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MDL 1.1 is Released

1.1 was released today.

The balance of sound should be increased if using 2.3.1 and will be VERY increased if using 2.3.2. :-)

PLEASE give feedback for continued improvement. Hope to get another release out within a week or so.

In the next release will be emphasis on making sure all hits are more even and consistent.

Cymbals will, unfortunately, not be addressed in the next release, but all other instruments can be adjusted.

Last Call for MDL 1.1 Suggestions

I'm working on the MDL 1.1 update that I'm trying to get out ASAP.

Curious to see any requests that I might be able to sneak in.

Currently in are:

- Increased volume of all instruments and articulation
- Refined notation standard (a few minor improvements - will release with notation guide)
- Improved templates
- Evened out hits a bit across all instruments/articulations (this will be an ongoing effort)
- Fixed issue with adding accents or articulations to buzz/crush/roll

Cymbals and show style tenors are currently placeholder and will be addressed in a future update. Will be recording new samples (only instruments without custom samples).

The plan is to update MDL moving forward on a regular schedule. After 1.1.0 we should plan to update every weekly for the time being.

So, any urgent requests for 1.1?

MDL Notation Guide

Hey everyone, getting ready to release MDL 1.1 and as part of this have put together the first part of an Official Notation Guide.

It can be found here -

This will be followed up with tutorials that explain in more detail the best practices for marching percussion notation.

Tip: If you do not use the MDL templates, be sure to change the musical symbol font to Bravura (Style > General > Score). MDL is ONLY supported in Bravura.

Bass Unisons and Crescendo / Decrescendo audio playback

Hi all,

1) Regarding bass drum unison audio playback (F key) for 5 bass drums - For upcoming MDL updates would it be possible to obtain an audio sample of a 5 bass drum unison hit (as opposed to a 6 bass drum line)? When I write battery scores for 5 bass drums and there's a unison hit, you can definitely hear the bottom bass 6 overtone more than drums 1-5 and the pitch is much lower and beefier on #6 than bass 5.

2) I'm having difficulty getting proper audio playback of 1-to-2 measure Crescendo and Decrescendo (from Piano to Forte). Audio play back simply goes from Piano on 1 bar to Forte the next. Any suggestions on how I can fix that?


Uploading MDL Scores to

There are 2 ways you can upload a score to

Option 1 - Simply select File > Save Online - make sure to tick the box that says "upload score audio"

Option 2 - Before saving the score locally go to View > Synthesizer  and select "Save to Score". This should save the synth settings in the score so that the server understands how to process.

Please also share your scores to this group! We love to see them (and comment :-) ).

If you have uploaded a score previously, and there is an issue with playback, simply follow the steps above and re-upload the score.

I am also putting together a number of tutorials for MDL. Here is the starting point:

If you have already installed, skip to the other tutorials at the bottom of the link that walk you though many of the other features of MDL.

Let's Talk About Skanks

So, soon I put out a first draft of a notation guide to start to walk through the MDL notation standard.

While some of what is presented in the MDL notation guide will be familiar if you have used VDL or other notation inspired by it. Some will be a bit different.

In creating the MDL standard, we looked at the VDL standard created by Jim Casella, Murray Gussek, and Hugh Smith... and actually had long conversations with the VDL creators to understand why they did some things in the way they did. One of the key influencing factors was the limitations of Sibelius at the time VDL was created.

Since the number of noteheads and articulations in Sibelius then were limited, they were forced to make some choices that were less than ideal.

With MDL and MuseScore 2.3, we did not have such limitations and were free to create. As a result, some of the types of notation you were used to using, that were awkwardly formed from limitations of Sibelius, have been replaced in MDL.

A few examples...

Crossovers on tenors. Some use a plus above the stem, which is actually commonly used for dampening, closing, or muffling.

Others use ( ) around a note, which is commonly used for ghost notes, particularly on drumset.

It is also common to see crossovers notated with a hollow diamond notehead, which completely breaks the format for note duration.

If you look in the MDL Workspace (make sure MDL is selected in bottom left) and open the MDL articulations palette you will see that there are actually 2 designations for crossovers - LOR (Left Over Right) and ROL (Right Over Left). This makes notation even more explicit or descriptive than any other option out there.

In case you are wondering, if there is an accented crossover, the crossover goes above the accent.

Back to skanks.  I've seen that some notate these with an elongated V, which is actually a symbol for an up bow marking for instruments like violins, cellos, etc.

When we look at the actual technique of a skank, it is a hit with a quick hand mute followed immediately after. A + symbol would not be entirely accurate, as it would imply that the note would be muted upon attack, not after.

So, what is a skank? It is a quickly shortened rim shot.

In thinking about this, we have suggested (and the logic in MDL 1.1 supports) the notation of a skank as creating a rim shot on the 4th drum and then applying a staccatissimo articulation. This emulates both physical action involved in playing and also the modification of the rim shot.

As we more forward in releasing the full notation, very interested to get your thoughts, ideas, feedback. We truly want to make this in the international standard. 

MDL How To Twitch/Webinar

To help people get started with all the very different new features of MDL and to also talk a bit about things like percussion notation, arranging for percussion and pretty much anything else related, I'd like to start to do regular Twitch streams or Webinars that everyone can tune in to and participate.

Which do you think is better - Twitch? Webinar?

I am thinking to maybe do 2-3 days per week. One time that works best for US/Americas and another that is better for Europe/International.

What are best times for US/Americas (using EST)?

What are best times for Europe/International (using GMT)?

MDL Feedback

Hey everyone. I thought I'd drop the first post to get feedback on MDL and see how we can continue to improve.

We are currently working on MDL 1.1, which we hope to release in the next couple of days. 

