JapoScore Handbook

(Last update on August 7th, 2022.) 

This handbook is compliant with JapoScore Version 4.2.4.


Getting Started

This section explains how to install JapoScore and basic workflow to produce scores in shakuhachi, shinobue, and koto notations.


Basic and general operations are explained.

File operations

Commands for file operations are explained.

Preparing Scores in Western Staff Notation

This section explains how to make score data (MusicXML) using MuseScore.

Setting Part

This section explains about setting values for each part of the score.

Setting Measure

This section explains about setting values for measure layout such as measure direction, style, and number of measures per stage.

Setting Page

This section explains about setting values of score page, that is, sheet, writing directions, layout setting for parts and measures, etc.

Layout Editing

This section explains commands for layout editing.

Note Directives (Instructions to Notes)

This section explains a variety of instructions targeted on notes (called directives).


This section explains about changing sizes and positions (offsets) of display items and setting displaying options.

Style of Measure

Style of Notes




Note Table
Directive List


This section gives some hints which may be useful for making scores.

Solving Problems

  • Plugins for Version1 remains in MuseScore
  • Plugins are doubly registered in MuseScore.

    History of Development and Acknowledgments

    ^ Index | Getting Started >

    Getting Started

    This chapter explains how to install JapoScore and MuseScore (Staff Notation Editing Software) and a Plugin which enables starting JapoScore on MuseScore.


    Download JapoScore from Download Page.
    Unzip the downloaded folder.
    On Windows machines, move the unzipped folder to an appropriate folder. (No registry is used.)
    On Mac, open JapoScore.dmg file, move JapoScore.app to an appropriate folder.

    How to setup MuseScore plugins:
    1. If MuseScore has not yet been installed, install it in advance (recommended).
    2. Start JapoScore (or execute [Generate MuseScore Plugin] from [Tools Menu]), then the following dialog appears.

    Choose MuseScore 2 or MuseScore 3, which you will use.
    Select MuseScore’s plugin folder and press OK.
    By default, MuseScore’s Plugin folder is “~/Documents/MuseScore2/Plugins” or “~/Documents/MuseScore3/Plugins”, but you should open Preference dialog and select General tab to check where the current plugin folder is.
    Next, start MuseScore and activate JapoScore plugins .

    How to activate MuseScore plugins

    Start MuseScore (if already started, quit and restart), and open Plugin Manager from Plugin Menu, and set “exportToJapoScore” and “exportUpdateToJapoScore” plugins checked and press OK.

    Plugin Manager

    Execution of Plugins:
    Once activated, plugin names appear on the Plugin Menu list. Clicking one will execute predefined operations.

    Installation of Staff Note font
    Export pure MusicXML with Note Names command produces MusicXML file in which note names are embedded in lyrics. You need to install JapoScoreStaff02.ttf font (included in the installation folder) in order that these note names are to be displayed correctly.

    To install, on Mac, double click the font file, on Windows10, right-click on the font file to show menu and select “Install for all users”. (Installation by double-clicking on the font file does not work on Windows10.)
    If JapoScoreStaffnn.ttf file is revised (will be notified in the release notes), please reinstall the font file (old font should be deleted in advance). ”nn” is version number. Installed font name is “JapoScoreStaff”.

    Sample musicxml file for scale data
    Koto and Sangen(Shamisen) need scale date to notes. You can read scale date from musicxml file. Installation file includes a sample scale file(“ScaleTemplates.musicxml”).

    Basic workflow

    JapoScore needs a score data file in MusicXML. Use MuseScore to make staff notation scores and pass MusicXML files to JapoScore.

    1. Prepare a score in staff notation using MuseScore.
    2. Export to a MusicXML file
    3. On JapoScore, Import the MusicXML file.
    4. Do page setting, part setting, and other layout commands to complete score.
    5. Export a PDF file for printing or viewing.
    6. Save the score as JapoScore file (*.sscx) for later editing.

    Both JapoScore and MuseScore can export MusicXML files, facilitating data passing to and fro between each other. Moreover, they can start each other and pass the MusicXML data directly.

    ^ Index | Basics >


    Shortcut Keys

    Ctrlkey on Windows machines is key on Mac. For example, Undo command is:
    Ctrl+Z on Windows, and
    +Z on Mac.

    This handbook describes Windows cases. Mac users should replace Ctrl key with key.


    Display|Zoom In magnifies the score by several percents. Display|Zoom Out reduces the score by several percents. Display|Reset Zoom resets the zoom ratio to the default value.
    From keyboard, type Ctrl++ to Zoom In,
    type Ctrl+- to Zoom Out,
    Rolling mouse wheel scrolls score up or down. If Shift key is depressed, scrolling is done in right or left direction.
    Scrolling can also be done by pressing UP/Down/Left/Right keys.
    Type Ctrl+0 to Zoom Reset.
    You can also Zoom In or Zoom Out by Ctrl+rolling mouse wheel .

    Navigator window is displayed to the bottom (or right) side of the main window by default. Display|Navigator or Ctrl+F10 switches on and off displaying the Navigator Window.

    Navigator and Palette

    By dragging the semi-transparent blue rectangle in the Navigator window, displayed area of score can be moved. Clicking in the Navigator window moves the score so that the clicked point is located at the center of the score window.

    You can also move the score by grabbing the score (depress the mouse left button) and drag. To grab the score, avoid pointing on measures, which selects a measure.

    Palette opens at the left side of the score window. Directive commands are list in a tree. Clicking triangle mark expands or collapse a subtree.

    Refresh and Refresh (Clean)
    Some commands does not complete redrawing of all affected elements. Refresh or other commands which perform refreshing completes redrawing.
    Refresh (Clean) command suppress displaying note directives’ handles (red marks). Its appearence eauals to that of PDF output.

    Undo and Redo

    Almost all operations can be undone or redone.
    Edit|Undo undoes the previous operation. Edit|Redo redoes the previous undone operation.
    From keyboard, typeCtrl+Zto Undo and type Ctrl+Y to Redo.
    Operations from Layout Controller Dialog are not undoable, but each operation is paired with a reverse operation, which is equivalent to “undo”.

