8vb treble clef in guitar music

Put precisely, guitar music should be notated using the treble clef 8vb to display the pitch correctly. However, not every editor follows this practice; many use a simple treble clef and it is accepted that the guitar sounds one octave lower than another treble clef instrument would.

When I choose the “correct” 8vb clef in Dorico, the resulting sound is one octave too low.
If in the current version there is no option to tell Dorico how to play the music (that I ignore), I suggest a small dialog asking the user which octave he wants to be played whenever someone writes guitar music using the simple treble clef.
On the other hand, choosing the 8vb clef is a deliberate decision; the resulting sound should be the same as in the current version using the simple treble clef. As for me, in this case no dialog is needed.

But who am I.


Dear Eddo, you should find that, in Play mode, you can access a edit window for your favorite VSTi (pressing the rounded e next to its name in the right column. You should be able to edit the way the sound of a particular instrument (guitar) is played back (say, an octave higher)

Hope it helps!

Eddo - This was just discussed.


Search is your friend :slight_smile:

IIRC the G-tenor clef does not transpose at all. Thus the vocal Tenor sound in HALion is sampled an octave lower as a transposing instrument. So I am confused how applying the same G-tenor clef to a guitar would transpose the instrument.

Dear Marc,

I did wonder if there is a possibility in Play mode, which I haven’t touched at all for the moment being (still struggling with the Write / Engrave ping pong… :wink: Thank you for the hint!

Dear eheilner,
You are right. But sometimes (in English rather: often) I don’t seem to find the appropriate search term. Thank you for the link. Not very pleasing, though, that thread… :wink:

Dear Derrek,
Thank you for answering!
Yes, the G-tenor clef does not transpose at all. But the guitar is a transposing instrument. If played back in absolute pitch, it “should” sound an octave too high if a simple G-tenor clef is used, and sound right in case one uses the G-tenor clef with that little 8 put underneath (sorry for being over-descriptive, but that’s what I meant writing “treble clef 8vb”, and I want to be sure we are talking the same thing even in case I let slip a wrong term).
As mentioned above, the truth is that many publishing houses do use an ordinary G-tenor clef instead of the 8vb one, and others do use 8vb.
I’m happy with the solution that Marc suggested - it allows to use both clefs according to taste and adjust the pitch. I’m only a little confused that the pitch I’m hearing is not the right one out of the box – strictly spoken. No big deal.

Problem solved.

Hello, Eddo,

I believe what Derrek meant is that the treble clef, in Dorico, does not transpose the actual pitch content as it is stored and played back, as evinced by his following statement.

Dorico, besides drawing notes on a staff, will also send them out to be played, and that playback is carried out by other software(s). Just as there are a few differing takes on the convention, as you very well know (besides being the motivation for this thread), there have also quite a few ways that those sound-generating softwares interpret the information received. Some prefer to have sounds triggered by their sounding pitch, others by their written pitch. Hence why Derrek said that “the vocal sound (…) is sampled one octave lower”. I haven’t checked myself, but it may be that the instrument has assigned to any given key the sound one octave below already.

Enter the concept of maps. Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach, a map takes your outgoing signal and, well, does just what a map does: points it to the right direction. (Though the terminology actually stems directly from maths, the most common connotation works as well!)

What Marc suggested is, then, correct. You have to act on the path between Dorico’s output and the VST’s input. In your case, going by the setup you’ve described, this means either by using an expression map that transposes pitches one octave up before leaving Dorico or, even easier, opening the VST window, where (if I recall correctly, I don’t use Halion a whole lot) you’ll be able to transpose one octave up all incoming pitches.

Derrek, it is good to hear this from a singer.
I myself are still confused, when the sounding pitch is different from the written one, when it comes to octaves and assumptions.

  1. tenor G-clef with the little 8: to me it shows the tenor sounds one octave lower than the soprano. That is pretty easy. But if I make a clef change to tenor C-clef, the music is one octave out of place. For my logical thinking, this is wrong. Also if I copy tenor music from tenor C-clef and later decide to use the „modern“ tenor G-clef, the music is one octave out of place. For me this seems wrong… I will always have to correct this later. And I am not talking about playback here.
  2. your example trying to find the actual pitch of the choirmasters bell: I have a problem, when a male choir conductor gives the soprano and alto pitches an octave lower - or when a female choir conductor gives the tenors and basses an octave higher. I somehow would prefer to hear them giving the real actual pitches. Most singers seem to have no problem with this…

From a (professional tenor) singer :
I have no problem with getting a pitch at a “wrong” octave to sing. I don’t know if this is because I got used to it or something else.
I have found a little bit annoying that a tenor player (when I add the player in Setup mode) sounds an octave lower than written, until I understood it comes from there, and not from the instrument or the key. Now that I know it, I have no problem with copying parts between singers and move the notes an octave higher or lower. To me, it has been more a problem about “information about the behavior of the player” than anything else. I suppose when we get our hands on a player or instrument editor, all those nuances will be apparent and cases closed.

… to elaborate on this, could it be that people with perfect pitch visualise a pitch on an imaginary piano keyboard and for that reason prefer the real pitch??

I have perfect pitch and am a concert pianist. I don’t visualise pitch on a keyboard; each pitch is just a pitch. I think the only way I can clarify it is by saying that (in my case) perfect pitch is the exact opposite of relative pitch. No intervals are calculated at all.

I no longer have problems getting a pitch at an alternate octave; I was still a kid when the incident I described happened, and had the choimaster thought to tell me the pitch was an octave higher than it gave the impression of being, I’m pretty sure I would have had no trouble.

I agree that having the tenor-G clef and the regular G clef give the same pitch for any given line seems counter-intuitive to me, but that is the way the Dorico/HALion setup works, so I try to adapt. Granted this causes problems when combining tenors and basses on the same staff of a hymn arrangement. Fortunately I do not have to face the prospect of assigning a pre-transposed tenor voice to a C clef. I can see how that would also cause problems. Fortunately the HALion player–and IIRC some expression maps–will allow one to transpose the tenor (or similar instruments pre-transposed at the octave) into the range one expects.