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Thread: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

  1. #1

    Default Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    New index for updated 2017 MuseScore 2 tutorial, all of the following is covered in one 22 minute video. Video is designed to be readable even on small screens such as phones. The index (below) lets you fast-forward to the exact topic you want. This quickstart video shows you just about everything you need to know to start notating/writing music (and tab!), including adding lyrics, how to put in the chords, how to turn standard notation into mandolin tab, how to transpose notes *and* chords so you can easily change a tune from one key to another, in MuseScore 2.1. (MuseScore is free open-source software for Windows/Mac/Linux computers, although there's no Android/phone writing app yet.) These clickable links should take you directly to the exact spot in the video where each topic is located:

    00:07 - create new score (ACCELERATED no-nonsense way).
    00:23 - how to change VIEW from Page View to Continuous View.
    00:32 - find the PALETTES via menu or keyboard shortcut.
    00:37 - change KEY SIGNATURE (select what key the tune is in).
    00:46 - change TIME SIGNATURE.
    01:05 - Note Input mode (how to actually WRITE NOTES in MuseScore).
    01:29 - change ZOOM level (make score bigger or smaller).
    01:38 - make DOTTED NOTES.
    01:41 - PLAYBACK of written notes.
    01:53 - change TEMPO (change SPEED).
    02:43 - add CHORDS.
    03:18 - change/edit a chord.
    03:37 - TRANSPOSE to a DIFFERENT KEY (convert entire score, including chords, to a different key).
    04:21 - using UNDO to revert to a previous state.
    04:29 - how to DELETE all Chords in a staff.
    04:51 - add LYRICS (words) to songs.
    05:01 - use SPACE BAR to jump to next note, then type the next word.
    05:12 - how to write 2ND LINE of lyrics.
    05:36 - how to SCROLL SIDEWAYS *without* clicking anything (VERY USEFUL for when you need to maintain a selection of notes while moving the score).
    06:04 - how to DIVIDE WORDS (hyphenate words) in LYRICS.
    06:33 - add optional LINE NUMBERS to Lyrics (they automatically left-align at first bar).
    07:28 - how to DELETE only ONE LINE of multi-line LYRICS (without tediously clicking each word).
    08:29 - remember to SAVE your file frequently (there's also an optional Auto-Save setting).
    09:21 - MOVE NOTES using ARROW KEYS. This comes in handy sometimes.
    09:56 - how to make TRIPLETS.
    10:48 - how to make a TIE (two notes tied together).
    11:18 - how to make a playback LOOP, also how to SELECT SEVERAL BARS.
    11:41 - change SWING settings (for playback).
    12:52 - how to DEACTIVATE LOOP (turn loop off).
    12:59 - COPY AND PASTE contents of bars (measures).
    13:17 - how to delete selected notes.
    13:21 - how to DELETE ENTIRE BARS (make the score shorter).
    13:34 - add double bar-lines, end bar-lines, etc.
    14:08 - CONVERT STANDARD NOTATION to MANDOLIN TAB.
    15:30 - change SIZE of tab, change tab font, and change tab line spacing.
    16:36 - (optional) show RESTS in TAB (to see which menu to use, refer to 15:36.)
    17:15 - re-write tab FRET NUMBER (change from open string to equivalent fretted string).
    18:22 - turn standard notation into GUITAR TAB that's easier to play in FIRST POSITION.
    19:26 - (change CLEF - change from regular treble clef to 8vb treble clef, one octave different.)
    19:59 - (another instance of TRANSPOSING notes, this time one octave lower.)
    20:44 - (another example of changing the SIZE of TAB NUMBERS and line spacing, this time for guitar.)

