Marc Sabatella

Mastering MuseScore, and so much more!

published3 months ago
2 min read

Hello! As you know, I enjoy helping people learn how to use MuseScore and also about creating music in general - theory, composition, improvisation, etc. In the survey I sent out a few months ago, I found that many of you have the same preferences - the percentages of people interested in learning about MuseScore versus learning about creaitng music in general were almostequally high.

With this in mind, I've been giving a lot of thought to the idea of "Mastering MuseScore" and how I could be serving more people better. If you haven't seen this already, please check out my post What's in a name? in the Community. I'd love to get your feedback on the things I discuss there! Remember the Community is free to join; just click the "Log in" button to get started.

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we continue our third-Wednesday "score of the month" series with a piano piece that @Michael Olson (aka fretlessman71) has been working on entering into MuseScore. Lots of interesting decisions to make as to the best way to notate various piano techniques, so plenty to talk about and learn from here!

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Tip of the Week

Like many piano pieces, the one we will be looking at on Wednesday involves the damper pedal. MuseScore supports the two most common notations for this, and both are found on the "Lines" palette., Be sure to be in the Advanced as opposed to Basic workspace in order to see these.

The traditional notation consists of the abbreviation "Ped" in a fancy script that many people mistake for the word "Leo" or something similar, plus a symbol that looks a little like a snowflake (or, more disturbingly, like a coronavirus):

traditional pedal marking

The more modern notation skips the fancy scripts and symbols and just uses lines. This method has the advantage of allowing a very simple and compact notation for the quick pedal change that is such a lareg part of piano technique - pedal up and down in one fluid motion while striking a note:

modern pedal marking

These markings are created by adding the two separate segments that look like "___/" and "\___", and making sure the second starts right where the first ends. A common mistake is to end the first on the note before the intended change, which produces the wrong result:

incorrect pedal marking

So in creating these pedal changes, be sure to always select the desired note both to end the first pedal line segment and to start the next.

Music Master Class

This week, I will give you some additional pointers regarding our contest, including some observations about orchestration inspired by a post about Beethoven. And we'll look at a wonderful fugue for brass quintet (work in progress) by Joel J Seda Orona .

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

In Theory

I want to keep reminding everyone about our contest where you can win a free year of access to my courses and other premium resources, so I'm going to share a bit of practical advice about the process of write a melodying to fit a chord progression. These principles are distilled from the voice leading advice found in online courses on harmony and on counterpoint:

  • Generally you should land on a chord tone when the chord changes, but feel free to include a few well-chosen non-chord tones at the chord changes for effect
  • Notes between chord changes can be chord tones or non-chord tones.
  • Regardless of where they occur, most non-chord tones should resolve by step.
  • Most good melodies are mostly steps with a few arpeggiated passages, and every once in a while an unexpected leap for variety.

Here's an example:

melodic excerpt

I encourage you to analyze this example (does anyone recognize it?) to see how the advice above applies. Feel free to post your thoughts to the Community!