Change default enharmonic spelling of accidentals ?

• Feb 13, 2019 - 02:25

(sorry if my nomenclature is incorrect)

Is there a way to make MS avoid the use of flatted notes & chord symbols, and default to sharps instead ? For example, when I transposed a tune down a whole step, MS converted C to Bb (notes and chord symbols). I would like it to give me A# and A# chords instead (I know I can select all the Bb notes and hit J, and I can manually paste in the A# chord symbol at each note).


To change every accidental to a sharp, select a selection and press the down arrow followed by the up arrow. You can use ctrl+a to select everything.

if you transpose as "By Interval: Diminished Third => Down", you can get the result you want.
C => B => A # <= "diminished-third interval"

After you do this, you can delete the key signature in the first measure; Or you can add C# Major (7 sharps) key signature (which is the closest) to the first measure.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Yes, thank you ! It also gave me most of the chord symbols I wanted, A# instead of Bb, D# instead of Eb, etc. The problem was that among the chords I wanted, it gave me E# instead of F and B# instead of C, etc. While it may not be technically correct, I can play faster and more accurately from sharp and natural chord symbols, eg, A#, D#, F, C, etc. I ended up writing a simple app to find & replace the chords in the MSCX file.

The default spelling should already be correct, are you saying you want it to be incorrect? That is, if you transpose down a major second, you want accidentals spelled as if you had actually transposed down a diminished third? I'd suggest simply doing that transposition then. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding something. Attaching your actual score and steps to reproduce the problem would help us understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hello, friends.

My question is how to change the enharmonic spelling of the CHORD SYMBOLS. The nifty J keyboard shortcut is great for re-spelling the notes, but the chord symbols above the staff do not follow suit.

To be more specific, the problem that I am currently having is that, after typing in several pages of chord symbols above the staff, such as F#, and so on, I have inadvertently ended up with a score in Gb but with all the chord symbols using sharps. The key signature is Gb, and the notes do whatever I ask when pressing J, but the chord symbols refuse to adapt to the FLAT spellings. I have tried transposing to different keys and back, but nothing seems to fix this. Help!

I'll attach my score, if you don't mind having a look at it and sharing some of your expert counsel.

In fact, I started out with a GuitarPro file, and added the chord symbols to it, so it may have some bugs in the document acquired during the conversion. There is also a key change half-way through, where the entire song is repeated in the new key. In fact, I typed out the whole score in concert key, and then re-defined the staff properties to display the part for alto saxophone.

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In reply to by ErikJon

I've solved a similar problem by transposing up and then down (or v/v) by different but 'equivalent' intervals, eg, "augmented unison" and "dimished second". There's surely some systematic way to do this (per
Marc Sabatella), but so far a bit of trial & error has worked for me

In reply to by ErikJon

Not sure how the score got into this state, but to get it out, I guess the thing is to ask MuseScore to transpose the notes and key but not the chords. Probably a couple of ways to do that, but this worked for me in MuseScore 3.3.4, should work in older versions too:

1) enable Concert Pitch
2) Ctrl+A to select all
3) Tools / Transpose (Notes / Transpose in 2.3.2)
4) select key of F#, uncheck chord symbols
5) OK
6) Transpose again
7) select key of Gb, check chord symbols
8) OK
9) disable Concert Pitch

In reply to by ErikJon

Hi I have a similar issue with Chord symbols.
I copy chords from the C instrument (Guitar) to a Bb Instrument (Sax) for the guy to do improvisation.
When I do this I get double flat chords eg, Abb Ebb Abb7/Gbb, I want Abb to read as G chord?
For your information I also get double flats against corresponding notes in the score but these can
be changed with a workaround to shift all the notes in that stave down then up by 1 semi tone.
But this does not correct the chords....
I also don't like Fb (would prefer E)....

This message is a bit garbled, I hope you can understand me!

In reply to by john in 6 piec…

I have found a workaround. Transpose all parts down by a semi tone eg Bb to B, then back
again (instead of shifting the notes). This actually gets rid of double flats in the chord symbols. You can copy and paste
these new versions of the chords across to the original score (as now the notes are messed up with
alternate versions of flats naturals and sharps).

