Make Concert pitch button tell you its current state

• Jan 30, 2019 - 17:51
Reported version
P2 - Medium
Graphical (UI)
S5 - Suggestion
PR created

Currently, the state of the concert pitch button is confusing. There have been a number of discussion on this, see for the latest and a list of related discussions.

I suggest one of two fixes be employed for this

  1. Change the toggle button to a drop down like Page View/Continuous view so it will say Concert pitch and Transposed pitch. This is the preferred method.

  2. Change the text you get when you hover over the button to tell you what will happen if you click the button. When Concert pitch is on make the text say "Click to show transposed pitch" and "Click to show concert pitch" when it's off.


I don't mind the toggle button as long as it is VERY clear whether or not it has been activated.

Also, with the Dark theme, it is even less likely to see if Concert Pitch is activate, since the 3D / embossed effect for the button is almost completely lost. It is more confusing when one uses the other buttons for reference. E.g. all buttons to either side of "Concer Pitch" get a blue fill to indicate that they are active. This button gets none of that..

(I am not sure if it is possible to have different tool tips based on the state of the button)

Title Make Concert pitch button tell you it's current state Make Concert pitch button tell you its current state

Fix typo in issue title.

I've thought from the very early days that the "Concert" button could do with drastically changing colour when 'in concert' rather than transposed mode. I suppose that's a bit difficult to programme tho' it would make it startlingly obvious which mode 'you' are working in. Alternatively (again I have zero idea as to programming headaches) could it not say "CONCERT" and then when 'pressed' TRANSPOSED? Least that would make it very clear. And I agree whole heartedly with a comment above about the 'dark mode'.

I agree with this. I understand how it works now, but it's not really intuitive. I remember guessing that concert pitch is when the "button" is not pressed since that's the default, but other than that it doesn't make too much sense. Since it looks like a button, it's easy to also guess that depressed means "Concert Pitch" is on.

I've gotten used to it, but I've seen people with disasters for scores because the button doesn't make sense to them.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think the more important issue here is that a very large number of people just don't understand how transposing instruments work in the first place, and manage to get themselves into trouble in ways that pretty much no UI change would prevent. That is, if you know enough to constantly be checking the state of that control, you're good, but if not, I'm not sure how changing it from a push button toggle to a dropdown would help?

I believe the button always saying "Concert pitch" does not tell the user that they can press it to see their score automatically transposed. There is nothing truly informative or intuitive about it. It think if the normal default state in all situations (chose instruments and default templates) were transposed, it would help prevent users from trying to manually transpose their scores. I don't see it every day, but I've seen this and it can be a lot of work to fix this, like if it is in a symphonic or concert band score with A, Bb, Eb, C and F instruments on it. For those who are aware of it like me, I would much prefer to see the current transposition with a quick glance rather than trying to remember if it's pressed or not.

All we can do for those who don't understand transposing instruments is teach them or point them to good info, which we often do.

Even discussing this can be confusing. For instance, it took me a while to realize that when you talk about "transposing", you mean transposing into concert pitch, not transposing for the instrument.

Yeah I agree. I think toggling the text might be a good change to help with this and make it a lot more obvious. How do you guys feel about that?

@@mattmcclinch I've seen people have concert pitch turned on, then ctrl+drag key signatures to instruments and enter all of the notes like they were transposed while still looking at concert pitch because the button is not informative. Needless to say, when they created parts they got chaos.

Also it was mentioned that the tooltip should be toggled also. It currently says "Display in Concert Pitch". Would it be best to have the tooltip show what will happen if the button is clicked or would it be better to show the current state? Another option is to always say "Toggle between 'Concert Pitch' and 'Transposed'".

In reply to by mike320

That would require toggling the text. In a Tooltip we're not as restricted in length as on a button and could easily have just one text covering both settings.
Also resolves the question which Tooltip to show when, show what the current setting means or what (de)pressing that button would do.

Yeah I think one tooltip for both would be better. In my opinion it makes more sense for the tooltip to show the functionality of the button itself rather than the state. So as it is right now, the PR has the single tooltip as I mentioned above and toggling text to show the state.

@Peter Vu, since you asked, I'm not really a fan of your PR to toggle the text of the Concert Pitch button based on its checked status. The way it is is clear enough. When the button is checked, Concert Pitch is on. When the button is unchecked, Concert Pitch is off. With your PR, when the button is checked, it reads "Transposed", which would seem to imply that "Transposed" has been selected, when in fact the opposite is true. As far as I am concerned, the only real issue here is with the text of the tooltip, which for the sake of consistency should probably read "Toggle 'Concert Pitch' ".

This is why I prefer changing the button to a drop down like the (page/continuous) view that tells you your current state.

Absolutely! I compose in concert pitch then do format editing in transposed pitch because notes move up and down as they are transposed. This the the time I most want to be sure I'm in the proper mode.

When I transcribe scores I always use transposed pitch.

I fixed it it now says transposed when not checked and not transposed when checked. So in other words it shows the current state of the score.

So you click the "Transposed" button to switch to concert pitch, and you click the "Concert Pitch" button to switch out of concert pitch? How is that better?

It's more intuitive in my opinion. The fact that I was already confused about the how the button worked before enough that I implemented my change incorrectly should be proof that it is unintuitive. It's also an issue that other people seem to have. The way I see it is a toggle button that tells the current state. Would a drop down be better?

The fact that I was already confused about the how the button worked before enough that I implemented my change incorrectly should be proof that it is unintuitive.
It is proof that you were confused about the meaning of "Concert Pitch", and you were assuming that there was something wrong with the way the button was designed.

