I've been playing a song wrong for a while now, and it's only when I took the time to slow down the music that I learned why. The alignment of the notes on the sheet music is different to how it the music sounds. However, when put through MuseScore, it plays the sheet music how the music sounds, indicating that it's not a mistake that the sheet music is written this way. I'm wondering if there are any symbols I don't know the meaning of, or if I'm missing some piece of basic music theory knowledge.

Looking at the sheet music, why is it written the way it is?

I'm including two photos. The first is the actual sheet music, the second is how that sheet music sounds. enter image description here enter image description here

If you want to hear the song, the part I'm having trouble with occurs at 2:20. On musescore this is called mabinogi saga login theme.

  • It's kind of embarrassing, because before I knew the correct alignment of the notes, I had to use my feet or nose to hit all the right keys.
    – Isaac
    Jan 26, 2019 at 7:34
  • Don't believe everything you see on the screen. Computers are not infallible truth machines, and the playback in a program like Musescore is just a robot acting upon mechanical commands. Commands that might be complete mis-interpretations from what was actually intended for producing graphical notation for a human reader. Actual sheet music doesn't sound like anything, unless someone or something reads and interprets it. :) The Musescore robot has its own very special interpretation of things, and it's not the same as person X or Y's interpretation. :) Jan 26, 2019 at 9:49

2 Answers 2


I would say: the author of the score on musescore.com intended the notes for playback by a human, and did not care to hack around in Musescore to get its playback exactly "right". ("Right" as in, to sound like they would play it themselves, or like in the original recording they did the transcription from.) The score in Musescore is a bit different from the one in the "OST" Youtube video, and the program's playback is probably not even what was intended. I can't hear much of an arpeggio on Youtube.

This is what it sounds like on Youtube (relevant part at around 2:20):

This is the playback in Musescore 2.3.2

Would any human player interpret the notes anywhere near like that? If the Youtube link to the original sound track is what was transcribed, then Musescored playback is plain wrong. Even the transcription is inaccurate, because I don't think there are any arpeggios. Maybe a different original soundtrack version was used for the transcription.

Replacing the grace notes with acciaccaturas changes the Musescore robot's programming, try it and you'll see. You could also add arpeggio lines, which are wavy lines in the "Arpeggios & Glissandos" palette.

See Different types of grace notes

Apparently, getting Musescore's playback to sound exactly "right" (i.e. in some particular way) needs some hacking around with hidden markings and plugins, to play back things like ritardando https://musescore.org/en/handbook/tempo#ritardando-accelerando

For comparison, here's how Sibelius 6 interprets the same score, opened from MusicXML format (and after resetting layout and spacing). This is very close to how I would play it myself, except that the "rit." marking should be some kind of slowing-down (ritardando or ritenuto), but it doesn't seem to do anything.

  • 1
    The key point is that these notes are written as ornaments; there is no "exactly right."
    – user39614
    Jan 26, 2019 at 11:45
  • @DavidBowling Truth be told, Musescore's playback was quite far out. But as we can see from this question, now in the computer age, to some extent, there is one perceived de-facto "exactly right" for everything, and that is: what the computer says. ;) Jan 26, 2019 at 11:49
  • I hadn't yet listened to the Musescore playback, but that is pretty mechanical.... There is often too much emphasis on what is "correct" or "proper" in music already, and computers don't always help us with that ;)
    – user39614
    Jan 26, 2019 at 11:57
  • Thanks for the awesome, easy to understand answer.
    – Isaac
    Jan 26, 2019 at 12:06

These are arpeggios, (one example many ornaments)

Imagine you are playing the harp accompanying a singer. Where would you place your chord? Before the beat, accurately with the beat, or delayed?

All will be o.k. It’s just a question of interpretation and performance, or agreements between soloists, conductor and orchestra.

List and Examples of Music Ornaments


  • 3
    That they are arpeggios should be irrelevant. Single notes in those positions would behave similarly counterintuituvely.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 26, 2019 at 8:49
  • @Dekkado: answer edit in respect of your post concerning arpeggios a one example of treating ornaments in general. Jan 26, 2019 at 9:53

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