    Selecting Items

    Mouse’s left clicking selects an item. Selectable items can be moved, deleted, or right clicked to show a context menu.

    You can select multiple items by clicking with Ctrl depressed. Issuing a command on multiple items processes all items if possible, otherwise, processes the first item selected.

    When items are being selected, clicking the right mouse button will show a context menu if commands are supported for selected items. Clicking a command in the menu execute the selected command.


    and Breaks can be deleted by selecting the target item and depressing Delete Key (Delete).
    Target items:
     Symbols inserted or added can be selected and deleted.
     Directives for scales, transposition, repeats, and etc. with which red marks are shown, select the red mark and depress Delete key.
    For breaks, select break mark and depress Delete key.
    Note:Musicxml elements imported from musicxml file can not be deleted, added, or edited on JapoScore. Such operation should be done on MuseScore or other score maker software.


    English, Japanese and Chinese are supported as user interface languages. Select one from Language menu.

    Dialogs for Settings

    There are three dialogs: Part, Measure/Page, and Style dialogs. Following buttons are common in three dialogs.
    Buttons Set Default Values, Apply, OK, Cancel are at the bottom of Part Setting, Page Setting, and Style Setting Dialogs.
    Set Default Values:sets values on the dialog to system’s default values.
    Apply:applies values on the dialog to the score if some of them are changed.
    OK:applies values on the dialog and closes the dialog.
    Cancel:closes the dialog without applying values. Esc key also closes the dialog.
    More:shows of hide more detail settings section. Part and Scale Edit dialogs have More buttons.

    You can keep these dialog opened and execute any other (except for Part dialog). Opening multiple dialogs and setting many values at the same time might be a good way to do layout tuning.


    Help|Online Handbook opens Online Handbook web page (this document).
    Help|Generate MuseScore Plugin generates MuseScore Plugin files and place them in MuseScore’s plugin folder. See Installation.
    About shows the version information of JapoScore and the latest available version.
    At starting JapoScore, this about information is shown, but only once a day.

    < Basics |^ Index | File Operations >

    File Operations

    Here explained are file types and file operations.

    File types

    JapoScore handles four types of files.

    • MusicXML file(*.xml)
      JapoScore Imports files in MusicXML format. MusicXML is one of standard music formats supported by major score maker applications.
    • JapoScore file(*.sscx)
      JapoScore’s score file format. This file format contains complete original musicxml data and JapoScore specific data. You can restore original musicxml data by export commands.
    • PDF format(*.pdf)
      JapoScore can export scores to PDF files.
    • SVG形式(*.svg)
      JapoScore can export scores to SVG files. Exported SVG files can be further edited by a graphic design software such as Inkscape and Illustrator.
    • JapoScore Templates(*.sstx)
      JapoScore’s template format containing score’s Part, Mesure/Page and Style setting data.

    File Menu


    Open or Ctrl+O (Mac:+O) opens a JapoScore format file. You can also use drag-and-drop operation to open a file.

    Open Recent displays a list of recently opened files. Clicking one in the list opens the file.

    Open Sample or Template displays a list of sample and template files. Clicking one in the list opens the file. Sample and template files cannot be overwritten, use Save As if you want a copy.

    A template is a set of Part, Measure, Page, and Style settings data of any score. Import MusicXML Imitate command applies the template of the active score to the imported file. This means that imported file is rendered with the same settings as those of the active score. A template file is an JapoScore file (*.sscx), but is intended to be used as a template (by the Import MusicXML Imitate command). Any JapoScore file can be used as a template file.


    Import and Export command can be issued from Import/Export Dialog with various options.

    Import/Export Dialog


    Select “File” or “MuseScore” as source of importing. If “MuseScore” is checked, a temporary file (“~/user/musescore_exported.musicxml”) is imported. This file is a target file of MuseScore Export MusicXML To JapoScore plugin on MuseScore. Using “MuseScore” as a source and a target facilitates handy data exchange between JapoScore and MuseScore.

    Import MusicXML New imports a musicXML format file(*.musicxml). The score is rendered with the default template(default settings) and then, Part dialog will be shown for you to set part values such as a notation style, font, and font sizes.

    Import MusicXML Imitate imports a musicXML format file(*.musicxml). The score is rendered with the template of the active score (currently open score, which can be a template file or any other JapoScore file).

    Import MusicXML Update replaces MusicXML data of the active score with those of the imported MusicXML file. The information added to the active score, such as directives is mapped to the new score. The mapping is done in the order of parts, measures, voices, notes, articulations, and so on between the two scores. If the orders are different between two scores (in cases, for example, some measures are deleted or number of notes are changed), mapping will be wrongly done. In that case, do the correction manually.

    Note:Import MusicXML Update function was substancially changed (from Versin 3.7.0). Please refer to the release note.

    The updated score will appear in a new tab (score name is old score name plus “_updated”).

    You can also use drag-and-drop operation to import. If there is no score on the screen, it acts as an Import New Command, otherwise it acts as an Import Imitate Command.


    Export MusicXML exports the MusicXML file of the current score to the target.

    Select “File” or “MuseScore” as the target. If “MuseScore” is checked, a temporary file (“~/user/japoscore_exported.musicxml”) becomes the target. Import MusicXML From JapoScore plugin on MuseScore imports this temporary file.

    Export MusicXML exports a MusicXML of the active score.

    Export MusicXML Staff Note exports a MusicXML file with note names which appears as lyrics on MuseScore. Staff Note check box in Part Dialog output control must be checked as well.
    Note names are not output for Doremi notation.

    Export PDF/SVG

    Export PDF or Shift+Ctrl+P (Mac:Shift++P) exports the current score to a PDF file.
    See also Multi-Page Output Control. To print score, please use a PDF viewer software.

    Export SVG exports SVG files.
    See also Multi-Page Output Control. If the score is multi-page, file names are suffixed with page numbers as “filename_p001.svg”, “filename_p002.svg”, ….


    Save or Ctrl+S overwrites the currently opened file.

    Save As or Shift+Ctrl+S saves the currently opened file with a different file name.

    Duplicate or Ctrl+D Make a copy of the current score.

