How to display on the printed page if the music is transposed

• Nov 5, 2018 - 16:25

Apologies if this is covered somewhere but I can't find it....

When arranging for transposing instruments, it's easy to change the score display between concert pitch and transposed pitch using the 'Concert Pitch' button at the top.

I have found that sometimes I have printed out a sheet and then later realised when away from the computer that I can't tell if I have the concert pitch version or not (unless I can remember what key it was originally in).

So I was was wondering if there is a way to display some text (on the printed sheet) which indicates Concert Pitch or otherwise and which changes according to the state of the 'Concert Pitch' button.

Maybe MuseScore already does this, in which case a clue would be much appreciated.
(Or maybe I'd need to write a plugin .... but can't find a score property which says whether concert pitch is on or off. And I have only fiddled a little with plugins).

Many thanks ....


The obvious clue to me is the key signature. If all of the instruments are in the same key, you are in concert pitch. If all of the instruments are C instruments, then it doesn't matter if you are in concert pitch or not because the keys are the same and what is printed will be acceptable to most musicians. I can't think of a C instrument that has an unusable display in concert pitch.

In reply to by mike320

I play in groups which have piano , trumpet, clarinet, flute, cello, alto sax, soprano sax, guitar etc.... We're all in different keys and use our own parts, not the whole score as it's too big. So it does matter to us to have our parts transposed correctly for each instrument.

I agree a way to have a piece of text that automatically switches between "Concert" and "Transposed" could be useful. Ideally this would this be general enough to cover a few different common ways people might want to display this. For me personally, I might want to see it as an attribute on "Part name", which I could add to a score but in a way that made it dependent on the state of the button in a way similar to how clefs are. So if you edited the text of this field in one view, it would affect that view only, something like that. Then it would handle different languages etc because it is just plain text. As it is, I do this manually now.

Anyhow, Mike is right that looking at key signatures is often a good thing to do . It's not necessarily reliable though because much music of the past century doesn't use key signatures.

Excuse me if I ask a stupid question, I am a pianist and choir bass, so I have almost never been exposed to transposing scores. Why would you ever want to print your score in concert pitch? To check your harmony? If it won't be a problem, can't MuseScore just always print in transposed pitch, regardless of the state of the concert pitch button.

In reply to by Louis Cloete

A composer/arranger might want to print in concert pitch to check his work, yes, but some conductors like them as well because they like to know about the harmony too. A handful of very practical examples:

  • A passage where the melodic line is harmonized so everyone has the same rhythm but different pitches. Conductor wants the people who have the main melody to play louder, but if everything is transposed, it can be difficult to tell at a glance who has the melody and who has harmony.

  • A chord where the third sounds flat, and the conductor wants to have just those people play and tune - easier if you can tell at a glance who has the third.

  • A wrong note is present in the parts (this happens!) and the conductor is trying to identify what notes everyone should have based on the harmony.

For these and others, some conductors prefer working from concert pitch scores. So we definitely want the ability to print them. A warning dialog if you try to print with concert pitch on is not a terrible idea, it's been suggested before.

Also, FWIW: it's not just "atonal" music that might choose not to use key signatures. Much modern music is tonally "ambiguous", or constantly modulating, or highly chromatic, and many composers and players find key signatures to not be helpful in this music.

I agree that the information is in the key signature but I can't always see the other instruments key signature. This is important sitting on the stage in a rehearsal with lots of paper on the stand.

I often get music given to me in some form in concert pitch; I use MuseScore to get my part into the right key and also to help me practice.

If I could see at a glance whether the printed music was transposed or not without having to refer to other people's parts it would make life much simpler.

Actually, I've just had a thought. I could just add a text frame under the title block which says what the concert pitch key is, then I'll be able to tell by the key signature of my part that it isn't in concert pitch.

transposed indicator.PNG

Anyway, I gather from this thread that there is no built-in method in the current version of MuseScore that would achieve this. Not even by writing a plugin ... is that correct?

In reply to by TheOnlyMagicbean

I see. This doesn't come often because normally the parts are always transposed - they are transposed the moment you generate them and people don't typically ever turn concert pitch on. So there is almost no cha beyond ever end up with a concert pitch part lrinted. It only scored one would normally be flipping back and forth between concert and transposed thus have a decent chance of accidentally printing while in concert pitch.

So if I understand correctly, you aren't dealing with a score at all but are taking a printed concert pitch part and entering it directly into MuseScore as a part only, then possibly flipping between concert and transposed while working on it (for similar reasons why people might typically do that with scores). And thus you might have similar issues of forgetting to flip to transposed before printing. If so that makes sense, and you r solution makes sense. I'd just observe, no need for while new frame, just add text to the existing on. I'd suggesting adding Part Name text via Add / Text.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, exactly! I end up being given a PDF for a whole score in concert pitch or just my part; sometimes my part is transposed, sometimes it isn't. I like to get it into MuseScore if I can - sometimes importing the PDF is helpful, sometimes not. If I'm lucky, I may be given it in MusicXML but never as a native MuseScore file. Either way I end up flipping between Concert Pitch and Transposed a lot to check my note entry and for printing and practising.

It's just so take a part to a rehearsal in Concert Pitch by mistake. I guessed it might be relatively easy for software to assist with.

Using the Part Name is a good idea in the short term.

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