Key Signatures - forcing transposed parts to use Db rather than C#

• Nov 6, 2014 - 14:54

I'm hoping there's a way to do this. I've played with both Beta 1 and an older nightly build and had no luck.

I've got a Eb bari sax lead sheet that I'm trying to create a score from. The bari part starts in A (3 sharps) (so C Concert), then moves to Db (5 flats) (so E (really Fb, I guess, if such a thing existed). When I drop the E key signature on the score, I get C# (7 sharps) in the bari part. While that's enharmonically OK, it's not what I'd really like.

Is there a way I can convince MuseScore to try using 5 flats instead of 7 sharps?


In reply to by GuyWithDogs

There may not be a way. I think there should probably be an overall style option or else a staff property to determine whether simplification takes place. Or maybe even an attribute you set on the key signature itself for a given staff. See #4901: Transpose by Key from G major to Cb major inconsistency, #22687: Concert Pitch switching does not preserve key spelling if the transposition crosses between sharp and flat keys, and #18147: When silently changing the key to enharmonic equivalent during transposition, change notes too which collectively probably cover this, although I would have sworn there was another more specific issue.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Fascinating, I've just encountered this very issue - my piece is in E major, and the bari and alto sax parts are transposing to C# major. Likewise, I'd prefer them in Db major.

That I will be present at the gig tomorrow to supervise the debut of this piece only strengthens my desire to resolve this. Nonetheless, I am prepared for the withering glares and shake-the-heads from the sax section if I cannot :-)

If there is no elegant answer, I guess it may be possible to copy and paste them into another score in an enharmonic key that does transpose to Db major...?


In reply to by endorka

I've been playing about and this seems to work (on a limited sample, at least) for an individual part:

1. Highlight the first C# key signature, select the Db sig from the Key Sig palette and double-click to change. The notes will appear with lots of accidentals.

2. Ctrl+A to select all the notes, then hit the 'up' arrow key to transpose them all up a semitone. Now lots of different accidentals.

3. With the notes still selected, hit the 'down' arrow key. Hooray - the notes now show cleanly in Db. Of course you will still have to check the spelling of odd decorative or modulatory accidentals.

It's a bit of a hack but but may help you at your gig tomorrow.

In reply to by Brer Fox

I've been trying to do this, but I can't make it work. Note: I'm trying this in a score, where I have a Piano and a Bari Sax part. When I do anything with the 5 flats key signature, the Piano part gets 5 flats, and the Bari part gets two flats.

If, instead, you mean just doing the Bari part by itself in its own .mscz file, then, sure, I could do that. And not bother with transposing - just enter is as a Piano or Flute and edit the music as I wish.

The score feature is a whole lot handier for trying things out for a band, though.

Marc - I appreciate you filing the issue. It's a relatively infrequent problem, I suspect (first time I ran into it in over a year of using MuseScore), but when it bites you, it REALLY is frustrating.

In reply to by endorka

Copy and paste is going to lose more than a bit of formatting. Perhaps a better workaround would be to temporarily change the transposition to 0 (in staff properties) then transpose the part manually (in notes / transpose).

I'm going to file an issue to add a switch to control key simplification.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for the quick replies. I've been working on this arrangement all day & evening, and got the tranposition to Db working in the score as above, but couldn't get it to work in the parts. However, I'm not 100% convinced of my ability to proof read enharmonic spellings after such a long session, so I'm afraid the bari and alto are going to have to put up with C# major tomorrow after all :-)

Until next time - although I would say this is a fairly common occurence. Wherever you get a rock, pop, rock 'n roll or blues song in E major and there is a bari or alto sax, this is going to crop up.


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I did Marc, thanks. It worked as you predicted in the score - Db notes instead of C# for example. But when I went into the part the notes were in a different place. It was about 3am in the morning at that time, and I had been working on the piece all day and night, so I'm afraid my brain wasn't in the place to pursue it further at that point, especially with the pressure of it being sight read on a gig the next day. I've placed a note in my diary to try it again tomorrow from a place of rest, peace, sanity, and no consequences if it goes wrong, and I'll let you know how it goes.

The good news is that the alto and bari didn't really mind their parts being in C# :-) They were quite simple parts so that probably helped.

Some background - this was the first time I have used musescore, for arranging two original pieces for this gig, a 10 piece swing band. I used the big band template as the basis for this. My workflow is to compose and arrange in a DAW (Reaper). From this I exported the MIDI parts into musescore, and transcribed the audio where I had used real instruments. I've been very pleased with musescore, and having tested the output sheet music for real and found it excellent, even more so. Thanks for your work, I'll be making a donation.


In reply to by endorka


Yes, I'm curious to know how it goes with the parts - I didn't actually try what I suggested :-)

BTW, I almost mentioned that you might be surprised about the reaction of the horn players. They are more used to playing in sharp keys than the rest of us, so they often actually *prefer* seeing a lot of sharps versus a lot of flats. Consider, anything in D concert is going to B for them, and there is no getting around that, so they see 5 sharps all the time. What's one or two more? Whereas they very rarely see any more than 2 or 3 flats (what they would see if the concert key were Db or Gb).

Still, I think there should be control over this, and I did file an issue - #39176: Option to convert transposed instrument key signatures into enharmonic equivalent when number of accidentals exceeds limit.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Just tried again, and it works. The mistake I made on Saturday was to transpose the notes by key to Db, which gave the results described, i.e. ok in the score but wrong in the parts, and the notes sounded at the correct pitch when played.

This time I transposed the notes by interval, and after respelling the enharmonics, they look correct, but sound wrong when clicked :-)

So it is possible to get a bari or alto sax part in Db that looks correct.


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