Playback transposition option

• Nov 2, 2016 - 14:37

Currently playback comes in concert pitch. I would like to be able to play along with an instrument of choice such as a Bb Trumpet. This means the output needs to be transposed 1 full tone. Current transposition changes the music. I only want the sound playback on my PC to be transposed.


I am not quite following. The music *is* transposed. That is, if you create music for a a Bb Trumpet, and you make sure the Concert Pitch button is *off* when you enter the music, then the music you enter will show the written pitch while the playback will play the sounding pitch, exactly as it should. If you need to correct music that was mistakenly entered at the wrong pitch, you can use the Notes / Transpose command to do that. If that's not what you mean, please attach the score you are having trouble with and explain what you want to do in more detail.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I play a couple of instruments. I would like to be able to transpose the music on playback to match the instrument I am playing at the time. Bb trumpet, Eb Sax, F Horn. That is without creating a piece of music for each instrument or physically changing the music for each instrument.

In reply to by CoryB

So you mean you wish to take music written for a Bb instrument and here how it would sound if you played it on an Eb instrument without correcting transposition? That's not how things are normally done in real life. You don't play the same written music on different horns; you transpose for each so it always sounds the same. And this is what MuseScore does for you automatically when you change the instrument of the transposition setting. If you really want to hear how it would sound if you for some reason failed to correct the transpositiowrong instead played in the wrong key for your instrument, then you can go to Notes / Transpose to force MuseScore to make the same error.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

No its not what I mean. I don't only want to hear how it would sound but to transpose the music so I can play along with it. I don't wish to have 1 version for sax and one for trumpet and one for horn. I had a music editor back in windows XP which transposed the PC output.

In reply to by CoryB

ut this *is* exactly how the transposition works. Simply go to Staff Properties and either use the Change Instrument button or change the Play Transposition field manually. Either way, it will automatically correct the transposition so you can play along, while keeping the sound at the correct pitch so you can play along.

In reply to by CoryB

On second read of this, I still don't understand. in the real world, you *do* need separate versions of music for Eb instruments versus Bb. That's just how music works. You can't just play the same music on both horns in any real world musical situation - you need the music transposed for each instrument. And this is precisely what MuseScore does for you - allows you to easily create these different versions.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

<< I still don't understand >>
You think too much in terms of "true", "correct" or "real" transposition which is exactly what you describe and that MuseScore does easily and perfectly.
Here the need is different: there is a score that we want to read "as it is now on paper" (meaning a quarter on the second line must stay a quarter on the second line) but we want to hear MuseScore playing it "incorrectly" because we will play the score with the "wrong" instrument compared to the "normal" one for which the score is written. Of course it works only if you are alone with MuseScore (and if you don't have too much perfect ear otherwise you don't support to hear the "incorrect" sound (but then, probably even in correct musical context playing transposed partitions can hurt))

In reply to by frfancha

What still isn't clear is how that situation would ever come up in real life. If you have music that is written for the wrong instrument, why *not* actually let MuseScore transpose it for you so it will be correct? Once you have taken the trouble to enter the music into MuseScore, it is then trivially easy to have MuseScore transpose it so you can play it *correctly* instread of being forced to play it *incorrectly* as you might have had to if you were reading directly from paper. Why would you go to all the trouble of entering the music into MuseScore and then not let it do the most useful thing it could actually do for you here - correct the transposition? What real life situation would come up where for some reaosn it would be worth your time to enter that music into MuseScore, but not desired to haver it done *correctly*? That's what I am not understanding.

I guess I can imagine one: maybe you've been assigned some piece of music to learn for, say, alto saxophone, but you left your alto saxophone at school and you only have a tenor with you but you want to practice the music, and you want MuseScore to play it back for you so you can hear how it sounds and play along even though you are playing it on the wrong instrument. In this case, you wouldn't want to transpose the music to be correct, because you have no intention of *actually* performing this on tenor; you are just doing so today because you forgot your alto. Something like this, perhaps?

Anyhow, whatever the reason is, you can indeed get MuseScore to do this as described already - just transpose the music manually.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

<< you are just doing so today because you forgot your alto. Something like this, perhaps >>

Yes, this a good example.

<< you can indeed get MuseScore to do this as described already - just transpose the music manually >>

I wonder if I correctly understand what you mean by "manually".
In my "procedure" to achieve that: (1) menu notes => transpose followed by (2) staff properties paly properties, there is just a few clicks to do, nothing really "manual"?

In reply to by CoryB

I have the same problem in so far as I want to just change the playback pitch so that I can play along on my B flat trumpet, e flat horn, C Tin Whistle etc without changing to notes written on the screen. So often when the key is changed on the screen it goes into an impossible number of sharps or flats which are beyond an amateur player. I don't want to print out the music and then change the the key on the screen so that the playback is correct for the instrument, and whilst I remember that A= 440 I don't want to have to research the pitch of every other note so that I can change it that way. Here is another way of putting it, since it seems that you have difficulty understanding what we mean- If I were a composer, and have written, say 32 bars of music, and could not decide which key it would sound best in, I would want to be able to switch tones quickly on the playback to facilitate making the decision. This can be done on other music writing programs, such as Musictime, Encore, Finale etc. Why not with MuseScore ?

