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Using MuseScore to Play Saxophone Music

I have spent a couple months learning MuseScore with the specific goal of using it to play my  favorite classical music solos and jazz music exercises from my teenage years in the 1970's.
I was an alto sax player in my local high school concert band and jazz band. I have only played infrequently since that time and my playing skills have deteriorated.
My two main careers have been as a design drafter and IT professional.  I decided to take the  software learning skills I have acquired from these careers and use them to play my beloved  sax music using a computer.

I started out with the MIDI Edition of Musitek's SmartScore music notation program with its  built-in Aria player on-add that uses Garritan sounds. I even purchased the Garritan's Jazz  and Big Bands add-on for Aria but found the added controls did not provide the effects I  wanted.  Perhaps with some work and/or using a Midi keyboard for input, I could get more realistic sounding sax music from the programs, but I wanted an easier (and cheaper) way. I also found SmartScore's focus was more on scanning in existing music. The amount of work need to learn to edit the scanned-in scores seemed a bit daunting.

So, I decided to try out the OpenSource MuseScore music notation program instead.  I spent about a month reading the entire manual.  I found it easy to learn and was relieved to find that my knowledge of reading music had not deteriorated as much as my manual dexterity has. I also discovered that transcribing the music is an enjoyable activity in itself.  In fact, I find writing and modifying the scores as much fun as I do to listening to MuseScore playing them.

I have now transcribed about ten scores into MuseScore and played around with how to adapt  them to get the best sounding saxophone I can. I have found that the native MuseScore alto sax  soundfont is pretty good in that it has some vibrato built in.  I also have experimented with  a number of other other sax soundfonts recommended on the MuseScore forum. I recommend that other folks who want to get better sax sounds to try these other soundfounts out too and find one that meets their particular needs.

I wish to pass on a few methods I have learned for how to adapt music scores written using MuseScore for the purpose of using MuseScore to play them and export them out as WAV files.  Of course, these hints focus on making MusceScore play in the style that I have used on my actual saxophone.

1) MuseScore does not play Breathe marks so you can leave them off of scores. You can imitate a breathe by adding short rests instead.

2) I like to play musical phrases in a swelling style where the volume gets louder as the  phrase proceeds and then gets softer as the phrase ends. To get this effect, I have to exaggerate dynamic changes for the crescendos and decrescendos.  I find the phrase has to start at "mp" or "mf" and increase to "ff" or even "fff" to get the effect I want.

3) For accelerandos and decelerandos, I have found changing the tempo for each meaure in the  range of measures where the tempo changes to get the effect I want.  Another method I have used is to literally extend the lengths of the notes. For example, using quarter notes in places of eight notes.  This works well for situations where the tempo change must be dramatic.

4) I have found I need to add more accent notes and staccato notes in MuseScore than in the original scores to reproduce my playing style. The musical scores modified in the ways I have described above would not be suitable for scores that you need to print out and have someone actually play using a musical instrument. However, they do give a bit more life to how MuseScore plays them.

I hope those wishing to use MuseSore in the way I have may find the methods listed above useful.  I would love to hear any hints others may have for using MuseScore to play in a more lifelike manner.  Finally, I wish to express by deepest gratitude to the makers of MuseScore for creating such a tremendous software program.

HELP! Alto Saxophone Articulation

Hello everyone,

I am a alto saxophone player who has around 2 1/2 years of experience and has been in private lessons and band the whole time

I never learned/misunderstood articulation and have been just blowing air. I believed that I sounded pretty good that way and could play advanced pieces.

