble clef and one for base clef. What you have is like a piano score. So dynamics won't work. Never mind that violins can't play those bass clef notes

In reply to by bobjp

Bob: You solved the problem but I had no idea. When I added "strings" to the score, it created both a treble and bass staff, so I assumed it behaved just like a grand staff, allowing each staff to be dynamically noted. I had no idea it doesn't work for strings, only for piano. When I removed the strings track, replaced it with a piano track and tried setting each staff with a separate dynamic, it worked fine. Well ... I'll be! Thanks. In my score, I will remove the strings track and replace it with two violins tracks.

I can reproduce your problem. It seems to be due to the expression instruments. To test this, take a simple violin sound in the mixer.

And, as bobjp wrote, take two single violins. The Grand Staff is for the piano.

Edit: When using two violin staves the sound "violins fast expr." works too.

Attachment Size
Trouble file-1.mscz 6.12 KB

In reply to by fsgregs

The expressive sounds are so much better. Looks like you are writing a strings reduction part. That's fine for sketching out a section. But for good playback (much less a real score, if you are interested in that) you should consider creating separate string parts. More work? Yes. Worth it? Yes.
You've taken on a big project. The results need to be worth the trouble.

In reply to by bobjp

Bob: I agree. I have removed the Strings track and inserted two violin/violins tracks. I once thought that strings like violin or viola or cello could only be one note on a staff, but I discovered in John Williams scores that I can insert chords in a strings track, and the strings musicians will just choose which note inside a chord they will all play. It does make for a richer sound, so I am doing that in the symphony. Thanks again for the advice.

In reply to by fsgregs

What Williams scores did you have access to. The actual scores that the studio musicians worked from? Or someone's reduction of them.
Strings can play certain double stops. Sometime string parts will be marked DIVISI. And players will divide up parts. But not across clefs. Common practice is to write 2 violin parts, one viola part, one cello part, and one contra bass part. Five altogether. That's how you get a full rich sound. Well, as much as you can get with MU3. And panning the instruments is most important for playback.

In reply to by bobjp


Here is an example of a Williams original score from the film, Superman. This short excerpt is from the Viola section and shows what appears to be notes for four separate viola groups. While the max is 2 notes per staff, there are two staffs combined, so the violas have to decide which of the 4 notes to play and follow. In actual play, all four notes will sound, creating a harmonic chord from the violas. This is in addition to two groups of violins and basses having their own notes to play. In examining the entire 43 page score, I found one measure containing three chord notes for the violins, with the word, "DIV" at the top so it clearly is an instruction to the strings to divide the chord into 3 notes to play.

Violoas - Superman.png

In reply to by fsgregs

Yes. This is a legitimate part. Not at all what you first posted.
Let's think about what he did here. This is for a particular effect. For a live group. Not for computer playback. Think about what happens when you split a group of players into 4 parts. Yes, you get four notes. But as a whole, you get less volume from that group. I have no idea what is going on with the rest of the orchestra. This seems like a build up section. If I remember the music.
Also, is this the actual score the the recording musicians used? Or a concert score created afterwards. When recording for movies there are many microphones all over so that engineers can get the balance they want.

All I'm saying is that there is more than just the notes to consider. And just because you see it in print, doesn't mean that's the exact way they did it. Especially when you consider that there is usually almost no rehearsal time. It's expensive to hire a orchestra. So these musicians are very good at what they do. They pretty much site read parts.

In reply to by bobjp

Bob: Interesting things to consider ... microphone placement, practices, volumes, etc.

FYI, here is the actual section from the actual original written score. The same piece I took a screenshot of was a separate concert set for Viola only. On the list of instruments in the score, there is only 1 viola listed, so the four notes displayed did have to be split between ALL the many viola players in the orchestra.

Screenshot 2023-06-18 115207.png

While it may not be completely kosher, I do intend to have both the Viola section and the Violins section of the score I am working on, have at least 2-3 notes on each staff. That is because I only have one instrument each in the MuseScore score, and I will notate each with a "DIV" notation above both instruments. BTW, I have stopped all work on the Superman score. John Williams music company blocks all postings of his work onto MuseScore. The piece I am tackling now is from the "Dark Knight", composed by Hans Zimmer. On MuseScore, his works are still allowed.

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