I understand what "Concert Pitch" means. The way the button worked was just a little confusing to me and others. Yes, once you understand how the button was designed it would make sense that depressing the button would view the score in concert pitch. Yes, if you understand what concert pitch means you can look at key signatures to figure out how the button works. That being said it's not immediately obvious that it's how it works and I think that's enough to warrant a change. I don't think that a good UI should have as many things immediately obvious as possible.

I know it might be obvious to you, but it's clearly a bit split between the users. And yes I know that even though my change might be obvious to me, it's clear that that's also confusing for you. I'll implement the drop down later today or something. I was just a bit reluctant to do so at first because it takes an extra click to change between the two modes.

@mattmcclinch That's a good point. If you understand how transposing instruments works it should just take a quick look at the score to see if it's transposed or not. I guess we'll see.

Apart from anything else, the difference visually between pressed and not pressed at the moment is so slight to my eyes that, yes, I have to scroll to the key Sig to find which mode I'm in. And yes, I do know the difference between a score in concert pitch and one where it's transposed for each instrument.

FWIW, I'm not really a fan of the dropdown idea, as to me that extra click is significant. In principle, a push button that changes label makes more sense, if we could agree on the labels. While I can't think offhand of any other push buttons in other programs that change labels, I'm betting it's not that uncommon.

That said, if the consensus is for a dropdown, then so be it. I guess one advantage is it opens up the possibility of other options like "Concert pitch but transposed octaves" that people have requested here and there (perhaps because Sibelius works that way rather than using octave clefs). There is already the possibility of defining a shortcut for this action. If we take away the simplicity of the pushbutton, maybe to make up for it we define a shortcut by default?

BTW, sure sometimes you can gauge the concert pitch status by looking at the score itself. But that only works if a) the score uses key signatures (really not that common with much music of the past century) and b) it is written for ensembles of mixed transpositions (no such luck when looking at the alto saxophone part alone, or at a score for clarinet trio).

But then again what should the button text show, the current setting or what would happen by operating it? "Press here to turn Concert pitch off" or "Concert pirch currently switched on"
IMHO a clear argument for a drop down menu

Surely there exist similar controls in other applications we could look at for inspiration? I don't mean just concert pitch controls, I mean two-state controls in general. I see UI design guidelines suggesting dropdowns be avoided if there are "too few" items, and you can't get any fewer than two and still need a control :-)

Maybe all we need to do is design an icon for the Concert Pitch button. It could even simply say “Concert Pitch”, but it would have all of the visual cues of the other toggle buttons.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I have some experience in UI design.
And what Jojo says should be listened as it is 100% true.
A button with a toggling label/tooltip is NEVER obvious.
Does the tooltip represent the current situation or what click would do???
The only possible unambiguious UI which requires only one click to switch is a radio button.

I read both of those guides. Neither one forbids using checkboxes or radio buttons in a toolbar, but the KDE guide says this about toggle buttons:

Do not change the label according the button state.

and the Gnome guide says this:

Use the same text or graphical label for a toggle button whether it is set or unset.

To me, these two lines from the KDE guide suggests a preference for toggle buttons in the toolbar:
"Use a toggle button to indicate a state if no other control apply, i.e. in case of the toolbar.
Prefer radio buttons or checkboxes outside the toolbar."

Would it be best to instead toggle the tooltip text and keep the button as it was before? So the tooltip could change between "Concert Pitch: OFF. Click to turn ON" and "Concert Pitch ON. Click to turn OFF" or something like that?

So we are back to the second of Mike's original suggestions. Another wording for the tooltip could be "Toggle 'Concert Pitch'. Current status: On" and "Toggle 'Concert Pitch'. Current status: Off".

But I don't like the idea of having to get the status of the toggle button from the tooltip. If the state is not immediately obvious based on the appearance of the toggle button, there is clearly something wrong.

I prefer something that says the current state at all times. Since changing text on a button is not recommended that leaves a drop down. Version 2 had 2 choice in the drop down for display and it didn't hurt a thing.

dropdown has the issue of requiring 2 clicks

which I can live with. Since you usually do vocal scores this is mostly a non-issue for you. When I have my score zoomed so I'm looking at the horns and trumpets with no key signatures surrounded by C and non pitched percussion instruments it's nice to be able to look at the button and know if I'm in concert pitch.

What I fundamentally don't get is why of all the toggle buttons in all the applications in the world, this is the one where people have trouble telling by looking at it whether it is pressed or not. To me it's pretty obvious, but I'm using the light theme on Windows 10, and I recognize it may look different to others. But we don't get similar complaints about the metronome button or the repeats button etc. Is that because the concert pitch button is not as tall? If so, why not just change the button shape? If it's about the background color on the dark theme but for whatever reason the other buttons work fine, then why not just change this button be consistent with the others? Still seems like we're devising workarounds for what should just work right out of the box.

That Concert pitch button acts differently from the others, those change from black to blue forground (and light gray to dark grea background) in the light theme, the concert pitch one doesn't change the foreground (text) color. Doesn't have the same height either (nor the same width, but there's no way to fit that long text into a square button the width of the others). On top the confusing concept of transposing instruments.
In the dark theme those buttons don't change their background color at all, so only the forground color gives a hint, not for that concert putch button though (well, there is an outline around those buttons, but that is pretty easy to miss)

In reply to by Peter Vu

“Concert Pitch: On” is again saying nothing.

I’m a friend of buttons’ labels stating what will be done when the button is pressed, but with button toggles, this easily reverses.

Maybe something like this:

      │ ⭕ Concert Pitch │

And then make the LED to the left of the label change state, green = concert pitch enabled, black = concert pitch disabled.

