courtesy accidentals

• May 27, 2010 - 21:37


Windows XP pro
Nightly R3095

I work in a score with transposed and not transposed instruments.
During the proces I work with the "concert pitch" activated, otherwise I cannot have enough control. But many times I shift back to "normal pitch", and then back again etc. etc.

I enclose an example where I use a courtesy accidental in the alto sax voice. When I go back to normal pitch the courtesy accidental disappears. I find that very disturbing. That means that I can only place them when I am 100% sure that the score is finished forever.
In this case it would be nice that the courtesy accidentals followed the note when transposed. However, I may be wrong... sometimes it may be better the way it is ?????


Attachment Size
courtesy.pdf 76.46 KB


the same issue occurs with Pitch Spell: courtesy accidentals in the entire score disappear when Pitch Spell is used for enharmonic correction during note entry (or any other time). since Pitch Spell affects the entire score, perhaps there is a way to either have it only affect a selected or current measure, or have it exclude courtesy accidentals and only affect enharmonic spellings.

In reply to by David Bolton

I use pitch spell constantly, working with big band scores with concert/Bb/Eb instruments.

I write the score in concert pitch and need to switch in and out of concert pitch to see the result. And this always requires a pitch spell.
(I think I have seen a post discussing pitch spell to be included in the concert pitch function?)

A very nice feature would be to have concert pitch (and pitch spell) working without double bb and double ## (x). Just like this is possible in the transpose-section.


In reply to by ph

Similar story for me. I usually enter notes with "correct" spelling in concert key, but then on viewing the transposed parts, I often wish to change spellings. Often, it works out that most of the part is fine, but there are individual phrases here and there in which I basically wish to respell everything. So being able to select those phrases individually and have them respelled for me would be great. A single key "respell this note" that worked within note entry would be very valuable, too.

Thinking forward, enharmonic respelling is also one of the most important things that the "linked part" facility should handle well. There are basically three things I regularly do with a generated part that I don't want reflected back in the score: moving text and other markings around, adding line breaks, and - in the case of transposing instruments - changing enharmonic spellings. Right now, the first two work as expected for linked parts in the trunk. But I am not seeing a way to change enharmonic spelling for the part without also affecting the score. Again, it's only transposed parts for which I'd ever do this, but it's pretty common.

For example, I might have a trumpet line over an E7 chord that goes E-F#-G#-A#-B in concert key. In the transposed part, that works out to F#-G#-A#-B#-C#, and I might prefer it to be Gb-Ab-Bb-C-Db. But if I make that change in the part, I don't want my concert key score to be changed to Fb-Gb-Ab-Bb-Cb. So I'd hope that the pitch respell command and the proposed single-key respell within note entry command would be able to respell a note in the part only. But I suspect that might not be supported in the linked part architecture currently.

BTW, implicit in all this is the fact that I actually *use* concert key scores. But others prefer transposed scores, so if I generated a transposed score for someone else's use in the above case, I *would* want the "flat" spelling reflected in the score as well as the part. Finale supports separate enharmonic spellings for score versus part, but not different spellings for score depending on transposed state. So I have to make a hard choice - do I want my score to look good in concert key or transposed - and I make my spellings in the score accordingly. If I then wish to print a score in the other form, I just live with poor spellings. How cool would it be if MuseScore could go one step further and instead of tracking spelling changes as being different between score and part, it tracked them as being different between concert key and transposed? Then the spellings would always be correct!

This would also be incredibly useful in generating lead sheets. In Finale, I typically write lead sheets in concert key. When done, I export to PDF and then transpose as if I am using a transposing instrument, change enharmonic spellings where necessary (and normally very little else needs changing), and there's my Bb version of the lead sheet, which I then export to PDF. If the enharmonic fixups required more than a few seconds, I'll go ahead and save that transposed version as a regular Finale file too. But if later wish to make any other change to the lead sheet, now I have two versions I have to make the change to. With a facility as I described above, where enharmonic spellings are remembered as being a function of the transposition, there would not have been the need for the second copy of the lead sheet.

BTW, *everything* above also applies to chord symbols. This is another thing Finale doesn't handle automatically - changes in chord symbol spell unfortunately always affect both score and parts.

