Suggestions and Tips



    Two other places to get tips, suggestions and answers to questions are User Questions and the Tip of the Day series.  It can be interesting to browse through these pages for more tips and techniques on how to use MusEdit.

Note: Page numbers in the following tips refer to page numbers you may want to reference in versions 5.x of the MusEdit manual.

Entering music, text, lines, etc. Best ways to enter music
Entering music into line groups
Best ways to enter music with mutual translation
Use Shift+Tab to enter lyrics under treble line notes
Increase spacing between lines with Ctrl+T
How to enter a line above the top line
How to insert space(s) above the top line
How to insert special symbols (such as ©) into text lines
How to remove a line
File handling tips Use "Drag and Drop"
Use "Most Recently Used" list on File menu
Put shortcuts to your music folders in the MusEdit directory (Win 95)
Put a finished score in "Read Only" mode to protect it
Working with Backup files
Maximizing window/screen space Hiding the toolbars, status bar, etc.
Using the mini symbols toolbox
Using split windows
Tablature tips Set the Key Sig. of Tab lines BEFORE translating to treble
Fingering can be shifted to different Tab string with Alt+Arrow
Other tips Be sure to check the help message in the status bar
Temporarily changing text size


 Best ways to enter music

    1) Learn to use the keyboard, it will soon come naturally
Using the keyboard to enter symbols and move the cursor is much less tedious than using the mouse to constantly select different symbols and then carefully place the note.  Symbol codes are summarized in Appendix A of the MusEdit manual.  Check out What was the rationale behind the keyboard codes for the symbols? since it may be easier to remember the keyboard codes if you know why they were chosen.

    2) Use keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl + ... )
Once you're used to entering notes and symbols with the keyboard your efficiency will improve even more if you use keyboard shortcuts for most common operations (such as inserting different line types, copying, pasting, etc.)  Many of these keyboard shortcuts show up as tool tips (in Win 95) when you pass the mouse over a toolbar button, or you can show all the keyboard codes by selecting Help|Keyboard Shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are also summarized in Appendix B of the MusEdit manual.

    3) Use "insert previous object" shortcuts
Three different kinds of shortcuts are available to make it easy to re-insert chords, note clusters (groups of tied notes), and bars of music which have been previously entered.  See How to use "previous object insertion" shortcuts for detailed examples of how to use these shortcuts.

    4) Use copying, cutting, and pasting
Of course it's always great to use Copy (Ctrl+C), Cut (Ctrl+X), and Paste (Ctrl+V) to edit your document.  MusEdit tries to handle these actions as naturally as possible, though you do have to keep in mind the peculiarities of having different line types in the document.  This means, for example, that you can't copy a section of a treble line and try to paste it into a Tab line -they just don't fit together, so in this case MusEdit will create a new treble line under the tab line and insert your piece of treble music in there.  Check pgs. 53 - 56 of the MusEdit manual for all the details of selecting, copying, cutting, and pasting.

    5) It's often easier to use the keyboard for making selections
Sometimes it can be really tedious to make precise selections (to select a chord or bar of music for cutting or copying for example) with the mouse.  (Part of this is MusEdit's (ie. "my" ) fault - you wouldn't believe how much stuff is going on programming-wise as you innocently drag that mouse around!)  The easiest and most precise way to make selections is to hold the Shift key down while using the Arrow Keys ( U/D/L/R ).  The quickest way to select a line, for example, is to hold Shift+Down Arrow (Up Arrow works exactly the same way in this case).  To select a single chord or a series of chords use Shift+Right Arrow, and you can throw the Ctrl key in also to select whole bars (or words in text lines) at a time (eg. Shift+Ctrl+Right Arrow selects a whole bar of music).  See Help|Moving and Selecting for a summary of all the keyboard selection techniques, (and pg. 47).

    6) Use small note position adjustment techniques
Don't be discouraged away from doing a "previous object insertion" or using copying and pasting because one or two notes in the part you want to copy aren't exactly right for the new part of music you want: MusEdit allows you to move individual notes (or whole chords) so you can make small adjustments to the copied selection. To move a note, place the caret directly to the left of the note, then use Alt+Up or Down Arrow to drag the note up or down, as shown here:
         all notes in the selection will move up
            with no selection only the note immediately
                 to the right of the caret will move

See pg. 103 for more details on moving notes, note clusters, and chords.

