Note entry | MuseScore
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Note entry | MuseScore

Adding notes and rests to a staff requires four basic steps:

  1. select your start position for note input
  2. select note input mode
  3. select the duration of the note (or rest) you want to input
  4. enter the tone (or silence) using the keyboard shortcut, the mouse or a midi keyboard

To add notes that overlap in time, but start or end at different times, see voices. for chords, continue reading here.

Reading: How to connect notes in musescore

step 1: starting position

First, select a note or rest on the score as your starting position for note entry. note input in musescore replaces existing notes or rests on a bar with your new notes (ie overwrites instead of inserts). however, you can insert new measures at any point (see time signature operations, “insert”), or use copy and paste to move a region of notes.

step 2: note entry mode

The “n” button on the note entry toolbar indicates whether you are in note entry mode or not. In addition to clicking the button, you can also use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • n: enter note entry mode
  • n or esc: exit note entry mode

step 3: duration of the note (or rest)

after entering note input mode, select the duration you need from the note input toolbar, or use the corresponding keyboard shortcut.

the keyboard shortcuts to select the duration are:

  • 1: 64 (sixteenth note)
  • 2: 32 (sixteenth note)
  • 3: 16 (sixteenth note)
  • 4: eighth (eighth note )
  • 5: quarter (crotchet)
  • 6: medium (minim)
  • 7: whole (semibreve)
  • 8: double integer (short)
  • 9: long
  • 0: rest
  • .: a dot (dot) changes the selected duration to a dotted note/rest
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step 4: enter the tone

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for all instruments (except pitchless percussion), you can add note pitches using the mouse by clicking directly on the staff. (For specific percussion instructions, see drum notation.) however, you may find it faster to use a midi keyboard (see below) or your computer’s alphabetic keyboard. the following examples use the latter.

enter tones by typing the corresponding letter on your keyboard: c d e f g a b c

0 (zero) creates a silence: for example c d 0 e. note that the length you select for the notes (quarter note/quarter note in this example) also determines the length of the rest (quarter note/quarter note in this example).

during note entry, musescore automatically advances in the score. if you want to add a chord note to your previous input, hold shift⇑ and enter a note name: c d shift⇑+f shift⇑+a e f

To create chords with notes of different lengths, see voices.

if you want to create a dotted note, press .. for example 5 . c 4 d e f g a

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When you type a note on the keyboard, musescore chooses the nearest octave to the previous note you entered. To shift your note up or down an octave, use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • ctrl+↑ (mac: ⌘+↑): raises the pitch of a note by one octave.
  • ctrl+↓ (mac: ⌘+↓): lowers the pitch of a note by an eighth.

other useful editing keyboard shortcuts available in note input mode:

  • ↑ (up): raises the pitch of a note by a semitone (uses sharps).
  • ↓ (down): lowers the pitch of a note by a semitone (uses flats) .
  • r: double the last entered note
  • q: halve the length of the last entered note
  • w: double the length of the last entered note
  • backspace: undo the last entered note
  • x: change the direction of the note stem
  • shift⇑+x: move the note head the note on the opposite side of the stem
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midi keyboard

you can also insert tones using a midi keyboard.

  1. connect your midi keyboard to the computer and turn on your keyboard
  2. start musescore
  3. create a new score
  4. click to select the rest at bar 1 to indicate where you want note entry to begin
  5. press n to start note entry mode
  6. select a note duration such as 5 for quarter notes (crotches ), as described above
  7. press a note on your midi keyboard and watch the pitch add to your score

note: the midi keyboard enters one note or chord at a time. this mode of note entry (often called “step time entry”) is fast and reliable. some notation software tries to interpret “real time input”, in which the musician plays a passage and the software tries to produce notation. however, the results are generally unreliable. musescore focuses on more reliable ways of note input.

if you have multiple midi devices connected to your computer, you may need to tell musescore which one is the midi keyboard. go to edit → preferences… (mac: musescore → preferences…). in the preferences dialog, click the i/o tab and select your device in the “choose portmidi input device” section.

coloring of notes outside the range of an instrument

Notes within the playable range of an instrument or voice part appear in black, while notes that extend beyond the normal range of an instrument are marked in red. for some instruments, the range depends on the skills of the player (such as string, wind, or voice). for these instruments, notes outside of a beginner’s range appear in dark yellow, and notes outside of a typical professional’s range appear in red.

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The colors are informational and appear on the computer screen, but do not appear on the printouts of your scores. to disable note colors, choose edit → preferences… (mac: musescore → preferences…), click the note input tab and uncheck “color notes outside usable pitch range”.

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see also

  • drum notation
  • voices

external links

  • video tutorial: basic note input
  • video tutorial: note input with a midi keyboard and playback
  • how to input a chord
  • how to spread a stem across two staves
  • how to enter a rest

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