Clarinet in wrong key on playback

• Jul 19, 2014 - 01:32

I've just discovered Musescore and am really enjoying using it. However, I'm arranging a piece for a group with A clarinets and I can't get their part to playback at the right pitch. Apart from just being wrong, it's hard to check the other parts for mistakes because the clarinet part is so strong and wrongly pitched. I've fiddled withtoggling the concert pitch button but that makes no difference. Nor does setting the staff properties differently for the Clarinet part. I tried changing the instrument to Bb clarinet too but that made no difference either so I changed back again.
Can you please give me any advice on how to solve my problem? Ive been struggling for hours now!
Thank you very much.


Hard to say unless you post the score you are having trouble with. I'm guessing you entered the notes at concert pitch woth concert pitch turned off, or vice versa. But since you say pressing concert pitch makes no difference, maybe the part isn't set up right. Oressing concert pitch would never change the sound - sound is always "concert pitch" - but it should have changed the display. If it didn't, then the part is not set up correctly.

Yes, as Marc says post the score so we can see what has gone awry.

Do you understand how transposing instruments work?

It's possible that you entered the part in its transposed key whilst in concert pitch mode.

This would mean that when you switched off concert pitch the part would be in the wrong key.

This is one of the reasons I'm pushing people towards using templates instead of building their scores from scratch.

Basically a transposing instrument has it's part written in a different key from it's actual pitch. This is something we have inherited from history which was supposed to make things easier then, although quite how I'm uncertain :)

So the base key of the instrument determines how much you must transpose the score to get actual pitch......

A B flat instrument will play B flat when you write a C so in order to get it to play in C major you need to transpose the score up a tone to D major

An instrument pitched in A like your clarinet will play an A when you write a C so to get it to play in C major you have to transpose up a minor third to E flat major

An instrument pitched in E flat will play an E flat when you write a C so to get it to play in C major you have to transpose down a minor third to A major.

If I'm preaching to the converted I do apologise, but this explanation maybe useful to someone anyway :)


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Thanks very much Marc and Michael for your quick and helpful replies.

As a string player, I do know about how transposition for wind instruments works Michael, but I always have to think about it, so it's good to be reminded with such a clear explanation, thanks.

I'm attaching my (unfinished) score for you to have a look at. I've fiddled around with that dratted clarinet part so much I no longer remember what I've changed. I'd be so pleased if you could take the time to see what you think I've done wrong. I can now hear that it's mainly the accidentals that are wrong - ie the non-transposing instruments are playing F# but the clarinet is sounding F natural. Though in some places it's the whole caboodle that sounds wrong!

If you have time and inclination there are a couple of other things that I've not managed to solve either.
The first time bar is split over 2 pages and I can't seem to find a way to make it extend to the second page. Is there a way?

The first second time bar should play straight through but it sends the playback back to the start.

Hoping you can help me and thanks again.

Attachment Size
Can Can 5.mscz 10.81 KB

In reply to by Dotcoe

Solved the transposition problem.

You had entered the Clarinet part with Concert pitch turned on in the transposed key. If you want to enter the part in its transposed key you need to make sure concert pitch is off before you start.

Changing the instrument to Clarinet in A and then transposing down a minor third solved the problem :)

Regarding the Voltas - if you want to extend a volta beyond the bar where it has been entered you need to double click then use Shift+right arrow to extend it. Dragging the line will not work.

See this online handbook entry:

Hopefully that has also solved the playback problem although I didn't check that


Attachment Size
Can Can 5a.mscz 10.96 KB

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

That's brilliant Michael. Thank you so much! I understand now what I did wrong. Thank you for explaining. I'm all set the next time I have clarinets to include!

AND I see the volta extended just the way it should be now, thank you. I did look at the handbook before but somehow missed that tip.

The volta playback still seems a little dodgy but I can fiddle with that.

I really appreciate your kindness in taking the time to offer practical help and advice. Thank you.


In reply to by Dotcoe

Volta playback should work in simple cases (no more than two endings, all repeats clearly matched, no nested repeats, no DS or DC onto a bar that also has a repeat or volt, etc). In more complex cases, it may not work and there is probably nothing to do about it. Just remember, the main purpose of MuseScore is notation; the playback is mostly to check your notes. So don't sweat it if it doesn't follow the repeat structure the way you might want.

In reply to by Dotcoe

Using ChurchOrganist's attachment (Can Can 5a):

First off, in meas. 52, the cello key signature is invisible - right click on it, then 'Set Visible'. (Nothing to do with play back.)

For correct playback, MuseScore needs a good road map to follow - all the repeats/voltas should have clearly marked starting and ending points. If one is amiss, the score could play poorly anywhere - not necessarily where the notation error is.

I saw two confusing entries:
1. Check your voltas at meas. 50
For the first violins (3rd staff), the voltas logical position is actually on meas. 49 - in conflict with the others. (Double click on it and move the blue 'handles' to see where the dotted lines attach.) Delete this volta and add a new one logically connected to meas. 50.

2. The end repeat at meas. 90 has no corresponding start repeat. I took a guess and added a start repeat to meas. 75. You can change it to where ever you want, or delete the volta completely.

See attachment - sounds good! Just needs a little clean up before printing (level off, and drag some voltas out of the way of notes).

Also, you only have to enter the voltas on the top staff.
MuseScore will follow from there, and also add the voltas to any parts you extract from the score. This will avoid issues like #1 above.
Try deleting the extraneous voltas from my attachment and see that it will still play back correctly.


Attachment Size
Can Can 5b.mscz 10.91 KB

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Wow! You guys are so helpful! I never dreamed that you would sort it out for me and provide such comprehensive explanations. I feel I have much more knowledge with which to tackle future writing and arranging. Thank you so much for taking the time to do all this for me. I am so grateful!

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