Concert-to-written pitch complications / Unlinking a part from a score?

• Jul 27, 2019 - 00:23

I'm typesetting a sonata for piano and B-flat clarinet from a handwritten score by a composer who is no longer alive.
In the piano score both instruments are notated at concert pitch; the B-flat clarinet part is notated at written pitch.
In the second movement the composer instructs to go to 3 sharps (i.e. F-sharp minor) rather than 6 sharps (i.e. F-sharp major) when the key in the score (at concert pitch) changes to E major:
Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 7.07.28 PM.png .
Here's what this looks like in practice (in the part):
Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 7.07.58 PM.png

So.... how can this be accomplished in MuseScore?
Because the part is linked to the score, MuseScore has the clarinet score go to 6 sharps. I tried dragging three sharps into the clarinet score, but it simply doesn't work — I get three sharps in the SCORE and five sharps in the part. Here's the score:
and here's the part:
ClarSon Ex 4.png .

I tried "un-linking" the B-flat clarinet part by (a) exporting it; (b) using the "save-as" function. No luck!! Every time I try to change the key of the clarinet part to f-sharp minor I get five sharps...

I would be really grateful for any thoughts you might have.


Around 1800 it was not unusual for the clarinet to never change key signatures in written scores. This is just an oddity of how a new instrument was being notated. It was the first commonly used (non-octave) transposing instrument. To put the Clarinet in a different key signature, choose the concert pitch key and press ctrl while you drag it to the clarinet staff.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks for the quick response, but I'm afraid this does not solve my problem. (Or maybe I misunderstand your instructions?) When I choose the concert pitch key (E major) and press Control (on a Mac) as I drag it to the clarinet staff, the clarinet part goes to six sharps (F-sharp major). That's not what the composer instructs, though. (I realize he is being quirky here, but I'm trying to typeset the score as he wanted it to appear). So I guess I'm trying to set an arbitrary key, one that is not linked to the concert pitch the way it would be normally...

In reply to by bywolfson

You need to drag the key of G major (1 sharp) to the clarinet to get it to display 3 sharps. Concert pitch has 2 fewer sharps than the transposed key for the clarinet.

I'm sure I wasn't clear enough. The key of the piece may be E, but the key signature for the clarinet is concert G which translates to the key of A for the Bb clarinet.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks very much for your patience and further details — this does explain what can be done with the clarinet part, and it works for that part. But is there any way to keep the piano part in concert E while the clarinet part is in concert G within the same score? (Or do I basically have to create a completely separate file for the clarinet part?) Thanks again for your patience.

In reply to by bywolfson

All you need to do is insert the key for the piano (since it has two staves). This will also change the key for the clarinet. Next press control while you drag the correct key to the clarinet. When you do this only the key of the clarinet changes. You don't need to do anything else. As I expect, you see a lot of accidentals in the clarinet part indicating that the true key is F#.

One more thing, insert the key signatures in the score showing both instruments and the parts will update.

In reply to by mike320

Ah! I see where the issue was — I was pressing "Control," but on a Mac (which is what I'm working with) apparently that doesn't work, and you have to use "Command" instead. So that issue has been solved. THANK YOU!
The problem is that the composer wants the score to have concert E major for both the clarinet and the piano, and the clarinet part ONLY to have concert G major. (Again, I know that this is eccentric! I'm just trying to figure out a way to stick to his eccentricities). So I think this is about "separating" the part from the score — that is, keeping the score not-updated when the part IS updated. And I don't see a way of doing that in MuseScore right now other than exporting the part and treating it as a completely separate file...
Thanks again for your help!

In reply to by bywolfson

There is no need to separate the parts from the score. Just change the key signature only for the clarinet and you'll find is sounds fine. I've done this for many clarinet (and a few English Horn) parts I've transcribed. As I said previously, the composers "eccentricities" were standard around 1800. I'm guessing this score is from within about 20 years of 1800. The English writing throws me a bit since there weren't too many American or British composers writing clarinet sonatas at that time.

