Changing piece from major to minor automatically (changing accidentals)? And how to transpose?

To clarify, I don’t mean ‘‘how to do put a different key signature’’ but rather to, for example: I have a piece written in C major, and I want to apply a key signature change to the start of the piece to C minor, and making all E’s, A’s and B’s flat, as the key indicates. If I do this the usual way, the key signature changes but all the ‘‘old’’ music content doesn’t get updated with the new accidentals but rather they keep the natural E’s, A’s and B’s. I’d like to know if there is a way to automatically apply a key signature to already existing music content while forcing the new accidentals onto the old music content so it conforms to the new key signature, that way I could easily make a whole piece switch between parralel modes of C, for example and check how it sounds. Right now the only way I know is to change the key signature and then manually changing every single note of the piece, which is obviously an impossible task when it comes to lengthy pieces.

I’d also like to ask how to easily transpose music content by intervals? Say something like ‘‘select music content>>tranpose…>>descending minor 3rd>>Apply’’. This combined with what I asked above would help me easily and quickly tranpose among different keys and modes.

Have you looked into “Filter by pitch”? You can select a range of notes and filter-select all E’s in that range, for example. Then change to flats in one action.

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I thought about that, but it is certainly a most unelegant and slow solution, I’d expect Dorico has a way to do what I said without doing workarounds like that (which still require manual labor in some way or another). Just going from major to minor (a very basic key change) it would already require manually changing 3 accidentals, so I’d have to do what you say 3 times, imagine if I changed between keys with a big difference of accidentals between them like from C major to Db minor, or to custom key signatures with both flats and sharps… Is it really the only way?

The quickest way to “change from major to minor” by your definition is probably

  • Select all
  • Hit Alt + down-arrow twice
  • Transpose up a minor third
  • Change the key signature

BTW D flat minor has 8 flats in the key signature, but Dorico can handle that :slight_smile:

You can transpose by intervals already, with the Edit / Transpose dialog.

Transposing “mechanically” from “major to minor” seems an odd thing to do, since for most tonal music you will have to decide what to do with the 6th and 7th degrees of the scale on a note by note basis anyway.

I suppose what you want is really “modal transposition” from Ionian to Aeolian, but I don’t know any notation apps that automatically do that sort of thing.


Finale does it. The only times I can recall using it are situations when I’ve had slashes that were actual notes and I wanted them to stay fixed on a certain staff line. A modal transposition option in Dorico would be a useful feature in the OP’s situation, although I can’t recall ever wanting to do this myself.

Indeed, what I want to achieve in this case is ‘‘modal transposition’’, but it’s not really as complex a request as it may seem… It literally is ‘‘when inserting a new key signature, force all notes to follow the key signature (removing any accidentals throught the piece)’’. That’s all there is to it (and having the tool would provide new options for testing out the character of different modes using the same music content). Maybe there is a way to select all accidentals in a piece? That would be an acceptable workaround.

You can’t select notes with accidentals specifically, but you can select all sharp or flat notes using the filters.

I agree that modal transposition would be a good future feature for us to add, for what it’s worth, but it’s unlikely to appear imminently.

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Does Dorico do modal transposition yet?

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No, the most slow and inelegant solution is to have to alter all the pitches one-by-one by hand.

While I like the idea of a “change from M to m” system, I have to question how that would work? There are multiple minor scales, for instance. How would such a command handle altered pitches? Would it apply one accidental to notes ascending in a run and a different set of pitches to descending runs? What if you were in major originally, and had a little section mid piece in minor: would it then have to take the minor section and make it major? Diminished?

The fact is, these decisions aren’t straightforward. I improvise in front of hundreds of people every week (professional organist) and I regularly change modes but maintain same/similar melodic and harmonic material; there are many decisions that have to be made on the fly; it is NOT a 1:1 translation.

I’m afraid some manual labor is always going to be involved in these things. I just can’t see how this could be practically achieved, apart from doing a very simple key signature swap, at which point you’d still have to go through and review all the pitches one by one anyway.

I think filter by pitch is really fairly elegant when you consider all of the above.

Edit: while my observations still stand, I realize I was tricked by the new forum and failed to notice the date of the OP. I wasn’t intending to rehash something three years old.


Still, what you say makes sense. There are some things that need to be done manually (or mostly manually) rather than folks’ seeking a one-button solution.

In other words, I like your modus operandi.

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The next major version of Dorico will introduce features to transform music from one scale to another.


I came today to this topics to transpose major to minor so:
@dspreadbury : great news
Finaly I used the method of @Rob_Tuley …great! but only a bad thing,: I used 12 flows in my layout and when I slected all the notes and do transpose only one flow is transposed so I had to do 12 times the transposition.
did I do something wrong or the transposition is not possible on several flows at the same time ?

That’s right, it’s one flow at a time.

thank you for the answer ! the sentence is final. snif!

Hi Daniel. Is transforming music from one major scale to a minor scale already possible in Dorico 5?

Hi @Coe Yes is possible:

menu Write/Transform/Pitches/Map scale…


Oh, it is in transform, not in transpose.
Anyways, that’s useful, but I’ve found a few issues:

  • If you just choose from Ionian to Aeolian/minor, it considers everything going to A Aeolian/minor, even if the original major scale is not C major.
  • If you also use “keep relative offsets from source scale” it becomes minor but keeping the same root, instead of going to the relative minor (root minor 3rd down).
  • If you also use source root and destination root (ex.: from E to C#), it works while it is in E major, but if the next staff is in F major, you cannot select all at once, but only what is in E major, then only what is in F major, etc.
  • In any case, the chords are not transformed from major to minor (in transposition)

So, in order to transform everything to the relative minor, you need two steps:
1- Write → Transform → Pitches → Map Scale → Ionian to minor and choose “keep relative offsets from source scale”.
2- Select everything again so the chords are selected, then: Write → Transpose → transpose all a minor third down.

However, for some reason, after selecting everything, I am not able to transpose a minor third down. Even if I change from perfect to diatonic, the option for 3rds doesn’t appear.

Just use the Calculate interval (on the right) C to A and apply.

(There has long been a debate about the order of the dropdowns on the left, which can be confusing as you discovered)


Thanks. It works if you uncheck transpose key signatures.
However, the chords are still an issue, as they didn’t get the write transposition/transformation after all this.

In what way?