non-transposing key signatures

• Feb 18, 2011 - 04:21
S5 - Suggestion

Non-tonal music is normally written with no key signature at all. Transposing instruments should not get one. Sibelius does this by allowing you to specify an "open" key signature - looks like the key of C, but doesn't tranpose. Finale does it by specifying "chromatic" as opposed to "key signature" transposition. I think Sibelius' implementation seems simpler but either works.


Is there any way to do this with the new MuseScore 2.0 Beta 1? I'm trying to write an atonal orchestral piece and I can't get ride from the key signature of the transposing instruments

I have been a little afraid to try - because I suspect the workaround I used in 1.3 will kind of sort of work but if I say anything, it may be seen as a bug and then be "fixed". But I just tried it, and it does still work at least for now, so here goes:

- create your score normally
- click a key signature you wish to remove and press "delete"

If you then generate parts, you'll find find the instrument have their key signatures again, but delete them and all is well. It seems you have to delete from the score, BTW - if you delete from the part, the accidentals don't update.

There is a change pending to make the act of deleting a key signature affect all staves, which will probably break this. But there may also be a command (like maybe alt-delete or something) to delete from current staff only, which is what delete currently does.

I have zero confidence that using this workaround won't end up creating a corrupt score that can't be opened in a later release. So what I have done (again, the same basic technqiue works in 1.3) is save this step for the very end, and save a second copy of my score this way, so my original is safe.

Thank you Mark, you've solved my life :)
MuseScore Team, please don't fix this bug and convert it in a feature (but in a better way). I think this feature request have to be on a high priority level in a software that pretend to be used on education. In fact, on my university (and I think this happens on every instance of high level music education) the ONLY music we compose is NON-tonal music. So without this simple feature MuseScore cannot be used on our education.

Remember, though, use at your own risk. And FWIW, there *are* other workarounds as well, so even if this "feature" gets "fixed" and not replaced with something supported, you *can* still write non-tonal music. Simply create your music normally, then, before printing the Bb parts, change key signature of the whole score to Bb so the Bb instruments come out in C, then do the same for Eb and F instruments (and others if you use them). This is how people used to get things done in Sibelius and other programs before they started supporting non-tonal key signatures directly.

EDIT: the above assumes you normally like to work with a concert score but with transposed parts. If you're using a transpose score anyhow, there's an easier way - just use Ctrl+drag to change the key signatures of just the Bb instruments to Bb (concert), and they will be in C once transposed. And ditto for the Eb and F instruments. Now your score and parts will both look happy. Of course, if you then switch to concert score temporarily, you'll see Bb, Eb, and F key signatures until you switch back. but you can change key signatures for those staves again.

As it turns out, the "feature" that allowed deleting key signatures in the score to have this effect really was a bug, with other bad effects that it wouldn't help to try to explain. So those bad things need to be fixed. It still may be possible a similar workaround will still exist after the fix, but the steps may differ.

The good news is, I now understand enough of this that when the time is right, I am pretty sure I could implement a true atonal key signature so we don't have to rely on these questionable workarounds.

OK, you called it 'Open key signature'. Woudn't "Atonal" be better and/or get across the same meaning?
In the string "%1: Open" the adjective is meant, not the verb, right? An important point for translators (in German: "Offen" vs. "Öffnen". Here too "%1: Atonal" might be better?

"Open" is the term used in Sibelius, and in at least some some of the literature. "Atonal" is a bit awkward, as it isn't just literally atonal music that uses this. I'm not married to the word "Open", though.

And yes, it's the adjective.

Is your issue with "Open" alone just that it might be confusing for translators, or do you think it not sufficiently clear to the people likely to actually use the feature?

I'm not opposed to "Open/Atonal" (and I'd word it this way in both locations). I'm actually debating whether the words "key signature" are redundant.

I'm concerned about either.
And yes, 'key signature" seems redundant indeed. It doesn't say 'Cmajor key signature" either.
So "Open/Atonal" and "%1: Open/Atonal" would be the way to go, I guess.