    Other File Commands

    Save As Original File Name saves the current file with file name without “_update” or “_copy” which is appended when import update or copy command is executed.
    Duplicate make a copy of the current file. “_copy” is appended to original file name.

    Property shows the currently opened score’s file path name and the last update date and JapoScore version

    Clear Recent File List clears the Recent File List.
    Close or Ctrl+W closes the current score.
    Close Scores on Left Tabs closes all scores on the left side tabs of the current active tab.
    File|Exit or Ctrl+Q stops JapoScore and exits.

    Auto file saving

    JapoScore generates auto-save files for updated scores at every certain duration of time (currently one minute). They remains undeleted if the JapoScore is forcifully terminated by OS or an abnormal program stop. In this case, next JapoScore startup detects auto saved files and asks if you want to open them or not. If you want to recover the file, open and save to the original file. If no is selected, the auto-saved file(s) will be deleted. Auto saved files reside in your home directory.
    Caution: When multiple JapoScore are started, later JapoScore statups may detect auto saved files of earlier one. Please avoid to run multiple JapoScore apps.

    Data categories and related commands

    JapoScore handles data categorized as in the first collumn of the tabel below. The first row of the table lists related commands. This table may help you understand which command handles which category of score data.

    • Open/Save commands handles all categories of score data i.e. the complete set of score data. Note that it contains MusicXML data as well.
    • Import MusicXML New command reads MusicXML data. Default values of Part, Measure/Page, Style settings are used to generate the score.
    • Import MusicXML Imitate command reads MusicXML. Values of Part, Measure/Page, Style settings are copied from the score currently open.
    • Import MusicXML Update command reads MusicXML and updates the score currently open. All data the score of remains unchanged except for updated measure’s MusicXML data.
    • Templates are files containing Part, Measure/Page, Style data of a score.
      Applying (importing) a template file is very similar to Import MusicXML Imitate.



    Table: Data categories and related commands
    Data category Open/Save Import
    Export MusicXML Template’s
    MusicXML ✔updated
    Part settings ✔default values ✔copied values ✔unchanged
    Page settings
    ✔default values ✔copied values ✔unchanged
    Style settings ✔default values ✔copied values ✔unchanged
    (Measure breaks
    and scales)

    < File Operations |^ Index |  Preparation of score in staff notation >

    Preparation of score in staff notation

    JapoScore reads MusicXML format file and generate Japanese music score.

    MuseScore and MusicXML

    MuseScore and other score maker can export MusicXML file. MusicXML is a world standard.

    JapoScore interprets some of MusicXML data neccessary for preparing Japanese music scores.

    MuseScore is strongly recommended for use along with JapoScore because:

    • JapoScore has been developed and tested using data exported by MuseScore. (Better compatibility is expected)
    • Data passing commands (Import and Export) between JapoScore and MuseScore are supported.
    • MuseScore is free and yet highly functional.

    Supported MusicXML elements

    Basic Elements

    Screen shots for the same MusciXML elements data on MuseScore and JapoScore are shown below.

    MusicXML elements displayed on MuseScore
    (Click the image to open the PDF file.)

    MusicXML elements displayed on JapoScore
    (Click the image to open the PDF file.)

    Elements below are interpreted and converted to corresponding items.
    Grace note, time signature, vertical line, slur, crescendo, diminuendo,
    Ending number, trill, glissando, breath mark,
    Articulations(fermata, breath, accent, staccato, tenuto, tenuto accent, trill, harmonic)
    Dynamics(ppp, pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff, fff, fp), tremolo(single note, double notes),
    Repeats and Jumps(Segno, Coda, Fine, To Coda, D.C., D.C.al Fine, D.C. al Coda, D.S. al Fine, D.S.)
    Caution: Avoid using the measure repeat % mark. It is converted to % in JapoScore, though, other items on the measure, if any (texts, crescendo, and lines), will be lost. In addition to this, Musescore (3.6.2) seems to have problems at importing measures with %.
    Texts in the header area (Title, Sub-title, Composer, Lyrics by)

    Caution: The order of texts in the header area may change when you delete or add texts in the MuseScore.
    Note: Copyright text is not imported to JapoScore because of some implementation reasons.
    Staff text, Rehearsal Mark, Lyrics

    Measure Bar Line (Vertical Line)
    Standard bar line types are rendered in JapoScore as such. Non-standard barline types includes ‘tick’ and ‘short’ (as called in MuseScore). A measure with a non-standard barline does not display its time signature.
    JapoScore uses barline type of part 1 to all parts.

    Vertical Line menu on MuseScore. Types inside the red box are not displayed on JapoScore.

    On MuseScore

    On JapoScore

    Advanced Elements

    ✩Lines(solid, dotted, dashed, with hooks at both ends)
    Lines are input by selecting the Line on Palette. From the Inspector, you can change attributes of the line.

    On Finale, lines are input using the deformed shape palette.

    On MuseScore, you can add a text at the beginning of a line using the inspector (check the starting text). The text is independently displayed on JapoScore.

    ✩Wavy line
    If a line’s starting text is “~” or ends with “~”, the line becomes wavy line on JapoScore, which can be used to represent vibratos (for koto and shakuhachi).

    ✩Trill mark with a jaggy line
     A trill mark with a line is converted to “tr” mark and a jaggy line on JapoScore.

    Important:MuseScore does not export a trill with wavy a line ending after a rest note. In that case, move the end point after a non-rest note.

    Portamento (Slide)
     A Slide can be input as a glissando with a straight line on MuseScore. (A glissando with a wave line is a true glissando.) A slide is converted to a Portamento “~” on JapoScore. (Compare a slide and a glissando in the screen shot below.)

    Up-Bow (Sukui)
    The “V” marks on notes are converted “Sukui” for Koto and Sangen(Ikuta) notations.

    You can change notes to “Sukui” notes by renaming Note Names on JapoScore as well.

    ✩Pizzicato and Hajiki (+)
    “+” marks on notes are converted to pizzicatos (for Koto) and Hajiki “⋀” for Sangen Ikuta. In the case of Sangen Ikuta, if preceding note is different in pitch, the note name is shown with “⋀”.