In reply to by Arthur Heckendorf

You can - just use Notes / Transpose to change the key. This affects both playback and print, as it normally should if you are a composer trying to decide what key to use. If you instead want to change the print pitches to be the same as they were, just use the Change Instrument command. So two steps instead of one, but still very simple, for a not very common use case.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Here is what I need to do, and this is a real world example. I was given music for trumpet which was produced in C trumpet on the computer. I need to play it exactly as it is on the paper. The issue is that I want to play along with other parts. So what happens when I transpose, it changes what I see on the screen but doesn't actually change the pitch of the playback. I need to keep it visually the same but I need to change the instruments to b flat for playback.
In other words, if the arranger wrote for me to play an F, I need to play and F on a b flat instrument. But the playback is playing as if it is a C instrument.

In reply to by dalecosby

So, are you saying you play Bb trumpet, or C trumpet? And when you say you need to play it "exactly as it is on the paper, do you mean you need to play exactly those written notes (meaning it may therefore sound a step below how it was actually intended to sound and how the instruments will sound) or do you mean you need it to pay so that it sounds like exactly those notes?

Depending on your answers to these question, we can help. My guess is you mean, you play Bb trumpet, someone gave you music for C trumpet but you need to play it so it sounds as originally intended. In which case, start by selecting Bb trumpet as the instrument in MuseScore, then make sure "Concert Pitch" is turned on, then enter the music. When you are done entering the music, simply turn "Concert Pitch" off and the music will be transposed the way you need it (so, the F will have become a G, although the playback will still sound like F, because that is the sound a Bb trumpet makes when you play a written G).

Hi CoryB,
I think I have the same need as you: reading a score as it is written but temporarily hearing it transposed because I play it on the "wrong" instrument.
To do that I:
1) transpose the score itself by menu Notes => transpose. That changes the sound to the one I will get with the "wrong" instrument and the display of the score.
2) right click on the stave to set play properties the other way around: that changes the score resetting it as it was and keeps the sound I want.
After playing the piece with musescore I just "undo" twice to reset it correctly or I close the file without saving.
Perhaps there is an easier way to achieve that, I don't know.

Perhaps I am not the best to reply since I learned to transpose at about the age of nine - that is, I could take a piece of music and re-write it in a different key but I could also just look at a piece of music and play it on Bb cornet, F tin whistle, guitar (C). Still, as far as I can see, MuseScore allows you to transpose, turn On or Off Concert Pitch etc. so you should experiment with the various options until you get something that suits you. The Handbook can help you here but experimentation and practise is still key to achieving proficiency when it comes to transposition Maybe the best way to learn this is to play with other musicians who have different instruments (such as folk music in a pub - not much monetary income but free food and beer and great camaraderie).

Perhaps they want the whole score to transpose automatically according to the desired instrument.
As a function: "Transposed-Concert(?) Pitch".

So, Could they mean that?

The note is written for C.
I play it with the Eb instrument. (Without transposing)
I want to all other instruments automatically transposed, according to this Key.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Right now, the "Change Instrument" command in Staff Properties assumes - as is the case the majority of the time - that you want to keep the *sounding* pitches the same, but to automatically transpose the *written* pitches to suit the new instrument. There wouldn't normally be a lot of real world use cases where you want the opposite, but indeed, they do happen. Playing along with music that was written for a different instrument would be one example. I could certainly imagine a new command designed to do exactly that - change the sounding pitch while keeping the written pitch the same. Could be a checkbox in the Change Instrument dialog or in Staff Properties, could be a separate command or maybe a plugin. An enhancement to consider if there are more requests for sure. But I think it's a pretty uncommon use case, so without a lot more requests, it probably wouldn't be prioritized very highly.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry for opening an old thread but I still haven't found an easy way to transpose the pitch of an instrument WITHOUT affecting the written notes. There IS a major "real world use case" for guitarist: In modern Rock music it is common to tune your guitar or bass to Eb instead of E (while other keep it in E). Now when I practicce I don't want to tune my instrument to Eb for one song and then tune it to E again for another, which is a hassle.
I highly appreciate any easy workaround for this.
An easy solution would be to have an option to TUNE the instruments on a different interval (in semitones) in the Dialog box for the tuning of the strings (where you still would have to do it for all the melodic instruments within a score).

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In reply to by gogulan

You can tune ALL instruments at once by changing the pitch of A4 in the tuning tab of the synthesizer. It seems this would work for you for your guitar music since it looks solo. Tune A4 to 415.3 (which is the pitch of Ab). Just keep in mind, this change will stay in effect until you change it or until you close and reopen MuseScore. It does not affect only one score, ever.

In reply to by mike320

Just came across a real-world use for this: choir director decided last night to transpose up a half step on the early music piece for the chamber chorus. He can do this at the piano although it's a pain with so many flats. I just came home and adjusted my score to 466.2. Looks the same, sounds different.
The trick now is simply to save to Audacity so I can sing along with a transposed recording with no worries on global changes.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I have found that the documented way of doing works fine. It just took a little while to get used to it as it was different from what I had in another music program.

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