A more jazz-friendly MuseScore (articulations, chord symbols and other elements)

• Sep 22, 2023 - 20:28

Trying to arrange for big band using Musescore is currently quite annoying cause of some missing features.

  • First one is articulations. In jazz the Marcato symbol is used as a short note with accent, which is completely different than the "classical" way of reading the symbol. It would be amazing if we could add that option for the playback. Right now we are forced to use the staccato symbol to obtain the desired playback, ignoring the accent. This makes it quite frustrating because you either get a wrong playback, or get the correct playback but have to swap the staccato symbols with marcato ones before exporting to pdf.

  • Another symbol that is used differently in jazz is the "unstress above" symbol, which usually indicates that the note shouldn't be accented. In jazz that same symbol is called "bend" and indicates an effect in which you play the note, bend a half step below and then go up again to the correct pitch. It would be nice to add this option too, even just having an equivalent symbol with that name, without necessarily having the effect in the playback, for people that might be searching for "bend" in the search bar with no results.

  • Another good feature to add would be having the option to use a glissando symbol without needing two notes, which is extremely common in jazz to indicate a slower more exaggerated fall or doit than the ones you would get using the "fall" or "doit" symbol that already are in Musescore. Right now the only way to get this is to gliss to a note that is then made invisible (which creates some problem if you need a rest where the invisible note is) or use the master palette each time to find and add the symbol, which however doesn't let you change the size of the symbol if needed.

  • It would also be very nice if the default noteheads for rhythmic notation could be switched to the "large diamond" one, since it's the most used one in jazz.

  • Lastly another essential feature that should be added is the option to have chord extensions stacked one on top of the other, which is the most common way used in jazz to notate altered chords, making them much more readable and also smaller in size, opposed to those long strings of text. To make the one in the example attached I had to add two staff texts. First I added one in which I wrote the main chord symbol, like "C7( )", and made the parenthesis bigger than the chord name (17pt vs 10pt). Then I added a second staff text with the extensions, reduced the size to 8pt, made it bold, reduced the line spacing and center-aligned it. Finally I removed the auto-place feature from both texts, otherwise they would move all over the place, and placed the extensions inside the parenthesis. Way too much work for a single chord symbol, and obviously it wouldn't even play in playback since it's just staff text.

All these results CAN already be achieved with some work, as shown in the examples. But I don't see a reason why a jazz arranger/composer should waste so much time trying to figure out methods to do stuff that could easily be turned on automatically when selecting one of the default jazz styles like MuseJazz. Adding even just some of these features, especially the marcato and the stacked chord extensions (the bend and glissato symbols and the large diamond noteheads are less problematic, they would just be little quality of life improvements), would make Musescore much more intuitive, accessible and easy to use for all the people that use it to write music for any jazz context.


Attachment Size
Jazz-friendly MuseScore.pdf 52.95 KB

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