In reply to by mike320

Well, this is the "eccentric" part — the composer lived between 1921 and 2017 and worked exclusively in the US. So why he thought that this was the best way to notate, I really can't say (and can't consult him, alas). Also, he has this arrangement for only one of the three movements of the sonata. I trust you that it will sound just fine if I change the key signature for the clarinet only; I was just trying to see if in fact it were possible to do that in the part only, while keeping the concert key of E for both clarinet and piano in the score — and I think the conclusion is that it isn't... so the options are (a) to rationalize / standardize notation; (b) create a separate file just for this movement of this part. Thanks again very much for your advice!

In reply to by bywolfson

The answer seems to be no about having concert pitch in the score and as written in the parts. If you change the key signature in the part, it will update the key signature for both the piano and clarinet which isn't what you want. If you want standard modern notation then I suggest that you use save as to create a new file after the score is complete and change key signatures.

His decision to use historical notation for only one movement is an interesting decision to say the least. I can think of one good reason to do this and it's written on the score. The piano is playing in F# major while the clarinet is playing F# minor. In the full score this seems to be the case. After the key change (to the wrong key) in the full score there are A-naturals. In the clarinet part there are A#'s marked in the score. He is not the only composer to put some instruments in the major key while others are in the minor key. Shostakovitch's 11th symphony ends with the high instruments in G major and the low Instruments in G minor. I thought this was a mistake when I first saw it, so I did some research and found it to be by design.

In reply to by mike320

Fascinating — thanks very much for this (especially re: Shostakovich). Later in the same movement of this sonata the composer has the clarinet part notated in E-flat major (so I guess concert that's G-flat major / E-flat minor) while the piano part stays in E major. It does make for slightly-easier-to-read text when you switch to enharmonic flats, but wow... Thanks again!

In reply to by bywolfson

Fascinating indeed! Thanks Mike, for the info on using CTRL to set "local" key signatures.

As for the tonality itself, it's a little bit mind boggling, and I'd have to study the score a bit more to see what it all means. In general, we learn a lot more from a key signature than just what notes to play. The signature tells us a lot about the structure and function of notes within the music. When we're using a "rational" key signature, and encounter accidentals, we learn about subtle movements within the key and temporary excursions into other realms. We are seldom surprised by accidentals, as they lead us through the harmonic journey.

Here, the key signature is something of an "alias". The "logical" key is abandoned for something (seemingly) unrelated. Is it a simple expediency to make reading the pitches easier? That doesn't seem right, as it necessitates numerous accidentals, which don't seem to relate to the implied tonality. It must be telling us something more about the tonality that is not apparent on first reading.

As I said, this merits further study. Very interesting! Thanks for bringing this up!

In reply to by toffle

Now that I look at the score closer I see that the main score is all in concert pitch while the part is in transposed pitch and I understand better what bywolfson is attempting to do. I understand better the desire to separate the parts. This is how it is in the written score, but the key signatures are not the same in the two clarinet parts. The combined score should show the clarinet having 1 sharp.

I can see where the minor mode in the clarinet works better with the piano in the major mode. Whole steps in cases like the (concert) D natural for the clarinet is played with the E-sharp on the piano in the last combined measure. It almost seems as though the composer wanted to go back and forth between F# major and f# minor and decided to tell us this by putting the Piano in the major key signature and Clarinet in the minor. Both instruments clearly move between the two modes in the relatively small sample attached here, though not necessarily together.

As for using Command or Control on a Mac. I've heard both keys work on specific systems. The handbook says it's Control.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks very much to you both for your thoughts; this is extremely interesting.
Just in case you're curious, I'm attaching the score and the part (latest versions) for the whole movement (as you'll see, it's not long). And here's a little summary of what happens:
Measure # // Concert key // Expected nominal key // Actual nominal key specified by composer // Concert that nominal key would imply (for the non-aligned instances)
1-5 // Des-dur: 5♭// Es-dur: 3♭// Es-dur: 3♭
6-24 // E-dur: 4♯ // Fis-dur: 6♯ // fis-moll: 3♯ // e-moll: 1♯
25-48 // E-dur: 4♯ // Fis-dur: 6♯ // Es-dur: 3♭ // Des-dur: 5♭
49-55 //Des-dur: 5♭// Es-dur: 3♭// Es-dur: 3♭
56-78 // A-dur: 3♯ // B-dur: 5♯ // b-moll: 2♯ // a-moll

Attachment Size
Interlude A Score.pdf 592.77 KB
Interlude B Part.pdf 488.24 KB

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