    The following are at the end of the video, these are little mini text-only blurbs instead of the usual screenshots:
    21:58 - Addenda - text only: info about PRINTING.
    22:08 - Addenda - text only: how to ADD INSTRUMENTS.
    22:18 - Addenda - text only: change individual instruments' VOLUME and SOUND using the MIXER.
    22:28 - Addenda - text only: change MASTER VOLUME temporarily (change volume of ALL instruments at the same time).
    22:38 - Addenda - text only: Change DISTANCE BETWEEN STAFFS, also change margins and the space between lyric lines.
    22:48 - Addenda - text only: change NOTE COLOR, change note VISIBILITY, change shape of NOTE HEAD, change note VELOCITY.

    One thing I forgot to put in the video, is how to ADD new EMPTY BARS in the MIDDLE of a score, by selecting an entire bar and then pressing the "Insert" key on the keyboard. That inserts one bar immediately to the left of the selected bar.

    To ADD a BAR at the END of a score, use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+B. Be aware that it might shift the position of an existing double-line end barline, easily fixed though.

    Seems that I also forgot to show how to make short "pickup measures" at the beginning of a score, I seldom use those anyway but they're common in lots of music. I can post some screenshots here in this thread in a day or two when I get time. Meanwhile, if you're using the long version of the New Score dialog, you can add pickup measures there before adding anything else to the score.
    Last edited by JL277z; Sep-18-2017 at 11:21am.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Guess there aren't too many music writers about?

    Or is everyone using $600 Finale or something?

    Myself, I prefer the more economical (free!) MuseScore.

    Although I did shell out some cash for TablEdit a few years ago, and I still use TablEdit once in a while when writing, mostly just for compatibility since so many people already use/expect it.

    But after MuseScore 2 came out, I find myself preferring MuseScore even for writing tab. At *first*, a year or two ago or however long it's been, I disliked the new MuseScore because it was so different than the old MuseScore that I'd grown accustomed to on an ancient creaky old Linux machine. But I eventually came to see its advantages and I made the switch.

    I do nearly all of my transcribing of tunes using MuseScore (and Audacity of course, to slow the tunes down to half speed so I can hear all the fast notes better). I sometimes later put those written notes into TablEdit if I need to produce a TablEdit TEF file for other people to use. For just my own uses on computer though, MuseScore 2 with its new tab feature seems pretty darn useful.

    Anyway, it is my hope that the info in the video will be of some usefulness to people who want to try their hand at writing down music and/or tab.

    One of the practical everyday uses I find for written notation, is turning giant heavy paper-and-ink songbooks into nice neat tiny little digital files (MuseScore can export as PDF that takes up less storage space than scanned-image PDF's) so you can put literally thousands of songs onto a tablet - much easier to carry one tablet, than to lug around boxes full of books and 3-ring binders. Even if you only go out once a week to sing on Sundays, a tablet is still easier to handle than a big thick heavy hymnal, and (when you're writing the score) the fonts for the lyrics can be make big enough to read easily (compared to itsy-bitsy tiny fonts used in many of the songbooks I've seen).

    The other practical use of MuseScore, is turning complicated fancy scores (think Bach) into easier-to-read mandolin tab. Much less frustrating to learn to play it that way, especially if you're like me and not used to playing in 'unusual' keys that have flatted notes, 1st-fret notes, etc. The advantage of tab here is that you can glance down at the tab staff when you see a bunch of accidentals in the standard notation (I usually show standard notation *and* tab, and I skip back and forth between them when reading), and the tab helps you remember which frets belong in that key - immensely helpful for people like me as I've spent most of my life playing in only G, D, and A.

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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    I think you're being a bit too quick, I have only just seen the first post, never mind the second. Musescore is great I have just been using it myself to look at an arrangement of the Canal en Octobre.

    I look forward to watching your video, I am sure that there is much for me to learn -I am a pretty naive Musescore user.
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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Thanks, derbex!

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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Is there ever any thought about making an IPad version? I tab out all my licks I post online, and currently use Tabledit on my PC. I would love to be able to find one that I could have when Im traveling to work on.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Hey JL277z, yes derbex is right, don't be so quick there ... I've only just now seen your post. It's great to have the index. I think I've seen some of this, or a similar, musescore video from you already. I seem to recall your having posted it in a newbies group discussion some time back. I found it very interesting, but thus far have had no need to use any program other than TablEdit for my writing. I can assure you that if and when the day comes that I begin using MuseScore, your video and the index to it will be very handy!

