Clef issue in transposing instruments

• Nov 7, 2015 - 16:04

I've found out with some difficulty how to alter the instruments.xml file and get the changes present when MS is reloaded; is there anything in the manual about editing instrument details? I couldn't find it.

So I've reset the low end of the Bass Clarinet to Bb1 (written C), and the Contrabass Clarinet to C1 (written D), to match my instruments; and added a Tarogato (the soprano sax sound is OK for that). But I can't get the concert clef line to work properly.
For the Bass Clarinet I've now got
But the above gives me a G clef for both situations, instead of the bass clef for concert, as wanted.

Ah.. I see that it also does that for contra-alto and contrabass clarinets, which I haven't altered, so perhaps it's a bug.


The XML gets stripped out when typed directly into a post, so unfortunately I can't check your syntax. But in general, it *does* work to have different clefs for concert pitch on versus off. If I add a contrabass clarinet using the default instruments.xml, it shows up with treble clef for concert pitch off and switches to bass clef for concert pitch on just as it should. Are you saying it doesn't for you? What if you restore the original instruments.xml?

BTW< no, I don't think there is any particular document on the format of this file; it's sort of intended for advanced users only and basically, you learn by seeing how other instruments handle things.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've reset defaults under Score in Preferences, and it's using the original instruments.xml again.
But I need to do more tests and I'm out of time right now. I think it's working correctly if I start a new score and select an instrument, but not if I use Stave Properties to set the instrument - and that's what I have to do, as I'm working with a load of files imported from Overture. I think the Stave Properties route gives precedence to whatever clef happened already to be set.

In reply to by John Kilpatrick

Yes, that sounds right. Once a staff is adfded, its initial clef isn't really a staff "property" any more - it's part of the actual *content* of the staff, just like the key signature or any of the notes on that staff. So no, changing staff properties won't alter the clef or any other content on the staff. The initial clef properties only affect which clef is inserted for you when adding a new staff.

Something else on clefs, for which I can't find a work-around.
(For info, I'm working on Susato Danserye, 1551, and am delighted to discover many of MuseScore's features: e.g. I can use the cut-circle "other" time signature where it appears in the original; and I can use above-staff editorial accidentals which play back, which I can't in my old favourite Overture).
For a transposing instrument, if a clef is changed at the start of a score or section in concert pitch, it does not change the clef in transposing pitch, and vice-versa. But if this is tried for a non-transposing instrument, changing the clef in one mode also changes it in the other. This applies even if the transposeDiatonic and transposeChromatic lines are present in the instrumentsxxx.xml file (with the values set to zero), as well as if the Play Transposition properties are set to unison in Stave Properties.
This prevents the following: having original clefs in concert pitch, but modern clefs in transposed pitch, but without actual transposition. This would be most useful in the context of some early music.
Any answer to this - or should I elevate it to Request?
(I also see that a clef change in the middle of a section affects both concert and transposed, even if it would be nonsensical for the concert pitch version - I wonder if that was really intentional?)
P.S. I've tried diminished second, but that's no good because of accidental spellings.
PPS OK, here's a solution. Do all the work with a transposition set (e.g. a second). Positively set the clefs in all staves and all sections, in both concert & transposed modes. The finally go into stave properties and reduce the transposition to perfect unison - the clefs stay as they are set. Not entirely satisfactory, as it means that no tinkering with clefs can be done without first reinstating a transposition.

In reply to by John Kilpatrick

Hmm, interesting use case. I can see why it might be valuable in that case to have separate clefs for concert and transposed scores even for concert pitch instruments, but for the more general case, I think it would just confuse people and possibly create unnecessary extra work needing to reproduce clef changes in both modes for instruments like piano where it never normally occur to one this might be needed.

One possibility would be to make it so holding Ctrl while adding a clef had the effect of limiting it to just the current mode. This would be roughly analogous to how holding Ctrl while adding a key or time signature makes the change local to that staff.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think the Ctrl method is a good idea. In fact, I had actually tried that, just in case it was already there but not documented!

The issue about a mid-section clef change affecting both concert and transposed ought also to be addressed. So far as I can see, there is no way at present of preventing such a clef change from appearing in both modes.

In reply to by John Kilpatrick

"having original clefs in concert pitch, but modern clefs in transposed pitch": as Marc noted, an interesting use case, particularly to me, as I only deal with "early music" scores and I like to provide my users with both original and 'modern' clef versions (see several examples at my score site ).

However, after consideration, I doubt it would be really useful. I did the same considerations when I initially hoped that the now mostly abandoned layer feature could be used for that.

Actually, when clefs are changed from original to 'modern', a number of other items need to be adjusted: many occurrences of editorial accidentals need to be re-positioned; 'modern' clefs tend to have more ledger lines and system breaks may need adapting (or layout reconsideration, particularly if the same number of pages is required in both versions); longae symbols (used as end fermatas) may need stem flipping...

So, clever, but in the end possibly not worth the effort?



In reply to by Miwarre

Very interesting link, thanks for that. Seeing your scores is quite instructive in pointing to MuseScore features that I haven't found or used yet.

My method of sorting layout differences is to use line breaks; then if flipping from Concert to Transposed adds a system, use Decrease Stretch.

In reply to by John Kilpatrick

Which is more or less the same as I do, but leaving Decrease Stretch as the last option, if there is no other way. Often, if the piece is not very 'squeezed' to start with, there is some room in the last system (or at structural junctions like repeats) to accommodate overflow from previous systems, at least in part. This requires re-doing the line breaks, but ensures a more consistent 'colour'.

(Side note: Please note that some of the my scores have not been ported to the 2.0.x yet and a couple have been made with 'transitional' pre-release 2.0 versions and may exhibit oddities; the MuseScore version is declared for each score, though. Sooner or later they will all be updated.)

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