Proposal for mid-score instrument changes with transposition

• Sep 23, 2015 - 20:25

As you may know, support for mid-score instrument changes (via the Instrument element on the Text palette) was added in 2.0. But this controls playback only; the transposition is not honored. Or, more to the point, it is partially honored, and wrongly. I am working on fixing this so the transposition works as expected, and I basically have it working for newly created scores. The question is how to best handle scores in 2.0 - 2.0.2 that tried to use this feature. There are a number of workarounds people have used to try to get both the printed score and the playback working. What I am looking for is some real world scores people would be willing to share and discuss so I can see how people are coping wiht this right now.

Here's a summary of what I know thus far:

1) If you enter notes into your score, and *then* add an Instrument text and change to a transposing instrument, then neither the sound nor the appearance of the notes will not change, regardless of the state of the Concert Pitch button. So if you start out with Alto Saxophone and then change to Clarinet, when concert pitch is off, any existing notes will still show the pitches transpose as appropriate for alto saxophone, even though they will play back at original pitch. it is as if you change the sound from alto saxophone to clarinet only.

2) If you then enter notes into this passage, things get really confusing. The specifics will depend on whether you enter the notes by clicking, typing, the Piano Keybaord window, or MIDI, but bottom line is, you will get notes that either don't look or don't sound the same as the notes that were entered before you added the Instrument change. I'm actually very surprised this hasn't been mentioned before - it's a pretty serious problem in my view.

So I am guessing that people using this feature are not running into 2) or we'd be hearing about it, meaning they mostly enter their notes into the score *before* the change of instrument - or they are not dealing with transposing instruments. But I am not sure what people are doing to get a score that both plays back and looks correct. I mean, I know what workarounds exist, and how I personally might go about it, but I am hoping to see scores from other people so we can see what kind of state they are in currently and I can figure out what makes sense in terms of trying to either preserve it or correct.


In the attached score, you will find multiple instrument changes piano to flugelhorn (actually mixed to brass section). I did experience #2 above but thought it was just the process I used. Not a peculiarity of the software.

When I entered the notes for the rhythmic notation, the notes were the wrong pitch. I used my mouse curser to move them up and down and for some unknown reason they eventually turned out right. I don't quite understand this but you might.

Anyway, here's one you can look at and do with as you please


In reply to by rwmol

Thanks, it was helpful to see this.

So when I load your score into 2.0.2, I see that in all cases, even when you have selected Flugelhorn as the instrument, the notes are not transposed at all - they play back at the same pitch they display at. Which must mean you successfully worked around issue #2, presumably by entering all notes *before* changing the isntrument to Flugelhorn. However, if you try to enter any new notes into the Flugelhorn sections using the mouse or computer keyboard, you will see issue #2 - the note will appear at the pitch you enter (and remains at that pitch even if you turn Concert Pitch on), but will *sound* a step lower.

When I load your score into my own build of MuseScore with my fixes in place, everything looks and sounds exactly the same - the Flugelhorn passages still do not transpose. That's how I have designed it to work when loading older scores, for compatibility. But the bug #2 is gone - entering new notes into the Flugelhorn now plays back at the correct pitch.

In my build, if you then do another Change Instrument - even selecting Flugelhorn again - this time it *will* transpose that passage. There is an issue with transposing of key signatures in this case, but I know the cause of that and that is a separate unrelated bug that I hope to fix (or see someone else fix) later (it also prevents Undo of Change Instrument from working in 2.0.2). But aside from that glitch, your particular case works well with my changes, so I'm happy to see that.

Would still love to see other examples of people using this differently - I'm especially interested in cases where people are going to some lengths to get both the transposed score/part and the playback to be correct - eg, by using multiple staves and "Hide empty staves", or maybe multiple voices (hmmm).

BTW, with my proposed changes, if you should happen to want to change to a trumpet sound but *don't* want it to transpose, just use the Mixer rather than the Change Instrument command.

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