    Thanks for sharing
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  11. #7

    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Quote Originally Posted by danielpatrick View Post
    Is there ever any thought about making an IPad version? I tab out all my licks I post online, and currently use Tabledit on my PC. I would love to be able to find one that I could have when Im traveling to work on.
    As far as I know, the iOS (iPad I guess) version is like the Android version in that they're read-only & playback-only. I don't think you can write or edit with them.

    IMNSHO, that is the one major shortcoming/flaw I see in MuseScore, is the lack of good decent iOS & Android support.

    A year or so ago I tried two of the Android MuseScore versions, the free one and the $1.99 one ("MuseScore Songbook"), and to be frank I wasn't impressed. The free one required log-in, that's dumb, I wanted to be able to use it offline, so I promptly uninstalled it. So I thought, what the heck I'll try the $1.99 one instead, but it had installation problems & it couldn't read my device's file system (I eventually solved that but I don't remember how), anyway by that time I was a little ticked off at it so I never gave it a proper test drive, although I never uninstalled it either. I suppose I should try it again sometime. The thing is though, I really don't need yet another playback-only app - I already have TEFview on Android for that sort of thing - although I've only used *that* a few times as well.

    What I *have* been doing, which works good for my uses, is to export PDF and MIDI files from the computer-version of MuseScore (PDF & MIDI export works great in my experience), then I put those files on my tablet and then use the excellent "MobileSheets Pro" app (I think it's Android only though) for viewing the PDF files. However, MobileSheets Pro is not designed to transpose keys, slow-down, mute individual 'instrument' tracks during MIDI playback, nor show you exactly which note on the score that the MIDI is playing etc. - instead MobileSheets Pro just shows you a PDF sheetmusic page while (optionally) playing the corresponding MIDI file. So MobileSheets Pro is designed for a different usage, compared to MuseScore Songbook or TEFview.

    So my 'workflow' is rather compartmentalized. MuseScore on computer for writing music and exporting PDF & MIDI, MobileSheets Pro on Android for display of those exported files, and TEFview on Android for the rare times when the computer isn't available and I need to hear what some downloaded TablEdit tef file sounds like.

    I probably already mentioned up above somewhere that I do still have the full version of TablEdit but mostly I only use it to generate 'tef' files for people who prefer that format (still seems to be quite popular). For my own tab usage, I mostly find MuseScore easier & less frustrating to work with - on computer, that is. But the Android/iOS side of things leaves a lot to be desired, IMO.

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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Hey JL277z, yes derbex is right, don't be so quick there ... I've only just now seen your post. It's great to have the index. I think I've seen some of this, or a similar, musescore video from you already. I seem to recall your having posted it in a newbies group discussion some time back. I found it very interesting, but thus far have had no need to use any program other than TablEdit for my writing. I can assure you that if and when the day comes that I begin using MuseScore, your video and the index to it will be very handy!

    Thanks for sharing
    Thanks Mark! Yeah this video is a new-and-improved complete re-do of the old obsolete one I posted for an *earlier* version of MuseScore (version 1). There are some major differences in the software between version 1 and version 2 of MuseScore, including location of some of the important prefs settings (swing etc), the cool new ability to write tab, etc.
    Last edited by JL277z; Sep-19-2017 at 11:37pm. Reason: Added link to old version, for historical purposes.

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    JL277z,

    Wow, thanks so much for this. I have just started with Musescore today to try and help figure out harmonies on fiddle tunes. Writing out the melody and then my idea of the harmony and hearing the MIDI play seems beneficial. It is also helping me get better at correlating the tab to the music notation.

    I stole a few nice tips from your video already such as triplets and finding the mandolin (duh. I spent a while trying to modify a guitar before I thought to search here). Thanks!!!!
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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Thanks Drew, for the kind words!

