How to Change Note Lengths Easily?

• Jul 24, 2023 - 00:48

How do you alter the lengths of the notes? This is the second or third time I've installed MuseScore and got frustrated with it and I'm on the verge of giving up again. I really want to be able to get along with this program because my mind thinks in terms of traditional notation and it looks professional and it's easier to read than other formats (piano roll, tracker, etc.). But at the moment this program's driving me crazy and I getting bogged down trying to understand the programming logic and this is preventing me from being able to be creative. And this is particularly disappointing after watching Tantacrul's videos and hearing so many good things about how all the other bad UI things have been fixed, so I really didn't expect to find basic tasks so difficult.

Here's an example: I had a bar in 4/4 consisting of a half note rest followed by two quarter notes. And I wanted to change it to a quarter note rest and two dotted quarter notes. So I selected both quarter notes together using the shift key and I clicked on the dotted note button. And suddenly I found myself with a tie and an eighth note and everything was all messed up and the next bar got altered as well, which is totally not what I wanted! And I clicked on various buttons and selected things and hit the delete key to try delete the crap (we've got an 1/8 note rest making an appearance now too) and fix the problem and it just got worse and worse! I did eventually achieve what I wanted via some long sequence of steps but I've no idea how I did it nor why the program behaved as it did nor how to make the program behave itself properly or how to edit anything else with risking damaging other notes in the same bar or the next one.

(1) I get that I can't have a half note rest plus two dotted quarter notes in a single bar of 4/4 because 1/2 + 3/8 + 3/8 > 1. But I hadn't finished inputting my request before the program started performing automated actions! I'm inputting using a laptop trackpad and I don't see how I can simultaneously have the quarter notes selected and click to make them longer and at the same time have the rest selected and perform a different action on it to make it shorter. Selecting two different things and performing two different actions on them just isn't something a trackpad can do. I'd need to have a multitouch touchscreen or something in order to be able to press two buttons at once! I used to work with databases and my analogy to my current problem is that MuseScore is trying to enforce the database integrity constraints before I said yes to "committing" my transaction.

(2) Having the two notes selected and clicking on the dotted note button seemed to make the first one into a dotted quarter note and the second one an eighth note. I get that a 3:1 ratio is a common use case but that's not what I wanted in this case. It's also not what asked the program to do. That's not how selections and toolbar buttons usually work. Selecting two words in MS Word and clicking the "bold" button doesn't result in some kind of "AI" kicking in and going, "Oh, I think your document would look so much nicer with one word in bold and the other in italic!" The icon doesn't look like two notes, one long and one short. It looks like a single dotted note. So that's what I expected it to draw: dotted notes (only). The tooltip also describes it as "Augmentation dot. Toggle duration dot." It doesn't say "Toggle dotted rhythm."

(3) Pressing the delete key doesn't do a proper delete. As in "Create empty space" or "Remove this object from the document", like it does in every other app ever. But in MuseScore it just creates more and more rests. What I'm desperate for is to create some empty space, some breathing space so that I can compose without the program inserting all those ties because the bar becomes overfull.

(4) At some point I eventually got the right symbols to appear but in the wrong order. So I'm dragging this rest trying to move it from the end of the bar to the beginning of the bar. But the program won't let me drag a note or a rest back past a previous note.

(5) This operation is so easy in the other composition programs I've used. Those programs use a piano roll representation and it's easy in those programs. I would just drag the two quarter notes backward into the empty space before them (equivalent to splitting the rest into two smaller rests and then having the notes swap places with one of them) and then I'd drag from a different part of second the note's rectangle to simultaneously extend the length of the two notes and remove empty space next to them (i.e. remove the second rest).

(6) I keep trying to deselect things and it randomly moves the entire page around. Eh? I didn't use a two fingered scroll gesture so why's it doing that?

How do I make make MuseScore behave itself and act sensibly? How do I stop it from checking the integrity of my score performing these automated "fix up" actions until I've finished making all of the changes to the bar that I want to? I noticed that if I long click on the pencil icon then a variety of different drawing modes are available. Will any of the other modes let me edit my score in the intuitive way that I want to do, so that I can experiment freely with things?



For better or worse, MuseScore works from left to right.
Change the half rest to two quarter rests. Enter (you can't just move it) the first dotted quarter on the second rest and then the second dotted quarter note after.

You can't drag notes anywhere.

CTRL+ delete might be what you are looking for.

And spending some time in the manual.

Chapeau, for lizzyhudnnot, bravo! I agree. Tantacrul used to be my hero, but now... The beauty of MuseScore should have been -after all- its intuitive performance and, as an ORG, its effort to serve all people, humbly. It is not happening. The question stands: How do you alter the lengths of the notes? A REAL, simple, honest, answer would be much appreciated. Thank you. Julian

In reply to by julianort

You wrote:
How do you alter the lengths of the notes?

A note's duration can be altered in two ways -- making it shorter, or making it longer.
Numbers are entered to specify duration. Examples follow.

1. To make shorter:

If other notes follow the shortened note, they are not moved to "fill the gap", but rest(s) are still used (just as they are in the previous examples):
People have complained in the forum that they wished MuseScore would move the following notes instead of using a rest, but that's the job of cut/paste. Notes that must be moved should be selected by the user, then cut, and then pasted upon the quarter rest. MuseScore cannot guess the number of following notes a user wishes to move.

2. To make longer:

If other notes follow the lengthened note, the time added is subsumed from what follows.
In this case, observe what happens as the time value of the note expands and the time signature is honored.
If those following notes are important, they can be cut and pasted downstream into a newly inserted measure, or pasted on top of whatever follows.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Thank you, Jm6stringer

I have been struggling for a long time to achieve something I need for a special instrument, using my MuseScore. My scores are all quarter notes, advancing one by one with the > key on my computer keyboard, a MuseScore feature already available. I need my notes all to be 20 seconds (max) long after I hit the >. The following note will play when I release the >, and then hit the > key again (just as it happens with an organ). That way I set the note duration “manually”. Please hereby find attached a typical score.

Tempo Stretch doesn’t work since notes will be advancing automatically if the > is kept pressed...

Can you kindly help with this issue?



Attachment Size
Air on the G string Mar - copy.mscz 25.19 KB

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