Sharps And Flats

• Jul 5, 2020 - 19:10

I have read the posts and responses related to a feature I would like to understand. I transcribe a number of Italian and Sicilian songs which use both the major and minor key of a note (such as A major and A minor). Musicians have asked for consistent accidental notation (sharps for the major key, flats for the minor key). I have noticed that Musescore seems to prefer B flat to A sharp and E flat to D sharp. When using the recommended "lower/raise" feature, changing B flat to A, then raising it a half step puts the note back to B flat. It would be useful (for me) to be able to select a range of measures and change all accidentals to either flat or sharp. Although now I can lower B flat to A, then use the note menu to change the A to A sharp, after doing that about enough times it tempts me to ask for the change.


Not sure who would be asking for only sharps in sharp keys, but this is just plain incorrect. Spelling needs to be correct according to the function of the note. Eg, in the key of A major, a Bb needs to happen in descending chromatic lines from B to A, or when a chord is encountered that includes this note (like C#dim7). So you always need to choose wisely. That said, MuseScore will enter whatever you want. Using the up/down arrows it will prefer sharps or flats accordingly. So, if you have a range of measures you have inspected and know that in those measures it is literally correct to have all sharps, just press down then up (vice versa to respell as all flats). But do be sure you really have carefully inspected to be sure it is appropriate to respell them all. Better, really, to just enter them correctly in the first place.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Somebody at least agrees with me that perfect spelling is sometimes awkward in a performing context.…
I have used applications that recognize that music is an individual experience and that provide functionality based on use. I have transcribed over 6,000 scores using MusicTime Deluxe in the past 28 years for multiple bands and organizations. To many of those musicians, "simpler is better." I am a little disappointed in learning my work is "just plain incorrect."
I enjoy working with MuseScore as it is, but I had hoped that inputs for improvements (at least this user's perception of improvements) would meet a more agreeable response than an avuncular lecture.

In reply to by Dave Carroll

I’m sorry, it wasn’t meant as a lecture. I thought you said “musicians have asked for” this, as it, you were under the impression that others were asking this, and it sounded like you were perhaps misunderstanding the context for this but trying to honor these requests fro. Others anyhow. Simpler is indeed better, and that’s why the rules of notation have evolved the way they have: to make things as simple to read as possible.

Anyhow, it is perfectly simple to get whatever spelling you desired, just as I suggested. It’s not clear what improvement you are suggesting? It’s already the case that you can get get whichever spelling you want right from the beginning, and you can easily change the spelling afterwards as I explained.

In reply to by Dave Carroll

FWIW, I again apologize if my choice of words came across as harsh. "Just plain incorrect" was poor phrasing on my part; "a common misconception" is more accurate. And since this came up elsewhere recently, and you can't take the teach out of a teacher, I would like to address one other aspect of this. The article linked -… is actually completely supporting what I am saying. I think it's easy to get confused by the statement " Stick to all sharps, or all flats if you can". This might at first glance seem to support the idea of literally always using sharps for accidentals in sharp keys. But as you read further, you realize this is not what he is saying at all. He is talking about diatonic music, and how to spell the notes that are actually in the key. This is made clear by his examples showing scales and the importance of consistent spelling in that context, and he is 100% right about that. Unfortunately, this article stops before ever discussing use of non-diatonic notes, so it's easy to be left with the incorrect impression that the original advice would have applied in that context as well. It doesn't, for the reasons I already explained. My guess is he covers that in an article.

Anyhow, again, you can certainly spell notes however you like in MuseScore, and it's easy to change spelling at any time, for single notes (pressing "J" does this quickly and easily) or for groups (the up/down technique, among others). But hopefully someone reading this learns something from the discussion, even if I inadvertently offended someone in the process (for which I again apologize).

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