Changing the key signature without changing any notes

• Mar 1, 2019 - 03:57

New to Musescore.
I've written a score using the wrong key signature. I want to change the key signature ONLY and leave all the notes unchanged. I've been through the transpose section and key change section to no avail. No note needs to change as it appears on the score, only the key signature.

Is this possible?

Don't really want to re-input it all even it was my own mistake,



Don't transpose, just drag the correct key signature to the score and it will change. Keep in mind the concert pitch key is always applied, so if you are changing the key signature for a transposing instrument, you must drag the concert pitch key signature.

In reply to by spettafor

Well, yes, you said you didn't want the notes to change. You originally entered a Db's and Ab's, and changing the key signatures doesn't change that - they remain Db's and Ab. Sounds like you are actually saying you do want the notes to change - from Db to D, and from Ab to A. That's fine, a number of ways to do that, probably the quickest is to press Ctrl+A to select all, then Alt+Shift+Up to transpose everything up a step, then Alt+Shift+Down to transpose it back down. In the process this loses the accidentals, because that command is for a "diatonic" transposition.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

And if I entered everything thinking the key signature was there but it isn't? For example, I entered a whole piece in D major but then realized there was no key signature. I added a key signature and so now all the Fs and Cs that were there are now marked as F natural and C natural. I don't want to move the whole thing up a half tone, nor do I want to go through and search for every F and C to change them. Is there a way to add a key signature without changing any written notes, i.e. the notes won't look different but will be played according to the key signature? I hope I'm being clear in my question..

In reply to by SprightlyCompanion

I think you make a "confusion" between transpose and key signature. The key signature never change the sound of a note. If you are in UT , in C with nothing at the key, and you enter 3 notes, C, E, G, you get the 3 notes without anything before, and they sound C, E, G. If you change the key signature for Db with 5 flats at the key, your 3 notes surely change in their appearance because the flats at the keys, the C don't change, but the E needs a natural sign before it, because the flats in the key signature, The G also needs a natural sign. BUT the sound of your 3 notes is exactly the same, it is always C.E.G. the Db don't change anything for the sound, it changes only the appearance.
If you have made a mistake in entering notes in D major (2 sharps at the key) in believing you were in C (nothing at the key) you have written all your F and C natural (for you) but they are F# and C# because the key with 2 sharps. Normaly you must have listened the difference in entering your notes.
If it is your mistake, now, with the good key , in C major, the F and the C are with a sharp before them, because that is what you have entered. You can change every of them in a simple clic, 1 for the F and 1 for the C : you select all your work, click right on a C, in the selection go until you can choose the pitch, select, all your C are selected, tape down arrow 1 time, they all become C. Do the same for the F

In reply to by Raymond Wicquart

Technically if you presented somebody with only a sheet music, the person would play/sing differently based on the key signature you present them. Musescore does change notes when you input different key signature. What it tries to preserve (not change) are the pitches.

In reply to by SprightlyCompanion

The general answer is, if you entered a whole bunch of F's (which you did), and you want to change them to F#'s (which you do), you can right-click one F, Select, More, Same pitch. Then hit the up arrow. Then you can repeat the same process to change all your C's to C#'s.

That's the general answer - it's also how you'd change all A's to Ab's, or all Db's to G's for that matter. Any search/replace type of operation.

But for correcting key signature errors, often an easier method is just to select all, hit Alt+Shift+Down, then Alt+Shift+Up (or vice versa). Or, right click one of the natural signs, Select / All Similar Elements, Delete. Either way you're basically making the piece totally diatonic - removing all the accidental. That may or may not be going too far, depending on how complex the music is and many other mistakes you made along the way.

In reply to by SprightlyCompanion

Hi Sprightly Companion,
I understand what you are asking and how you are thinking in term of "written" notes.
But no there is no way/option/setting to make MuseScore behave in term of written notes, only "true" notes. For the same reason it is (quite inconveniently) impossible to change the staff property "play interval" keeping the written notes as they are :-(
But no prob, just follow the advice of Marc and you will get what you need.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Indeed by doing two steps, both of which working in term of "real" notes you can achieve what could be done in one step working in term of "written" note.
Still to perform the correct two steps you need to switch your mind and to understand what's happening in term of "real" notes.
This is what I meant by "no way", but you're right, it can't be taken too literally luckily in MuseScore there is (almost) always a way.

In reply to by bsdp5zvfbj

Can you be more specific? If you have some sort of question about using MuseScore, best to attach your score and describe in detail what it is you are trying to do. I gather it has something to do with key signatures, but if the answers to various related and not-so-related questions here don't help, we need more information.

MuseScore assumes that you will set the correct Key Signature before you start entering notes. If you are in the key of Ab Major then every B, E, A and D that you enter will be automatically flattened. This saves you from having to manually flatten all those notes as you enter them. When you change the Key Signature the pitches of the notes do not change and so you WILL see lots of accidentals.

Can you attach your original score and tell us which Key Signature you would like to change it to? 1] You will get help sortig out your score and 2] It might be fairly easy (maybe using Transpose Diatonically + a bit of tweaking) so you will learn something and others will learn something.

