Concert / Transposing Clefs

I discussed Dorico’s handling of ottava clefs with Daniel in the early days, though there seems to be some new functionality, which might be helpful, if I could get it to work.

In Dorico, ottava clefs don’t transpose the octave by default. So changing from a Treble G clef to a Tenor G clef does not affect the notes’ position or playback. Transposition is done to the instrument, so a Tenor voice Player is down an octave, no matter what clef is used.

However, the Edit menu > Clef submenu has “Concert Pitch” and “Transposed Pitch” options, each with a list of all the clefs. But I can’t work out how to use these for what I want. (Or rather, I can click on the menu items when I have stuff selected, but nothing happens.)

I’m transcribing some Renaissance music from a manuscript, which uses a variety of C clefs, and once I’ve typed all the music in, I’ll convert the lines to modern clefs. So I want to type in the vocal lines at pitch using C clefs, and then change to Tenor G clefs, or Treble G clefs, or even Bass clefs, as appropriate for the range, without having to worry about things being at the wrong octave.

If you change the “instrument” the appropriate voice, the transpositions should be correct. If not, the transposition can be added by exporting to XML and adding the appropriate tag.

I’ve tried using a Soprano (untransposed) instrument, and a Tenor (transposed) one.

If I type in the music with the Soprano, then I have to put it down an octave to get it into the Tenor G clef;
If I use the Tenor instrument, then I have to play the notes in an octave down to get them onto the displayed C clef correctly.

If you’re using the Edit > Clef route, you can’t use that until you set a clef from the right-hand toolbox. I don’t know why this is.

Yes, you can’t select the ‘default’ clef for the instrument: you have to add one from the panel.

Essentially, I just want the notes to stay at the their concert pitch, no matter what clef I select.

If you don’t want the Tenor voice to transpose, then just add a non-transposing singer and rename it to Tenor.

No, because then if I change to Tenor G clef, the notes are in the wrong octave. See the attached image. Soprano Instrument with Tenor G clef show Middle C incorrectly.

I sent you a PM.

I’ve worked out the difference between Concert Pitch clefs and Transposing Pitch clefs. When you are viewing in Concert Pitch, you have to change clefs with Edit > Concert Pitch Clefs. When you are viewing in Transposing Pitch, you have to select the Transposing Pitch Clefs.

Instrument transposition was never my strong suit, but is it really necessary to have two separate menu items for the same clefs, depending on which viewing mode you’re in? (Given that you can’t actually select the set for the ‘other’ viewing mode.)

Yes, it is, so that you can override the choice of clef in concert and transposing pitch for instruments that need this, such as low wind and brass instruments, which are often written in bass clef in concert scores and in treble clef in transposing scores and parts, for example.

Can’t say I understand, but luckily I don’t write for that repertoire. :confused:

And just to confirm, none of this is helpful in getting a Tenor G clef to display notes at the correct pitch without instrument transposition? Presumably, the Dorico way is to have two instruments on the same Player, and switch instrument when I switch clef?

That’s right, none of it changes the transposition of the instrument itself. At the moment, clefs have no effect on transposition at all. We are not opposed to this in principle but it’s not the way the program works at the moment. In the fullness of time I expect you will be able both to edit the transposition of instruments (among many other properties) and also determine what transposition effect a clef should have, but these changes are not imminent.

Brilliant! I’ll give this a try in Dorico. I recently had to make a string bass arrangement of a Dvořák Rondo for cello and piano, meaning a transposition of a minor 7th (solo tuning). I wanted the score to be in concert pitch, meaning that the switches between treble and bass clef had to be in completely different places in the score and the part. In ‘Another Music Scoring Program’ this proved to be impossible and I had to extract the bass part.

I’ve been pointed to this thread from a different platform (Facebook), and I have to object strongly to the idea of “optical only” clefs.

It seems to me that somehow in this discussion, also in Daniel’s response, the concept of “clef” and “transposition” is getting confused.

A clef never transposes. It always shifts. The clef used has exactly nothing to do with the transposition of an instrument.

So regardless of the transposition of the instrument, a 8va or 8vb clef should always sound according to its respective shift, which is one octave up/down.

As much as you don’t use, say, “optical only” alto clefs, we shouldn’t ever see “optical only” 8va or 8vb (or 15va or 15vb) clefs at all. They should behave in exactly the same way as every other clef.

In properly notated choral scores, the tenor part is notated in 8vb treble clef. The fact that this is sometimes omitted, as it seems to be self-evident, does not change the general meaning of the 8vb clef.

Please change this. All clefs, including 8va and 8vb clefs, should behave exactly the way they are written.

This seems rather uncontroversial. Or am I missing something?

I refer you to my last reply in this thread, just a couple of posts above this one, in case you missed it:

At the moment, clefs have no effect on transposition at all. We are not opposed to this in principle but it’s not the way the program works at the moment. In the fullness of time I expect you will be able both to edit the transposition of instruments (among many other properties) and also determine what transposition effect a clef should have, but these changes are not imminent.

Thank you for the reply. I’m happy to hear that this will be addressed at some time in the future, even though I would consider this a bug rather than a missing feature. Of course an alto clef has an effect on the shifting (not transposition) of the notes (compared to a treble clef), and so should the va clefs, as they are, in principle, no different.

And please, never let any clef have any transposition effect, as shifting and transposing are entirely unrelated.

I would like to add a strong encouragement to have the option of allowing octava clefs to be transposed during playback. I have just written a work for 4 pianos which uses octava clefs (both treble clef sounding an octave up and bass clef sounding an octave down.) In this work, there are extended passages where the entire right hand is very high on the piano keyboard and Dorico will not playback in the correct register if I use a treble clef with an 8va. The alternative is to have 30 pages with an octava line above the staff (which seems completely redundant since the octave clef implies the octave above) or to ignore the fact that dorico playback is incorrect.

I should also mention that many contemporary composers use octave clefs extensively for piano music. Tristan Murial, one of the most important living contemporary composers, writes his piano music on 4 staves in which the top staff is a treble+15 clef and the bottom staff is a bass-15 clef and that way he can cover the entire piano range on the four staves with no octava lines (and barely any ledger lines.)

I tried to remedy this problem using expression maps but that didn’t work reliably. If anyone has a solution, I would be happy to hear about it.

I can only agree with what Tommok said. It would be nice if this “mistake” was corrected in Dorico as soon as possible.

It would be nice if it worked either way, but treble clef for tenor singers or for double bass without the ‘8’ are not wrong or mistaken. It’s a long standing convention. No singer or bassist would alter what they song or play due to the absence or presence of the 8.

Here’s Clifford Barlett’s edition of Monteverdi’s Vespers. He writes the Altus part in the Tenor G8 clef for Laetatus sum, though it could equally have been written in the Treble G clef. Given the range and distribution of all the parts, it’s likely to be sung by Altos or Countertenors. The 8 is crucial in not singing up the octave!

For Lauda Jerusalem, the Altus part is in the Treble G clef. (No ottava.) The Quintus part was in the G8 clef, but now needs to be in the Bass F clef!

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