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    ... figure out harmonies on fiddle tunes. Writing out the melody and then my idea of the harmony and hearing the MIDI play seems beneficial.
    Absolutely. It's great to be able to write some notes and then hear the MIDI playback of those notes.

    As you said, it's useful for working out harmony lines, also double-stops and such.

    I've also found that the MIDI playback helps me with melody sight-reading training, because there's a quick correlation between seeing the note and hearing the sound that the note produces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    It is also helping me get better at correlating the tab to the music notation.
    Same here. My latest challenge for myself is to get better at reading bass clef for mandocello-tuned instruments. I'd never read bass clef for a stringed instrument before (I'd once briefly played fretless electric bass, but only by ear and/or a list of chord names for each tune)... and it had been many decades since I'd even seen a bass clef (piano as a kid) and that old piano "muscle memory" doesn't help with non-piano instruments anyway...

    So, now when I'm trying to learn to play something in bass clef on a fretted instrument, I put a 'linked' tab staff right next to the standard notation staff (linking means that when you change a note in one staff, the other staff automatically changes), so when I'm trying to play it on an instrument I can see both the tab and the standard notation at the same time. The tab isn't a crutch but rather a very useful learning tool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    I stole a few nice tips from your video already such as triplets ...
    Cool!

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    ... and finding the mandolin (duh. I spent a while trying to modify a guitar before I thought to search here). Thanks!!!!
    I am forever grateful to MandolinCafe forum member "StuartE" who mentioned in an older post a couple years ago that they hid the mandolin in the "All instruments" dropdown menu. Prior to that, I'd figured the only way was to do the same thing you'd tried, modify the strings/tuning of one of the other instruments. Thanks again StuartE!




    NOTE:
    There is one correction for my video - I just discovered a few days ago that there's a much easier way to move a tab note from one string to another string - a new supplemental super-quick mini-video shows the right way to do it: just click and drag the note. That's much easier than the silly way I show at 17:15 in the main video. Live and learn!

    To the best of my knowledge, that's the only thing that needed correcting. I put a YouTube annotation/card thingie at the 17:15 mark to advise viewers of the correction, although the currently-available YouTube annotations/cards aren't very noticeable.




    Someday/someyear the MuseScore developers will presumably release version 3 of the software (looks like they've been working on it for a couple of years already), and sometime after that I will probably remake the entire big video to reflect whatever updates are necessary.

    Hopefully they won't change too much stuff in the next version - whenever that might be - as I've gotten used to it the way it is and I don't want to have to relearn a bunch of stuff (I'm a slow learner nowadays).

    Although there are three things that I *would* like to see them improve:

    1. Font kerning (horizontal spacing of the letters in text) - to improve the appearance of titles, instrument names, staff text etc. Currently, letter spacing isn't as nice in MuseScore, as it is in other (non-music-related) apps I'm using with the exact same fonts, regardless of which font I choose. I have hundreds of different fonts (font acquisition syndrome eh, but not nearly as many of 'em as I had 10-15 years ago when I was a true font packrat lol) and nearly all of them have the same issue in MuseScore. They all work fine in all other apps on the same computer. Not a huge deal I guess, but IMO it would be nice if the MuseScore team would fix that someday.

    2. It would also be nice if they'd make a way to temporarily 'hide' a linked tab staff (without having to actually delete it and recreate it later). I don't think there's a way to do that currently.

    3. I still think they should give users the option to change the highlighted note color. I've adapted to it (as it turns out) via a higher-quality computer screen and manually setting Windows 10 to run in "Night light" mode all the time except when I'm using Photoshop (Night Light mode not to help me sleep, but to reduce the glaring harsh blue tones of some LCD screens). IMO that's literally the one and only thing I liked better about the old version 1 of MuseScore, it had a different highlight color... but once I finally got it figured out, everything else about version 2 seems much much better.