Only for some individual parts for transposing instruments, but not for the score as a whole…

… perhaps just show one of two messages?

Only for some individual parts for transposing instruments, but not for the score as a whole
I disagree, and I believe that disagreement about this is a source of confusion about this issue.

perhaps just show one of two messages?
I am not opposed to this idea. Maybe this is where we can use "Concert Pitch: On" and "Concert Pitch: Off".

It's more meaningful to me than concert pitch on and off. It's translation is dependent upon the language it's being translated to. Music may be the universal language but translating its explanation from one language to another is quite the challenge.

Look at the differences in the way Brits and Americans describe it. Quaver, quarter note, measure, bar. Spanish speakers don't write scores but rather a parts list, it just doesn't translate directly. Their notes are blacks, whites and corcheas (which is basically a quaver). Portuguese, which is very similar to Spanish, uses a completely different list of note durations. Then there are the Germans who say the 4th note of the F major scale is B. The point of all of this, is that the translators can take care of the translation issue.

I've been involved with a few discussions on the translators page on telegram, Transifex gives some context information for translation and if all else fails I've seen discussions about how to translate words in the translation forum.

the German translation for "Concert Pitch" never convinced me "Klingende Notation" -> "Sounding Notation"... but then again I a) don't have a musical education and b) so far wasn't able to find a better one. I don't expect finding a German translation for "Transposed Pitch" to be any easier...
Still what we definitly do need is is a clear distiction of whether that buttton is pressed or de-pressed, the dark theme, and a decent tooltip explaining what that button does.

In reply to by mattmcclinch

"Is “Transposed pitch” an established term?"

I found very few hits for the term on google (one video). More common are
Written pitch
Transposed / Transposing (neither a noun that works as an opposite)

If we have to select an opposite of concert pitch, I would steer clear of Transposed pitch and rather suggest
Native pitch (since it is the pitch native to the instrument)
but first prize for me would still be only
Concert pitch
1) with the necessary colour/embossing
2) or even on/of next to it
to make it unambiguous what the state is.

Another argument against Transposed pitch - an instrument in C showing in Transposed pitch feels awkward/forced to me, an issue that Native pitch does not have.

This implies it to be mainly about tuning. Just as a 2nd meaning it does what we use it for here:

The term "concert pitch" is also used to distinguish between the "written" (or "nominal"), and "sounding" (or "real") notes of a transposing instrument – concert pitch here refers to the sounding pitch on a non-transposing instrument.

So maybe a toolTip like "Toggle 'Concert Pitch', i.e. switch between Concert/Sounding Pitch and Transposing Pitch)"

Still what we definitly do need is is a clear distiction of whether that buttton is pressed or de-pressed, the dark theme
Does my suggestion of a status bar message satisfy this requirement? I am now thinking of toggling the message between "Written pitch" and "Sounding pitch". This has the added benefit of giving a hint as to which way the instrumentalists would like to see the music.

No, not alone, that button itself needs to show pressed/de-pressed, and it should do it the same way the other toolbar buttons do it.
And I'd toggle between Sounding pitch and Transposing pitch, seems clearer to me


No matter what the text on that button is, it is way to similar in dark mode between pressed and de-pressed

If the text would change color to blue (in either case, just for consitency, but probably a different blue, the same blue as for the other active buttons, here play repeats and pan score, but not MIDI), it would be clearer, wouldn't it?

Changing the text or at least the toolTip and/or showing the current status in the status bar would be additions to this

Haven't see it in action yet, but it looks like (no pun intended) it might solve that (part of) the problem.

Changing "Display in concert pitch" in mscore/shortcut.cpp, line 2312 to "Toggle 'Concert Pitch`" might be the next step, that string shows in the shortcuts dialog and serves as a toolTip.
Maybe using "Toggle 'Concert Pitch', i.e. switch between Concert/Sounding Pitch and Transposing Pitch", in line 2313, to separate the shortcuts dialog from the toolTip.

Additionally showing the current setting in the status bar might be the final touch?

I don't think so. Transposing vs. Sounding is clearer IMHO. but maybe "Toggle 'Concert Pitch', i.e. switch between Concert/Sounding Pitch and Written/Transposing Pitch" as the tooltip (if I didn't screw it up).
Or shorter "Toggle between Concert/Sounding Pitch and Written/Transposing Pitch"

I think American musicians would be more comfortable with concert pitch than sounding pitch. I know I would. I mostly played transposing instruments and the bands were always told to play the concert X scale. We then transposed in our heads to the correct scale.

In American English, I don't see an alternative to concert pitch. Written and transposed pitch are both sufficiently descriptive to me that either would work for me.

For the most part, the types of score @mirabilos mentioned don't have transposing instruments any way. I do realize that some recorders transpose but I don't know what recorder players expect as far as transposing is concerned. There is still the option to print/view in concert pitch. Since this capability will in no wise be affected, I don't see it as an issue.

"Transposing pitch" or "Transposed pitch" only makes sense for transposing instruments. "Written pitch" makes sense for all instruments. The fact that many instruments are written in concert pitch cannot be an argument against using the term "Written pitch".

@mike320: while Alto and Bass recorders are in F, they’re using concert pitch. Basically, you don’t treat them as transposing elements but learn a second, separate, set of fingerings. (I went through this…)

It's the same idea as a Bartione sax player playing Tuba music (which is common) or the rare Bari sax part written in C on the bass clef. The difference is that Bari Sax players mostly play their instrument as transposed.