I know exactly what you mean and I am having the same problem. I am doing a jazz chart, entered all the chords in correctly, then realized I didn't choose the correct signature at the beginning and now when I try to change it, all my chords are transposed. To be honest, I don't understand the responses to your question - except for the person who said they think there is no way to correct this situation. If that's correct, that is horrible! If anyone else understands this problem and knows of a solution, I'd be grateful as well.

In reply to by blally1969

Entering the wrong key signature is a mistake that cannot be automatically fixed. For example, you want your key signature to be Bb (2 flats) and you forgot to add the key signature. You now only want to change the pitch on all of the Bs and Es and leave everything else unchanged. Adding a key signature does not change the pitch of a note it only changes the key signature. Since you added E naturals and B naturals you will now see the natural accidentals on your score. You should have figured all of this out by now.

In this example, The easiest way to fix this is to right click a B natural, choose Select>More... then check the "Same Note Name:" box so clicking OK will select every B natural in the score. Press the down arrow to turn them into Bbs and all of the accidentals will go away. Repeat this for the E naturals.

This of course is for my specific example, you will need to evaluate which notes you need to change and press down arrow to change naturals to flats or sharps to naturals. You will need to press the up arrow to change flats to naturals or naturals to sharps.

Finally, you then need to make sure that you didn't want any of these notes to have accidentals since you adjusted every note with that name.

The bottom line is that some mistakes cannot easily be automatically fixed. People get frustrated with the program because it does what they say not what they want. There are always ways to fix mistakes and some are quite complicated (which this is not) and at times the easiest way to fix it is to delete what you have and start over. This would be the case if you entered 3 measures of the score but at some point the number of measures you enter make this process worth the effort. The user must decide when this point has been reached.

In reply to by mike320

No. That type of error could perfectly very easily be fixed if MuseScore would allow to add time signature and keeps the notes as they are written. Not as standard behaviour of add time signature of course but optionally.
That is part of the same set of frustration that comes when you see that you can't change how notes sound without transposing (I mean chaging staff properties and make all notes sound a intervalle up and keep notes as they are written).
And in that last case it can't even be called an error, that is a normal change when you play with a capo.

In reply to by frfancha

capo is not a mistake and works perfectly. Forgetting a key (not time) signature is a mistake. There are very legitimate reasons for not changing notes when a key signature is entered that are not mistakes. Your gripe about transposing instruments is just part of music so that's not changing.

In reply to by frfancha

MuseScore does not change any note if the time signature changes (except it may split notes across barlines, but tie them, so it does keep their duration.
But I guess you really meant key signature?
Anyway, MuseScore doesn't change any note if the key signature changes either, it just keeps the pitch.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, of course MuseScore changes the notes.
When you add a key or change the transposition interval in staff properties, MuseScore must change the notes, doing otherwise is just impossible.
Now the two ways to change the notes are:
A-keep same pitch and change written note
B-keep same written note and change pitch
MuseScore is only implementing A, so B is impossible.

I noticed this conversation is a reiteration of the 2015 thread. Some even coped and pasted their previous answers.
Apparently, people do make mistakes. Like I just did, restoring old scores after using PhotoScore, when some key can affect all the following scores. I guess user friendly software would allow users to fix their errors. But developers of unfriendly software many years later would argue that they would have to go through all notes in your score and change them according to the new key, and that too much work , and they don't want to do that. Let users fix their own mistakes.

In reply to by Adalbi Atskanov

It is perfectly possible to correct this error easily, as explained above. Not sure which specific suggestion you read and had trouble with, but if you want to change all B's to Bb's, for instance, just right-click one, Select / More / Same note name, then hit the down arrow to lower the pitch to Bb. Depending on the specifics of your particular situation, it might also be simple to select all then use Alt+Shift+Down followed by Alt+Shift+Up to effectively remove all accidentals. Or do that in sections. There are also particular circumstances in which the transposition options in Tools / Transpose might produce the desired result. It all depends on exactly what the error is and what needs correcting. Every case is different, but we friendly fellow users (and ins some cases, developers) are always happy to help. So if you continue to have difficulty, just attach your score and then we can understand and advise even better.

Sorry for necromancy, just gonna show a general way to do it:

Assume you want to transpose from keysig X to keysig Y (regardless if major/minor, but the modes should be equal).

1) Actually change the keysig.
2) Select all notes and use upward/downward arrow so the original note X becomes note Y (and all of the other notes change accordingly). This should clear all the new accidentals.
3) Select Transpose -> Transpose Diatonically and change it so note Y becomes note X (and all of the other notes are moved as well).

Example: From D to F#

1) Change the signature
2) Move all notes 4 steps up (D -> D# -> E -> F -> F#)
3) Transpose diatonically by a third downwards (F -> D).

In reply to by Fera Mrkus

This method doesn't seem to work well for me. If initially I have a lot of notes with accidentals, then after this procedure the new accidentals as well as old ones will disappear. For example, if initially in your example there was a note D natural, then after your procedure it will become D sharp, and everything will need to be checked manually anyway. Also you called it "a general way", but said "the modes should be equal", which is often not the case, as I had several times PhotoScore problems with Cmaj and Cmin.

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