Bass Clarinet Clef

Some people write bass clarinet using bass clef, sounding a major 2nd lower. Others write it in treble clef, sounding a major 9th lower.

Symphony players I know prefer treble clef since the fingering is identical to a Bb clarinet.

Problem: Dorico wants to put the part in bass clef. I can transpose it so it looks right, but then the playback won’t work correctly and the part will be flagged as out of range in Dorico.

Is there a setting to fix this?


The instrument picker in Setup mode has a whole bunch of differently configured bass clarinets:

Which one works best will depend not only on what you want to see in the transposed part, but what you want to see in the score (and whether the score’s concert pitch or transposed).

It could also be that you’ve imported music via MusicXML that has explicit clefs at the start of the flow; if you can select the clef at the start of the first bar, in Write mode, it’s explicit, and you should delete it.

For the sake of completeness, there is all manner of stuff you can do with manually inputting clefs that display differently (or not at all) in transposed vs sounding layouts, and there’s an Instrument Editor in which you can alter transpositions of existing instruments and create new ones, but you shouldn’t need to do either of these things for the sake of a common or garden bass clarinet.

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Thanks, @pianoleo. I’ll take a look at the picker options.

By the way, this was a MIDI import from a DAW at concert pitch, so there won’t be any XML issues in this case.

After I made other edits to the score, I went back to Setup, changed the Bass Clarinet to B Flat Sounds 8va bassa and everything magically worked: the part sounded right and was transposed correctly. All I had to do was change the clef sign.

Thanks again.

Definitely do not use bass clef unless you want piss off your players and force them to painfully rewrite for treble themselves. Same goes for non orchestral bass clarinet players :slight_smile:

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Well, to be fair, most symphony players can read bass clef. I doubt the Bass Clarinet at the Met Opera sits down and re-writes the entire Ring cycle (which is often in A, besides bass clef).

But, you are correct in saying that TC (and B-flat!) is preferred.

At any rate, it will probably be the librarian who will need to make the transposition.

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To be fair not any that I knew when I was a professional clarinettist. I changed careers and instrument to piano, it too me years to comfortably learn to read bass clef at performance level.

For standard repertoire the library or somebody would have a transcription, and besides the amount of music for bass to be transcribed really isn’t all that much, it’s not a piano score.

Besides which the thread was about new music which wouldn’t have a crib sheet anywhere.

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