In reply to by mike320

No need to find the opposite meaning.
Opposite meaning of the "Concert pitch" may have the "Rehearsal pitch", but nothing to do with it; meaningless, nonsense.
Users interpret the meaning of "transposing" differently. See: ToolsMenu => Transpose
"Written pitch / Souding pitch" is a good alternative.
But since it is settled as an idiom, "Written pitch / Concert pitch (Sounding pitch)" can be used.

@Jojo-Schmitz Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Written/sounding pitch absolutely makes the same distinction as concert off / on, that's the whole point of transposing instruments is to make that distinction. I think the quibble here is that "printed" doesn't necessary mean the same as "written pitch" since there exist cases where we print concert pitch (most especially for scores as opposed to parts).

So, to me "written pitch" and "sounding pitch" are unambiguous and clear and maybe friendlier to people not that comfortable with the whole idea. But I agree with Mike that it sounds awkward to anyone who knows the standard use of the term concert. So if we're just looking for language that is accurate, standard, and beginner-friendly, I'd suggest something "Transposed (written) pitch" and "Concert (sounding) pitch.

So to me, this is what should happen:

1) fix the toolbar buttons so their state is clearer (concert pitch in dark mode especially)
2) possibly add status bar message indicating current state: "Transposed (written) pitch" or "Concert (sounding) pitch"
3) change tooltip to say "Switch to transposed (written) pitch" and "Switch to concert (sounding) pitch" depending on state, or to just say "Toggle concert pitch"

BTW, the norm for recorders is to not treat them as transposing at all (except at the octave for soprano), but some people do learn alto recorder using soprano fingering, and thus they need to treat it as transposing.

Written pitch differs from Concert/Sounding pitch if, and only if, the instrument is transposing
And therefore... what? "Transposed" or "Transposing" would be a better choice? I don't follow your logic.

In reply to by mattmcclinch

I'm saying that transposing and written are a pair, as are concert and sounding

We have 3 strings (in mscore/shortcut.cpp, lines 2311-2313)

  1. "Concert Pitch" (the button label)
  2. "Display in concert pitch" (the shortcut)
  3. 0 (the tooltip, not being set, so defauling to 2.)

So I propose to

  1. "Concert Pitch" (leave the button label as is)
  2. "Toggle 'Concert Pitch'" (for use the shortcuts list)
  3. "Switch between Concert/Sounding Pitch and Transposed/Written Pitch" (adding this, for the tooltip)

Additionally sort the dark theme issue as per Matt's suggestion and possible also add a string to the status bar.
Optionally we can change that string #3 to change depending on whether the button is pressed or not, like Marc's suggestion

Your 1 does not address the issue of the current state of the button being obvious. On windows there is a visual difference in the light theme between a button pushed and not pushed, but it is not intuitive what the current state is. It takes getting used to to understand the state of the button this seems to cause confusion among the nubs. Addressing #1 was the main reason I filed this issue.

There are proposals to make a change on the status bar when the button is pressed. This is fine with me either way, because there are users who don't even know the status bar exists, either because the bottom or their window is hidden or it's turned off or they just don't understand it.

It's a clear start for sure. Personally I think we could go farther, and I don't really understand how we even got ourselves into this situation to begin with. If we're going to design our own theme, seems the order of business should have been to make sure it actually works in basic ways like this.

I think the most intuitive thing it to have the control tell you its current state either by changing the actual text on the button (i.e. concert pitch / transposed) or changing the control to a drop down. Keeping the text the same in both states to me is no improvement.

Changing the text brings the problems that some people expect the text to state what the button does, and some people expect it to state the current state. (See also the UI design guide references for this already posted.)

If we were to switch to a drop-down, we could even get rid of the status line text.

Size is a concern, though. Can a drop-down in “collapsed” state show something different (short form) from the entry in expanded state (long form)?

Can dropdowns catch middle or right click? One of these could be made to toggle it. (That is, if Macintosh users have more than one mouse button these days.)

Otherwise, define a shortcut to toggle it?

I'm almost tempted to suggest that we let the users decide (via customizable workspaces) whether they want a toggle button, a dropdown, or neither.

I agree that text on a button can be unclear as to whether it tells you current state or the effect of clicking it, and I agree with the guidelines that suggesting change text on a button is not a good idea. I see less opportunity for confusion in the tooltip, especially when using an action phrase like "Switch to concert (sounding) pitch".

The dropdown is sounding better and better I have to say. There is already a command defined for this, just not a shortcut. I would suggest that if we change to a dropdown, we decide on a default shortcut.

Just found another related string, in the staff properties dialog: "Transpose written pitches to sound:". How about "Transposition against concert/sounding pitch:" here?

The string at the bottom of the staff/parts properties dialog box makes perfect sense in its context..

It reads "Transpose written pitches to sound: 1 Octave + 3 - Minor Third down" or whatever options you select. This explains exactly what the transposition settings do.

I see your point. I'm not sure making that direct link is totally necessary. I understand how transposition works though.

If the concert pitch button told you it was displaying transposed pitches the link would be made without a need to change this text.

Assume that what is shown in brackets is an icon: (I could not adjust the color of the pushed button.)

  Concert Pitch [C]  On (pushed)

  Concert Pitch [#/b]Off


  Pitch [C] On (pushed)

 Pitch [#/b]Off


  Concert Pitch [On]  On (pushed)

  Concert Pitch [Off] Off

These C/#/b are very confusing. A checkbox or LED indicator would be more clear.

Ideally, the button, label, perhaps status line text if any will be used, would be clear to both people who don’t even know transposing instruments exist (me, two years ago), and people who use only transposing instruments, so they must be independent of any actual such instruments’ knowledge.

We can have buttons with icon and text (it would solve the incosistent height issue for this button too), see the leave feedback one, but only with icon first I think?
And what would that [C] icon look like?