  17. #11

    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Is there anyway to get rid of the tick marks under the tab line? Assuming those are to indicate pick strumming. All they do is take up space.
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    The ticks are there to indicate the time values of the notes, the equivalent of the standard notation but in TAB form. TAB without them gives no real indication of how long or short a note is. You can decide whether to have them or not when you add in a TAB stave as you create a new score. The New Score Wizard opens with a window that shows Common Instruments, so you need to change that to All Instruments, then select Plucked Instruments, then guitar or mando or whatever other TAB you desire. When you have selected your chosen TAB, click on Add then in the top right of the window you'll see under Stave Type a button and if you click on this it gives you all sorts of ways to have your TAB appear. You want to select, for mandolin with no embellishments, "tab 4-string simple" from the drop-down menu.
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  21. #13

    Default Re: Music-writing & tab-writing tutorial & INDEX

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    Is there anyway to get rid of the tick marks under the tab line? Assuming those are to indicate pick strumming. All they do is take up space.
    Here's a quick little 1-minute example that I put together today after reading your question, which shows how I change or remove the tab stems and beams, in MuseScore 2.x:


    (or direct link. Incidentally, about the guitar chords in video above, they're just my tentative ideas for a tune I've been working on recently, not entirely convinced those are the best choice of chords though, might change them around some more. Also, note that the "Preview" that MuseScore shows in the prefs panel, is just a generic MuseScore tab sample - but to preview your *actual* tab staff you have to click "Ok" and then click "Apply" as shown in the video.)


    Another optional thing I do, this next thing is probably not really recommended because it's complicated and most people probably don't require it anyway (feel free to skip past this paragraph), but there are times when I *do* want the stems to show up in the tab but I want them to be smaller, not so darn long. Stem size seems to be unaffected by adjustments made to the tab font size settings, so what I've been doing instead (don't know if this is the 'right' way) is to reduce the "Scale" setting (right-click TAB staff, select "Staff properties", there's a "Scale" setting on the upper left-hand side of that little window), then I have to go back into the tab font settings ("Advanced style properties" again) to make the tab numbers bigger because the tab numbers scale down along with the staff (doesn't seem to be an option to turn that off like there is with other text), then I have to adjust the "Line distance" so that my preferred larger numbers aren't scrunched up or too close together to read clearly. The other thing to be aware of with this odd little technique, is that if any of the other (text) fonts are set to have "Size follows 'Staff space' setting" (via "Style" menu > "Text") then any of that other text will also scale up or down whenever you change the scaling of a staff (either tab or standard notation, they can be set independently) - all of which can be either a feature or a nuisance (I now regard it as a feature, although I didn't at first), but in any case the text scaling is customizable to each of the different text settings *except* (AFAIK) tab number size. The only downside to reducing the tab stem sizes by this workaround method, is that all of that particular tab staff's *rests* also get reduced in size, which can be a problem because if the rests get too small (like if I have a tab staff scaled down to 65 percent to make the stems smaller, but also with manually-adjusted increased line spacing to space the staff lines back out again, and a tab font size of 17 or something) the rests start to look like numbers or other characters... which can be confusing if you're trying to figure out what the rests are at normal playing speed.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    The ticks are there to indicate the time values of the notes, the equivalent of the standard notation but in TAB form. TAB without them gives no real indication of how long or short a note is. ...
    That's true. Although for me, the usefulness of the tick marks depends on the circumstances. If I'm writing basic easy guitar chord backing stuff, where it's all quarter notes, and all the notes occur on the exact same predictable beats (1, 2, 3, 4) in each measure throughout the whole tune, with no rests or dotted notes or tied notes or other complications, sometimes I leave out the stems (the "ticks"). That helps to save vertical space, which can be useful if I'm trying to fit a bunch of stuff onto a printed page or one phone-friendly video screen. But if the note durations are different throughout the tune and/or there are rests etc, then I generally use the tab stems to make the timing (IMO) easier to read.
    Last edited by JL277z; Jul-11-2018 at 5:21pm.

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