Single stave or two staves for an oboe / cor anglais part?

• Mar 28, 2016 - 14:21

MuseScore 2.0.2

I am transcribing for the first time a 1930 manuscript which involves transposing instruments, and I'm unsure how to tackle the task.

In the manuscript, a single stave has been used to represent both the Oboe and the English Horn (Cor anglais) [Fig 1]. Fig_1_Oboe.png

This means that when there's a change of instrument, the key signature changes [Fig 2]. Fig_2_Engl_Horn.png

Must I simply create two separate staves for the two instruments, and then extract both staves when creating the part for the oboe player?

The red ink in the manuscript was used to indicate "alternative instruments", which adds to my confusion....


Generally, the answer to your question is, "No." When a player is required to 'double' on a second instrument--in other words, play oboe for mm.1-32, then play English horn for 32-48, then switch back to oboe for the rest of the piece (or something similar)--the part is written on one staff in the score with the notation "Take English Horn" at the appropriate point. This notation can be created in MuseScore using Staff Text.

The player's part should be printed as one part, entitled "Oboe/dbl. E. Horn" or similar.

Strangely enough, making mid-staff instrument changes doesn't appear to be possible in MuseScore 2.0.1, which is the version I am using at the moment (at least, nothing I have tried works). The Handbook indicates it is possible to do this using the current stable version (2.0.2, I think?), but that transposition is not yet supported.

For non-transposing instruments, there is no problem; you simply insert staff text telling the player to switch instruments and continue to input notes in the same key. For transposing instruments, you would have to transpose the section intended to be played by (say) the English horn, doing it manually using the 'transpose' utility (select the notes first, then click Notes on the main menu and click Transpose on the drop-down). This, of course, will adversely affect the audio playback of the score.

In reply to by Recorder485

All 2.0 flavor - including both 2.0.1 and 2.0.3 - support mid-staff instrument changes using the Instrument text as described in the Handbook, but indeed, transposition is not currently handled. That fix will be the next major version. Not 2.0.3; the change is incompatible with current versions and we are trying to keep compatibility as best we can.

There are multiple ways of dealing with this currently. One is to just have separate staves for the parts and use Hide empty staves. Another is to have one staff that *looks* right (manually transposed) but made silent (mute in Mixer), and another that *sounds* right but is made invisible in Edit / Instruments).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hmmm. Interesting. In my system (Win7 Pro) MuseScore is not generating the same menus as shown in the Handbook (for either method).

Here's a couple of screenshots:

Midstaff inst chg 1.png

Midstaff inst chg 2.png

The only way I can get any sort of 'change instrument' dialogue is to open the staff properties, but of course, when I change the instrument there it affects the entire score, not just from the insert point I selected.

Is this a case of pilot error?

MuseScore 2.0.1 Rev b25f81d; Windows 7 Professional.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Okay, I found Instrument Text, buried in a sub-palette in the F9 main palette. The 'Text' sub-palette appears in both Basic and Advanced Workspaces, and, silly me, I never noticed it was there, probably because I almost always use keyboard shortcuts (CTL+T or CTL+SHIFT+T) to enter text. When I don't do it that way, I do it from the main Add menu. How I do this depends primarily on what I am doing when I add the text: Inputting, or Editing. Editing is done primarily with the mouse; I do input almost entirely from the keyboard (a midi keyboard combined with a wireless numerical keypad).

So apparently this is a case of 'pilot error,' and thanks for correcting me.

But... as a fairly experienced MuseScore user, I have to add that I find that this is not very intuitive. Is there a technical reason the 'Instrument Text' option doesn't appear in the Add>Text... drop-down? (And is there a keyboard shortcut to Add Instrument Text directly?)

I understand the transposition issue is not yet resolved, and we'll have to use one of the work-arounds Marc proposes for the time being. But having only one of three methods to add text bring up that particular dialogue seems like an issue worth addressing.

In reply to by Recorder485

Very few items can be added from menus. Sure, we could add this, but you'd still use the palette for almost everything else. I can't see that it really helps the big picture to add this one element to the menu - you still need to use the palettes a lot for almost everything else. On the other hand, sure, I guess it doesn't hrut.

In reply to by Recorder485

I don't see where you ever added the Instrument text - it looks like you tried adding a plain old staff text. That doesn't work - it has to be the actual Instrument text from the Text palette. Add one of those to your score, then right click that to access the Change Instrument command, as explained in the Handbook under "Mid-staff instrument changes". You can also just use the Mixer at that point to change only the sound (that's all that *really* changes anyhow, although again for a future release we will get transposition right as well).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

@Marc Sabatella: You're right, of course, and please see my reply to Jojo's post (above).

Even accepting that the transposition issue is not yet resolved, I would note that the current mid-staff 'change instrument' function doesn't even change the staff short-name for the staff in question. So, at present we have a function which, as you say, doesn't really change anything except the playback sound.

In the meantime, would it be useful for me to revise the Handbook page concerned to make all this clearer? I would be more than happy to do that if it would help. I'm not competent to write even a single line of code, as you know, but I am better than most at technical writing. ;o)

While working on revising the Handbook, I did a few tests of the 'change instrument' utility as currently constituted (v.2.0.1) and discovered a new and totally unexpected behaviour which I think warrants attention. Please see the attached score.

I created the test score with a few measures of music, then inserted Change Instrument Text from the palette, and changed the instrument from Oboe to English Horn in m. 5. The music from m. 5 thru m. 8 was already there when I did that. That section plays with the sound of an English horn, and is notated and played back in concert pitch. Expected.

However--In m.9, I started to input new music--the same melody--but this time, the program set each subsequent note in the next octave BELOW the current one (until it hit what must be the lower limit the program allows). Normally, when doing input from the computer keyboard, the program jumps to the nearest octave from the previous note.

Inst. chg. anomoly.png

Finally, the playback in this sections sounds a third ABOVE concert pitch, while the notation remains at concert pitch (i.e., non-transposed for the Eng. Horn).

There is something decidedly odd going on here. I rebooted MuseScore, and finally the entire computer, to ensure that it wasn't my system that had gone wonky, but the behaviour remains consistent.

Thoughts, anyone?

Attachment Size
instrument_change_test.mscz 16.35 KB

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks; that's important information for me to have while revising the Handbook entry on this function. Based on all of this, I am minded to suggest that users do not use 'Change Instrument Text' for changing to a transposing instrument in a different key until 3.0 is released. Alternatively, I could instruct users to enter the music before adding the 'CIT'; that seems to work okay.

On the whole, though, considering the current limitations of the function, it has the potential to create more problems than it solves. In fact, the only positive result of using this at present is to change the playback instrument sound. Your suggestion of using plain staff text, transposing manually, and then muting playback for that staff is probably the most practical approach for now.

OTOH, for changing from one instrument to another in the same key, it should work okay; at least it will change the playback sound, which is important to some users.

I will do some more testing before posting any revision to the Handbook.

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