Recently I learned this was wrong and I honestly sound terrible if I try to articulate. Should I play in band without articulation and practice articulation at home until I can articulate in band without sounded bad? Not sure what to do and if you all have videos for me to watch to help with my articulation (not that I think they will help; my private lesson teacher is very helpful and I still couldn't get tonguing down at all in 30 minutes; this could be because I have been playing a different way for 2 1/2 years) 

I do wear Invisalign (not sure if that makes it harder to articulate) 


Okay, our next competition is finally here, and this time it is an arrangement contest! :D

- It is open to all members of this group (so join now if you haven't yet!)
- Contestants must submit an original arrangement/variation of the first movement of Vivaldi's "Spring" (La Primavera)
- Composition must be for one to five instruments
- All genres and styles are accepted
- The total length of the submission must be between one and five minutes
- All entries must be received by February 5th, 2019
- Voting will be performed by the general Musescore community after February 5th and will be available for at least 48 hours

To prevent cheating and guarantee originality, all submissions will be gathered in a dedicated group, which will be opened on February 1st, 2019. Do not upload your composition entry before then!

A few helpful suggestions:
- Feel free to focus on a single part of the song and don't worry about creating a complete and accurate representation of the original.
- Creatively interpret the original melody and add your own harmony for a interesting arrangement.
- Unique compositions will be rewarded with votes, so be radical with your arrangement!
- The original solo line along with the two harmony lines is available here; feel free to refer to it.

2/1 UPDATE: We are collecting entries for this contest here until February 5th.
2/6 UPDATE: We are no longer collecting entries, please visit to vote.
2/? UPDATE: This competition is closed. View the results here.

Getting chord symbol playback, manually

Lead sheets are of course disappointing to listen to in MuseScore because there is no built-in facility for generating accompaniment based on the chord symbols.  Programs like Impro-Visor, iReal Pro, and others excel at this, and maybe some day MuseScore will have this ability.  Meanwhile, I have created a resource you might find useful.  It's a "cheat sheet" score with typical jazz piano voicings (as well as more generic voicings for folk/pop etc) for a wider variety of chords.  Just add a piano part to your lead sheet (using Edit / Instruments), copy and paste from the "cheat sheet" to the piano, then mark the piano invisible (also in Edit / Instruments).

Here is the "cheat sheet":

You can download it here:

Working on a waltz

This and other dances in general I have kind of been avoiding for the first 10 years that I composed. But I figured that if I am going to start composing dance music, waltzes would be great to start. I decided on a tempo of 90 BPM, so like Andante Moderato in the Italian terminology, to make it not so difficult for people to play once it is finished. I also decided on a key of D major because I compose a lot of my pieces in flat keys so I figured I should balance it out with some sharp keys.

I know these things about a waltz that apply more or less specifically to a waltz:

Most have a 3/4 time signature(though some have a 3/8 time signature and others are at 6/8)
Most are at a moderate speed
Left hand pattern is usually 1 bass note followed by the chord the bass note is in
A lot involve pedaling, though not all do
Waltz is dominated by melody

But I still find writing dance music to be hard, even though it is a shorter length composition than a sonata. Minuets are the hardest for me so far(I tried writing a minuet before and it didn't turn out well). My phrases and melodies in general also tend to be on the long side. So I might end up with a 10 minute waltz instead of a 5 minute waltz. 

How can I make it easier to write a fugue?

So I have tried writing fugues multiple times, I find the first step, figuring out the subject to be very easy. I have heard to limit it to 4 measures but I find my phrases tend to be long so to make it easier for me, I raise the limit to 10 measures. I find that if a phrase or phrase group lasts for longer than 10 measures, it starts sounding like a sonata theme rather than a fugue subject. I find that past the exposition, it gets very hard. It's like I go from:

I know exactly what melody I want to use


I have no idea what to do next, there are millions of viable fugues here.

And in case you want to know, here is my approach to writing a countersubject:

  1. Just the roots of the I, IV, and V chords of the dominant key, all quarter notes
  2. More flexibility but still staying exclusively within the triads, no rhythmic freedom yet
  3. Rhythmic freedom, but still consonant
  4. Introduce dissonances, and have the notes faster around the dissonances

So how can I make the process of writing a fugue easier? I have done everything I can think of(composing fugues, listening to Bach, analyzing Bach, listening to Bach analyses, studying counterpoint) and it is still super hard.