Brass Instruments: German translations and transpositions

Hi Daniel,

Dorico 1.0.10 has got German Instrument names now. Thanks for that! Since Brass instruments are my main buisiness, I did have a closer look at the list. Some comments and suggestions:

  1. German transpostions are still missing
    We have got German Instrument names now, but the transpositions are still displayed in English in the score. For example:
    “Trompete in Bb” should be “Trompete in B”
    “Horn in Eb” should be “Horn in Es”
    and so on. Hope that this will be included in one of the next updates.

  2. Display transposition for all transposing Instruments
    At the moment, the transposition is (with a few exceptions) only dislpayed in instruments where there are different transpositions to choose from. I would prefer to have the transposition included in all transposing instruments, when I want to show the transposition, e.g. “Flugelhorn in Bb” (Flügelhorn in B).

  3. Tenor Horn vs. Tenor Horn
    This is a bit complicated, because these instruments can’t be translated easily. The use of the Tenor Horn is different between England (Brass Bands) and America. In England the Tenor Horn transposes in Eb and should be translated as “Althorn in Es” in German. In America the Tenor Horn transposes in Bb (missing in the english version) and should be translated as “Tenorhorn in B”. A bit similar is the baritone, which somtimes would be best translated into “Tenorhorn” instead of “Bariton”.
    For the German Version I would recommend the following transpositions:
    Tenorhorn in B (treble clef 8vb) and C (bass clef)
    Bariton in B (treble clef 8vb) and C (bass clef)
    (both similar to the Euphonium)

  4. Alphorn (not Alpenhorn)
    As far as I know, the Alphorn is never called “Alpenhorn” in German (and DUDEN, the authority for the German language also doesn’t know this spelling). Perhaps in some ancient sources, you can find this spelling, but not knowadays. Searching the internet I only found “Alpenhorn” in English sources. For the German list I would suggest, not to use “Alpenhorn” at all.

  5. I would suggest Kontrabassposaune (instead of Kontrabass-Posaune)

  6. Historic Instruments
    You’ve got serpent and ophicleide in the list, so I would suggest to add the cornett (“Zink” in German) as well.

  7. Drum and bugle corps instruments
    At the moment, there are four drum and bugle corps instruments in the list, which are traditionally written in G transposition: Soprano Bugle, Mellophone Bugle, Baritone Bugle, Contrabass Bugle. I do not have any experience in this kind of ensembles. There are a few (I found 2 in the Internet) ensembles in Germany, but I don’t know, how they translate the instruments (if they do). I think it would be best, to leave the original english terms to prevent unexperienced musicians and composers to choose these instruments by accident. I can’t think of any other ensemble in Germany who uses Brass instruments transposing in G (except the multiple transpositons for Trumpet and Horn in the romantic orchestral music, where you can find transpositions in nearly every possible key).

  8. Perhaps it would be a good idea to subgroup the brass instruments and/or to hide uncommon instruments by default.


In American Brass Bands the E-flat horn is called the Alto Horn.


Thank you, Heiko. I certainly agree…

I confirm nearly all of what you have written about brass instrument nomenclature in german, and all transposing instruments. We even often use “Altsaxophon in Es” (possible is “Altsaxofon in Es”, but I hate it) and similar for the other Saxes. And we write most words together without hyphen (Kontrabassposaune, Tenorhorn).
I disagree concerning “Tenorhorn” and “Bariton”. They are different instruments, the measure (do you really call it diapason in english?) is wider with the Bariton, but they derive from the same family (further down).

I’ve written somewhere else that we need different transpositions for the “Bassklarinette”, since they exist in B and (very seldom!) in A. But beware: Oboe instruments normally do not have the transposition written with the instrument names, we just write “Englischhorn” and “Oboe d’amore”. The “Bassetthorn” does not use “in F”, the “Bassettklarinette” does use in A, in B or in C (obviously).

With some instruments and depending on different publishers, the transposition is written before the instrument: B-Trompete, Es-Klarinette and so on or even B Trompete, Es Altsaxophon… There exist “Es-Klarinette (hoch)” and Es-Klarinette (tief) as well, like with “Horn in B (tief)” or “Horn in B (hoch)”. I even saw “Hohe Es-Klarinette” (Mahler?), I am quite sure.

