Bass Oboe Octavation

Dear all,

I’m writing for a double reed ensemble that includes a bass oboe. The convention is that it is notated in treble clef, an octave above what it actually sounds.

Is there a way to notate it in the octave that will actually sound?

So far as I know, that is exactly how the bass oboe instrument in Dorico is set up.

Actually it is set up in the way that we oboists use it: We read a middle E in treble clef and it sound an octave lower. Visually it will always look an octave above its sound even if I set a bass clef. If I copy a bass oboe note, say a written middle E, and paste it into a non transpository instrument such as the oboe then suddenly it is notated an octave lower than in the bass oboe. (Which is correct when working with a score where all transpository instruments are written as the player reads them as opposed to what actually sounds.)

In the score I also use cor anglais. They are notated as it will sound in the full score. That’s why it’s a bit confusing that the cor anglais is notated as it sounds and the bass oboe is notated as it’s read by the player.

It’s not confusing at all. This is standard. Some instruments just have an octave displacement built in. No one wonders why a contrabass or a guitar sounds an octave lower than written.

What is confusing to people of course depends on what they are used to. But it may be worth considering if instruments as the double bass or the bass oboe should be treated as transpository instruments because if we take octavation seriously that’s what they are. In western music we have a tendency to ignore that middle C for instance is a different note to all other Cs.

Maybe there should be three options:

  1. Show all instruments as they are notated for the players (So there will be different key signatures for Horns, Clarinets etc)
  2. Show all instruments in the same key (which I believe is the Dorico default)
  3. Show all instruments at their actual pitch (This differs slightly from 2) because it would take octavation into consideration)

Of course 1) and 2) already exist.