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Marc Sabatella

What are you most excited to work on?

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

Hello! It's summer and school's out, and I want to spend as much of my own time as possible on serving you. I've got lots of ideas that I'm excited to start putting into practice, and I want your input on where I should concentrate my efforts. MuseScore 4 is coming soon, and it's a given that I'll be helping you come up to speed on that, but right now I want to focus on the music itself.

Last week I asked community members what core music creation skills they were most interested in working on. I want to collect as much feedback as I can, so if you haven't responded already, please take a minute to complete this very simple poll (only one question, and it's multiple choice).

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we continue our first-Wednesday tradition with another "ask me anything" session. As always, if I'll need to see your score in order to answer, please post it to the Conversation space.

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

One of the most common problems that people have in using MuseScore is getting repeats to play back the way they want. I'm not going to try to cover everything in the world about repeats here, but I want to help you debug some common problems.

First, if your repeats aren't playing back at all, you have probably turned them off using the button on the toolbar (maybe you clicked it wondering what it did). Just turn them back on:

repeats button on toolbar

If that doesn't solve it - or if the problem is something other than repeats not playing at all - then probably there is an error in your repeat structure. While a human musician might be able to figure out the roadmap in some cases despite a typo somewhere along the line, MuseScore is less forgiving. Common things to watch out for include:

  • end repeats without start repeats or vice versa will cause problems (start repeats are understood at the beginning of course)
  • every volta (repeat ending) except the last of a group needs to end with an end repeat
  • for repeats meant to be taken multiple times, you need to set the count in the measure properties for the measure containing the end repeat
  • to create voltas other than the basic 1st and 2nd, add one of those and then edit both the text and the playback info in the Inspector
  • nested repeats (repeats within repeats) are a no-no
  • a D.S. needs a segno; use D.C. if you want to go back to the beginning
  • the standard in music notation is for repeats to not be taken on a D.S. or D.C., so if you want them to be played in your piece, be sure to enable the "Play repeats" box in the Inspector (and edit the text to clarify this for human musicians)
  • to jump to the coda, you need to use the actual "To Coda" element from the palette, not the coda symbol (although you can then edit the text to use the coda symbol if you prefer)
  • repeats of all kinds don't generally work across section breaks, so only use the latter between truly independent sections of a piece

For more on using repeats in MuseScore, see the lessons on repeat barlines and voltas and on repeat text in my flagship Mastering MuseScore: Complete Online Course. For more information on how repeats work in music notation in general, see the bonus video on repeats in my Basic Music Theory course.

Music Master Class

This week in the Music Master Class with Marc Sabatella, I will discuss the results of the core skills poll and where we go from here. Plus, of course, we'll listen to and talk about music that members have been working on!

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

One of the leading choices so far in my poll is "ear training". This means different things to different people, and I have my own ideas on this topic that I'll be sharing more over time.

One thing that you may have heard me talk about before is what I think it is not - or at least, what is not the whole picture: interval identification. Being able to hear the difference between a major and minor sixth is useful no doubt. But it's not the goal in itself - the point of this aspect of ear training is more about being able to transcribe or play by ear, or to improvise effectively. Furthermore, to the extent that identify intervals by ear is useful, the manner in which this is typically taught - associating intervals with songs - is highly problematic. For example, we often learn a major sixth is the opening interval in "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean". But really, that only works well for hearing the ascending leap from scale degree 5 to 3 (sol to mi) over the "I" chord. It's not nearly as likely to help in recognizing the leap from scale degree b6 to 4 (le to fa) over the "iv" or "V7" chord, or any of the many other contexts in which a major sixth might occur.

So when it comes to ear training, I like to be as practical as possible about it - to zero in on the actual goal and to find the most direct ways of getting there. What does ear training mean to you? I encourage you to share your thoughts in the community!