    7) If you do like to use the mouse to insert symbols, use "Large Symbols" mode
By hitting the "Large Symbols" button:  the staff (treble, bass, and tab) and all symbols will grow by about 30%.  This makes it much easier to position things correctly when using the mouse.


Entering music into line groups 

    In general, it's most efficient to enter music into line groups as follows (see notes about entering into lines with mutual translation too):

If you know you what the optimum staff size is so your printout will fit nicely within the width of one sheet, set that as the fixed length of the staff lines (eg. about 730 for 8 1/2 x 11 sheets at 100% size).  (This can be done when you define the first group, in the line group dialog).  If you enter too much into a fixed length staff line, notes will start spilling off the end of the staff.  That's a pretty good hint that it's time to start a new staff line!
Enter the line with the most complicated information first - this is usually the treble line.  This line will probably determine the spacing (positioning) of the content of the other lines.  Don't worry too much about getting everything exactly in the right position yet, just enter all the symbols.
Now clean up the spacing of the complicated line.  Once it has all it's symbols you will know how much space you have within the staff (especially if the staff is of fixed length), and you can distribute the spaces in the nicest way.
Enter the less complicated lines (chords, rhythm) and line their objects up appropriately with the treble line.
Make corrections to the treble line as needed to accomodate the chords, etc.
Finally, enter the lyrics.  By saving the lyrics until you are sure the treble line is in it's final form you can take full advantage of using Shift+Tab to position lyrics under treble line notes.


Use Shift+Tab to Enter Lyrics

Use Shift+Tab to enter lyrics under treble line notes After all the symbols in a treble line are positioned correctly it's easy to line lyric words up with notes in the staff line by using Shift+TAB (where TAB is the "Tab" key on your keyboard) as shown here:

Shift+TAB            Alt+Right Arrow    ...without moving
advances the text    slides this selection     these words
caret to these          to the right....
positions in each
text line below the
staff line

The lyric words are not "tied" to the notes, so if you move the notes again later the lyrics will not be dragged along -that's why it's best to enter lyrics after the staff line is finished.
Shift+TAB will work on multiple text lines below a staff line -MusEdit looks up among the lines until it finds the first staff line with notes (this means a bass line will also be detected) and lines text up with that line's notes.
The example above also shows how you can select a word (double click on it) then use Alt+L/R Arrow to slide the word without moving other words in the line


Increase spacing between lines with Ctrl+T

     If lines are too close together (this can particularly be a problem with musical staff lines with lots of ledger line notes which get "tangled" with the lines above and below) you can easily space the lines out more:

  1. Put the caret in the line ABOVE where you want the space
  2. Hit Ctrl+T ( Insert|Text Line)
This will insert a text line below the current line, and if you don't type anything into that line it will simply be a blank space.  This was done in "Asturias" (one of the samples you received with MusEdit) after the line containing bar 13. ( see pg. 37 )


How to enter a line above the top line  

Almost always when you insert a new line it is inserted BELOW the "current" line (the line containing the caret).  There's one exception though: if the caret is at the very start of the very first line in the document the newly inserted line will go ABOVE the top line.  So, to insert a line above the top line hit Ctrl+Home (this puts the caret at the start of the first line in the document) then hit the insertion button or shortcut combination (Ctrl+...).  ( see pg. 37 )


How to insert space(s) above the top line  

    Given the procedure explained in How to enter a line above the top line, you can see that by hitting Ctrl+Home, followed by Ctrl+T you will be inserting blank text lines above the top line, and it will have the effect of inserting space (top margin space) above the top line.


How to Insert Special Symbols into Text Lines 

Copyright (©) Symbol
    This one is easy: simply type (c) in a text line - MusEdit will automatically convert the combination "(c)" to ©.

