Custom Key signature with sharp in one octave, and natural (or flat) in other

• Dec 17, 2020 - 09:24

It is not possible, to have a custom key signature, which have sharp in one octave, and natural (or flat) in other octave.

In fact, you can create this kind of custom key signature, but in score, it acts only one way - last one added to key signature.

If I create custom key signature in order g#, and g natural in second octave, every g in score is g natural.
If I create g natural, and than g# in second octave, every g in score is g#.
(It depends on adding order, not on visual "order" in key signature).

I know, I can use workround
1. either hide natural (in system line of example) / sharp (in second system of example) accidental in score
2. or (in second system) insert g as g# (which will be printed without #) and add custom sharp if I need printed g#
but 1. is time consuming and 2. is quite wrong, because g is saved (and defined) as g#

But is this a feature, or bug?

This kind of custom key signatures are often used in scordatura notations.

Custom Key Signatures.png

Attachment Size
Custom Key Signatures.mscz 8.36 KB


In reply to by jeetee

There are many possibilities

  1. last one defines all except already defined
    (First system would be - every g is natural, except g2, which is g sharp. Second system - every g is sharp, except g1, which is natural)

  2. last one changes only his own octave

  3. philosophy of customising "standard" key signature
    lets say, we are A major, so we need to customise "3# key signature" by adding some naturals to it - so every g is sharp, except octaves, where it is customised by naturals

Dont know, which is better, or if there is another way, probably 2., or 3.

(for example in some old scores key signaure is written a way, that sharps (or flats) are printed in every octave /in lines/)

In reply to by sammik

I think the issue here is exactly as you confirmed; there is no "correct" way to implement such a custom key signature except than to read it from left to right.

I'm not so much against adding new features, but personally I'm a lot less inclined to support them when they break standard notation expectations.

In reply to by jeetee

In my opinion, if there is no "standard", than "correct" way is that "defined", so we only need to find good definition.

Or, may be, in other point of view, to avoid misinterpretations, may better to add new type (option), "per octave only accidentals" to key signatures.

In reply to by sammik

But the point is that there is a standard, namely reading the key signature from left to right and every accidental affects all octaves.

What you're requesting (octave only accidentals) is deviating from that standard and as a consequence needs extra work. Even if this can be added into MuseScore with some checkbox option or something you'd still need a text note to explain it to anyone reading your score, because you're no longer following the standard convention.

In reply to by jeetee

I am talking about something, like this

Or real world example - Biber: Mystery sonata

There is no "left to right" and Im quite sure, every musician would agree, this example should be played "d fis d f" (as written in pisture)

But yes, it probably is not "standard", but not sure, if standard in this situations exists
(unfortunately, I dont have notation "bibles" in my library)

In reply to by sammik

Then again, in standard custom key signatures, one wouldn't really write this and only put the resulting accidental. So I can understand that it would be clear from the key signature itself that it is not "standard" that way.

So a possibly way to interpret it would then be, if there is only one accidental for a note, then it is valid for all octaves (just like in standard), but if you have multiple accidentals for a note (but on different octaves) then it only applies to that octave?
Which still leaves the question open on how to treat notes in an octave other than those defined by the keysig. It would be great if we can find some examples of such a scenario (if it even exists out there).

In reply to by sammik

I don't think this is off topic because it helps to explain the unusual key signature. It takes me quite a bit of analysis to see how that ends up in B minor. You have to play every written note in first position as though there were no scordatura. Then the written A (on beat 1) on the third string sounds like a B since it's been retuned. You then play the F natural written on the last note as an F on the D string and it will sound like an A.

I think this would be very strange until you got used to it. All of the notes will sound wrong.

In reply to by sammik

In you reply to jeetee you made it clear that there needs to be a way to make the key signature line up with the scordatura as well as handling situations where accidentals apply to all octaves versus only one octave.

Making the key signature line up with the scordatura would mean making the sharp on the top like in the Biber Mystery Sonata apply only to the the G's written on that line rather than every G in the song. This could be a check box for that accidental that says this octave only. You need to be able to define that line as G in the key signature (when played on the scordatura D string) rather than an F (like when it's played on the E string).

Perhaps a better solution would be to define the key signature as applying to scordatura so it will by default apply the accidental only to that line with the option of changing it to all octaves for the same note.

If my understanding of scordatura is correct (all notes for the bottom 3 strings are written in first position), it should be possible to have string data applied to the violin family so the scordatura can be defined there so MuseScore knows that the strings are B-F#-B-D rather than G-D-A-E in your example. It could then play the correct pitch when it's written on a scordatura line. It would be a big bonus to automatically put the scordatura notes before the clef as in your attached picture.

I'll add, it might be possible to create a plugin for proper scordatura playback if the 300 cent tuning offset were increased to say 1000 to allow for offsets that would cover all common scordatura.

In reply to by jeetee

I checked some scores (Biber: Mysteries). I have to say, it seemes to be used quite a free way.

In some sonatas, it is used only for one octave.
In sonata 4 - bar 9 - f is f natural
In sonata 5 - bar 3, ... c is c natural
In other, it is for all octaves
sonata 2 - bar 3 - accidental flat (natual) to have c natural
sonata 13 - b2 (with no accidental) is b flat
sonata 14 - c3 with no accidental is c sharp (sounding b natural)

Also key signatures (in manuscript) sometimes uses sharps (and flats) in more octaves, sometimes only in one octave. Missing sharp in key in octave suggests, it is "natural", because common practise is to write key signatures this way
but sometimes, it is explicitely written.

Conclusion: in my opinion, best, and most safe way to enhance this feature is to have "tick" option in key signatures and choose, if it would be for all octaves, or only for one octave.

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