Baritone sax appears as bass clef but I want treble

• Oct 29, 2018 - 10:53

My first time at a composition for two saxophones (alto and baritone). I set the page up in the key I want for Eb instruments with a stave for each. Great so far. When the blank sheet music appeared it had converted it to concert pitch and bass clef for the baritone. How can I create the score for the two saxes to appear as they should be played and with a treble clef? As far as I know baritone sax has always been written in treble clef, although it sounds one octave below alto.
Any help very welcome.
Thanks for reading :)


You need to enter concert pitch key signature. If you wanted the the saxes to play in the key of F and you see the key of F with the bari in bass clef, you have entered F rather than A-flat.

BTW, I was recently surprised to find a symphonic score form the early 1900's with the bari sax part written in concert pitch on the bass clef. If you are a bari sax player then you have played tuba music and it works exactly the same. There were other saxes in the score written with the expected transpositions.

Don't worry, the music will be displayed in treble clef and transposed appropriately as soon as you turn concert pitch off, so everything is already just as it should be. If you have concert pitch turned on, then that means music will be displayed - and will need to be entered - at sounding pitch. You don't want to try writing for baritone sax at sounding pitch in treble clef - almost the entire part would be on ledger lines below the staff! The highest ordinarily playable note for baritone sax is the "A" above middle C. If you aren't comfortable reading and writing bass clef, at msot maybe you want the special octave-transposing treble clef - the one with the little "8" below it. Add that to the beginning of your score from the palette and now you can write in treble clef with all notes an octave above where they really sound. Or, since these are both Eb instruments, you could just turn concert pitch off and not bother writing at sounding pitch - just write "as written".

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm really confused about the answers in this thread. I really struggle with the concert pitch. Here's what I commonly do. For our community band, I want to transpose parts of a printed score to suit our limited number of instruments. For example, I have a part for an Eb Bari Sax written in F major (1 flat). I want to input it into MuseScore as written then change the part to a bass clarinet. We have a bass clarinet but not a bari sax. So, I start my Musescore score without the Concert Pitch button selected and I change the bass clef to the treble clef with the "8" so I can input to duplicate the part I have for the bari sax. I see that the not-concert pitch key is D major (2 sharps). So i input the notes to duplicate my bari sax part from the score in the Concert Pitch MuseScore with the 1 flat. When I'm finished, I then right click the staff, select Staff/Part Properties, change the instrument to Bass Clarinet but instead of the expected Bb major (2 flats) for the Bb bass clarinet, I get no change in the part in Concert Pitch, ie, the notes stay the same & the key change stays the same. In not-Concert Pitch, the notes change and the key changed to F major (1 flat)! I'm so confused! To make matters worse, I wanted to add the tenor sax part to my MuseScore score so I could amalgamate the 2 parts to the bass clarinet part. However, when I added the tenor sax thru Edit, the tenor sax in Concert Pitch view is also 1 flat, the wrong key, & in not-Concert Pitch view, is in G major (1 sharp), also the wrong key of my printed part which is Bflat. This is very frustrating because I don't understand how this works. Any guidance would be much appreciated. I have the printed manual & it doesn't help me.

In reply to by spelesho

It's always easier to understand if you attach your score, but if I am reading correctly, I think your mistake was right at the beginning. You say you change the bass clef to a treble8, but where are you getting the bass clef from? If you are entering notes that were written for bari sax, then you need to select bari sax as your instrument when you create the score (or change an existing staff to bari sax before you start entering notes). And if you do that, it's already in treble clef - the bass clef only appears if you turn concert pitch on,

Also, when you select the key, you need to enter it in concert pitch because each instrument in your score (normally one is working with a full score, not just a single part) might have a different key, so concert key is the common denominator. So if the music as written for the bari sax is in F, that's concert Ab, so that's what you should select as the key. MuseScore transposes this automatically for each instrument in your score.

At that point should be looking at a blank page with a treble clef and one flat. You should not need to change the clef or the key, it's correct before you enter a single note. Then, enter your notes. When you're done, right-click the staff, Staff Properties, Change Instrument, and select bass clarinet. When you do this, it automatically transposes everything properly - you don't do need to do anything else.

Without seeing score I can't begin to guess why you were seeing bass clef with concert pitch off or what else might be wrong. But if you start over following my instructions carefully, maybe you'll be able to figure out what you did wrong. And if you post your score, we can help show you how to fix it (probably you'll need to transpose it manually).

In reply to by spelesho

If you do not have the concert pitch button pressed, a bari sax will be notated on the treble clef, this is called the transposed pitch. Further, if you add a key signature of D to this instrument, you will end up with the key of E (5 sharps) when transposed. To get the key of F you need to add the key of Ab (4 flats).

Basically, you are suffering from not understanding if the concert pitch button has been pressed or not. I used to have this problem. I decided a long time ago to rely on the state of my transposing instruments to determine if the concert pitch button is pressed. After quite some time I finally got used to what the button looked like in each state. What I mean by rely on the state of my transposing instruments is that I know for example a Bari sax is notated on the bass clef in concert pitch and the treble clef for transposed. Another thing I relied on was my clarinets and flutes. If they were in the same key, I was in concert pitch, if not, I was in transposed pitch. There is a C clarinet, but it's rare I I would take that into account if I had it in my score. There are other transposing instruments like Piccolo and Contrabassoon. You can tell if you are in concert pitch by the 8 above or below clef. It goes away in all scores created in MuseScore 3 in transposed pitch. Many of the brass instruments transpose, so you can use those the same way I do the clarinets in a concert or marching band, but symphony orchestras usually notate the ones that transpose with no key signature and they become useless as indicators of concert vs transposed pitch.

I personally believe this is flaw in the program. Except for very rare occasions, bari sax should always be in treble clef, whether it's in Concert Pitch or not.
A workaround that I've used is:
After pushing the Concert Pitch button, replace the bass clef with a treble-15 clef (15mb - two octaves below). From the clef palette, drag the treble clef with the 15 below it to your score's bari sax line. 15mb clef.png

Attachment Size
15mb clef.png 10.72 KB

In reply to by bworkman

Since they are almost never published but seen only by the composer him or herself, there are no rules for how concert pitch scores "should" be written - that's entirely up to the personal preference of the composer. If you prefer reading treble-15, then by all means, just make that change - it's not a workaround, but the supported way to get whatever clef you want.

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