Took me a minute to put that into context as well. I think the point is, the notation program uses an icon representing a book to represent "written pitch".

Given that many people already don't understand transposing instruments in the first place, I'm thinking using an icon will be a step backwards. At least the label "concert pitch" gives people something to Google.

The dropdown appeals most to me.

Transposing instruments (and buttons rather than dropdowns for them) are my mother tongue, and for some reason the current design has tripped me up a number of times. Indeed, it should not but unfortunately it does.

Are people having the "current state" vs. "effect of clicking" problem with the View dropdown? If not, would moving the transposition dropdown/button next to it be worth considering? I'm not seeing either in View>Toolbars>Customize Toolbars, which itself seems odd.

Currently "Display in concert pitch" is a customizable option in Preferences>Shortcuts. As long as this is maintained, the need for mousing is obviated. It is mildly confusing that this is listed alphabetically with the Ds rather than the Cs or Ts, but I suppose that's why there's a Search field embedded there.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I threw together an icon idea to see what it would look like. Screenshots below are using Peter Vu's PR but with the icon added and the button style set to Qt::ToolButtonTextBesideIcon. Having the icon definitely helps draw attention to the state. (I'm not saying this is good icon :). It's aiming to represent sound vs. written....) If the icon+text approach is taken it would seem to make sense for the text to change colour as well as the icon, though I didn't look into how to do that.

concert pitch button.png

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In reply to by Startled Bee

The buttons are all right ...
But give up that "Transposed" word.
Violin, Piano etc. Transposed for what it means; Are they transpose?

the "Written Pitch" and the "Concert Pitch" pair is more significant.
or "Concert Pitch [On]" and "Concert Pitch [Off]"


Think of an Horn player.
Say: Part is "E Horn": Note on the staff is G.
The player in his head turns G to F# (which is transpose: F Horn to E Horn) and plays F# note.
But the sounding is B (this is sounding pitch).

Or consider a Saxophone player:
Let's say this is an Eb Sax.
The player sees the note C and plays the note C on his instrument (Written Pitch).
There is nothing transposed here; Just sounding is Eb note (this is the Concert Pitch).

The player sees note C and plays C on his instrument.
And the term "Transposed" means "Concert Pitch" for the player right now (!) <== This is the confusing part of "Transposed" word.

For this reason, either choose "Written Pitch" and "Concert Pitch" or just "Concert Pitch On" and "Concert Pitch Off" please 👍

Do not confuse the fact that the instrument itself is a transposed instrument.
"Engraving" and "Instrument definition" are different from each other.

Sheet music is written for Players, not for listeners.
And here the point of view must be in terms of the player.

While some good point are made by Ziya, here, I still disagree with some of it in principle.

For one thing, in the US at least, saxophone players do use the term "transposed" to mean, "not concert pitch". They all know, usually far better than the average user of MuseScore, that music for them needs to be transposed, and that is most common term used in my experience. If I hand a saxophone a lead sheet (the main case where there is ever a question), they ask me, "is this transposed", not "is this written". Or, if I hand them a concert chart, they ask, "do you have transposed versions" (actually, more likely they will ask, "do you have a Bb version?", but if I hand a conductor a concert score, he'll ask "do you have a transposed score?").

Second, while sheet is indeed written for players, MuseScore is produced primarily for writers, so it's important the interface be clear for the person writing the music, and the term "transposed" is good for them as well - again, in the US at least.

So if I thought the term "transposed" were likely to be confusing, I wouldn't advocate for it. But I honestly don't see it that. It really is the most commonly used term in the US to mean "the opposite of concert pitch", by players and writers alike.

That said, if people are able to come up with alternate wording that avoids use of that term and yet still manages to be 100% clear to both players and writers, that's fine, I'm not married to that term.

Transposed and concert pitch are the terms used in the US. Since the basic language of MuseScore is American English, all others can adjust this to the local language through translations.

In reply to by Startled Bee

The problem with that is concert pitch and transposing are not a perfect pair. The former is a noun with an adjective and the latter is a present-tense verb. Because of this, they sound clumsy together. Also, transposing only applies to some instruments. If you turn it on to “transposing”, then are the violins transposing too? Even transposed pitch is not good, because it can be confusing. For example, if you write a stopped B on the horn, you write it in written pitch, then the player transposes them to compensate for the note being higher and plays this transposed pitch, an A, and then you hear the sounding pitch, an E. Written and sounding pitch form a perfect pair, written and concert not quite. I suggest the button be labeled concert pitch mode and the tooltip be "toggles between written and sounding pitch".

I for one am not suggesting getting rid of the word "concert" on the button label, assuming we keep it as a bitton. That is absolutely the correct label for the button, should not change, it correct and perfect as is. And yes, if we keep the button, we need to make the state of the button visually clearer. If we change it to a dropdown, then we have the opportunity to have new wording, and for me "Concert (sounding) pitch" and "Transposed (written) pitch" still seem like the best candidates.

But if we're concerned that, with the default state being "Transposed (written) pitch", the word "Concert" would no longer appear, then we could consider something like "Concert pitch on (as sounding)" or "Concert pitch off (as written)". But simply having a dropdown that says "Concert pitch on" and "Concert pitch off" doesn't help anything at all. It doesn't clarify meaning at all over a simple toggle button; it just makes us look like we didn't really toggle buttons were a thing and chose a dropdown for no reason whatsoever.

The only other question is what additional things we can do to help people understand the meaning. I've given my suggestions in

Another thought: if we're concerned that "transposed" doesn't mean anything if you're not writing for transposing instruments, we could consider graying the control out in that case.

