MuseScore 2.0 in full screen, showing palettes, inspector, and piano keyboard
|Original author(s)||Werner Schweer|
|Developer(s)||The MuseScore developer community|
|Initial release||4 February 2011|
3.4.2 / 7 February 2020
3.5 Alpha / 4 May 2020
|Written in||C++, Qt|
|Operating system||Windows 7 and later, Linux, macOS 10.10 and later|
|Platform||x86-64 (Windows, Linux and macOS), IA-32 (Windows only)|
|Size||96 to 143 MB|
|Available in||22 languages|
|License||GNU General Public License with font exception and proprietary (online and mobile)|
MuseScore is a scorewriter for Windows, macOS, and Linux, comparable to Finale and Sibelius, supporting a wide variety of file formats and input methods. It is released as free and open-source software under the GNU General Public License. MuseScore is accompanied by a freemium mobile score viewer and playback app, and an online score sharing platform. The makers of MuseScore claim that it is the world's most popular notation software.
MuseScore was originally created as a fork of the MusE sequencer's codebase. At that time, MusE included notation capabilities and in 2002, Werner Schweer, one of the MusE developers, decided to remove notation support from MusE and fork the code into a stand-alone notation program.
The musescore.org website was created in 2008, and quickly showed a rapidly rising number of MuseScore downloads. By December 2008, the download rate was up to 15,000 per month.
Version 0.9.5 was released in August 2009. By October 2009, MuseScore had been downloaded more than one thousand times per day. By the fourth quarter of 2010, MuseScore was being downloaded 80,000 times per month.
At the end of 2013, the project moved from SourceForge to GitHub, and continuous download statistics have not been publicly available since then, but in March 2015 a press release stated that MuseScore had been downloaded over eight million times, and in December 2016 the project stated that version 2.0.3 had been downloaded 1.9 million times in the nine months since its release.
MuseScore's main purpose is the creation of high-quality engraved musical scores in a "What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get" environment. It supports unlimited staves, linked parts and part extraction, tablature, MIDI input and output, percussion notation, cross-staff beaming, automatic transposition, lyrics (multiple verses), fretboard diagrams, and in general everything commonly used in sheet music. Style options to change the appearance and layout are available, and style sheets can be saved and applied to other scores. There are pre-defined templates for many types of ensembles. Functionality can be extended by making use of the many freely available plugins.
MuseScore can also play back scores through the built-in sequencer and SoundFont sample library. Multiple SoundFonts can be loaded into MuseScore's synthesizer. It includes a mixer to mute, solo, or adjust the volume of individual parts, and chorus, reverb and other effects are supported during playback. MIDI output to external devices and software synthesizers is also possible.
Supported file formats
MuseScore can import and export to many formats, though some are export only (visual representations and audio) and some are import only (native files from some other music notation programs).
MuseScore's native file formats are
.mscz, a compressed file containing the score and other media, and
.mscx, which is XML data that can be found in
.mscz files. The
.mscz format is usually preferred, as it uses less space and can support images.
MuseScore also can import and export both compressed (
.mxl) and uncompressed (
.xml) MusicXML files, which allows a score to be opened up in other music notation programs (including Sibelius and Finale). It can also import and export MIDI (
.kar), which is supported by many other programs (such as Synthesia), although since MIDI is not designed for sheet music, most score notations are lost.
MuseScore can also import certain other music software's native formats, including Band-in-a-Box (
.sgu), Bagpipe Music Writer (
.bww), Guitar Pro (
.gpx), Capella (must be version 2000 (3.0) or later;
.capx) and Overture formats. It can also import MuseData (
.md), which has been superseded by MusicXML.
Online score sharing
The Save Online feature allows MuseScore users to publish and share their music online through MuseScore.com. The service allows paying subscribers to share unlimited scores. Free accounts are also available, but these accounts were limited to the five most recently uploaded scores being visible. However, on 19 February 2020, MuseScore posted on their forums stating that everyone can upload unlimited scores, even if one is not a paying subscriber. Paying subscribers still have access to other features that free accounts do not, like Track setup, and non-paying subscribers no longer have the ability to download music sheets. The MuseScore Start Center displays featured scores from the website.
MuseScore.com allows playback of a score in any browser supporting the HTML5 audio tag. A score can also be linked to YouTube, so that one may follow the sheet music while watching a video featuring that score.
Optical Music Recognition
MuseScore includes an optical music recognition feature which can convert PDFs to the native MuseScore file format,
.mscz. This feature is web-based and uses the open source Audiveris project as a back-end.
Since May 2014 MuseScore has mobile apps available for iOS and Android which tie into the MuseScore score sharing site. The app can play scores, and allows changing of transposition and part extraction, but does not allow creating or editing scores.
MuseScore also runs as a PortableApps.com portable application. It can be installed onto a regular hard disk drive or stored on a removable storage device such as a CD, USB flash drive or flash card, so that it can be run on any compatible Windows computer system. The latest version of MuseScore Portable is v2.3.2.
- MuseScore 0.9.5 was released in August 2009. This was the first stable version, as well as the first version to support macOS.
- MuseScore 0.9.6 was released in June 2010. This version introduced many new features, including out-of-the-box support for playback of all instruments based on the General MIDI standard, support for multimeasure rests, initial support for custom key signatures, and the "Save Online" feature connecting to sheet music sharing site musescore.com.
- MuseScore 1.0 was released in February 2011. The milestone release focused on delivering a stable package rather than adding new features to the prerelease versions.
