Horn in C transposition

• Mar 11, 2019 - 15:21

MuseScore 2 user
The Horn in C transposition doesn’t appear to be right. It should be one octave lower than written.
Also, it should be starting on Treble Clef (G Clef) instead of Bass (F).
So unless this changes, the Horn in C is no different than the High C Horn (C alto) besides their ranges.


In MuseScore 3 too? There won't be any fix for MuseScore 2 anymore

Edfit: yes.

But I I don't think this is a bug. They are both not transposing instruments as far as I can tell

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

From what I've seen, the High C horn is a non transposing instrument and the one called Horn in C is an octave lower. I will say that in scores I have seen, there is no difference in their names and the only way I've been able to tell if I have the correct horn is when the music goes outside of reasonable range for the horn.

I would suggest that this should be the tuning used by MuseScore. Perhaps a horn player like Ziya would have an opinion.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz


This is probably the most authoritative website I can find, based upon research by Charles Francis Leinberger, PH.D of the University of Texas at El Paso.

In the Horn chart, the transposition for each instrument in the treble clef is listed followed by the modern transposition when a note is written in the bass clef. From experience, I have seen all Horn notes possible are written in the treble clef, with notes that require too many ledger lines being written in the bass clef. "Too many ledger lines" is very subjective and often subject to the context of the note. One factor that affects this is when two horns are notated on the same staff. When the higher horn part is written in treble clef, the lower horn part is written in the treble clef on the same staff also, with very few exceptions. The exceptions I have seen actually show a bass clef before the lower note and a treble clef before the higher note. I have not suggested such a notation be possible in MuseScore.

One other item of note, ledger lines above the staff is almost unheard of for horns in any key with the exception of a few notes that must be written above the treble clef on some horns.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Ah, these are not the modern, but rather the traditional bass clef notations. The bass clef used to be written an octave below the sounding note, so middle C on the bass clef would have been written near the bottom of the bass clef rather then above it. MuseScore does not allow for such split transpositions, so I use an ottava bass clef when writing traditional horn music in bass clef. This prevented the need for ledger lines above the bass clef, but allowed for ledger lines below it. It's a bit disconcerting until you get used to it. I've seen other similar split transpositions in some old Cello music (written in the treble clef) and some Bass Clarinet music also.

In reply to by Howard-C

As a recent user of musescore I have come across the problem of horn in C.
Horn in C Alto sounds at concert pitch. It is a very rare transposition.
Horn in C should sound an octave below the written notes.
I will not confuse the issue by discussion of old and new notation when horn parts are written in the bass clef. It appears to confuse composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries and occasionally those of us who play the horn!

I must add that, as a new user of musescore, I am greatly impressed.

In reply to by dafydd46

There are three "Horn in C"s currently in MuseScore:
- High C Horn, which is a non-transposition instrument;
- Horn in C, using bass clef, which is a non-transposition instrument too;
- Horn in C (Treble Clef), which is practically the same instrument with the previous Horn in C (if I don't get this wrong), but is written in treble clef, and it sounds an octave below written pitch.

By "Horn in C Alto", do you mean one of the last two I mentioned above? If so, I don't really see an issue, Horn in C (Treble Clef) does sound an octave below written pitch. Beethoven used treble clef for Horn in C in his first piano concerto, so this is probably the latest notation style, you can go for Horn in C (Treble Clef) if you want stave(s) for Horn in C.

In reply to by Howard-C

Howard_C, Many thanks for your reply.
Horn in C Alto is the way that hornplayers would generally refer to High C Horn (also B Flat Alto and B Flat Basso similarly - very common transpositions).
I am using musescore version 3.2.3 running under Ubuntu bionic. Horn in C (Treble Clef) does not appear in this version. I perhaps will have to wait until version 3.3 is available in the repositories. However, this will not prevent me completing the score I am creating from a manuscript version - I just have a few notes printed in red on the screen - no problem!
As a hornplayer I am aware that transpositions and notation causes great confusion to non-players!

In reply to by dafydd46

3.3 is already out there, it's just not stabilized enough, but you can still use it to create classical scores without using other new features (where a lot of major problems take place), and as long as the re-designed palettes are visible and working normally (they don't appear on certain operating systems, which is an issue).

So if I understand it correctly, what you're suggesting is that High C Horn should be named as Horn in C Alto and Horn in C be named as Horn in C Basso?

In reply to by Howard-C

Thanks for the information on 3.3. However, 3.2.3 is perfectly adequate for what I am doing at the moment (actually creating a score and parts for the Franz Strauss Op.8 Horn Concerto).

I fear I have already added to the confusion!!! Horn parts from C up to A (inclusive): Horn players would expect to see Horn in C, Horn in D, ----, Horn in A.
Where there could be two possible interpretations (commonly with B Flat), they would hope to see B Flat Alto or B Flat Basso. Therefore High C should be shown as C alto.
B Natural (as in the second movement of Brahms 2nd. Symphony) is notated as B Natural Basso.
Low A and Low A Flat (as used by Verdi) notated as A Basso and A Flat Basso.

In 60 years of orchestral playing I have never met a horn part in C (concert pitch) exclusively in bass clef - I am curious to know where this occurs!

I hope I have not added to the confusion - us horn players are a strange breed.
I will not even attempt to go into old and new notation when horn parts are written in bass clef!

Again many thanks for your replies.

In reply to by dafydd46

You didn't and never will add to confusion by telling us what's right from a professional prospective! Your suggestions are of very high value, and I'm confused by the Horn in C in bass clef too! I think this can be changed in future versions.

