Change the key signature without "changing" the notes

• Jan 1, 2024 - 09:48

I have a selection where I would like to change the key signature: Key C triad (see attached). When I change the key signature to C minor, the notes stay the same, I realize, by getting naturals added: keyC minor (see attached). However, I was wondering if there was a way to have the key signature apply to the notes, where the notes don't get naturals and the notes appear as written.


Attachment Size
Key C Triad.mscz 20.39 KB
keyC minor.mscz 29.18 KB


This is an often requested feature but that isn't currently possible.
You will have to transpose your score 2x (1 chromatically and 1 diatonatically) to make it happen.

When you enter notes, MuseScore helps you by conforming to the Key Signature (in the key of F, for instance, you press B and MS enters a Bb).

Once those pitches are in place, if you decide to change the Key Signature, they remain the same pitch and you will need to alter pitches, accidentals, etc.. How would you write a program to guess what pitch you actually want?

There is probably some way around this but it is better to start with the correct Key Signature rather than try to change things later.

In reply to by underquark

This is not about guessing pitch.
It is about the need to add key signature after the notes without changing the drawing of the notes exactly as it happens when you enter notes on paper.
Yes the current behaviour of keeping pitch is useful and necessary, but there is no reason why we couldn't have the other one available as option.

In reply to by underquark

> There is probably some way around this but it is better to start with the correct Key Signature rather than try to change things later.
That's the main reason why someone asks about it: (s)he started with the wrong key, especially if transcribing transposing instruments...

In reply to by shenaw2016

Of course there is a way but not totally easy:

  • right click on a B note -> select more... -> same note name
  • right click on a A note -> select more... -> same note name, check 'add to selection'
  • right click on a E note -> select more... -> same note name, check 'add to selection'
  • now are all B, E and A notes selected
  • use the arrow down key once

But beware: what you want to achieve changes the music and therefore such changes in MuseScore will result in new accidentals to preserve the original pitches.

In reply to by shenaw2016

There is an easy way. Exactly what HildeK described.

Personally, I prefer to do it slightly differently than they described:

Tools / Transpose / Chromatically / Up / Minor Third
Tools / Transpose / Diatonically / Down / Third

It should be obvious that the first steps in HildeK's and my instructions have the same outcome from C Major. However, transposing up by the chromatic minor third, then down by the diatonic third works in any major key and is easier (IMO!) to keep the mental image of what you're doing.

Until you get it sorted out in your head, make sure to save the file before you begin!!!


In reply to by TheHutch

With all respect, TheHutch, I think that your recipe is generally right but is missing one important detail.

My story:
I made a track of "I just called to say I love you" in C key, beginning from C and ending in lower F.
The whole track contains only one instance of Bb in the third last measure. And none B note at all.
Then I figured that the melody is actually in F key, and it had to have a B flat in the key signature instead of having B flat in the score line. So I knew that I have to change the key to F without changing graphics of the notes.
Here's the sequence of actions I did:
1. Selected all measures from the last to the first, not using "Ctrl+A".
2. Transposed diatonically up by a fifth. The notes went a few lines up, but the key and the signature have not changed.
3. Selected all measures by pressing "Ctrl+A".
4. Transposed chromatically down by a perfect fifth. The notes went back down, but the key has changed to F, and the signature changed to a single B flat.

Then I played the melody and found that it is having just one note off: the single B flat has changed to A. I corrected the note here, but figured that I could instead before the step 1 have removed the flat (before B note) that I wanted to get rid off.
The goal has been reached: The key has changed to F, the signature changed to a single flat and the graphics of the notes were preserved.

In reply to by vichirko

No, my recipe is EXACTLY correct. You are describing a different situation. In your case, no note needed to be changed: the Bb was already set to the correct note: that Bb. All you needed to do was to change the key signature.

OP was talking about the situation where they had entered all the Bb-flats as B-naturals (and presumably other notes), according to the originally set key signature. They wanted to be able to change the key signature and have all the wrong notes corrected: i.e., all the B-naturals changed to B-flats.

In reply to by shenaw2016

I agree that this is not about the program guessing but of having more options. I think it would be possible to implement such a function with the Palette by using some function key like Alt, AltGr, Strg or Fn. Alternatively, it would be possible to implement a function "insert key signature" to the Add or Tools menu, which could leave to a user dialog with any key signatures, and a tick box "change notes", or have a sub-menu including both options "change notes" and "do not change notes" to select.

If you feel such function is demanded, you could make an official feature request at

In the meantme, there is another easy way to get the intended result:
- Select all notes in the stave (make sure before that everything you need is ticked in the selection filter)
- Cut selection
- Change key signature
- Paste selection
Don't know which way is felt easier, but this at least does not require fiddling with the transposition tool.

In reply to by RudoSaxx

As far as I can see, this simply doesn't work at all. I tried it just now:

1) Selected C Major key signature (no sharps/flats)
2) Entered notes. I simply entered a C Major scale up, then down.
3) Selected all the notes, then cut them to clipboard.
4) Changed key signature to C Minor (3 flats)
5) Pasted the notes from the clipboard.

The result was a C Major scale, with accidental naturals for the E, A, and B.

This is to be expected. The notes that are copied are not the note on this line or space, but the absolute note: for example, an E natural. If you copy an E natural from a key signature that has a flat on E, pasting it into that key signature gives an E natural, with the accidental.

If I've missed something, let me know. But, as far as I can see, a) the two Transpose commands are the only way to do this, and b) the commands are an EASY way to do this. I really see no reason to implement what the OP was asking, and the implementation would be FAR more difficult than the value provided.

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