- MuseScore 1.1 was released in July 2011, fixing around 60 bugs and featuring improved jazz sheet support. MuseScore Connect, a feature allowing on-line community interaction and publishing, was also included in this release.
- MuseScore 1.2 was released in March 2012. This version included over 100 bug fixes, improved MusicXML import/export support, and improved support for special characters. It also introduced Marc Sabatella's original composition "Reunion" as the new demo score loaded when launching MuseScore.
- MuseScore 1.3 was released in February 2013 as a small update containing mostly bug fixes.
- MuseScore 2.0 was released in March 2015. A large number of new features were introduced, including full support for tablature and guitar chord diagrams, linked part/score editing, an image capture capability, two new music fonts, and MusicXML 3.0 support.
- MuseScore 2.0.1 was released in May 2015, fixing many bugs and introducing Isaac Weiss' "Getting Started" tutorial score along with several additional templates.
- MuseScore 2.0.2 was released in July 2015, with many bug fixes and new features, including playback of trills and other ornaments. The professional guide "Mastering MuseScore" was published in tandem with this release.
- MuseScore 2.0.3 was released in April 2016 with many bug fixes, and new features including the ability to reorder linked parts, a tool to copy all lyrics to the clipboard, and an AppImage build for all Linux flavors.
- MuseScore 2.1 was released in May 2017 with numerous new features, including real-time MIDI input, a new "Swap" function, and a tool to rewrite rhythms for clearer notation.
- MuseScore 2.2 was released in March 2018 with 200+ bug fixes and new features, including MIDI output and a new SoundFont. Three regressions affecting playback were fixed one week later in MuseScore 2.2.1.
- MuseScore 2.3 was released in June 2018 with a new extension facility (in addition to the existing system of plugins) and a first extension that customizes MuseScore for drumline music. Two point updates with bug fixes, 2.3.1 and 2.3.2, were released in July 2018.
- MuseScore 3.0 was released in December 2018, with many new features, including an automatic smart layout system to avoid collisions between score elements, a jazz notation font, support for more advanced notations, more style controls, tours to help new users, a timeline reduction view for faster navigation, redesigned mixer and piano roll editor, and a built-in auto-update facility.
- MuseScore 3.1 was released in May 2019 with many new features, including playback of crescendos and diminuendos on single notes and more customization options for fretboard diagrams.
- MuseScore 3.2 was released in June 2019 with many new features.
- MuseScore 3.3 was released in October 2019 with a new palette design and many stability improvements.
- MuseScore 3.4 was released in January 2020.
MuseScore is free and open-source and is written mainly in C++, with the graphical user interface making use of the cross-platform Qt toolkit. Werner Schweer, Nicolas Froment and Thomas Bonte are the full-time and lead developers of the project, with a wider community also contributing. Google Summer of Code has sponsored students to help develop MuseScore in 2013, 2014 and 2016 to 2019. The development of MuseScore takes place on GitHub.
Many educational institutions also make use of MuseScore, including Drew University and the Ionian University. The Board of Education of La Seigneurie des Milles-îles in Canada has also made MuseScore available on 10,000 computers across schools in the Milles-îles region in Québec.
Crowd-sourced engraving projects
Open Goldberg Variations
In 2011, MuseScore launched a Kickstarter campaign to create high-quality, freely available digital score and audio versions of the Goldberg Variations. The process influenced the development of MuseScore 2, with notation improvements needed in order to create a high-quality engraving of the variations. With the fundraising goal met, MuseScore developers, pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, and crowd-sourced reviewers collaborated to create an engraved score and also record a new album, both of which were released under a Creative Commons Zero license (without copyright), meaning they can be downloaded and shared freely. In 2012, at the end of the online public review process, the final engraved score was released for free on MuseScore.com, and printed and bound by GRIN in Germany. Kimiko Ishizaka's recording was released for free on BandCamp.
Open Well-Tempered Clavier
In 2013, a second successful Kickstarter funded the creation of a new edition of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Once again, the score underwent public review on MuseScore.com, and was recorded by Kimiko Ishizaka, with both score and recordings released into the public domain in 2015.
After hearing from a blind musician who contributed to the Open WTC Kickstarter, MuseScore set up new stretch funding goals to support making music notation more accessible to blind and visually impaired musicians. Though the top goal of automatically converting all scores in the MuseScore.com library to braille was not funded, they did get funding to create braille sheet music for both the Goldberg Variations and the Well-Tempered Clavier. The digital files (for braille terminals & printers) are available for free download, like the standard scores.
OpenScore wants to digitise and liberate all public domain sheet music, including the great classics of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Our community aims to transfer history’s most influential pieces from paper into interactive scores which you can listen to, edit and share. Together, we can make sheet music accessible to everyone. For free, for any purpose, for evermore.
As of December 2019, a number of scores have been completed, including Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Holst's The Planets and over 400 songs in the OpenScore Lieder Corpus.
There are three ongoing OpenScore projects:
- OpenScore – main transcription group
- OpenScore Lieder Corpus – French and German song cycles (400+ songs)
- OpenScore Braille – MusicXML score exports for conversion to Braille
MuseScore.com copyright issues
Starting in June 2019, a number of users who uploaded Disney songs were "copyright striked" by Disney, who is having issues with MuseScore. Hal Leonard is claiming original music, or arrangements of music that are in the public domain.
- List of scorewriters
- Comparison of scorewriters
- Free and open-source software
- List of music software
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