Also, while it's true "concert" and "transposed" might not be exactly perfectly paired linguistically, that may be, but it's not our job to "correct" standard usage.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Shall we make it clear what these terms are used for? I have plans to make a Chinese fantasy for strings, piano, percussion, and harp. It will be in E-flat minor, good for piano, harp, and marimba. E-flat minor is not good for strings, so the first violins and cellos will tune to a B-flat instead of an A but read normally which makes them D-flat transposing instruments. For them, a written D sounds an E-flat. The second violins, violas, and contrabasses will tune to an A-flat making them C-Flat transposing instruments. For them, a sounding E-flat is written as an E. Because some orchestras would prefer not to do this, I will sell a "concert pitch" score in addition to the original score, not a "sounding pitch" score. Sounding pitch only makes in contrast to written pitch. Concert pitch exists in its own.

Consider this: the attached snipping shows a:
Written C
Sounding D
Concert D
Transposing C?
The third term has been introduced through colloquial usage so it sounds fine. The fourth term is ambiguous. You could easily argue or is a transposing D. Does transposing C mean it was a C and than you transposed it, or you transposed it and now it is a C? This is the kind of ambiguity we should avoid.

In reply to by Quaver Crafter

If you make it one single button but with color and effect to show if pressed or not as the last example proposed, please do NOT change the text between pressed and not pressed.
That's just crazy and completely confusing. When not pressed, the visual effect is there to say: look the current state is not like "..." And on the text you would put exactly what the state is?!?!
You need two texts if you choose radio buttons or drop down.

So yes, concert = sounding, transposing = written, exactly as I and others have been saying. Some people respond better to the term "concert" than "sounding", others vice versa. Similarly, some people respond better to the term "transposed" than "written", others vice versa; others still prefer to simply see "concert off". To me the best solution is one that provides all of these terms in some form (between labels, tooltips, and status bar).

Tansposing C is a meaningless musical term. Transposed C would make sense. It tells the musician that doesn't play a C instrument that they are playing their C.

As for the Chinese translation, you can make it make sense in Chinese. Many languages don't even translate concert pitch as concert pitch, they make it make sense in their own language, which should always be done. The translators can then go through this same insanity to come up with a decent translation of Transposed pitch, which is the only American English phrase that make sense.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

@MS: Second, while sheet is indeed written for players, MuseScore is produced primarily for writers, so it's important the interface be clear for the person writing the music, and the term "transposed" is good for them as well - again, in the US at least.

I think: Most of Musescore users are players (amateur or professional); All of them aren't professional engravers or publishers (Of course there are some also).
for example: When I write notes (score or part) for an instrument, I think like a player (Even if I'm not a guitarist, I can think of it as a guitarist when I write (compose, arrange) a score for the guitar).

Though I don't have a problem with the "Concert Pitch" button. I understand what it says on the score. Although this button is there or not :)
There may even be a pen and speaker or apple and cherry icons; it doesn't matter :)

After that, it's up to your (developers) discretion.

Going with the most standard term used among actual musicians (players, writers, amateurs, professionals alike) in the US is not being foolish. Deliberately not using the term that is absolutely positively in standard usage in the US is what would be foolish, if there is no obviously 100% superior wording proposed that is equally clear to all groups concerned (players, writers, amateurs, professionals).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I am willing to allow concert pitch because it is a such common term and we can all agree on what it means, but transposed and transposing pitch are linguistically awkward and potential confusing. Written pitch is certainly superior. The linguistic superiority of sounding pitch over concert pitch, however, is negligeable.

Frequency Many Once

Hoping that my small contribution doesn't set off an avalanche... When I ask my big band to tune, in common with the rest of the western world, they tune to concert A. They know what concert is. They do not need to see how the music is written. They play what's Infront of them. So as a writer, all I need is a button which looks obviously different when the score I'm working on is NOT in concert ( or as Marc says, sounding). When I'm zoomed in, often I can't even see the clefs and key signatures. So the button needs to be (at a glance) obviously either CONCERT or "NOT" (however we might or might not describe "NOT").
I'll get my coat.

Frequency Once Many

The frequency is the number of people interested in the suggestion. I think this long conversation merits a frequency of Many.

@onscuba, That is the reason I first made this suggestion. The current button is confusing when you're zoomed in.

Because a lot of people simply have no idea what "concert pitch" means, as evidenced by the many many many posts over the years from confused users. So, while I agree that a button labeled "Concert pitch" is just fine for those of us who understand the term, there is much more to really solving the issue of user confusion, hence the discussion about tooltips, status bar displays, and the possibility that a dropdown or other control that can word things differently might help some people. And helping people is what we're about!

a lot of people simply have no idea what "concert pitch" means

We can direct people who don't know how to read music to resources or explain what it means. That's not a problem. The problem arises when there is no clear indication to those who do know how to read music and transpose it not knowing which view they are looking at based upon the state of a single button.

MuseScore is written mostly for the musician, not for those who are learning about music. While we do get a lot of questions from people who don't understand music, I would guess a lot of the users already know how to read music. If fact, they sometimes are offended when we over-explain things.

MuseScore is a tool that will allow new musicians to learn more about music. There are a lot of technical terms. We get a log of questions from people and when we tell the the correct term to search for (or provide a link) and we get a polite "I never thought of searching for that" or "I wasn't aware of that term." These are obviously people who either don't speak English first and are looking for the literal translation of their term or people who are not sufficiently familiar with music.

The concert pitch button should be such a tool.

Agreed, so to that end, I really think simply making the button state easier to see - the whole point of a toggle button, after all - is absolutely the first step and should be mostly sufficient. But I'm not opposed to the other suggestions to be even more helpful.

