Horn in F

Horn 1 in F, does that mean the notes are already transposed - the first note being a B, or is it simply the type of horn used?

There are two views, choose whether you want the transposing layout (view) or concert:

Not sure if this answers your question or not, but check because otherwise your question is not clear.

As @arco says. But perhaps your question refers to the score you show rather than the Dorico setup?? In which case, if your score is transposed - the notes are transposed! Since Horns often have no key sig, check the Clarinets.

Thanks that’s what i was thinking. so its a french horn in the key of F but from the score is already transposed.

I understand now, @Janus understood it correctly, it was a score you are looking at (not Dorico itself).

To be clear: Horn in F is the type of horn, regardless of the score being transposed or notated at pitch.


Yes, and thus “in F” indicates that the notation is transposed.

[…] indicates that the notation is transposed.

Actually, it indicates that the instrument is a transposing instrument. Whether the notation is concert pitch or not is something entirely different.


No – and that was my point: You may specify instruments in certain keys on an orchestration page or elsewhere. But in a staff label (as in the OP) “in [key]” means unequivocally that the following is transposed notation in that key.

In a concert score, the keys of the instruments are irrelevant, and staff labels should not include instrument keys.

Yes- like Bb clarinet or Bb trumpet. When a transposing instrument “plays its ‘C’, it sounds its key.” Regardless whether a score is in concert key or transposed, it’s important for me to know which specific horn, clarinet or trumpet, etc. is reflected in the score.

1 Like

If I see a score in concert pitch and only see ‘clarinet’ as a staff label, how do I know which one is intended- A, Bb, or Eb?. Perhaps it’s a nomenclature issue. Clarinet in Bb could be understood differently than Bb clarinet, perhaps, but absent an orchestration page- which many scores don’t have-, it’s important to know which specific clarinet (Bb, Eb, or A), trumpet (Bb,or C), horn (F, D), etc is used in the score- whether or not the score is transposed. For me, the important thing is a clear understanding of the instruments involved. Of course, a transposed score should be labeled as such.

Can someone with more experience with concert scores comment? In my limited experience directors who use concert scores don’t care what keys the instruments are in, and leave those concerns to the copyist and players. How they communicate about a particular note to the player of a transposing instrument I have no idea.

In my experience (but I’m a very classical musician) conductors prefer transposed scores, i.e. scores where the parts of transposed instruments look the same as in the musician’s own part. In conversation with, for example, a clarinet player, the conductor will explicitly refer to ‘written’ or ‘sounding’ pitch. Conductors must be able to read a transposed score.


That’s our experience … but I know there are many others out there who work differently.

Jazz conductors too. With the exception of entrance cues, conductors always need to see what the players see IMO. Film conductors seem to want concert for whatever reason.

I find it very hard to imagine any director not caring which instrument is being played and as a composer, I’d be quite upset to learn that to be the case.

Basically, the staff label designates which instrument to use and transposing instruments (except 8va/b instruments) are labelled appropriately as “in [key]”. If the score is at concert pitch, it should be clearly labelled at the top of the first page of music “In C” or something. I haven’t seen many concert (full) scores but the few that I have seen were prominently labelled at the top of the first page. Reductions, on the other hand, are almost always concert.


I think there was a time in the 1920-30s when some new works appeared with conductor scores published in C, but it seems like this trend didn’t take in the end.

Prokofiev might be the only exception - all of his conductor scores are in C and the ones I’ve seen all specify the exact instrument transpositions in a footnote on the orchestration page (usually B and F).

It’s crucial for a conductor to know which instrument type is being used, even if the score is in concert pitch. A Clarinet in Eb has a totally different timbre than a Clarinet in Bb or A, so it is usually specified. The conductor needs to be able to project the correct sound scape in his/her head.
Same with Trumpets, and in extension Horns.

There are exceptions: Instruments, where the name gives the definite answer to the transposition used.
There is no Alto-Saxophone other than in Eb, so writing it additionally is redundant and uses too much space. Maybe some people consider the Horns in this area, as well, as the F/Bb-double-horn is pretty much standard nowadays.

1 Like

But all of us (so far) are speaking from experience where directors use transposing scores. So we’ve got kind of an echo chamber, here.

No, I was speaking about concert pitch scores, which I have seen little, but always clarifying which clarinet or trumpet to use.