Bugles and “Flügelhorn” are the same family of instruments. We call them “Flügelhorn, Tenorhorn, Bariton, Tuba” (I love the terminus “Kaiserbass”, a very big Tuba). We have a few Fanfarenzüge or so who use “Bügelhörner in G”, even “Mellophon/Mellophone” (in F as marching version of the Waldhorn, but with trumpet mouthpiece, in Es as a “real” Mellophon). Do not confuse with Melophon, which is kind of accordion, but looks like a hurdy-gurdy:,b-106.htm.

Do not forget the family of “Kornett/Kornette”, in french cornet à piston (Berlioz and many french composers of the 19th century). They have their origin in the “Posthorn” (Mahler…) which is measured between trumpet and bugle (Trompete und Flügelhorn). As far as I know, the Euphonium has its “Heimat” in the family of those. Of course they differ from the cornett/“Zink”. In the Renaissance and Baroque, trumpets of the “Hoftrompeter” were Cornettos in the voices of “Prinzipal/Principal” and “Clarino”.

The Ophicleïde mostly is written with the two dots on the i so we know not to pronounce the two vowels together :wink: (Same with the name of Noëmi).

Someone confused?

I think all of this suggests that you should not predefine any transpositions in Dorico with the instrument names and let the user name the instruments like they should be named totally. You can not care for all possibilities how instruments are named in the main musical languages (what about other alphabets like the latin one, e.g. slavic and asiatic languages?).

Thanks for the feedback on the instrument names. There is still lots more work for us to do in this area, including making it possible to show transpositions correctly for the chosen language used for instrument names.

I have passed on your feedback to our manuals team, who will in turn pass it on to our German translator, and I will leave it to him to decide what to do about the specific issues raised here.

Thank you!

The more common English term is ‘bore’.


I had never seen this! Now that I look it up, my dictionary says it comes via French ophicléide from Greek ophis ‘serpent’ + kleis ‘key’, so indeed it was not a German ‘ei’ diphthong. (Americans will never learn this.)

Relying on DUDEN, the writing without the two dots is totally acceptable in German:


I am quite sure it was NOT Mahler!


Having checked a few Mahler symphonic scores, I can say that he puts “Klarinette/Clarinette in Es”.

@David: That’s why I put Mahler in braces and with a question mark, had not the time to check :wink:, yet I think I really saw it somewhere in my 20 year conducting career (even professional).

@Heiko: Sure, you are totally right that one does not need to write the two dots. But the more sophisticated (some might call it smug) language experts do it to show a bit off. Most old, classical and well-established music publishing companies tend to writing Ophicleide with two dots, though, and it should be possible in the german version of Dorico (like Altsaxofon and Altsaxophon…)

@Chris: Universal Edition, since that is the reference? Yet please register what I wrote to David.

I am not doubting that you may have seen it, only that it was in a Mahler score. I dont even know what it would mean. Surely not another octave higher, which would make the instrument very short! :slight_smile:


Hi David,

I just wrote it to clarify, not because I was irritated. That’s the problem with written comments, you do not get enough (nonverbal) information to really understand.

There is an Altklarinette in Es (Alto Clarinet), so the “Hohe Klarinette” is just to differentiate between them.
It’s a nightmare: There are not only Horns in nearly every transposition (high and low), but clarinets also in more then we know:
High Ab/As (how must that sound??? - probably invented by a dentist!)
High G
High D
Low G
Kontrabass in Bb/B
Subkontra-Altklarinette (with hyphen!, yet you probably can write it together) in Eb/Es
Subkontra-Bassklarinette (hyphen) in Bb/B
( - and wikipedia is right here…)

Isn’t it wonderful? There is a reason why clarinets are called “strings of the concert band”…

Not irritating, or irritated at all!

Mahler used the D-Klarinette (Sixth Symphony) and the G-Klarinette is still played in Schrammelmusik.

I once conducted an excellent arrangement of the finale of Tschaikovsky IV with a wind band and a violinist in the audience told me afterwards that she noticed only half way through that there were no violins in the ensemble!


Just to mention: this topic is about Brass instruments. After a longer discussion about Woodwinds, now a Violinist came in … :smiley:

I’ve just came across the announcement, that VSL is now introducing “Historic Winds”:
Reading this, I was reminded, that I wanted to suggest to add the natural trumpet with different transpositions to the Instrument list.