“concert pitch” and “transposed pitch” sound perfectly fine to me (full disclosure: English is only my third human language).

I oppose “written pitch” for two reasons: concert pitch is also written, and the fact that something is transposed is really important to someone getting their hands on it as an indicator of that (otherwise the notes you read don’t match what you’d expect when listening).

And changing “concert pitch” is also going to be a support hell, so keep it…

In reply to by mirabilos

In my mind, concert pitch is not written because it is only used for inputting and checking harmonies, never to be actually printed. My issue with transposed pitch is that for me and other composers that started as players, transposing is mainly seen as a mental thing. When I read an orchestral score, I transpose the parts to concert pitch to analyze harmony. In this sense, concert and transposed pitch are the same. It is also confusing for players that transpose written pitches to get the pitches they play which are different from those they sound (e.g. hand stops on horn).

@Quaver Crafter
Respectfully, I think you are too focused on semantics and not adequately considering usage. I agree that a phrase like "transposed score" is clumsy semantically. I also know personally dozens of highly educated/skilled professionals making good livings who plaster this verbiage in giant text all over their scores, and dozens more who perform the music and readily understand what this means. No one is wrong here, we've just evolved different lexicons. Really, what wouldn't we change about music notation if abstract rationality was paramount? Your username is ironic, because Americans tend to have quite a bit of trouble with the quaver/crotchet business. But we (or at least I) understand that it prevails for a whole lot of people whose work is every bit as worthy as ours/mine.

To advance this discussion any further, I think we need to focus on practical usage only and eliminate consideration of abstract semantics. For my part, I tend to refer to scores and parts as "transposed" or "concert," to instruments as "transposing" or "concert" or by note name (B-flat, C, etc.), and to individual notes in parts and scores as "written" or "sounding." Yes, spinning this all out in detail does make a supposedly rational person feel a bit dirty...but it serves me fine as a communicator, at least with other Americans...and I didn't just make it up but rather learned it.

I understand that English is spoken around the world and will support majority rule here...that is, majority usage.

In reply to by Quaver Crafter

That's very cool. I love the orchestration at m. 96.

All the things you listed here I understand. Conversely, the "transposed"/"concert" vs. "written"/"sounding" debate caught me totally off guard. In conversation these sorts of differences can be worked through; in a computer program, a final decision has to be made. That's the hangup, I think.

Customizable text in all the toolbars?! :^)

Why? Is there any indication that British English differs from American English in this point? As per your profile you're from the US, so we'd need a native British English speaker to confirm this, else it won't happen

As a true Brit. I'm fairly sure everyone here understands Concert Pitch. But as Mike and I have both said, the writing on the button "hardly" matters. We just want an obvious, glance able (is there such a word,?) button in a particular state. Correct me if wrong please Mike.

@Quaver Crafter “In my mind, concert pitch is not written because it is only used for inputting and checking harmonies, never to be actually printed. My issue with transposed pitch is that for me and other composers that started as players” but look, I also started as player, but didn’t even know until recently that transposing instruments exist, so things ought to be friendly to people like that, especially as MuseScore defaults to “that weird” transposing mode.

My thought process here was: ok, so I’m going to transcribe a piece for OpenScore, but somehow what I input does not match what I’m listening, and there’s also something weird going on with the key signatures, is MuseScore broken or the original score or what?

Personally, I also think transposing instruments/scores are just plain stupid, and that people should just learn the correct note to fingering mapping (the same way as I had to relearn for the Alto Recorder at age… 8? 9? or something… back then I considered doing something that, looking back, would have been making it into a transposing instrument, but the difference between fingering and sounded note threw me off).

@kacattac your 「refer to scores and parts as "transposed" or "concert," to instruments as "transposing" or "concert" or by note name (B-flat, C, etc.), and to individual notes in parts and scores as "written" or "sounding."」 is the first thing in here that almost makes complete sense to me.

I now understand where the difference between transposed/concert score/part, transposing/concert(non-transposing) instrument, and written/sounding pitch comes from (and it even makes sense where written pitch = sounding pitch), and I’d vote for keeping to that terminology.

The only thing that still doesn’t make sense to me is to refer to the instruments just by note name, how do you indicate a non-transposing instrument there? I’d call it non-transposing instead of using a note name (I presume “something in C” is for them? I’ve been offered notes “in C, F, G and B♭, choose yours” and I think “in C” is the non-transposing variant, but this all makes absolutely no sense to someone not playing a transposing instrument) instead.

In reply to by mike320

This is what it looks like if the button gains an icon and is setup to change the colour of the text (and not just the icon) when selected. This button - in both the light and dark theme - looks very different when it is on as opposed to off, i.e. it tells you its current state far more clearly. I've attempted some tooltip text as well, with some of the discussion above in mind.

Fully confident this won't please everyone (and maybe not anyone :) - and maybe even I'll learn that I've not really understood this topic properly!) The pictures can sometimes be helpful for clarifying what isn't always so easily captured just in words.

The approach here is to keep the button text the same in whatever state. Doing anything else would be quite unusual UI and would (as elsewhere) suggest a dropdown is the right solution instead of a button. The screenshots were generated from code. I can create a PR if that would be helpful. (There's slightly more to it than first appears as looking at this threw up some other issues with theme colours that need to be either worked around or fixed before making button text change colour like button icons.)



Concert Pitch tool tip.png



The buttons look good IMHO and clearly show whether pressed or not in either scheme.
That tooltip may be a tad too long and verbose, tooltip are not teaching devices. A simple "Switch between concert/sounding pitch and transposed/written notation" might do? Short enooh and enougn to go about and look for more information on the net?