    Koto (Sukui and Pizzicato)

    Sangen Ikuta (Sukui and Hajiki)

    On MuseScore, a “+” or “V” sign can be assigned to a chord, not to a note in the chord.
    On JapoScore, such a sign on a chord is applied on every note of the chord.

    If you want to apply “+” or “V” effect on a subset of chord note, do not use “+” or “V” on MuseScore (MusicXML), but use Note Name Change command for Sukui and Hajiki or the Pizzicato directive on JapoScore.

    A single note with pizzicato is shown encircled. When chord notes with pizzcato are adjacent, they are surrounded by an ellipse.

    If you want to divide chord notes with pizzicato to separate ellipses (for the left hand and right hand), use different voices to each group of notes.

    Harmonics mark are displayed on JapoSore as shown below.

    Fingerings are processed by JapoScore. Small numbers are displayed beside notes.
    Currently, only “1” to “5” and “–” are processed.
    Multiple fingerings on a note can be specified.
    “–” (double hyphens) or the same fingerins on successive notes are interpreted as that the same fingering continues. The fingerings “–“s are converted to a trailing line. (To input “–” on MuseScore, input any available number temporarily and then, edit it.)
    (If “draw line (while the same fingering coninues)” is off, fingering numbers are displayed instead of a trailing line.)
    If a trailing line spans over notes of multiple measures, the trailing line is segmented for each measure.
    Note: Fingering “–” might be ignored by software other than MuseScore. Using repeated numbers is recommended for exchanging MusicXML data between MuseScore and Finale or others.

    “–“s in chord notes are converted to a line drawn in the chord note direction.
    Fingering (with a trailing line) can be moved by the mouse operation.

    Fingering example on MuseScore

    Fingering on JapoScore (example above)

    Grace note as an after note
    MuseScore allows inputting “after notes (i.e. graces after a non-grace note)”, but they are treated as same as normal “before” grace notes. JapoScore can treat after notes if a slur is across notes as A in the example.
    B is an example where grace notes are at the end of measure (graces are input as after notes on MuseScore).

    (Caution) Do not stop a slur at a grace note in “before” grace notes. JapoScore treats all slur stops at a grace note as “after notes”.


    Notes in a chord are placed from left to right in order of note’s pitches in vertical writing, from bottom to top in horizontal writing.
    Although shakuhachi is a monophonic instrument, JapoScore renders chord notes in the same way as in Koto_Seiha (v.3.4.7~).
    Kan/Otsu instruction marks are attached by comparing sucessive two chords. Comparisons are done between the same level notes, where level is the order from the lowest note. If there is no corresponding level note in the preceding chord, the highest level note is used for comparison.

    (Hint) Shakuhachi chorus using chords for polyphony.
    The example of “The Last Rose of Summer” uses chords except for the last two measures where two voices are used. Other chorus parts are written with chords. You can use voices instead of chords, but chords are more handy if the rhythm are the same.

    The Last Rose of Summer (MuseScore)

    The Last Rose of Summer (JapoScore Tozan) (this file is included in the sample files.)


    If there are multiple voices, notes are placed from right to left in the order of voice number in vertical writing, from top to bottom in horizontal writing.

    A portion of Haru No Umi (MuseScore) (click to open PDF file)

    A portion of Haru No Umi (JapoScore) (click to open PDF file)

    Erasing rests (in multiple voices)
    MuseScore enables erasing rest note in voices other than voice 1. This results in erased rest note in JapoScore as well.

    Trailing line after a lyric
    (From V4.2.3)
    Lines are automatically drawn between lyrics by checking “Draw line between lyrics (the default is ON)” from the style setting dialog. You do not need to add “ー” to every lyrics. This function is very useful for lyrics in Japanese. A line stops before the next lyric, rest note and breath mark.
    For lyrics in Englisth and other western languages, check off “Draw line between lyrics”.

    (Up to V4.2.2)
    A lyric text ends with 2 byte char hyphen “ー” results in a trailing line after the lyric drawn to the next (un-tied) note. You can see an example in “Sakura_Sangen_Ikuta” example file.
    A lyric text is just a “ー” works the same way with a null lyric character.
    A tie-stop note should not have any lyric text or “ー”.

    < Preparation of score in staff notation |^ Index | Part >
    (from here)

    Setting Part

    Edit|Part Settings or Ctrl+P opens Part Setting Dialog.

    Part Setting Dialog (Basic)

    Part Setting Dialog (Detail: swithed by More button)

    To change values of a part, you select a part by clicking one in Part List on the left side. The values of the selected part are shown in fields on the right hand side.

    Default Part Name and Part Abbreviation Name are copied from the imported MusicXML file. You can edit them. See Measure Number and Part Name.

    Notation Style, Font Name, Font Size, Instrument Key (Transposition)

    Choose a Notation Style from the pull down menu. Supported Notation Styles are shown below. For all Notation Style, either of horizontal and vertical score direction is possible (see Score Directions).

    Notation Styles are:
    Shakuhachi_Kinko_Simple: So called Yamakawa-style.
    Shakuhachi_Kinko:Traditional Kinko school style.
    Shakuhachi_Tozan:Tozan school style.
    Shinobue:for Japanese traverse flute (Fue, Yokobue).
    Koto_Ikuta:Ikuta school Koto style.
    Koto_Yamada:Yamada school Koto style.
    Koto_Seiha:Seiha school Koto style.
    Sangen_Ikuta:Ikuta school Sangen style.
    Shamisen_Bunka:Shamisen Bunka Style popular in Nagauta.
    Doremi:Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do.
    Percussion: Percussion beat symbols.
     Different beat symbols are used for different voices: ● for voice 1, ☓ for voice2, ■ for voice 3, and ▲ for voice 4. Rythm symbols are the same as Shakuhachi_Kinko_Simple, Shinobue, and Koto_Seiha.

    Try Open Sample to show sample scores in these styles.

    Select a Font Name from the list in the pull down menu.
    Font Size (Rate) specifies the size of note font in ratio. Sizes of Texts, Dynamics, Articulations, Repeat Marks and others of the part change in proportion to the note font size of the part.
    Part Width (Rate) changes the width of this part. (Note: Part Size (Rate) of Page Settings dialog changes widths of all parts.)