Other Symbols:
There are two ways to insert other special symbols (such as ®) into text lines your score:
Method 1:

    First, place the caret in a text line where you want the special symbol to appear, then:
    Hold the Alt key down and then, using the numeric keypad, enter the code for the special symbol.  For example, to enter a  ® symbol you hold down the Alt key and type 0174 then lift the Alt key.  The ® should then appear.  Here are some codes for symbols available in the Times New Roman font:







¡ 0161

¢ 0162

£ 0163

® 0174

µ 0181

¶  0182

¼ 0188

½ 0189

¾ 0190

Method 2:
    Start the "Character Map" accessory found under Start|Programs|Accessories|Character Map.
    Select the font you are working with.
    Double click on the special symbol(s) you want.
    Click on "Copy".
    Go back to the MusEdit document and do Edit|Paste (Ctrl+V) where you want to symbol to be inserted.


1) Not all symbols are available in all fonts, and the codes are not always going to be the same in every font.

2) Special symbols can be used in any text in a MusEdit document, including "Staff text" (extended object text) and line labels.

3) Laptops usually don't have a numeric keypad (which you must use to enter the symbol code!) but many laptops have a "Numeric Keypad Overlay" which means part of the normal keyboard can be made to act like a numeric keypad by toggling a function key, for example.  Activating this feature will allow you to enter symbol codes, but then you'll have to de-activate it to resume normal typing.


How to remove a line  

Two methods should work for getting rid of a line:

1) If it's empty you can put the caret anywhere in the line, hit "Home" to get it to the very start of the line, then hit Backspace
2) Put the caret anywhere in the line, hold Shift while hitting down arrow once -this will select it- then hit the "Delete (Del)" key.  This works even if there's stuff in the line.

Left clicking when the cursor is in the left margin (the "no entry" zone) will also select the whole line, and again Del will get rid of it.  The latter techniques work with an empty line too, by the way. (see pg. 47 about selecting, pg. 37 about backspacing at start of an empty line.)

You'll get the "This line cannot be joined to the line above" message if you are in, say, a Tab line with some stuff in it, and you are at the start, and you hit backspace -and there is a non-Tab line above the tab line you're in.  If you had a tab line above the current tab line backspace would have the effect of joining the current tab line to the tab line above (try it!).  But if you have a treble line above and you hit backspace... well, you can't join a Tab line to the end of a treble line, so you get the message.  


Using the mini symbols toolbox  

    The symbols toolbox takes up a lot of screen space, but after you learn most of the useful keyboard codes you can probably keep it hidden behind your active window (you can quickly access it with Ctrl+Tab, or via the Windows menu), or alternatively you can turn it into "mini" size so it takes lot less space by clicking on the Symbols Toolbox button:  (clicking on this button cycles the symbols toolbox as follows: full size -> mini size -> hidden -> full size -> etc.) or by using the View menu.  The symbols toolbox looks like this when it is "mini" size:


At first this looks so tiny as to be virtually useless, but if you've worked with the toolbox for a while you may be familiar enough with its layout so that the tiny tool buttons still give you enough of a reminder for you to select the proper symbol.  It works just like the full size toolbox: as you pass the mouse over the buttons you will see the keyboard code in the title bar, and you can click on a button to enter the symbol.


Hiding the toolbars, status bar, etc.  

    If you've finished editing a score ( and you've put it in "Read Only" mode to protect it from accidental changes!) you may not need one or more of the toolbars anymore, since they're mostly for editing.  Hiding them will give you maximum screen space for viewing your score.  To hide the "Extra Tools" toolbar you can hit this button:  (located on the Main Toolbar).  To hide the Main Toolbar, Extra Toolbar, Status Bar (bar at bottom of window), and Symbols Toolbox you can use the View menu.

NOTE: The visible/hidden status of the various toolbars is saved with the document as a "document preference" so that the next time you open the document the toolbars which were hidden the last time you saved the document will become hidden again.


Use "Drag and Drop"  

One of the easiest ways to open a document (especially if its icon is visible on the desktop or in a drive window) is to simply drag the icon onto either the MusEdit icon, a shortcut icon pointing to MusEdit, the MusEdit button in the Windows taskbar, or on the already open MusEdit window.  This technique works for MusEdit files ( *.med ) and also for many music oriented text files ( *.txt, *.tab, *.bta, *.pro, *.crd ).  The latter group will open in a Text window in the MusEdit main window.

