Euphonium / Baritone Horn / B-flat Tuba definitions in instruments.xml not correct?

• Aug 25, 2011 - 15:26

I am trying to set up a full score for a dutch bigband.
My score is created in B-flat. When adding instrument like B-Flat Trumpet and the saxophone-groep, the correct key is placed (no flats or sharps for trumpet & soprano/tenor saxes, F-sharp for alt/baritone sax) as these instruments are transposing instruments.
The trombone as a non-transposing instrument is correct too: two flats are nicely placed at the start.

But I am puzzled by the Baritone Horn, Euphonium, and B-flat Tuba: as far as i know these instruments are normally pitched in B-flat, and they are transposing instruments.

When i insert them in my score, i get two flats at the beginning ?! Where do i go wrong? Or is the instruments.xml file not correct?


I know for baritone horn and euphonium, there are at least two different standards. In some circles, it is common to write them in treble clef, transposed up a ninth with the key signature altered accordingly. This style of writing makes it possible for trumpet players to double on baritone, so it's pretty common in marching band and concert literature in some countries. But outside that world, it's more common to write baritone and euphonium parts in bass clef at concert pitch. This actually makes it easier for trombone players to double on these instruments.

Seems weird to have two totally different ways of writing for the same instrument, but that's the way it is. Anyhow, it seems there should probably be two entries for each of those instruments - one for the treble clef transposed version, one for the bass clef concert key version.

I think the story is similar for tuba, except I don't think anyome writes tuba parts in treble clef.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

I agree that the instruments.xml file should have entries for both methods. It seems to me the transposed notation method is actually more commonly used over the world, due to the simple fact that there al lot more bands in marching band / brass band / fun bands style. In the Netherlands alone we know of approx. 1800 bands in "fun band" style.

So development team, will you concider this as a change request?

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

I have tried to edit the instruments.xml file for Baritone Horn TC with mixed success.

Baritone Horn TC DOES appear in my instrument list.
However, the clef is STILL bass after I have changed the instrument to Baritone Horn TC.
I don't know how to do the transposition although I have been able to effect change by changing the values for transpose - I am not enough of a musician to know what numbers to use to raise it "up a ninth".

Here is what I have:
<name>Baritone Horn TC</name>
<short-name>Bar. Hn.</short-name>

Could someone please help me with the correct numbers for transposition? I can live with the clef issue.

The Hartland Second-Wind Ensemble is composed of people over 60 many who have not played for a very long time.

In reply to by Musikate

Up a ninth means up 9 notes diatonically ie an octave and one step.

I don't know how the instruments.xml file stores this but my guess would be in semitones?

Lasconic please correct if I'm wrong!

An octave is 12 semitones, therefore a major ninth (which I thihnk is what you want) would be a value of 14


PS Good work on the wind ensemble - if you ever need arrangements I am game provided you don't mind me fitting it into my spare time - unless of course it's a paying commission :)

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Thanks for the generous offer, Michael.
We have a disk of music called "Combo Orks" - old dance band music. Very fun to play. It comes in 3 keys - C, Bb, and Eb and there are usually 9-12 parts - with the help of MuseScore we have very successfully added a part in F for the French horn, edited other parts (raised the flute up an octave), adjusted some parts - we have two very loud tenor saxes, and generally make some pretty good music. We have two baritone horns - one plays bass clef and one plays in treble clef - ex trumpet player as others have noted here.
One of our three retired school band directors says we are at the level of "a very good middle-school band" so we have a way to go but it is great fun.
Anyhow, this long note is to give credit where it's due - without MuseScore we would be borrowing music from the local middle school - four of our members are using the program - not bad for a group of "seniors"!


In reply to by Musikate

I'm still wondering what numbers to use for:

I inserted 14 for the Diatonic and it seems to work.
I don't know the number for the Chromatic.
And the clef issue (still is in bass clef in spite of changing the value to "0") is annoying because it is a mystery although I can work around it.

The Hartland Second-Wind Ensemble's French horn player is 80 years old and had not played for 60 years when she joined our band.

I found this thread through the search because I have the same problem as kruijzen with the Baritone/Euphonium and the Bb Bass/Sousafone.

I don't know how to edit the instruments.xml though, and would like the Baritone in Treble Clef (pitched in B flat) and the Bass in Bass Clef (also pitched in B flat). When I pick Bb Bass from the list it seems to be pitched in C though - same key signature as C Trombone for instance.

A temporary solution for me was adding another trumpet part and changing the staff name to Baritone to have the good pitch. As for the Bass I have to transpose it afterwards.

If anyone has this updated instruments file I would like to see it here.

In reply to by HedgehogNL

Have you looked at the file? It's location is found in Edit->Preferences. If you do a search on that file on "Baritone", you'll find where it is defined, and it isn't that hard to figure out the structure of the file.

In any case, you change the staff properties for any instrument you want directly in MuseScore. So go ahead and create the staff using the Baritone instrument. Then simply drag the correct clef to the first measure of the part, and right click and hit Staff Properties to change the transposition to major second plus one octave down. Then the transposition will work automatically as with other instruments - no need to transpose the part manually when switching between concert key and transposed views.

BTW, I always found it confusing that some instruments - like trombones and tubas - were called Bb instruments even though they don't normally transpose. It was learning about the two different standards for notating baritone & euphonium that cleared it up for me. These are called Bb instruments because they do indeed produce the tones of the Bb overtone series by default (1st position for trombone, no valves down for tuba or baritone). It's just that players of these instruments learn to call that Bb instead of C. Except in school marching bands or other similar outfits, where the expectation is that most players would prefer to read as they do on trumpet. Makes it easier to convert a trumpet player to a baritone horn player or tuba player (I was wrong above when I said nobody writes tuba music in treble clef - they do in school bands).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

British brass bands tend to use the treble clef for most instruments except (often, but not always) the bass trombone. There are Bb instruments (cornet, trombone, baritone, euphonium, bass) and Eb instruments (soprano cornet, tenor horn, bass) whose C on the line below the stave sounds, respectively, close to a concert Bb and Eb. Further complicated by there being trombones available in concert pitch and ones with valves that effectively change it from Bb to F to extend the range - complicated from a writers point of view, that is, but not according to the trombonists.

Note, also, that concert pitch hasn't always been a standard and that older instruments from a given manufacturer may differ from newer versions.

Further reading: // "How to write for Brass Bands"

"There are two sides to a Trumpet's personality. There is one side that lives only to lay waste to flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, horns, trombones, tubas, saxes, and percussion, leaving them lying blue and lifeless along the swath of destruction that is a trumpet's fury. Then there is the dark side."

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