Multiple transpositions for Horns

• Oct 15, 2020 - 14:55
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

In historical scores, it is common for horns in F to be transposed down a 4th for treble clef and up a 5th for bass clef. Currently it is necessary to enter a custom instrument definition for the bass clef transposition. This gets tedious and creates a new mixer entry for every instrument change.

Making this a feature would also help to clean up the instruments list a bit. For example, it could allow for a single Classical Guitar instrument that transposes if the user enters a treble clef and not transpose if the user enters a treble clef 8va below.

Relates to #311174: [EPIC] UI/UX issues and suggestions


For Bass Guitar, Acoustic/Electric Bass that is the case already BTW, switching between F-Clef and F-Clef VB
Also for Guitar (G-Clef), and Acoustic/Electric Guitar (G-Clef), switching between G-Clef and G-Clef VB

Looking though instrument.xml there are many more, having this or something similar (for other clefs)


I don't think we're talking about the same thing. What you describe is what happens when you switch between concert pitch and transposed pitch. What I suggest would make the transposition be determined by the clef applied by the user. In this proposal the transposition would be defined in instruments.xml based upon which clef is applied. So in the original conversation at the F Horn would transpose down a 4th for a treble clef and up a 5th for a bass clef.

In pseudo code the definition would be something like
Treble clef: transpose down 4th
Bass clef: transpose up 5th

The default would be the first defined clef and all non mentioned clefs would follow the first definition.

BTW, this horn would be for people like me who transcribe older scores so the name listed in the instrument list might be "French Horn (traditional)" while the modern French horn definition would only define the treble clef and be called "French Horn"

Other instruments like the classical guitar would only need one definition because all classical guitar music is transposed the same way. The definition would make it so people could use either the treble or treble VB and the notes would still be correct on the staff.

It would also eliminate a lot of confusion that we see in the forums where people apply the wrong clef to an instrument, not realizing the definition requires a different clef. See for a recent example. This would never have happened if the treble clef were defined as transposing the the treble VB were defined as not transposing.

I would keep your snippet from the definition to define the default clefs when the instrument is added to a score.

The point is to not need to create so many definitions for the same instrument. Bb tuba is another great example of an instrument that would benefit from this. In the case of the Horn, mid staff instrument changes are required because in the middle of a song it will switch from treble to bass clef (with a different transposition) then back, sometimes several times. If we simply define a treble and bass clef instrument (which is what I've done for myself) every time you change clef, a new mixer entry is created. I have a sound font and instrument definition that supports muted horn and horns in these score also play muted. These songs actually create 2 mixer entries per instrument change. The mid staff clef changes don't happen with Bb tubas but having one definition would lessen the chance of confusion if someone writing for a British Brass band selected the wrong Bb tuba and changed clefs. I've seen this happen.

In reply to by mike320

OK, I didn't realise that horns changed "convention" mid staff. I thought a score was either treble clef or bass clef throughout.

I'm glad I am not a horn player! On tuba I usually play bass clef. A treble clef part needs a few minutes to get my brain into gear, but swapping from bass to treble clef on the fly would be horrifying!

This comes from Mike's help for my braille transcription when doing some scores by Richard Strauss (and other composers). In the translated braille file, I can find tons of unwanted instrument changes just for clef changes instead of changes among horns in different keys. This is very annoying, and takes too much time for the user to define and try to create new instruments. It's comfortable when working in Sibelius where horn changes clef automatically changes transposition and playback behavior, and the score is much cleaner. So implementation of this will benefit both score production and braille translation.