MuseScore's main purpose is the creation of high-quality engraved musical scores in a "What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get" environment. It supports unlimited staves, linked parts and part extraction, tablature, MIDI input and output, percussion notation, cross-staff beaming, automatic transposition, lyrics (multiple verses), fretboard diagrams, and in general everything commonly used in sheet music. Style options to change the appearance and layout are available, and style sheets can be saved and applied to other scores. There are pre-defined templates for many types of ensembles. Functionality can be extended by making use of the many freely available plugins.
MuseScore can also play back scores through the built-in sequencer and SoundFont sample library. Multiple SoundFonts can be loaded into MuseScore's synthesizer. There is a mixer to mute, solo, or adjust the volume of individual parts, and chorus, reverb and other effects are supported during playback. MIDI output to external devices and software synthesizers is also possible.
Supported file formats
MuseScore can import and export to many formats, though some are export only (visual representations and audio) and some are import only (native files from some other music notation programs).
MuseScore's native file formats are .mscz, a compressed file containing the score and other media, and .mscx, which is XML data that can be found in .mscz files. The .mscz format is usually preferred, as it uses less space and can support images.
MuseScore also can import and export both compressed (.mxl) and uncompressed (.xml) MusicXML files, which allows a score to be opened up in other music notation programs (including Sibelius and Finale). It can also import and export MIDI (.mid, .midi, and .kar), which is supported by many other programs (such as Synthesia), although since MIDI is not designed for sheet music, most score notations are lost.
MuseScore can also import certain other music software's native formats, including Band-in-a-Box (.mgu and .sgu), Bagpipe Music Writer (.bww), Guitar Pro (.gtp, .gp3, .gp4, .gp5, and .gpx), Capella (must be version 2000 (3.0) or later; .cap and .capx) and Overture formats. It can also import MuseData (.md), which has been superseded by MusicXML.
Audio can be exported to WAV, FLAC, MP3, and OGG files, and graphical representations of scores can also be exported to PDF, SVG, and PNG formats, and/or printed directly.
Online score sharing
The MuseScore Save Online feature allows MuseScore users to publish and share their music online through MuseScore.com. The service allows paying subscribers to share unlimited scores. Free accounts are also available, but users are limited to uploading five scores. The MuseScore Start Center displays featured scores from the website.
MuseScore.com allows playback of a score in any browser supporting the HTML5 audio tag. A score can also be linked to an online video, so that one may follow the sheet music while watching a video featuring that score.
Since May 2014 MuseScore has mobile apps available for iOS and Android which tie into the MuseScore score sharing site. The app can play scores, and allows changing of transposition and part extraction, but does not allow creating or editing scores. There is a free version (Android-only, just called MuseScore) and a paid-for version (MuseScore Songbook) with more features.
MuseScore was originally created as a fork of the MusE sequencer's codebase. At that time, MusE included notation capabilities and in 2002, Werner Schweer, one of the MusE developers, decided to remove notation support from MusE and fork the code into a stand-alone notation program. Since then, MuseScore has been under constant active development.
The musescore.org website was created in 2008, and quickly showed a rapidly rising number of MuseScore downloads. By December 2008, the download rate was up to 15,000 monthly downloads.
Version 0.9.5 was released in August 2009, which was stable enough for daily or production use. By October 2009, MuseScore had been downloaded more than one thousand times per day. By the fourth quarter of 2010, the number of MuseScore daily downloads had tripled again, and was downloaded 80,000 times per month.
MuseScore 1.0 was released in February 2011. Development has been continuous since then.
At the end of 2013, the project moved from SourceForge to GitHub, and continuous download statistics have not been publicly available since then, but in March 2015 a press release stated that MuseScore had been downloaded over eight million times, and in December 2016 the project stated that version 2.0.3 had been downloaded 1.9 million times in the nine months since its release.
MuseScore 0.9.5 was released in August 2009. This was the first stable version, as well as the first version to support Mac OS X.
MuseScore 0.9.6 was released in June 2010. This version introduced many new features, including out-of-the-box support for playback of all instruments based on the General MIDI standard, support for multimeasure rests, initial support for custom key signatures, and the "Save Online" feature connecting to sheet music sharing site musescore.com.
MuseScore 1.0 was released in February 2011. The milestone release focused on delivering a stable package rather than adding new features to the prerelease versions.
MuseScore 1.1 was released in July 2011, fixing around 60 bugs and featuring improved jazz sheet support. MuseScore Connect, a feature allowing on-line community interaction and publishing, was also included in this release.