That's a lot fo stuff, obviously, But starting point for me would be a respell command that worked on a selection and a single-key "respell note" command that worked within note entry.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I have always preferred harmonic spellings for both concert pitch and transposed pitch. This was the big new feature introduced in MuseScore 0.9.6 . The only exception I can think of is avoiding double flats or sharps when written for beginning students.

Marc wrote "For example, I might have a trumpet line over an E7 chord that goes E-F#-G#-A#-B in concert key. In the transposed part, that works out to F#-G#-A#-B#-C#, and I might prefer it to be Gb-Ab-Bb-C-Db."

As a trumpeter I'm used to playing in the key of F-sharp major (since lots of guitar pieces are written in E). I can't think of a time that I've played in G flat major (other than exercise books that work through every key). Probably the reason I've never played in G flat major is because it would put the concert pitch instruments in a non-existent key of F-flat major.

The other thing I should point out is that the "Pitch Spell" function in MuseScore doesn't seem to make very rational choices. For example, using Pitch Spell on your trumpet line produces: E-F#-G#-A#-C-Db.

In reply to by David Bolton

I agree that normally, I like to spell things correctly even in transposed parts. But in the jazz world, it's pretty common to have pieces sight read on the gig, and sometimes a bit of judicious respelling really does make a difference in reducing reading errors, even if my example wasn't the most convincing. When sightreading, I find that even professional musicians can benefit from simplifications that reduce the number of less-familiar accidentals. Also copious use of courtesy accidentals, so I'm a heavy user of those, and that's why I consider the unrequested deletion of courtesy accidentals on transposition to be the single most critical bug in 1.0 and the single most important reason to have a bug fix release.

But, back to enharmonic spelling. I would note that while playing in the key of E might be common in the classical world, it's practically unheard of in jazz. There's a definitely "flat" bias in jazz, because of the predominance of Bb and Eb instruments. Not that Fb is common as a key, but not all E chords occur in keys in which E is diatonic. A number of the E chords that occur in jazz *are* actually more correctly spelled as Fb chords. For example, progressions in which E7 is serving as a tritone substitute for the V chord Bb7 in the key of Eb is a *very* common situation). In the key of Eb, the E7 spelling in concert key is actually just a convenient (and very much appreciated) enharmonic respelling of Fb for the sake of readability, but Gb7 is the far better spelling for that same chord in that same context in the key of F. So there's one very common situation that practically begs for different spellings concert versus transposed. Readability depends on familiarity, and it's pretty much universal that the progression in question would be spelled E7-Eb in the key of Eb but Gb7-F in the key of F. Jazz chord progressions often contain other similar cases - enharmonically ambiguous chords for which the better spelling depends on the key.

Also, most of the music where I actually care about doing this is not tonal at all, so there isn't necessarily a "correct" spelling from a harmonic perspective - it's just a matter of what spelling one perceives to be more readable. The guidelines like that says to use sharps in ascending lines and flats in descending lines because that usually reduces the number of subsequent natural signs required is fine for what it is. But depending on the specific line and the specific "key", sometimes that rule of thumb actually results in a line requiring *more* accidentals than a more individually considered approach that really examines the context and tries to optimize the line for readability. The more highly chromatic the music, the more likely this is to be true.

But you are absolutely right that the automatic "pitch spell" function isn't likely to achieve this. At most, I tend to use something like that as a rough cut to produce a simplification of a line that I can see will demand man changes, but really, more important to me is to have a single-key "respell note" command that works in note entry mode to then fix the line up further. Still, the automatic respell could indeed be more useful for MIDI.

Ideally the "pitch spell selection" and the respell-single-note-within-note-entry would both work as I suggested - specifically, applying the respell only to the transposed mode if invoked while in that mode, but applying it "for real" if invoked while in concert mode. Lacking this feature, I'm forced to make a choice between readability in the part and accuracy in the score, and I'll choose readability in the part every time, but I'd rather have both.

And I do agree that having spelling be consistent - and hence controllable and predictable - between concert and transposed is a huge improvement over the way things apparently were in previous releases where notes were respelled on a whim. I'm just looking for *additional* control, to get different spellings between concert and transposed when I aks for it.

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