Guitar as Transposing instrument

• Aug 29, 2019 - 22:40

I often play guitar tuned flat 1 semitone. I want to read standard notes on my scores, not concert notes - that is, I want a D on the score even though I will play a D flat. I also want MuseScore to play a D flat where I notated a D.

So, I follow this steps in MuseScore 3.2.3

1) create a new score, select "General | Choose Instruments" as template; add an Electric Guitar, hit finish

2) Ensure "Concert Pitch" is turned off. This means the [Concert Pitch] tool botton looks like in the picture, right???

3) enter some note


4) right-click on the staff, select Staff/Part properties, in "Transpose written pitches to sound" set 0 octaves and "1 - Minor Second" Down, then hit OK. Here's what I get:


5) So, I repeat the whole procedure but with the [Concert Pitch] button in the other state (maybe it's me, I don't understand User Interfaces), and this time after step 4 the notes are shown unchanged and play untransposed.

Can someone please point me to the right direction to achieve my goal...??? Thanks!


You are looking at the Concert Pitch button correctly - concert pitch button is off when not highlight, on when highlighted.

However, you probably entered the notes incorrectly if the results were not what you expected. Notes you enter before changing the transposition are assumed to already be the right sound. You entered C D E F while there was no transposition, so MuseScore you want to hear C D E F. When you changed the transposition, MuseScore assumes you still want to hear C D E F, so it display the notes the way you need to play them on an instrument tuned the way you describe in order to get the sound you originally asked for.

If in fact you never wanted to hear C D E F to begin with, you shouldn't have entered those pitches. Assuming those are the notes you wanted to play, then better to set the transposition first. But you've already entered the wrong pitches, no big deal, just transpose them to the correct sound (eg, using Notes / Transpose, or just Down if the spelling works out OK for you).

In reply to by faben70

Nothing I said is wrong, so there is nothing to disagree with :-).

Key signatures are no different from notes as far as any of this goes. If you entered a C major key signature, MuseScore assumes (as is the case in the vast majority of cases where people change transposition after already starting a piece) that this is the correct sounding key. So again, do the transpose to fix the key if you for whatever reason entered the wrong sounding key. Keys always need to be entered as the sounding key, regardless of whether you do it before changing transposition or after, or whether concert pitch is on or off - consider they may not be the same from staff to staff anyhow so there would be no way to specify the correct "written" key in an ensemble score anyhow.

Now, I suppose you might be saying that in your particular use case, it does happen to be more common to first enter notes the way you want to play them and then change how you want them to sound. That's unusual in the grand scheme of things (consider, the more common use case would be someone writing music for flute than deciding they want to play it on saxophone, they need the sound to stay the same but have the written pitches transpose). But no matter if your use case differs from the norm - MuseScore supports this as I said, just use Notes / Transpose, which will happily transpose the keys to.

In reply to by faben70

You told MuseScore to transpose the written pitch, not the sounding pitch. When Concert pitch is turn off (transposed pitch is on) you see the transposed written pitches. If you want to see and play a D but hear a d-flat you need to transpose in the opposite direction and enter the concert pitch key signature to get a key signature of C for your transposed instrument. Insert the key of D-flat and you will have the transposed key of C.

In reply to by mike320

"I often play guitar tuned flat 1 semitone. I also want MuseScore to play a D flat where I notated a D."

  • Simplest: menu "View" -> Synthesizer -> "Tuning" -> Set the "master tuning" to 415Hz
    Save as a template if wished for easy reuse.

  • Alternatively, for other occasions: when your score has been entered "normally": open Inspector (F8) -> select all (Ctlr + A) -> hit "Notes" tab (under the palettes panel) -> set the "Tuning" value (in "Note" section) to -100,00 - image below.


In reply to by faben70

MuseScore is such a fine program that it gives so many possible solutions to a problem. These are only two ways that you could accomplish your goals. I can think of at least one more way, and that is to change the tuning on all notes by 50 cents in the inspector. This might be useful if you wanted to change guitars part way through a song to one that has been tuned 1/2 step down or up. There's probably yet another way, but I can't think of it right now.

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