    Transposition (Key of Instrument)

    You can transpose notes of a part by specifying number of half steps from the base key (1.8 length (D)) for Shakuhachi and 8 hon (C) shinobue).

    Alignment between parts

    Check Align in time to align positions of notes which have the same clock time vertically (for Horizontal Direction) or horizontally (for Vertical Direction). The resolution of the clock is 32nd note duration.

    Note intervals and widths versus note duration: Note width is the ratio to the note font size. You can set smaller widths for shorter duration notes, for example. Note interval is the initial distance between consecutive two notes in ratio to the note width.

    Part Boundary Lines and Long/Short Hands

    Checking Right(or Top) draws boundary line of part at right(vertical writing) or at top(horizontal writing).

    Checking Left(or Bottom) draws boundary line of part at left(vertical writing) or at bottom(horizontal writing).

    Checking Long and Short Hands draws long hands at every quarter time (or every 3/8th time for 3*n/8 beats) and short hands at every 8th time, which will produce Koto_Ikuta like time frame. Note: Align in Time (Alignment between parts) should be checked for long and short hands to be drawn. Short hands for evey 16th time can be drawn.

    Output Control

    Check Part to output Parts.

    Check Note to output Notes.

    Check Lyrics to output Lyrics.

    Check Whole Rests to output Whole Rest marks.

    Check Staff Note to output note names when Export pure MusicXML with Note Names command is executed.

    In Reverse Order
    If not checked, note names for chord notes are ordered from the lowest note at bottom to the highest note at top. If checked, the order is reversed.

    Tie Stop Note
    If checked, tie stop note names are output.

    If checked, beams are output.

    Change Start Lyric Number for Staff Note Names greater than 1 (default) if lyrics already exist.

    Lyrics Settings

    Click Font Property to choose a Font Name and its Size. You can also set the font size in ratio.

    < Part Settings |^ Index | Page Settings >

    Measure Settings

    Measure Direction

    A score can be drawn in either horizontal or vertical direction. Select Horizontal or Vertical. In Vertical direction, Texts are rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and Lyrics are rotated 90 degrees clockwise if Rotate 90º (English,..) is checked. On the other hand, if Vertical Writing (Japanese, ..) is checked, lyrics characters are layout vertically.
    A text (other than lyrics) beginning with “.” is also layout vertically.

    Measure Style and Part Width

    Check Grid to produce a mesh-like measure layout with no space between stages.
    Check Banded to produce banded measures. Specify spaces between stages.

    Part width (rate) specifies Part Height (for Horizontal Direction) or Part Width (for Vertical Direction) in direct ratio to the font size of each part.

    Check Expand Last Page to spread last page’s stages to fit in full page.

    Number of Measures per Stage

    When Fixed Number/Page Width (or Height) is selected, the number of measures per stage becomes the specified number. If Equal Lengths is checked, lengths of measures in each stages will be of equal length.
    On the other hand, when Automatic is selected, lengths of measures will be automatically calculated. Measures are enlarged by Measure Scale Rate.
    See also Stretching and Shortening Length of Measures.

    If Expand Last Stage is checked, measures in the last stage will be expended to fill the page width (Horizontal Direction) or height (Vertical Direction).

    Part Name

    Checked Display Measure Numbers displays Measure numbers at every top measure of each stage.
    Checked Display Part Name displays Part Abbreviation name if Display Part Abbreviation Name is checked, otherwise displays Part Name.
    Check Display only 1st Stage to display Part Name or Part Abbreviation on the first stage only.

    Stage Parenthesis

    Display of Stage Parenthesis can be switched on/off if there are multiple parts.

    Page Settings

    Using Page Settings dialog, you specify the page configuration, score’s writing direction, and layout parameters of stages and measures.

    Page Settings orCtrl+L opens Page Setting dialog.

    Page Settings dialog

    Sheet Size, Orientation and Page Margins

    Select Sheet Size from the pull down menu list (A3/A4/B4/B5/JIS B4/JIS B5/Custom/A3 Landscape (A4 Portrait x 2)/B4 Landscape (B5 Portrait x 2)/JIS 34 Landscape (JIS B5 Portrait x 2).
    “A3 Landscape (A4 Portrait x 2)” is, for example, A3 landscape sheet with two A4 portrait facing pages.
    For Custom, specify X and Y lengths in mm.
    Page Margins (Top, Bottom, Left and Right) can be set in mm.

    Header Area

    Header Area is located at the upper part of first page. Texts such as Title, Subtitle and Composer are written inside the Header Area.
    Header Area Width (mm) specifies the width (for Vertical Direction) or height (for Horizontal Direction) of the Header Area.

    Insert Cover Page insert a or two white pages on which you can move texts such as titles from the header area.

    Page Number

    Check Display Page Numbers (default is “checked”) to draw page numbers at the bottom center of each page. You can change Start Number.
    Text in Page Text is displayed before each page number.

    Page Text

    Page Text is displayed before each page numeber.

    Multi-Page Output Format

    When the score is exported to PDF or SVG files, multiple pages are output separately if Separate is selected. If Combined is selected, pages are combined to one long page (for scrolling on the tablet screen without turning pages).

    < Part Settings |^ Index | Layout >

    Layout Editing

    In addition to basic layout operations applied by Page Settings, there are other layout editing commands. They are Stretching and Shortening Lengths of Measures, Insert Stage Breaks and Page Breaks, moving Texts and other items, change font and size of texts in the header area.

    Layout Controller

    Layout|Layout Controller opens the Layout Controller dialog.

    Values listed bellow can be changed or switched on or off.

    • Part Width(Wider/Narrower)
    • Space Between Stages(Wider/Narrower)
    • Measures Per Stage(-1/+1) 
    • Measure Length(Longer/Shorter)
    • Note Font Size(Larger/Smaller)
    • Measure Style(Grid/Banded)
    • Measure Layout(Fixed Number/Automatic)、Equal Length ON/OFF
    • Fitting(Last Stage/Last Page, ON/OFF)
    • Gap between Voices(Wider/Narrower)
    • Gap between Chord Notes(Wider/Narrower)
    • Max Chord Width(Wider/Narrower)
    • Align Parts in Time(On/Off)
    • Uniformity in Time and Size(More uniform in Time/Size)
    • Note Position Offset(Larger/Smaller)
    • Fitting(Last Page ON/OFF, Last Stage ON/OFF)

    Every clicking on a button or a check box causes immediate value change.
    These operations can not be undone or redone by Undo/Redo commands. To undo or redo, please click a button or switch for the opposite effect.
    Please note that such value changes can be done using one of Part, Measure/Page, or Style Dialogs as well.

