SF2 soundfont in musescore4

• Jul 5, 2023 - 11:33

Good day. i downloaded musescore4 and it doesn't support sf2 font. i tried to read how to add a third party to support it but i didn't really understand how, can you please show me how to get the sound to work!
thanks a lot


Funny .... today I faced the same situation - SF2 SoundFonts seemingly not working in MuseScore-4! Out of slight desperation I tried MS-4.0.1, then the fresh MS-4.1 and even the nightly built of MS-4.2-dev ... without success concerning this topic.

After some intense research, surfing the web, reading this and that - of course several forum threads - I thought and thought again and what I actually searched for was a single nice Irish Harp sound with long lasting sustain from it's metal strings.

I searched for freely available SF2s on several providers' websites and found some promising sounding SF2 packages, containing multiple (read: more than only one!) sounds. This was the culprit, because:

Packed SF2 sound font collections cannot be opened / presented / used in MuseScore4

But then I found a pretty neat workaround: Well known MS developer Marc Sabatella had written a light weight C converter which can split big SF2s into individual files for each instrument, all in one go, without any interaction, nicely named and numbered. I hesitated downloading the C Code from GitHub:

>> https://github.com/MarcSabatella/soundfont-cmdline-tools <<

... because my knowledge and routine with compiling C code is some 20 years old now.

I did it anyway ... and it was a very nice and successful experience, without warnings, errors or some sort of interaction. Simply download the code package (a zip in my case), unpack it, change into the unpacked directory (where the Makefile resides), type 'make' and wait a minute. On success - which should happen anyway - you'll find there the two freshly compiled executable files sf2-test and sf2-split as documented in the README on GitHub.

Use the former together with the name of a SF2 sound font to check what it contains, use the latter to unpack the big SF2 collection into single instrument SF2 files at once, without further interaction.

Finally put the desired (or all) sound font(s) into your local MS4's "SoundFonts" Folder, restart MS, open a score with at least one instrument and some music. Then open the Mixer by hitting [F10], click on the instrument's name to access it's drop-down menu, select SoundFont and ... voilà! ... you should see your unpacked sound font(s) there, named and numbered as documented.

Good luck - enjoy!

In reply to by EsDur

Marc did a fantastic job and I got a clean compile on Linux Mint 20.3! Thank you, Marc!

In version 4.1 RC 1, the "change instruments" creates a new entry in the mixer, I can change the soundfont, but the change doesn't happen. Again, is this the wrong place to post about a release candidate?

In reply to by Chuck Bermingham

Don't know if I understand what you mean. I usually create and notate a score with a default (basic) instrument, say, Piano and Violin. Then I save it. Shortly after, I replace e.g. the Violin with one of my SF2 sound fonts: Open the Mixer > click the dropdown triangle of "Violin" > click on "SoundFonts" ... and select my preferred instrument from the SoundFont list. Works flawlessy in MU-4.1 for me.

Basically I do not create a new instrument but replace a default instrument.

Didn't try it in a different (i.e. your) way - YMMV


In reply to by EsDur

Actually, I was wrong.

If I "change instrument" in 3.6.2, even specifying the same instrument, I get a new mixer entry for that, and can change the soundfont sound for it. If I do the same thing in 4.1 RC 1, I get a new mixer entry only if I pick a new instrument. This is bad for doing organ work. The new mixer entry should appear regardless of whether it's the same instrument or a new one.

In reply to by Chuck Bermingham

Indeed, MU4 is smart enough reuses mixer channels where possible, so if you switch back and forth you don't end up with dozens of channels like MU3 did. So simply change to a different instrument (eg, from "organ" to "pipe organ" or whatever) then change the sound however you like. The nice thing is you can then have a small set of sounds you move between many times over the course of a piece and still have only that small set of mixer channels.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It wasn't much of a problem on 3.6.2 because the instrument changes were grouped with an arrow to open the group of sounds for a clef, and I could keep track of which changes went with wich clef.

Doesn't matter much anyway, because at this point, version 4 doesn't have a piano roll editor, nor any way to change the duration of notes without affecting the appearance on the score.

In reply to by Chuck Bermingham

If you only had a few changes per staff, then indeed, it might not get out of hand. But many people had scores with dozens of back and forth changes - arco/pizz/arco/pizz etc - and it was virtually impossible to track which change went with which channel. That's why it was such a commonly requested feature to combine these.

But anyhow, indeed, if you're looking to be hand-tweaking the durations of individual notes, that's something MuseScore 4 doesn't do currently.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That's great, but I have to select instruments from the list that you provide, I cannot base my instrument choices on soundfonts or soundfont elements, or I have to create my own instruments.

As for back and forth, I just cut and paste the text box if I have to reuse an organ stop.

I will wait for PRE to return and then see where this goes. I am finished with version 4 for now.

In reply to by Chuck Bermingham

No, you can select any soundfont you like once yoh have selected the instrument. But yes, the hack of copy/pasting instrument changes works also in MU3 though, and if you were relying on the customization features possible only in the PRE, then indeed, unfortunately you won’t be able to take advantage of the incredible improvements in engraving or other features of MU4.

In reply to by Chuck Bermingham

One last thing:

See my picture. I can see about 4/200, and only in 1 eye. I work with the computer through a tiny hole in the back of that telescope. Engraving is nice for people with good eyesight, but to me, performance and the ability to get the computer to perform is the most important thing. That's why I fell in love with the 3.6.2 version of MuseScore.

From what I've read, Dietrich Bextehude didn't even write things down; his students copied his work, and learned how he expressed himself by listening.

That's it. Thank you for your time.

In reply to by EsDur

What's worse; if I start going through different instruments to change organ stops, I start running into instruments that don't have much registration; for example, flute, which only has a few octaves.

I've started trying the trick of choosing from "electronic", which has a few synthesizers; however, this is so pathetic, I will stick with 3.6.2 either until these problems are addressed on version 4 on Linux, or stay with 3.6.2 until it gets so old it will only drive backwards.

In reply to by EsDur

On 3.6.2, if you did text/change instruments and picked the same instrument, you still got a new mixer entry (attached to the staff.) Now, if I try this I don't get a new mixer entry, I have to change to a different instrument, which I do not want to do.

This completely kills the ability to smoothly change organ stops (stefans.sf2).

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