Drag and drop is a lot easier than doing File|Open and then navigating through all sorts of folders.

Use "Most Recently Used" list on File Menu

Don't forget that your last four "Most Recently Used" files are always listed at the bottom of the File menu - clicking on one of these file names opens the file.  This is a lot easier than doing File|Open and then navigating through all sorts of folders.

Put shortcuts to your music folders in the MusEdit directory

Windows makes it easy to quickly jump to your music folders by allowing you to use shortcuts.  To accomplish this do the following:
  1. Open your MusEdit folder (the folder containing MusEdit.exe) and put it in one corner of your screen so it's visible.
  2. Open another drive window and navigate to the point where your music folder (the folder in which you keep all your music scores) is visible.  DON'T open the music folder though, just have it's little icon visible.
  3. Using the RIGHT mouse button, click on the music folder and drag it over to the MusEdit folder, then drop it (let go of mouse button).
  4. You'll have a little menu of options; choose "Create Shortcut Here".
  5. This will create a shortcut to your music folder.  You may want to change the name to get rid of the "Shortcut to..." (click once on the folder to select it, hit F2, then type the new name, such as "Rock n Roll")
Now whenever you use File|Open in MusEdit you will see a shortcut to your "Rock n Roll" folder, and clicking on that will jump you straight to that folder -much quicker than tedious navigation among folders!  You can do this will all your different music folders of course ("Fingerpicking", "Classical", etc.)

Put a finished score in "Read Only" mode to protect it.

When you've finished editing a score you should put it in "Read Only" mode via Edit|Read Only, Ctrl+Shift+R, or by hitting .  This way if you accidentally hit a key which would change the document later on you will see a warning:  "Do you really want to change the document?"  You will have to hit the "YES" button if you really do want to make a change.  Read Only is a "document preference" which is stored with the document so it has the same status every time you open it.

When a document is in "Read Only" mode most of the toolbar buttons which might change the document are disabled.
Whenever you are scrolling the document is automatically put temporarily into "Read Only" mode.

Working with Backup files

MusEdit creates a backup file when you open a previously existing file for editing.  It does this by copying the current file and giving it the extension .bak -this replaces a current .bak file (with the same name) if it already exists.  A backup file is useful in case your computer crashes (maybe due to a bug in MusEdit) while you are working on your score and thus possibly corrupting it, or in case you make a change to your score which messes it up horribly and you can't get it back to the way it was.  If you have a huge score on which you've spent many hours working you don't want to risk permanently damaging your only copy.  (You should be in the habit of backing up huge, labor intensive files anyway... but we're only human!)

If you make any changes to the new file the changes will be saved in the new .med version of the file, as you'd expect, and the .bak file will look like the one you started with before you began editing.

If you DON'T make any changes then the newly created backup file will be deleted.  This is because after you've finished the file and you're using it on a regular basis (as opposed to editing it) you probably don't want to create a backup file every time you open the file just to look at it or print it out -ie. every time you open it but don't make any changes.

PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THIS: If you mess up a file horribly you should IMMEDIATELY make a copy of the backup file and re-name it to something else (eg. "").  This is very important!  You don't even have to quit MusEdit, close the current file, or do anything like that -in fact, don't do anything in MusEdit!  Just minimize the MusEdit window, go to your music folder and find that backup file and rename it immediately.  Why?  Well, suppose you've messed up a file and it was Auto-saved(!) or you saved it yourself in a messed up state.  If you re-open that file later (it's all messed up, but maybe you want to confirm just how horrible the mess up is, or maybe your forgot) that messed up version will overwrite your "good" backup file!!  (The backup is created at the moment you open the file).

Backup files are for rescuing you at the moment of disaster.  Don't put off copying and renaming your backup file if something disasterous has happened!

MusEdit won't even allow you to open a *.bak file.  This is a way to discourage you from courting disaster by messing with your backup file.  You must rename the backup file to something ending in .med for you to even be able to use it again.

See pg. 26 for more about Auto-save and backup files.
(I should have put this warning in the manual... it will appear in all future versions.)