    Stretching and Shortening Length of Measures

    Layout|Stretch Measure or Ctrl+] stretches selected measures by several percents. Layout|Shorten Measure or Ctrl+[ shortens selected measures by several percents.
    Clicking Reset Measure Scale on the context menu reset the measure scale to the default value (1.0).
    (When you want to stretch or shorten all measures, set Measure Scale Rate in Page Settings Dialog.)

    Stage and Page Breaks and White Pages

    You can insert Stage Breaks and Page Breaks to cause breaks forcibly. You can also insert a White Page.
    To Insert a Stage Break or a White Page, select a measure and Layout|Insert Stage Break or Ctrl+Enter or Layout|Insert White Page.|

    To Insert a Page Break, select a measure and Layout|Insert Page Break or Shift+Ctrl+Enter.

    To Insert White Page, select a measure and Layout|Insert White Page.

    Stage Break Marks will be shown as small blue rectangles and Page Break Marks as small red rectangles and While Page Marks as small grey rectangles  at the right bottom corner of measures. To Delete Stage Break, Page Break, or White Page, select the mark by clicking on it (it turns yellow when selected), then Delete Break/White Page or Delete.

    Moving Texts and Symbols

    Many of texts and symbols can be moved by dragging and dropping them. Arrow keys move selected symbols little by little.
    Movable items are: Kan/Otsu marks, texts, lyrics, dynamics (p, pp, f, ff, mp, mf, etc.), articulations (staccato, accent, fermata, etc.) and repeat and jumps (such as Segno, Coda, etc), Slur, Crescendo, Diminuendo.

    If multiple items are selected, they are moved together.

    Ties are not movable. If a crescendo, diminuendo, or line is split to separate stages, select the first part of it and move. The second part is moved together with the first segment (but only updated when the display is refreshed). Slur’s second segment is movable by mouse dragging.

    Multiple items can be aligned by selecting items and click Align on the context menu (shown clicking the right mouse button). In horizontal writing, items are aligned horizontally, in vertical writing, vertically.

    If Reset Position is clicked on the context menu, positions of items are set to default positions.

    Visibility control of elements

    Visibility of a text, slur, ornament, crescendos/decrescendo, or line can be controlled by the note’s context menu. Select one of {default|visible|invisible}. Invisible elements becomes gray color on the screen and invisible on PDF output. Default state is controlled by the system.

    Font setting

    Fonts of Texts of notes or texts in the Header Area such as Title and Subtitle can be changed. Select a Text and Right-click to open the menu and select Font Property. To change font of Lyrics, see Settings of lyrics.

    Direction of Texts

    Note texts and text in the header area are layout horizontally when measure direction is horizontal or vertically (rotated 90 degrees clockwise) when measure direction is vertical. If a text prefixed with “.”, it is layout vertically (each character is not rotated) when measure direction is vertical. These are default behaviour.
    You can change the direction (fixed horizonata or vertical) of each text indivisually from the context menu.

    < Layout Editing |^ Index | Directive >


    What is a Directive?

    A directive is an instruction on a note. JapoScore provides a variety of directives. They are categorized into “note name”, “insert symbols”, “add symbols”, “attributes”, “scales”, and “controls”.

    Adding and deleting directives

    Except for note name change other than the default name, select a note (or notes) and click a directive in Palette to add a directive.
    To delete a directive (or directives), select a directive (or directives) and Delete (Delete).

    Directive (in the Palette)
    Directives (first half)

    Directives (second half)

    Rename Note

    Some note may have alternate names (for different fingerings, for example). To change the note name, select a note and right-click to show the menu and select Set Different Note Name. Then, Change Note Name dialog will be displayed. Select the new name from the pull down candidate list.

    Red “n” mark shows that the note name change directive is added.
    This mark can be selected and deleted.

    Change Otsu to ” (double quote)

    Otsu symbol can be changed to ‘”‘ (double quote) if the next note is in the second or higher register. ‘”‘ (double quote) symbol can be changed to Otsu.
    Select Otsu or ‘”‘ symbol and right click to display the context menu.

    Insert Symbol

    A symbol is inserted between notes.

    Shakuhachi and Shinobue Symbols

    Koto Ikuta Symbols

    Sangen Ikuta Symbols

    Shamisen Bunka Symbols

    A variety of symbols can be added besides a note. They can be moved or deleted.

    A note can be made invisible.

    A note is encircled if pizzicato directive is assigned.
    Another method to apply pizzicato on notes is to add “+” sign on a note on MuseScore (or Finale, etc.). This method would be better than former method if many notes are with pizzicatos.

    Transpose (from the middle of a piece)
    To transpose a part from the middle, select the note (the base note if chord) from which transposition starts, right-click and select “Enter Transpose Steps”, the “Transpose of Note” dialog appears. Input number of half steps.


    Parts of Koto or Sangen notation styles need a scale information. You have to give a scale directive from the Pallete to a note (including rest note) on which a new scale starts. If the note is a chord, select the lowest note. If multiple voices are there, select voice 1 note. If the note has grace notes, select the first grace note. If no scale directive is given, default scale is applied.

    When you import a new score, Part setting dialog shows up. If koto or sangen notation styles are selected, Scale Edit dialog shows up and you are asked to edit it. (You can cancel editing the scale at this time for later editing.)

