MuseScore 4 is Huge

Yours truly, at Scoring Notes earlier this month:

I have often said in the past that the best and most important feature of MuseScore was it’s price: free. I meant that unironically. The price of the Big Three commercial applications is a major deterrent to many users. Being free actually is huge. Until now, I could not really say that it beat any of the Big Three in any other feature.

But now, I can honestly say that MuseScore has the best built-in audio playback. I have paid a lot of money for virtual instruments that do not sound as good as the free Muse Sounds. And it’s worth noting that these sounds are built on top of a completely rebuilt playback engine, so I suspect we’ll see more virtual instruments added to the Muse Sounds collection regularly.

Scoring Notes is a little too dignified for my spiciest and snarkiest takes, but that’s why you’re here, dear reader. You like it spicy. I like that about you.

Snobs like me now have to make much more nuanced (and therefore snobbier) justifications for why MuseScore isn’t for professionals. I still strongly believe that Dorico is the way of the future, but the updates to both the engraving and the audio frameworks in MuseScore 4 make my argument a bit harder than it was just a couple months ago.

I still think the controls offered by Dorico’s Notation and Engraving Options are far more capable than those offered by the MuseScore’s Style menu. The bulk-editing and -styling affordances through Dorico’s libraries and master pages, as well the organization of layouts and flows are unique power tools in music notation software. Having said that, this is the first version of MuseScore that I think does important things better than any commercial application, and it directly addresses nearly all of MuseScore’s biggest problems from past versions.

Nobody asked for my power rankings, but I think the notation and engraving automations and defaults in MuseScore 4 are comparable to what you might find in Finale. Sibelius is still a little bit ahead. Dorico is still (literally) years ahead of the everyone for automatic layout and engraving. Unless you are regularly collaborating with Finale users, I don’t think there’s any reason to start using Finale anymore.

Teaching Tech: Zoom’s “High fidelity music mode”

Yours truly, on the new Zoom 5.2.2 update:

Considering the rapidly evolving landscape of realtime audio collaboration tools that musicians and music teachers are swimming in at the start of the school year (in the northern hemisphere), I think the new Zoom audio features are a huge step forward in quality and simplicity.

While Zoom’s new audio quality isn’t quite as high as Cleanfeed, the added convenience and simplicity more than makes up for what small quality differences exist. It’s not a perfect A-to-B comparison since they’re using different compression algorithms, so some things might sound better on one than another. And depending on your setup and the setups of your collaborators or students, I’m not convinced everyone would notice a difference at all based on my brief testing.

Read the whole thing at Scoring Notes.