Tuning systems, microtonal notation system, and playback

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    Musical tuning systems and notation systems

    Default tuning

    The default tuning is equal temperament (12-EDO/12-TET), and the default concert pitch setting is A4 = 440Hz. Concert pitch is configurable in synthesizer.

    Other tuning systems

    MuseScore supports tuning systems such as Just intonation, Pythagorean tuning, and Scordatura etc. indirectly, see create desired playback below.

    Default notation

    Default notation uses 7 accidentals: b (flat), (natural), # (sharp), x (double sharp), bb (double flat), #x (triple sharp), bbb (triple flat), see source code.

    You can add these 7 accidentals using any of the following:

    • Shortcut keys: e.g. keyboard up/down keys ( these can be assigned in Preferences: Shortcuts: "Pitch up", "Pitch down", "Diatonic pitch up", "Diatonic pitch down", "Change enharmonic spelling"), or
    • Toolbar buttons, or
    • Palette : Accidentals section (a sidebar), or
    • Master palette : Accidentals category (a popup window). Do not add from Symbols category, they are non-functional visual symbols, see Notation types.

    See the main chapter Accidentals for more information.

    Microtonal notation systems

    MuseScore supports microtonal notation systems such as Helmstolk Ellis notation, Johnston notation etc., so that tuning systems such as Just intonation, Pythagorean tuning etc can be notated precisely. MuseScore development focuses on engraving support, rather than playback support, see create desired playback below.

    Professional glyphs of some SMuFL (Wikipedia) symbols are shipped with Musescore, add them by using any of the following:

    • Palette : inside the More button of the Accidental section (a sidebar), or
    • Master palette : Accidentals category and Symbols category (a popup window), or
    • A Plugin.

    Note: Adding symbols other than the 7 accidentals used in the default notation system may damage compatibility with plugins such as Chord Identifier (Pop Jazz), because of the implicit change explained in microtonal playback below.

    Creating the desired playback

    To create desired playback for a custom tuning or notation system, use one of the following methods:

    With default notation

    With some tweaking, you can create desired playback on a whole score or a phrase to:

    • emulate a performer's decision to play different pitches: for example, on the same sheet music, a violinist plays Pythagorean, a pianist plays Equal Temperament, or
    • emulate an instrument tuned to a custom tuning system.

    To create the desired playback, use:

    • Cent adjustment of notes with the Tuning property in Inspector: Note. To get a sensible result, you need to work out tables of cent values based on the tuning system and fundamental frequency beforehand, and may need to apply different tables to different sections; or
    • A plugin that automates this process, such as:
      • Tunings and Temperaments (as of Jan 2023, this plugin does not differentiate between enharmonic notes, i.e. Ab=G#), the workaround is to manually select and use separate values.)
      • Scordatura

    With microtonal notation systems

    Direct playback of microtonal notation is not supported, create desired playback by using:

    Points to consider when adjusting Tuning property.

    • Many SMuFL symbols provide visual / engraving purpose only and do not affect playback.
    • When applying some symbols to an existing accidental-marked note, Musescore automatically and implicitly change the note's internal / playback pitch to its "accidental-less" version, see Nominal-accidental chain—Xenharmonic WIKI, this discussion, and source code. Purpose of this design is to allow implementation of different tuning systems.
    • For example, adding a quarter-tone sharp symbol (small upward arrow with sharp sign, 𝄲) to F# changes its playback to F in pitch inside Musescore, and the quarter-tonesSharp symbol itself does not affect playback inside Musescore.

    Alternatively, use a software in microtonal composition and playback such as Mus2, see a list on Xenharmonic Wiki.

    Keywords for search engine

    Tuning, Temperament, Intonation, Notation, EDO (Equal Division of the Octave), TET (Tone Equal Temperament), HEJI (Helmholtz-Ellis Just Intonation), HEWM (Helmholtz-Ellis-Wolf-Monzo), Sagittal notation system, Stein, Dicot, Porcupine, Meantone, Superpyth, Well-tempered.

    See also

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