@mirabolos, you are the type of person I'm willing to help educate. You didn't understand transposing instruments, probably because you were limited to playing non-transposing or octave transposing instruments (like a guitar). Those who understand music don't need to learn a new language to be able to use the program. It would be like my writing in Greek in this forum. And your campaign to eliminate transposing instruments is about 2 1/2 centuries too late.

In examining scores from the early days of various transposing instruments I have found some rather interesting notations that would be confusing to modern musicians. Strange key signatures for clarinets in Bb, octave transpositions on clef changes for horns and even cellos (that don't normally transpose at all), Bari Sax music written in Concert pitch on the bass clef, Bass clarinet music written with transpositions no one uses today. It took time to develop the current mess we have and MuseScore is not intended to change how music is written. It is intended to express music the way people do today.

The icon is meaningless. Having the color of the text change like every other selectable button on the toolbars is an improvement though I would prefer the program to just tell what state the notes are in.

Independent of the issue of the button/dropdown in the icon bar, what @kacattac said inspired me to introduce which will show in the status bar the sounding pitch in addition to the written pitch iff we are currently not in (global) Concert Pitch mode (even if the current instrument is not transposing, to avoid surprises).

This might help address part of the problem, and most likely will make an explicit indication of concert or transposed pitch mode in the status line redundant.

(Still not in favour of changing button texts… the LED/checkbox or dropdown options sound (no pun intended) best.)

@mike320 sure, but people ought to not need to learn everything there is about music at the same time, just to use the program. Some things work well without deeper understanding, if they can be done mechanical with a bit of technique. And these should be not surprising.

(Wasn’t there even a push for a more beginner-friendly mode? Why not globally making some things less surprising. I didn’t consider myself a beginner in notation, but I only ever worked with vocals, keyboardish instruments and recorders.)

I agree adding an icon is meaningless if the icon does not change (the text still ought to not change). My PR from the comment above indicates the current state in the status bar, do you think it acceptable?

why should an icon change? No other icon does (except colors and frame to show it is pressed or not). I don't see that icon as meaningless, sound and written are in

Using terms that musicians don't understand makes the program worse. If a newby decides to venture into transposing instruments then I and others are more than willing to help them understand what they need to know to make it work. There have been as many problems with people who understand transposing instruments causing problems by manually transposing instruments because the concert pitch button is not informative as there have been people who said they didn't understand how transposition work at all. Most people who don't understand how transposition works, don't venture down the path of transposing instruments. They live in their own world of music and the default setup works for them, mostly because the button doesn't affect them.

Would it be better to create a tour for how the concert pitch button works and just do the text color toggling keeping everything else the same as before. The blue highlight seems to make sense as an "ON" state. The tooltip could even be toggled to say something like "Toggle Concert Pitch ON/OFF. Current State: ON." Honestly the button might not seem super intuitive at first, but the blue text will help solidify that and the tour will help beginners. I would also prefer something to show state, but if not that then this could be a simpler approach.

The tooltip at least will be improved in 3.1, even if 'just' toi a 'static' string:
Switch between concert/sounding pitch and transposing/written pitch
At least a start ;-)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

That'd be good. Might be too late for 3.1 and I just bunged in a wee PR that makes the button text turn the same blue as the icon when the button is selected. Some wee tweaks on stylesheets for themes. That's what ought to happen anyway. But "Concert Pitch" (for now) is the only toolbar button that has text. (Well, strictly speaking the voices buttons are text, but they have their own bespoke styling...)

concert ptich.png

The RC has not been compiled, so this addition to it is very reasonable in my opinion. It does not satisfy my initial request, but it is an improvement that should be implemented. I would be happy if you opened a new issue "Color Concert Pitch Button when selected" and propose your PR as a fix for it. I'll support you on Telegram if needed also.

I honestly had no idea that my request would prove to be so controversial. I thought it was rather straight forward and the toggle between Concert and Transposed pitch was just a no brainer. The only problem I saw with it was someone taking the 10 minutes it would take to fix the button. I guess this shows how much I know about people.

In reply to by Startled Bee

@Startled Bee... I agree with your images.

Since the button always states 'Concert Pitch' (whatever its current state), the tooltip should always read: 'Toggle Concert Pitch'.

To indicate whether the button is 'on' of 'off', its color should change -- just like the other buttons.
Most especially it's needed for the dark theme as the 'pressed button' is tricky to discern:

Toolbar color dark theme.png

For consistency, the color should also change for the light theme (as you illustrate).

The above is from my comments made last year:

But "Concert Pitch" (for now) is the only toolbar button that has text the 'Give feedback" button too... but is isn't a toggle, so not vital to change

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Would be great to get a better tooltip into 3.1.

  1. "Display in concert pitch" (current tooltip)

  2. "Display pitches as they sound. (Adjusts the display of stave/parts that make use of the ‘transpose written pitches to sound’ up/down setting.)" (My suggestion - from earlier in this thread.)

  3. "Switch between concert/sounding pitch and transposing/written pitch." (Jojo's suggestion.)

Both (2) and (3) are improvements.

(2) is is lengthy and I think it might be worth bearing that as this button / feature can cause confusion. I'm not sure there' much downside to a slightly longer tooltip and the extra detail gives people a bit more to google. AND, clearly, it's difficult to get this right. (3) is good too.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"except while being pressed and not released" -- Yes. Sort of. I checked with my update concert pitch button. When it's in the pressed and not released state it doesn't turn blue. If it had, then I would have applied the same change to the Leave Comment button. Indeed, that could be done anyway. I don't see a downside. When I did apply it to leave feedback button and test I couldn't see the effect. But maybe there's something v. subtle on press and hold that I didn't spot.