    Editing of Scale

    Select a scale directive mark and right click and select Editing of Scale from the menu. Then Edit Scale dialog appears.
    Edit Scale Dialog and Scale Templates

    Edit Scale Dialog with Detail (switched by More button)

    You can use operations below:

    1. Select Scale from Templates:
      shows Scale Templates. Specify Number of Scale Notes and select a scale from the candidates and press OK.
    2. Read Scale from File:
      You can prepare a scale file as musicxml file using MuseScore or other software in advance.
      A scale file can have multiple parts. A part should have notes beginning from the very first note (likely the lowest note) and succeeding notes (stepping up to the highest note) and followed by a rest note or the end of part as the end mark of scale notes. The number of notes should be the same of that of the scale directive. The duration of each note is arbitrary.
      When you click “Read scale from file” button, you are asked to point the scale file and then, the scale name which is the part name of the scale file. (If part name consists of multiple lines, the first line becomes the scale name.)

      Scale sample file
      Scale sample file “ScaleTemplates.musicxml” is inclued in the download file.

    3. Copy preceding Scale: shows the scale of the preceding note.
    4. Select a note you want to change and change the pitch up and down by a half, 4th, or octave step.. “2 D3”, for example, means string 2 is D in 3rd octave. “C4” is the central C.
    5. Transpose: transposes all scale notes by a specified half steps.
    6. Copy
      The scale data is copied. To paste, close this dialog and then open for different note and paste.
    7. Paste
      Paste scale data.

    Scale Name is only for your memo and does affect processing.

    Directive Text is for internal use only and not editable.


    “Inhibit note repeat” inhibits use of the repeat mark for consecutive same note name in Koto or Sangen notation.

    Long repeats
    Successive notes can be replaced with one of several “long repeat” marks.
    To do it, you first select two notes (which can be in neighboring measures) and click one of long repeat directives listed in the palette.
    Breaks of measures inside two notes are properly processed.

    Directive marks in red will not be drawn in exported PDF or SVG files.

    < Directive |^ Index | Style >


    You can adjust sizes, positions, distances of graphic items relating to measures and notes from Style Dialog.

    Style|General opens Style Settings Dialog. There are two tabs: Measure and Note. Measure tab is for setting values relating to measures and Note tab for values relating to Notes.

    Measure tab

    From Measure tab, in Measure, you can change values for Stage Line Width, Time Signature Size, Leading Pad (space before the first note in the measure), Tailing Pad (space after the last note in the measure).

    In Bar Lines and Repeat Dot, you can check or uncheck Display Time Signatures and Measure Bar Lines and change values for Thin Line Width, Thick Line Width, Double Line Spacing, Repeat Dot Offset (from bar line), Repeat Dot Radius, and Repeat Dot Separation.
    In Time Tick Marks, you can change lengths and widths of major and minor tick marks.

    Uniformity in Time and Size
    When aligned in time, you can tune the uniformity in time and size of notes in measures. “Uniformity in Time” means intervals between long and short hands (even if they are invisible) become equal. On the other hand, “Uniformity in Size” means the size of notes are not scaled down and intervals between long and short hands become non-uniform. You can set the best tradeoff point between two extremes.

    Gaps for Chord Notes and Voices
    Gaps between notes within a chord can be adjusted.
    Gaps between voices can be adjusted.

    Text Font property can be changed.

    The size of rehearsal number can be changed.

    Note tab

    From Note tab, you can change values of the followings.
    Note intervals and widths versus note duration: Note width is the ratio to the note font size. You can set smaller widths for shorter duration notes, for example. Note interval is the initial distance between consecutive two notes in ratio to the note width.

    Note: Offset is a constant small displacement of notes in time direction. This value can be changed from the Layout Controller.

    Lyrics Position: Offset is the distance from the referenced note.

    Tie Stop: Tie stop notes can be drawn with bar symbols for Kinko_Simple, Shinobue, and Doremi notations.

    Erase Extension: Extension marks in Koto_Ikuta and Sangen-Ikuta (triangle mark with a dot inside) are erased by checking the box.

    Octave Instruction (Kan/Otsu): Change the size by specifying Scale Factor.

    Dynamics Size: Size of dyanameics marks (p,pp,f,mf, etc.) can be changed.

    The size of Tozan’s small note can be changed.

    Grace note: Scale factor scales the size of grace notes. Offset Y is for Horizontal Direction and Offset X is for Vertical Direction.

    Offsets for Slur, Tie, and Articulation: Offsets for Slur and Articulation are the distance from the top of notes. Offset for Tie is the distance from the bottom (for Horizontal direction) or the right (for Vertical direction) side of notes.

    Beam: Offset X or Y is the distance from the bottom of notes (for Horizontal direction). Line width and Line spacing can be changed.

    Spacer can be inserted between notes. It is useful for adjusting clearance of beams between neighboring notes.

    Size of fingering and Line Width of fingering line can be changed.

    Time Tick Marks
    Specifies length (% of part width) of the long and short hands and widths them.
    For Koto_Ikuta, length of long hand is fixed to 100%, short hand 50%.

    < Style |^ Index | Materials >


    A Template is a set of score’s settings information (part, measure, page, and style settings). By importing a template file, you can easily setup a score using an established setting information.
    This command is similar to Import Imitate command which applies current score’s setting information to the imported score.
    Template file extension is “*.sstx”.

    Import Standard Template
    You can import one of standard templates prepared by JapoScore.

    Export Template
    You can export a template information of the current score for later use.

    Import Template
    You can import the template information.


    Tools|Generate MuseScore Plugins generate plugin files in MuseScore’s plugin folder.
    Starting JapoScore may display Generate MuseScore Plugins Dialog. This will happen if JapoScore detects one of two conditions: (1) JapoScore version is different from that of the last execution, (2) the installation target folder of JapoScore is changed.
    Please refer to Installation and How to setup MuseScore plugins.

    Tools|Change Note Names and Pitches from Lyrics (Koto and Sangen)
    (Note: Specification will be changed in the future versions. Please wait for these versions for practical uses.)
    This tool command changes note names to ones denoted in the lyrics. Pitches are also changed accordingly.
    This command may be useful when you want to input existing Koto or Sangen scores and make JapoScore scores as well as preaparing scores in staff note.