Temporarily changing text size  

    Printed output is usually around 7 or 8 inches wide, but a VGA screen can usually only show about 5 inches width of a score in a mazimized window.  If you have lyrics which are as wide as a page but you want to scroll them while looking at your computer screen this presents a problem since the right end of every line will be cut off.  An easy way to solve this is by using View|Change Size of All Text|Smaller, (Ctrl+Shift+M) or hit .  This will (temporarily) shrink the size of all text by one or two points each time you hit it, so you can keep hitting it until all the lyrics fit within the width or your screen.  This change is not permanent though, so the next time you open the file for printing everything should be as it was before.

On the other hand, suppose you want to scroll short lines of lyrics which fit comfortably on the screen (maybe you even have a nice, huge monitor) but you have to stand five feet from your computer to play your instrument.  In this case you can select View|Change Size of All Text|Bigger, (Ctrl+Shift+B) or hit  and the text will grow each time you hit the button until you are satisfied with the size.

These temporary changes can be cancelled at any time by hitting View|Change Size of All Text|Restore Original, (Ctrl+Shift+O) or hit .


Using split windows  

Split windows can be really handy (I wish more applications would implement them!)  They have several possible uses in MusEdit, but three of the most useful are:

(Different line types can be visible in each pane, or different symbol sizes can be used, or chord diagrams can be shown in one pane, hidden in the other)
For editing.  Splitting the window into two panes makes it really easy to cut and paste between two parts of the document which are "far apart".
To show a chorus in the top pane while the rest of the lyrics scroll in the bottom pane (scrolling can occur independently in each pane)
To show chord diagarams in the top pane so you can see what they look like while showing only the chord names (perhaps scrolling with the lyrics) in the bottom pane.
Here's how you split a window:

Pull down on this small bar, located in the very
top part of each document window's scroll bar

Here's the result:

When you are finished with the split window, drag the splitter bar to the top or bottom edge of the window and the window will become a single pane again.


Be sure to check the help message in the status bar  

    Don't forget to look at the left portion status bar (the bar at the bottom of the window which reports position, etc.) for help hints, etc. as the mouse passes over toolbar buttons and menu items.


Set the Key Sig. of Tab lines BEFORE translating to treble  

    If you are about to translate one or more lines of tablature to treble the results will be much better if you set the key signature of the Tab line BEFORE doing the translation.  Whew... this will take a little more explaining.  First, even though you can't see it, Tab lines DO have a key signature (there's no standard way to represent the key of a piece of tablabture though -as far as I know).  If you know that a piece is in the key of D for example, then even the tablature for that piece is in D, even though it's not explicitly represented as such.  But just as you would with a treble line, you should set the key signature for the tab line by placing the caret in the tab line (or select all lines in the document if they're all in D) then hitting Insert|Key Signature... and use the dialog to set the key to D.  Incidentally, this is also the method you should use to check what the key signature of the Tab line already is set to, but hit Cancel when you are done with the dialog if you don't want to change it.

Why is this useful?  Because when you translate to treble MusEdit uses the key signature of the Tab line to figure out what the key signature of the Treble line should be.  If you set the key sig. of the Tab line to D in advance then you will automatically get a treble line in D when the translation occurs.  This will probably result in a lot less accidentals (sharps and flats) than if you let MusEdit assume the key is C when it does the translation.

If you realize that the key should have been something other than C after the translation was done you can either:
     Select all the treble lines (make only treble visible then select all the treble lines); hit Delete; make all Tab lines visible again; select them all; set their key signatue (all at once); do the translation again
     Select all the treble lines (as above); transpose them all to the correct key


Fingering can be shifted to different Tab string with Alt+Arrow  

    Sometimes you are entering a bunch of Tab from a book and you suddenly realize you've entered everything on the wrong strings (one string too low or too high, for example).  Don't erase everything and start again!  Just select all the messed up entries, then hit Alt + Up or Down Arrow and everything will shift up or down one string.

To see another application for this technique check out How to translate a .bta (bass text-tab) file to graphical bass tab


Best ways to enter music with mutual translation  

    See the topic Working with mutual translation in User Questions for many tips on this subject.




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