Transposition for transposing instruments

• Oct 20, 2009 - 17:31

I haven't figured out Musescore's support for transposing instruments. I know that the transposition (I assume the correct transposition) happens during playback, but I want to know how to take a concert pitch score and transpose it for, say, a Bb clarinet. One problem of using Musescore's transposition function is that there is no indication of an instrument's written pitch in the Instruments pull-down list. (It's not too tough to figure out the pitch of "Bb Ocarina" It's a bit harder for "Tenor Sarrusophone".)

I see from a forum posting that something relating to this was regressed in version 0.9.5 so I'm guessing it exists in my 0.9.4 but I can't find it.


If you don't already know the transposition of an instrument in your score then you can find out by right-clicking on an empty part of the staff and choosing "Instrument Properties...". The transposition indications the number of semi-tones from concert pitch.

There isn't any regressions related to transposition in 0.9.5 that I am aware of. Now that 0.9.5 has been out for a while I wouldn't recommend version 0.9.4 to anyone. Version 0.9.4 crashes frequently, is difficult to add notes in the right place using the mouse, and often sometimes produces faulty files.

In reply to by David Bolton

On version 0.9.5 on Windows xp I do not see the option of Instrument Properties when I right click. I see Staff Properties, and Measure Properties There is a transposition setting in Stapff Properties, but it is for playback and can be misleading as it specifies the opposite direction so that it plays back properly and also often a different octave. For a Tenor Saxophone it would read -14 whereas the actual transposition would be +2 from concert.The -14 has it sound an octave lower than written.
I would LOVE to see the Instrument Properties on right click as I agree with the op that deciphering the transposition for a tenor sarrusophone might be a bit difficult.


In reply to by keith.n.mckenna

I assumed he meant the staff properties. I, too, was confused by the staff transposition setting but figured it out with a little experimentation. As long as the sum of the value shown and the value we specify for transposition are a multiple of 12 the score is correct ... within an octave or 2.

Somebody has already requested automatic transposition when copying between different instrument's staffs (staves?). I'd give a strong second for that request as long as the copy automatically picks the right octave.

In reply to by okeefe_

I agree in theory, but I am concerned that it could be confusing for a novice. Getting ones head wrapped around the intricacies of transposition can be difficult enough for someone coming to it new without having to remember that the play back transposition is the opposite direction from the actual staff transposition. Then there is the octave shift that can really get confusing. I know when I first started trying to wrap my head around it the most difficult part was remembering that there are 12 semitones in an octave. . It would be nice if there was a spot to show both the playing transposition and the staf transposition could be shown.


The easiest way I have found to transpose a score in concert pitch to a transposing instrument (assuming you haven't already entered the score) is to create your staff for the instrument (say Alto Sax) select the key (in concert pitch) you'll see that the key signature is already transposed from concert to the pitch of your instrument on the score, then before entering the notes, click on the Concert Pitch button. You'll see the key signature change to the Concert key signature, you can now enter the notes in Concert pitch. When you are done, click the Concert Pitch button again to transpose everything to the key of your instrument.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That doesn't work for me. I've written in a large Bass Sax part, and I need to transpose it for Baritone Sax, because no one has a Bass Sax. Bass Sax is in in Bb, Bari is in Eb. I right click the staff, open Staff Properties, and select Change Instrument, then I change to Bari Sax, and it doesn't transpose anything. It changes the key signature, and "playback" sounds the same, but that's impossible, because the notes haven't moved. I know it should stay the same when viewing concert pitch, but I'm looking at "instrument pitch".

Here are some screenshots (blurred the first measure because the layout shifted. It should have moved the notes up a 5th (or down a 4th) along with the key signature change.

Bass (Original)
Bass Transpose Problem.png

Bari (Transposed, but not really)
Bari Transpose Problem.png

What am I missing? I have most of a score to transpose - from Bass Clarinet, Bassoon and Bass Sax all to Baritone Sax, so I really need this to work. I could manually transpose it if necessary, but I'd prefer if it worked as described above.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks for the very quick reply! I put in another shorter section, and I input it the same was as before, but this time when I selected change instrument, it did properly transpose the notes. The first time around, I had multiple instruments, and the second, just the Bass Sax.

I'll see if it keep working. I'm new to Musescore, so if it doesn't work again, should I post the whole file on a new thread?

In reply to by tannerlindsay

As noted, it's hard to tell much from just a picture, but one guess is that maybe you did this in a pretty old version of MuseScore - something 2.0.x - and there was also an mid-score instrument change involved (like from sax to flute for a few measures then back). Prior to 2.1 this could create odd transposition errors like this and worse. Ever in current versions, you can get into trouble if you do a Change Instrument after already generating parts and then change the instrument in the score but fail to do so for the part, or vice versa. So maybe that's a more likely guess?

Anyhow, indeed, if you continue to have trouble, please start a new thread and attach the score.

In reply to by idamboise

idamboise, have a go at the suggestions given. Always make backups of your work to separate files (don't just rely on AutoSave) and never over-write an original file until you are sure the new one is better.

For future use, please post questions like this in a new thread rather than in one that has been dead for 9 years. I do appreciate, however, that you posted here becasue you did actually do some searching and reading first unlike some people so thanks for that. Transposing instruments (speaking from a British Brass Band / tin whistle background) can appear challenging but you will rapidly get used to it.

Welcome to MuseScore and I look forward to seeing some good scores from you.

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