In reply to by john in 6 piec…

Hmm, you shouldn't be ending up with double flats in music transposed for horms - tranposing for Bb instruments generally adds sharps, not flats. Unless perhaps you are transposing from E to Gb or B to Db. So my guess is you aren't doing something correctly, but it's not clear what. If you attach your score and steps to reproduce the problem, we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc. I will do this for the next song our Band writes in the future.
For your information The steps I follows when we create a score are:
1. Our Maestro writes the separate parts all in Concert Pitch but looking correct as when played
by the Bb , Eb etc Instruments. MuseScore sees all these as C Instruments (piano) parts.
2. I put all these parts together in MuseScore and add the chords for Guitar.
I have to shift the notes for the Bb, Eb Instruments to be correct within Musescore.
Add Music annotation, DS al Coda etc. MuseScore now has the correct Instruments identified in the combined score.
3. Once assembled I creates a combined mp3 audio file for our Maestro to check it all sounds good etc.
4. I now send as pdf files of separate score for each Instrument alone to each Band member.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think you may have a point there. I may try to suggest to our Maestro that when he writes
the scores for the individual non C type instruments that he does not pre-transpose them in his head so they
appear correct by eye for that Instrument.
Either he sets the correct Instrument type within MuseScore (probable too complicated), or he just does not pre-transpose it and writes in the same Key Signature as for the C Instrument. Then I would do the rest.
We will see if this improves the double flat issue. The only downside of this is I then don't see the Maesto's
selection of sharps flats naturals etc in the final score layout for non C instruments, its down to me.
For example choice of A# or Bb...
Thanks again for your help.

In reply to by john in 6 piec…

It should be perfectly possible either way. Usually it's best to set up the correct instrument in MuseScore first, before entering the music. It's not complicated at all - it's exactly as simple as I already - simply choose the correct instrument from the list. Then, if the music is given to you already transposed at written pitch for the instrument, you simply enter it directly. If the music is given to you at sounding pitch, simply enable Concert Pitch mode before entering the music. Again, when done correctly,. it works flawlessly right out of the box, regardless of which format you are given to work with. In fact, in this post, it seems like you are implying that the music is given to you already in MuseScore format, in which case it's even simpler - simply make sure the person who is entering the music creates music for the correct instruments to begin with. That is, when creating the new score, don't just select 10 flutes or whatever, but actually select the proper instruments.

We'd like to help you, so again, if you attach an example, we're happy to assist.

Reviving an old discussion here.

I have the same request, but for a slightly different use case. I'm currently transcribing a piece in Bb. There are occasional passages in other keys, and the accidentals in those passages are always sharps. I'm entering the music with a MIDI keyboard. MuseScore always enters notes as flats (e.g. Ab instead of G#) -- I'd like a way to tell it that I want accidentals to be sharps so I don't have to respell every note with an accidental that I enter.

(It's not as bad as it could be since I discovered you can just hit J immediately after entering the note to rotate through enharmonic spellings, but it would be nicer not to have to do it at all).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Another way to do it is to specify the accidental as you enter the note. The default keyboard shortcuts (in MU4) are:

Toggle accidental: flat - (minus)
Toggle accidental: natural = (equals)
Toggle accidental: sharp + (plus)

So if you want a Db you would enter -D and for D# you would enter +D. etc.

I prefer to have # as the shortcut for a sharp as that doesn't require the SHIFT key on my keyboard and I have customised the shortcuts accordingly in preference.

In reply to by brettrp

So, you are using a MIDI keyboard. I missed that in your original post. I don't, I use my PC keyboard. Perhaps MIDI keyboards work differently. But, unless you have modified the shortcuts as I have the # will not work. You would still need to use the default which is + . I prefer # as it does not need the SHIFT key on my keyboard which + does.

If you want to do the same as me, go to Edit>Preferences>Shortcuts to make the change.

In reply to by brettrp

Indeed, I'd be very surprised if the accidental commands had any effect at all on MIDI input. And it wouldn't really make sense for them to normally. What should happen if "#" is selected, but you press a plain "C"? Would it enter the C, or B#, or C#? If you press "G", would you expect to get G or G#? I could kind of imagine them only taking effect when hitting notes outside the key, to determine the spelling. But that;'s still no simpler than just pressing "J" after the fact, and it would be weirdly inconsistent or unpredictable behavior compared to playing notes that are in the key.

But, I could imagine things being different. What if the # command (whether engaged by toolbar or shortcut) didn't clear itself after entering a note via MIDI the way it does when entering notes via computer keyboard or mouse? Then if the behavior were defined to be "prefer sharp spelling for accidentals until disabled", this could work, and not seem too weird, and also not adversely affect anything else, and not require any new commands or settings.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Playing with this, I have found what appears to be a bug -- if you turn on "#" in note input mode, when you play a MIDI key it no longer advances to the next note. It's stuck like this, even if you turn off "#", until you exit note input mode.

"#" means "I prefer sharps" for MIDI input sounds like it might make sense, but of course the devil is in the details.

One additional related thing that I've run into: while there is a reasonable way ("J" after playing the note) of changing enharmonic spellings with a MIDI keyboard without leaving note input mode, there doesn't appear to be anything similar for courtesy accidentals. If you're entering notes from the computer keyboard, you can hit "#" or "b" before entering a note to get a courtesy accidental, but (other than the buggy behaviour above) they don't affect MIDI notes.

That behaviour of "#" and "b" would also need to be thought about when considering using those for enharmonic spellings too.

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