Dorico Doesn't Transpose Notes Upon Change of Clefs


When I change a bar from a G Clef to G Clef (8 above) or G Clef (8 below), etc., Dorico doesn’t transpose the notes accordingly (Dorico doesn’t transpose them at all.) Has anyone else had this issue, and how can I fix it?

I’m on Dorico Pro 2.2.20, running on macOS 10.14.5.

Any hints or insights on this issue would be much appreciated.

All the best,

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In Dorico, octave transpositions are a function of the instrument itself (piccolo, double bass etc.). Octave clefs do not transpose. If you want to use octave clefs, you’ll need to manually shift the notes up/down by an octave, and if playback is at the wrong octave you can fix that separately from within the playback VST.

Thanks for the reply. If that’s so, that seems to me to be such a big and needless mistake.

It’s a very intentional design choice. It’s quite standard for piccolos, double basses and guitars to be notated without the “8” on the clef - anybody who plays those instruments knows that they transpose by an octave. Dorico gives you the option of using those clefs if you need to.

Octave lines, on the other hand, do transpose automatically.

Well, if it’s intentional, it’s a very poor design choice. The benefits from doing it are very meagre, and the downside is far from negligible, it’s quite great actually.

Dear Inthefold–

It’s not a mistake at all and does NOT need fixing. You have a (rather common) misunderstanding of what octave clefs are meant to do. They’re merely reminders, not actual indications of transposition. A tenor part in a choir, for instance, reading treble clef, sings an octave lower than the note written REGARDLESS of whether the treble clef has a little 8 underneath it or not. The transposition is a function of the convention that tenors sing an octave lower, and that convention existed LONG before anybody thought to put a little 8 underneath the clef.

Clefs with octave reminders are a fairly recent invention and were never intended to enforce a transposition. As I said above, they’re merely reminds of what the performer is going to do ANYWAY.


On the other hand, it looks like Daniel isn’t completely opposed to slightly rethinking the way that Dorico handles this in future. See for example.

L3B, I have no misunderstanding (neither common or uncommon), nor is my viewpoint ill-construed in any way. On the other hand, anons unwarrantedly pontificating online never ceases to amuse me.
Thanks for the link, pianoleo. They should indeed rethink it.

And this forum has a nice tool for dealing such time wasters. It’s the “ignore user” option.

Daniel always tries to accommodate as many points of view as possible in his approach to software design, and I have no objection to that. But might I also point out that he acknowledged many years ago (on the Sibelius forum) that the matter of octave clefs is as I described in my above post. The flexibility he intends is not, I feel sure, an endorsement of such assertions as the OP has made here. (And the OP, by the way, is just as ‘anon’ as I am, Rob.)


It is most certainly an intentional design choice that octave clefs do not affect transposition, and I don’t consider it a poor one. But, as I’ve said before, there have been moves in the 20th century to use the octave clef as an alternative to writing lengthy octave lines, and in principle I have no objection to Dorico supporting this convention in future.

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Well, Daniel, If I want to notate a C5 in G clef (8 above), I shouldn’t hear a C4, that makes it an empty notational vessel which isn’t fully implemented.

I was referring only to the OP, not to you. (Which should be obvious, since I just read your post!)

Rob and L3B, I do sign my original posts with my birth-given name. So, no, the anon tag doesn’t really stick. Besides, my original statement isn’t about anonymity, it’s clearly about unwarrantedly pontificating. And it is as such that it stands.

We will have to agree to disagree on that point, António!

I see no problem in that, Daniel. Disagreement is the salt of the earth, after all.

But if a tenor would read a part and sing it an octave lower regardless of the clef, why shouldn’t that be reflected in the playback? This is something I’m struggling with on a project where I need to make demos of a piece for male singer - I end up transposing the vocal line down for audio export, and then back up to written range for the PDF export…

By default I get correct playback (down an octave) from both HALion and NotePerformer. Are you using a VST that doesn’t get this right automatically?

Did you select a Tenor singer from the instrument list, or start from a lead sheet with a generic untransposed vocal staff?

This fire has been stoked many times here. However, speaking as a kind of Tenor, the 8 is not a redundant marking, and I might conceivably think the part is at Treble pitch in the absence of other indications, particularly in Early Music.

As a notator, the real problem comes if you want to switch clefs: you cannot accurately switch to another clef in the Tenor voice instrument; nor use the G8 clef in any other voice. It’s possible that a generic “Men’s” part might switch between F and G8 clefs.

As an editor, I often transcribe music in C4 clef, which I then change to a modern Tenor part. I also produce editions in different transpositions, where an Alto part in one key may be a Tenor part in another.

For those that want it, there’s a solution here in the form of a ‘real’ working G8 clef.