Quarter Tone Composition with Musescore

This page will outline the steps that need to be taken to setup MuseScore to work with quarter tone composition and playback.

To enable quarter tone notation in Musescore, select the Edit menu on the menubar at the top of the program, select Workspaces, and select Advanced. The advanced view will allow the composer to select quarter tone accidentals. These accidentals can be found under the Palettes box under the Accidentals menu.

Download MuseScore and the Quarter Tone Plugin

By default, the program will not adjust the pitches of notes with quarter tone accidentals. To install MuseScore and the Quarter Tone Accidental Plugin, click here to download the installer. Then, follow the instructions the program provides. The installer requires internet connectivity.

If, for some reason, the installer doesn't work for you, you can manually install MuseScore, then visit the development site for instructions on how to install it manually.

After the plugin has been installed:

  1. If MuseScore is already running, exit the program.
  2. Open MuseScore and click on the Plugins menu, then open Plugins Manager.
  3. You should see an entry called Quarter Tone Accidentals QTSP. Click on the checkbox next to this to enable the plugin.

At this point, the software will have partial support for notation and playback. However, there are some limits:

  • If a quarter tone accidental is placed in front of a note, the program will not "naturalize" subsequent occurrences of that note in the measure (by placing natural accidentals in front of them), as it does with normal accidentals.
  • The software will not transpose quarter tone accidentals properly.
  • The plugin will not automatically adjust the pitches of the notes with quarter tone accidentals. Before playback, the plugin should be run to ensure that all quarter tone notes have been properly adjusted.

In order to transpose parts, the following steps will need to be followed:

  1. When the piece is finished, save a duplicate copy of the piece.
  2. On the top menu bar, click File, Parts, and select all parts. This will create a separate page for each part.
  3. Review each quarter tone accidental and compare it to the accidental in concert pitch. Change the transposed pitch as needed. The guide below will show which concert pitches do not correctly transpose for each key, and what the transposed note should actually be.

Alternatively, this website has a Quarter Tone Transposition App. This app will transpose any input notes from concert (or any other key) to the desired key. It can be used to generate the values below, or to note check transposition in general. It can be found under the Composition tab above.

Transposition Guide
For Eb Instruments:
A sesquiflat E semisharp
A semiflat F semisharp
A semisharp F sesquisharp
A sesquisharp G semisharp

B sesquiflat F sesquisharp
B semiflat G semisharp
B semisharp G sesquisharp
B sesquisharp A semisharp

E sesquiflat B semisharp
E semiflat C semisharp
E semisharp C sesquisharp
E sesquisharp D semisharp
For Bb Instruments:
B sesquiflat B semisharp
B semiflat C semisharp
B semisharp C sesquisharp
B sesquisharp D semisharp

E sesquiflat E semisharp
E semiflat F semisharp
E semisharp F sesquisharp
E sesquisharp G semisharp

How to Use the Plugin

Once everything is set up correctly, the software will be able to play back quarter tone pitches correctly.

  1. To apply tuning to a particular selection, select the area you would like to tune, and click Plugins, Quarter Tone Accidentals, and Apply Tuning.
  2. To apply tuning to the entire score, select the entire score, or nothing, and click Plugins, Quarter Tone Accidentals, and Apply Tuning.

If you experience any problems with the plugin, or would like to suggest an improvement, please email dixon@quartertonecomposition.com.