Music Writing: Transferring from MuseScore to Sibelius 7

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I have been in the process of transferring all the music I have written over the past year from MuseScore (awesome free music software) to Sibelius 7.  The piano music transfers have been going fine.  Piano to piano translates pretty well.  The problem has occurred when I have tried to transfer the chamber and orchestral scores.  When I played them in Sibelius, many of the instruments were transposed to another key, even though the music looked exactly the same.  And a couple of instruments did not play at all.

When I realized what had happened, I felt so foolish.  So, in an effort to keep anyone else from being foolish, here are the two major problems and how to fix them.

First, open the file of your choice in MuseScore.  I chose “At the Lady’s Behest,” the first multi-instrument short piece I wrote for Brant’s book (in the works) of the same name.  Look at the most important thing in the left corner:

Muse transfer 01

Yep.  Concert pitch.  For those that are reading this and do not know the importance of this, this is the pitch that all the instruments tune to.  Not every instruments read and play in the same key.  This is evidenced by their names: F Horn, Bb trumpet, etc.  When an F horn reads a C on their staff, the concert pitch is actually an F.  Hence the name, although an F horn is also a French horn, but that is just a coincidence, I think.  In the picture above, the Concert Pitch button is depressed, meaning everyone is playing in the same pitch.

Muse transfer 02

Now, it is no longer depressed.  Everyone is playing in the key they read, which sound atrocious… trust me.  Now, the score can be converted into an .xml file, which can be read by Sibelius and transferred into their program.

Muse transfer 03

Ah.  Finally it sounds less like a train wreck and more like the music I actually wrote.

Muse transfer 04

But, I noticed that the military drum (which could be seen at the bottom if I had made a better screen capture) doesn’t seem to be playing at all.  There are two possible reasons for this problem.  First, check to see if the notes are right on the line.  Yep, the notes are in the right place.  That means something even more simple: military drum is not an instrument in Sibelius.  Easy fix: pick a new drum.

Muse transfer 05

This could be fun.  I looked in the unpitched percussion list and chose three drums that might work: two that I know and one that I had never heard of before.  I copied the notes from the defunct military drum staff for the rhythms.  To single out each drum, or more importantly how they sound with the timpani, I opened the mixer (on the Play tab).  With the mixer, you can mute entire areas of the music (winds, brass, percussion, etc.) or certain instruments (violin, flute, etc.).

Muse transfer 06

I tried out the taiko drum first, because I really wanted to know what it sounded like.  It sounds rather like bongos… not what I wanted.  The tenor drum was nice, but it didn’t do the rim shots like I like.  So I went with the classic snare.  Done and done.  And now I can move on to the other songs in confidence that I can at least fix the most basic problems.  Bring on the hard ones!


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