Also, I'm a huge fan of the horn concertos by Richard Strauss! Although not quite related, but it came to be when you said Strauss!

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Horn in C is already Horn in C, we weren't talking about this.

We haven't seen a single staff of Horn in C written in bass clef, and @dafydd46 is a horn player with 60+ years of orchestral playing experience, so this might be wrong from the very beginning. Right now our suggestions are:
- High C Horn -> Horn in C alto;
- Horn in C (Treble Clef) -> Horn in C basso;
- Horn in C (Bass Clef) -> delete;

And the same for horns of other tunings having the same problem.

In reply to by Howard-C

I don't think the horn player who commented even asked for names to be changed. Two people having a conversation is far from a consensus. His only real question as to the logic of the instruments available in MuseScore is the existence of a score for a C horn written totally in bass clef...that is why does this instrument even exist. I'm not advocating deleting the instrument because other horn players, like Ziya, has never once criticized its existence. This horn would make sense if you want to use it for the purpose of doing a clef change in the middle of a score, which does often happen on horns.

In reply to by mike320

He might not ask directly for changes of names, but personally I think they should happen, because if he, who is a horn player, said Horn in C alto instead of High C Horn of all time, then High C Horn isn't a proper name.

And yes, I have seen sometimes Horn in C changes to bass clef, you reminded me of that. Thanks!

In reply to by Howard-C

Apologies, I appear to have opened a hornets nest!!!
The descriptions for the transpositions found on horn parts are as follows with "Alto" being used in the sense of high and "Basso" in the sense of low:
C Alto (sounding at concert pitch), B Flat Alto, A, G, F Sharp (extremely rare), F, E, E Flat, D, C, B Natural Basso, B Flat Basso, A Basso, A Flat Basso.
To my knowledge no parts have been written for horn in A flat (upper register) or for horn in D flat (or their enharmonics).
There is no need for the word "Basso" for the C Horn sounding an octave below concert pitch.

I am unaware of the use of Horn in C written totally in the bass clef. (British brass bands do not use "French" horns, in addition the parts for all their instruments, except bass trombone and drums are written in the treble clef.)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I fully agree with your comment about not deleting instruments. I would be curious to know where C Horn in bass clef has been used. I know that one writer on the horn has suggested that it would be a logical way to compose for the instrument, but he admitted that it would never catch on because horn players are so used to the present system.
My comments were not intended to antagonise anyone, I was just trying to emphasise what is the current practise.

In reply to by Howard-C

The player only requires the full name at the start of a piece and at any change of transposition.
From a conductors point of view I suspect that they, like the player, only require the full name at the start and at points of change. For the rest of the score the short name does not need to specify whether it is Alto or Basso as it will only be used to check the correctness of notes. If errors are detected the player will know the correct octave. I hope this makes sense!
However, I am just a humble horn player and perhaps you need to consult a conductor.

In reply to by dafydd46

Thanks! One more question: do the four basso horns you mentioned use treble clef or bass clef, in general?

EDIT: Actually, two more:
2. Is Horn in A-flat (upper register) not used anywhere? MuseScore has that currently, and if this kind of horn never appears we can delete that.
3. Do you know the pitch ranges of Horn in A-flat basso, Horn in A basso and Horn in B basso? Is there any trustworthy resource of information of all pitch ranges of horns?

Today, no separate instruments are used for different Horns. (The same instrument is used for different Horns)
You (Horn player) will make the transpose to the nearest place (in your mind).

While the original Horn is "F":
If it says "Horn in E", you transpose it down. <= half step down (nearest )
If it says "Horn in G", you transpose it up. <= two half step up (nearest )

in the same way:
If it says "Horn in C", you transpose it down. <= 5 half step down
If it says "Horn in Bb", you transpose it up. <=5 half step up

In this case, "Horn in C" and "High C Horn" do not mean the same thing (octave difference).

Clef doesn't matter, the notes should be written so that they remain within the staff. Clef or tranpose is also adjusted accordingly:
If the name is "C", it is transposed downwards.
If the name is "High C", it is transposed upwards.
Otherwise, it will be impossible to transpose up or down in some keys.

In reply to by Howard-C

The reply by Ziya Mete Demircan is relevant "Clef doesn't matter". All horn parts are normally written in the treble clef, except where this would entail many ledger lines and then they are changed to bass clef.
This is the reason why traditionally in "old notation" - the horn parts in bass clef were written an octave lower than in treble clef, because parts written for natural horn (instrument without valves) involved large leaps and would have required frequent clef changes.
One slight correction to his comments - horn in b flat alto is transposed up by a major fourth, whereas horn in b flat basso is transposed down by a major fifth.
I hope this answers the queries.

In reply to by dafydd46

OK, thanks, but there are still two remained questions as I mentioned:

> EDIT: Actually, two more:
> 2. Is Horn in A-flat (upper register) not used anywhere? MuseScore has that currently, and if this kind of horn never appears we can delete that.
> 3. Do you know the pitch ranges of Horn in A-flat basso, Horn in A basso and Horn in B basso? Is there any trustworthy resource of information of all pitch ranges of horns?

Please tell me about them if you know and then we're all set!

In reply to by Howard-C

I am not aware of anything ever having been written for Horn in A-flat (upper register).
The pitch range of all natural horns is from the second harmonic (C in the bass clef) to the sixteenth harmonic (C above the treble clef) except in some baroque music which goes as high as the 22nd harmonic (F or G above the treble clef), but this was written for players with a very special technique.
By the use of valves the range is extended down to F sharp (bottom line of the bass clef).
The top of the range (let us say - G sharp up to top C) should be left to experienced players and composers who are knowledgeable about writing horn parts in that range.

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