Is there any software that can analyse instrumental parts for playability?

I want to compose orchestral music, I know the ranges of the individual instruments, but do not know if what I compose is actually playable. Wind instrument players need to breathe in, certain keys are difficult to play in others easier. Certain fingering transitions are easy, others difficult.

Is there any software that can analyse the different parts for playability? - I'd like it to produce warnings - like "bar 12 of the violin is unplayable because ..." etc.

Failing software are their any books/papers that discuss this? Thanks.

2 Answers 2


I'm not aware of anything that analyzes technical difficulty of a passage, but I know that the latest versions of Finale let you flag notes out of the range of various skill levels.

Don't look for "possible/impossible", target the level you want and see if the music is feasible.

Rather than saying "this is unplayable", you want to look at the way music is graded. A piece will be too challenging for a certain level, but might be feasible for certain very advanced players. An example would be extremely long notes in solo work that require circular breathing, or certain fingering patterns you can only do because of the acoustics of the instrument. Some passages that look almost identical (one note changed) could go from "manageable" to "impossible."

At professional levels, it's on the performer.

Especially in percussion, my world, there's a lot of impossible music that's pretty mainstream. I've played "unplayable" music before: Xenakis' Rebonds B has a motif that requires 3 hands, or the finale of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony cymbal parts at certain tempos, but in every situation there's a way to make it work that's accepted by professionals. Often it's a novel technique specifically for that passage, and as more composers write this way, that technique becomes more standard and mainstream. If things REALLY aren't possible, there will be an "approved" way of fudging the music so that it can be played.

But will the music get played?

Some pieces just aren't played because they're too hard. If you need to spend 4000 hours developing a new technique or retooling an instrument for a 5 minute piece, you probably won't bother. There's other cool music out there.


Grading isn't universally agreed upon; if you're writing music frequently, you might want to talk to a publisher to get an idea of how they do grading. I'd also go over to the publisher's websites and look at the previews of scores for different levels to get a broad idea of difficulty. You can find some idea of what is expected for different levels over at bandworld's website.

A google search will turn up lots more results.

TL;dr: Write for a particular level rather than for what might be possible.


There's very little software that does anything like this, and nothing that provides an acceptable level of sophistication. As Josiah points out, the difference between playable and impossible can be incredibly subtle. What you need to do is work with experienced musicians, who can give you detailed feedback about things.

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