Treble clef in classic guitar should not be octave-transposing

• Oct 14, 2018 - 23:19

The classic guitar is a transposing instrument since it is written using the treble clef but it sounds an octave lower. However, when choosing classic guitar in MuseScore 2.3.2 the proposed clef is the treble clef with an ottava bassa. This is not the usual way to notate the guitar, which uses a plain treble clef (see modern guitar authors such as Leo Brower or classical ones such as Sor and Giuliani). There is a workaround: select the normal treble clef and in staff properties set transpose written pitch one octave lower. But this should be the deafault setting, not a workaround.


There is an instrument called "Guitar (Treble clef)" that has the non transposing clef on it. It was added sometime after 2.0.3 for this very reason.

In reply to by wolfgan

OK, it is true that there are some authors that use the ottava bassa for the guitar, but many more use the traditional plain treble clef, as an IMSLP search shows.
But most importantly, I don't agree that it has to be written that way. The main problem is that the vast majority of historical music for guitar is written using the normal treble clef and never has been there the slightest confusion as to what sounds the guitar is playing. Any musician with some knowledge of the guitar knows it is a transposing instrument as is the clarinet or the double bass, so there is no need to introduce a double standard. Double standards tend to cause confusion. You have for instance inconsistencies like this:
The fact is that even if for some reason we wanted to believe the 8va bassa treble clef is more rational for the guitar, there is no hope that all the relevant guitar sheet music would be ever converted to the new standard, so both standards would continue to coexist for ever... What for?
A similar discussion has been put forward for the case of the double bass (see The whole thing seems to boil down to the problem of notation software being unable to show concert pitch for some instruments and not for others, i.e., a simple programming difficulty influences how music should be written. (By the way, this could be solved readily with a staff or instrument flag allowing or not concert pitch; or else the clef could just change for those instruments when engaging concert pitch, in which case the untraditional clef could be more acceptable.)

In reply to by cadiz1

Thank you for the information.
However, I guess this example is not how Brower wrote it but how some publisher edited it. I have many examples of Brower's works and most of them (about 10:1) do not use the 8vb. Most remarkably, one published in Cuba in 2015 where it states the author himself corrected the edition (Sonata del Caminante, Ediciones Espiral Eterna) and the cover has what seems to be a manuscript excerpt scan where no 8vb is present.
I wonder how many of the thousands of 8vb treble clef examples you mention (against the dozens or hundreds of thousands without 8vb) are really the intention of the author (this author and other ones) and not the software-conditioned editors'.
In the very thread you cite it mentions that most of the guitar examples of Elaine Gould (about 62:2) are without the 8vb.
I have also the opinion of an outstanding guitar player and composer from the Netherlands, Sabrina Vlaskalik, who acknowledges that there are some examples in the literature of the 8vb treble clef but also that it is not frequently used.

In reply to by fmiyara

IMSLP is going to be weighted very heavily toward older editions. The tendency toward using octave clefs is probably relatively recent. Not as recent the use of the engraving software, though. That is, it is demonstrably not the case that it obly started because editors were forced into by the software. On the contrary, software uses these clefs to reflect actual current practice.

But indeed, it's not universal, so MuseScore offers you the choice.

When I start a new score with Classical Guitar, it puts 8va bassa clef. When I enter a low open E string, it displays E (low string open) as red (out of range)?

In reply to by christopherce

That doesn't happen for me in the current version - 4.0.2. Yes, the clef is the octave clef, but entering a low E does not show a range warning. Maybe you have a key signature or two or more flats and you actually entered an Eb? Or maybe you are using a custom template that was set up incorrectly? If you continue to have trouble, please attach your score so we can understand and assist better.

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