In this release we are working on some minor fixes in articulations, improving templates and also adjusting the sound of individual instruments (here is an example of sound updates in progress -

I'd love to get your feedback and suggestions on any aspect of MDL you think we can improve.

MDL 1.0 Feedback

Wow. I have to say how impressed I am with MDL 1.0  When Daniel first came online talking about this project, I was skeptical. I didn't think we'd get a viable alternative to VDL for free. Yet, here we are. It's great work and a huge asset to the community.

Keep in mind, I primarily write for battery and all comments come with that lens.

First, it's very speedy to write battery parts. Tuplets get a little squirrely at times, but I'll chalk that up to learning curve on my end. Its fast enough that I find myself unreasonably annoyed with the things that aren't quite as fast.

One thing that slows me significantly is how much overlap I get with accents, articulations, dynamics and pictograms in the defaults.  I spend a lot of time moving things to where they're readable. I don't think I've changed the default settings. For example, pictograms are showing up right in the middle of the staff. Even then, I find myself deciding it's "good enough" and moving on to something else. I don't love how some of my published scores look, but it's just the way it is.

On the 'feature request' side, one thing I miss about Sib is the percussions stickings text and how it aligns to notes without additional futzing by me. With the 'staff text' in MS MDL I press a lot of space bar and caps / lower case make things not quite aligned. 

Second, audio playback is a B+ for the battery - and I'm being hyper critical. The sextuplets in particular are vastly superior to what I was getting in Sib + VDL. The flams sound great too.  However, there are times when playback creates weird phaser / wooshing sounds that just don't happen in real life. 

Finally - and I'll beat this point forever - I'm really missing the ability to dictate stickings - particularly on the snare drum - and have the audio follow. Patterns like shirley murphey's, egg beaters or even just paradiddles just don't sound quite right. They're less important on tenors and even less important on bass, but would still be nice.

All in all, it's amazing. I'm a fan and quickly becoming an evangelist for MDL. The entire team deserves praise.


I have been in my school band for 2 years. I went from elementary to middle school. We started in 6th grade and are now in 7th and I am a tenor sax. I currently gave problems with coming from over the break to some of the lower notes like F, F#, E, D, et cetera. If anyone has suggestions, please post some.

[article] Sax practice routine

One of the main problems every saxophone player faces at some point is: “what and how to practise”. I just wanted to share some experience and knowledge on the topic - I’ve been a practising saxophone player for about 18 years already. This is not a complete guide or an instruction, but a note containing some suggestions. Though I am more into practising improvisation now, I’ve tried to mention some more general practise activities here .
So let’s just go through an example of daily practice schedule:

  1. Breathing.
    Whenever I have time I get back to some breathing exercises (see my article on breathing) - 3-5 minutes or so - as breathing is one of the most important things for producing great sound, and cool sound is what we are constantly aiming for.

  2. Long tones
    - indispensable both for embouchure and for breathing skills. Moreover, different dynamics, cresc, dim, steady tone, etc. - at least 15 minutes. Be aware of your intonation and timbre during this exercise! You may want to use some tuner. Also read the article about embouchure posted in this group, I find it important. One of saxophone myths is that “only beginners should practise long tones”. I like to compare that with sports: every sportsman warms up before actually starting doing sports; long tones - is a warm-up for professional wind player, we need that to be in good shape, that’s of vital importance!

  3. Overtones*
    - practising overtones and matching them to standard fingerings. Try to match the “full” timbre and pitch of overtone when playing tones using “normal” fingerings. There are several books on the topic, a good place to start is the corresponding section of David Liebman’s “Developing a personal saxophone sound”

  4. Techniques you need:
    tonguing exercises for “junior” saxophonists , different articulations - for all sax players (it’s extremely helpful to start with simulating articulation of your favourite saxophonists, especially for jazz-oriented musician) for more advanced players the list might look like this: flutter tonguing, split tones (multiphonics), altissimo, growl, circular breathing, etc.

  5. Scales and arpeggios.
    All kinds of scales and arpeggios you need; a plenty of things for jazz players: all modes of major/minor scale, diminished and augmented scale, melodic minor scale (actually there are tons of scales, see the fundamental work of “Yusef Lateef “Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns”) , triads and 7th/9th chords (including augmented ones) arpeggios, studying chord/scale theory (check Mark Levine’s “Jazz Theory Book”). David Baker’s “Creative.Approach To Practicing Jazz” is a good source of ideas. “ I am not too familiar with classical stuff, so feel free to post your thoughts and share your experience in comments.

  6. Exercises.
    Both classical (for developing your overall playing technique, like “Daily exercises for saxophone” by H.Klose) and jazz (elements you need for improvisation - enclosure, 3 to b9, licks and patterns:II-V7, all kinds of cadences, cycle of fifths, etc.. Just remember to practice things in all 12 keys whenever it is possible. Here are the authors of literature on the topic: Jerry Coker (co-writer of “Patterns for jazz” and the author of a bunch of other books), David Baker (“How To Play Bebop” in 3 parts, etc.), and, of course, the educational books with playalongs by Jamey Aebersold.

  7. Practising improvisation.
    That is: studying transcribed solos (and the process of solo transcription itself, of course) - remember analysing not only the notes played in different harmonic situations, but also the master’s articulation and time feeling (is he behind, before or on the beat?; learning tunes with chord progressions, applying patterns, licks and everything you’ve learnt in steps 5 and 6 and, finally, several minutes of “just improvising” to track your progress and just for pleasure. There is a really cool book called “Elements Of The Jazz Language For The Developing Improvisor” by Jerry Coker, I highly recommend it. The same author has an article entitled “How to practice improvisation” in his “Complete Method for Improvisation” book (part of this article was included in Jamey Aebersold’s “Jazz Handbook”)

If you have any questions or if you have something to add to this article - please don’t hesitate to do it in comments!