MuseScore 1.2 was released in March 2012. This version included over 100 bug fixes, improved MusicXML import/export support, and improved support for special characters. It also introduced Marc Sabatella's original composition "Reunion" as the new demo score loaded when launching MuseScore.
MuseScore 1.3 was released in February 2013 as a small update containing mostly bug fixes.
MuseScore 2.0 was released in March 2015. A large number of new features were introduced, including full support for tablature and guitar chord diagrams, linked part/score editing, an image capture capability, two new music fonts, and MusicXML 3.0 support.
MuseScore 2.0.2 was released in July 2015, with many bug fixes and new features, including playback of trills and other ornaments. The professional guide "Mastering MuseScore" was published in tandem with this release.
MuseScore 2.0.3 was released in April 2016 with many bug fixes, and new features including the ability to reorder linked parts, a tool to copy all lyrics to the clipboard, and an AppImage build for all Linux flavors.
MuseScore 2.1 was released in May 2017 with numerous new features, including real-time MIDI input, a new "Swap" function, and a tool to rewrite rhythms for clearer notation.
MuseScore 2.2 was released in March 2018 with 200+ bug fixes and new features, including MIDI output and a new SoundFont. Three regressions affecting playback were fixed one week later in MuseScore 2.2.1.
MuseScore 2.3 was released in June 2018 with a new extension facility (in addition to the existing system of plugins) and a first extension that customizes MuseScore for drumline music. Two point updates with bug fixes, 2.3.1 and 2.3.2, were released in July 2018.
MuseScore 3.0 was released in December 2018, with many new features, including an automatic smart layout system to avoid collisions between score elements, a jazz notation font, support for more advanced notations, more style controls, tours to help new users, a timeline reduction view for faster navigation, redesigned mixer and piano roll editor, and a built-in auto-update facility.
Werner Schweer and Nicolas Froment working on MuseScore 2.0
MuseScore is free and open-source and is written mainly in C++, with the graphical user interface making use of the cross-platform Qt toolkit. Werner Schweer, Nicolas Froment and Thomas Bonte are the full-time and lead developers of the project, with a wider community also contributing. Google Summer of Code has sponsored students to help develop MuseScore in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The development of MuseScore takes place on GitHub.
Although MuseScore is open source, it requires that contributors sign the CLA.
MuseScore reports over 7,000 downloads per day as of 2016. Many Linux distributions also include MuseScore in their software libraries, such as in the Ubuntu Software Center. MuseScore was also included in the VALO-CD collection, which provides free software for MS Windows.
Many educational institutions also make use of MuseScore, including Drew University and the Ionian University. The Board of Education of La Seigneurie des Milles-îles in Canada has also made MuseScore available on 10,000 computers across schools in the Milles-îles region in Quebec.
Crowd-sourced engraving projects
Open Goldberg Variations
In 2011, MuseScore launched a Kickstarter campaign to create high-quality, freely available digital score and audio versions of the Goldberg Variations. The process influenced the development of MuseScore 2, with notation improvements needed in order to create a high-quality engraving of the variations. With the fundraising goal met, MuseScore developers, pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, and crowd-sourced reviewers collaborated to create an engraved score and also record a new album, both of which were released under a Creative Commons Zero license (without copyright), meaning they can be downloaded and shared freely. In 2012, at the end of the online public review process, the final engraved score was released for free on MuseScore.com, and printed and bound by GRIN in Germany. Kimiko Ishizaka's recording was released for free on BandCamp.
Open Well-Tempered Clavier
In 2013, a second successful Kickstarter funded the creation of a new edition of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Once again, the score underwent public review on MuseScore.com, and was recorded by Kimiko Ishizaka, with both score and recordings released into the public domain in 2015.
After hearing from a blind musician who contributed to the Open WTC Kickstarter, MuseScore set up new stretch funding goals to support making music notation more accessible to blind and visually impaired musicians. Though the top goal of automatically converting all scores in the MuseScore.com library to Braille was not funded, they did get funding to create Braille sheet music for both the Goldberg Variations and the Well-Tempered Clavier. The digital files (for Braille terminals & printers) are available for free download, like the standard scores.
In 2017, MuseScore and IMSLP launched a Kickstarter for OpenScore, an initiative to create MuseScore and MusicXML versions of public domain music from IMSLP's library.
OpenScore wants to digitise and liberate all public domain sheet music, including the great classics of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Our community aims to transfer history's most influential pieces from paper into interactive scores which you can listen to, edit and share. Together, we can make sheet music accessible to everyone. For free, for any purpose, for evermore.