    How to use this command (work flow).
    (1) From an existing Koto or Sangen score, prepare staff note score with notes with correct time durations (beats or rythms) and with arbitray picthes in MuseScore.
    (2) Input note names of Koto or Sangen in lyrics. Then, export to a MusicXML file.
    (3) Import the MusicXML file to JapoScore. Set necessary scales on JapoScore.
    (4) Execute “Change Note Names and Pitches from Lyrics” command.
    (5) Check the rusult visually. If not OK, got back to (2) to edit lyrics.
    (6) If done correctly, export MusicXML file. Then, delete unnecessary lyrics on MuseScore. Staff note score is now complete. Export to MusicXML file.
    (7) On JapoScore, undo previsous “Change Note Names and Pitches from Lyrics” command. Then, execute Import Update command to import the lyric-less MusicXML file to complete the Koto or Sangen score.

    Note names for this command is listed below.

    Koto(Koto_Ikuta, Koto_Seiha) note names
    Koto 13 strings ”1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 t i k”
    Koto 17 strings ”1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17″
    Pitch bend (Oshi) by a half: note name followed by “+”
    Pitch bend (Oshi) by a whole: note name followed by “++”
    Pitch bend (Oshi) by a whole and a half: note name followed by “+++”
    Sukui with note name: note name followed by “s”。
    Single Oshi (without note name): “o+” for a half bend, “o++” for a whole bend, and “o+++” for a whole and a half bend.
    Hanasu (release) is “h”. The pitch will become that of the last but one note.

    Sangen_Ikuta note names
    String 1: “.1 .2 .3 .4 .4# .5 .6 .7 .8 .8# .9 .X .11 .12 .13 .14 .14# .15 .16 .17 .18 .18# .19”
    String 2: “:1 :2 :3 :4 :4# :5 :6 :7 :8 :8# :9 :X :11 :12 :13 :14 :14# :15 :16 :17 :18 :18# :19”
    String 3: “1 2 3 4 4# 5 6 7 8 8# 9 X 11 12 13 14 14# 15 16 17 18 18# 19 20 21 22 23 24 24# 25 26 27 28 28# 29”
    Note name with Hajiki: note name followed by “h”.
    Single Hajiki (without note name): note name followed by “h”.
    Note name with Sukui:note name followed by “s”.
    Single Sukui (without note name): “s”.
    Suriage: “u” for a half step up and “uu” for two half steps up.
    Surisage: “d” for a half step down and “dd” for two half steps down.
    Suriage or Surisage with a note name: A note name should be prefixed by “u” or “d”.

    Chords: list up note names in pitch order (from the lowest) separated by “/”.

    Grace notes: Because grace notes cannot have lyrics on MusicXML(MuseScore), their note names should be given to non-grace notes just before or after a (or multiple) grace note(s) as in “grace notegrace note”. Multiple grace notes should be separated by “,”.

    Repetition When a note or a chord is repeated, you can use “*” which use the same lyric text as the previous note’s lyric.

    Deleting Lyrics

    You can delete lyrics. Specify the part number and the lyrics number.
    After “Change Note Names and Pitches from Lyrics” command execution, lyrics used for that command will be no longer neccessary. Delete them using this command. “Change Note Names and Pitches from Lyrics” command has an option for executing this command.


    Table of Note Names

    Table of Note Directives


    < Materials |^ Index | Hints >


    (in preparation)

    < Hints |^ Index | Problem Solving>

    Solving Problems

    (in preparation)

    Guidelines for preparing Koto scores

    Scores for Koto needs chords and multi-voices (for left and right hand playing) as well as scale information.
    Assign notes for right hand fingers to voice 1, and notes for left hand fingers (pizzicato) to voice 2 (or 3 or 4).
    If bass clef and treble clef are used (for such as 17-string Koto), MuseScore assigns voices on bass clef to 5 to 8.

    A scale directive should be assigned to the lowest pitch note of voice 1.

    Editing SVG files

    Once score is exported to SVG file, you can edit score using graphic editing software such as Inkscape and Illustrator.

    How to make part out of score

    There are three approaches.
    1.Using JapoScore Part dialog.
    Switching off part output of unnecessary parts from Part Setting Dialog.

    2.Using MuseScore’s part command (on File menu.)
    (Caution: This function automatically converts succesive whole rest measures to a single “long rest” measure. “Long rest” seems to involve bugs when exported to musicxml (i.e. aborts) (MuseScore v. If you encounter this trouble, try approach 1 or 3.

    3.Delete unnecessary parts on MuseScore (using Instrument command on Edit menu). If above (2.) approach is problematic, this approach is safer.

    < Solving Problems |^ Index |  Acknowledgments >

    History of Development and Acknowledgments

    I have been using Shakuhachi and Shinobue plugin on MuseScore for several years. This plugin enables adding shakuhachi and shinobue notations on the western staff notation score. I thank Tachibana-san very much for providing such a nice plugin.

    The plugin is very useful, but I still wished to have a full-scale shakuhachi score generator and editor. Developing such a software may involve very high-level software technologies. It seemed beyond my software development skill.

    Two years ago (in 2014), Mr. Razvan developed ShakuViewer, which inspired me very much and I started to figure out how to design and develop such a software. I started developing ShakuScore mid 2014 and released the first Version (1.0) on March 2015, which had the minimum set of functions.

    From late 2015, I have been focusing on adding many functions that would make ShakuScore more practical and easy-to-use. The ShakuViewer’s plugin served as a useful reference to code ShakuScore’s plugins.

    Once again, I owe special thanks to Tachibana-san and Razvan-san whose software inspired me to develop ShakuScore.

    Hiro Kisai Sato
    May 1st, 2016.

    From winter of 2017 to early spring 2018, I submerged myself in enhancing ShakuScore to support chord notes and multi-voices required to render Koto notation. Such enhancements and many other useful features are included in the Version 2 releases. I thank users for giving me helpful comments.
    I also thank Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka of Senshu Shakuhachi Kobo for permitting me to use his shakuhachi font shape. Tozan’s “Tozan_FeltPen” font is from this data.
    March 31st, 2018.

    Kisai Sato

    ShakuScore was renamed as JapoScore recently because it has become able to produce not only shakuhachi and shinobue scores but also koto and shamisen scores. The number of users has been increasing. I am very glad that JapoScore has been helpful to many people who love music for Japanese instruments.
    April 10th, 2019.
    Kisai Sato