REQUEST: Placement of Key Changes for Instrument Changes

I’m not sure if this has been requested before so bear with me if it has.

Regarding the placement of the key change when a player switches instruments. It has always been my practice to place the key change for an instrument change at the spot where the new instrument first enters not in the next bar after the old instrument stops playing. This practice is not without precedent either, I’ve checked several Broadway woodwind parts and indeed this is the current practice of Broadway copyists.

I’ve checked the Gould on this matter and indeed the only example I can find regarding this (page 559) does indeed show the key change happening the way Dorico currently handles it; in the bar after the old instrument stops playing. However I can’t find mention in the Gould of why the key change should happen this way, the placement is not even mentioned, there’s only a single graphic showing it done this way. It’s entirely possible that this is the traditional orchestral way of doing this, I haven’t been able to do much research on this matter in the classical rep., but I do know that the Broadway tradition is absolutely the other way.

Anyway, the request is to at least have the option of making the key change appear in the bar where the first bit of music happens for the new instrument.

Incidentally, a long time ago I asked a copyist about this when I turned in some work that had the key change for an instrument change appear in the “wrong” place (ie in the next bar after the old instrument) and their reasoning was sound: clef changes should appear right before the music happens in the new clef not earlier because it will be more noticeable for the player in the moment, why wouldn’t key changes for instrument changes happen the same way?

Isn’t it true that traditional (i.e., by hand) copying of parts for musicals also omitted clefs and key signatures in general except at the beginning of a page? That would have made the practice you describe (informing a player of the new state just before playing) essential.

I believe you are correct that in the old days of hand copying shows some copyists would only write the first instance of a key signature (and at the top of every page). I believe in some old Jazz scores they did this too.

Modern shows also tend to have tons of song key changes anyway, not to mention tons of instrument changes for WW players playing 4, 5 or even 6 instruments each. It’s just good practice to have that key change for the WW players when they switch instruments right where the notes come in… a lot can happen in 8 bars of rest!

Dorico performs the transition to the new instrument immediately after the last notes of the old one, which is why you then see any changes of clef and transposition take effect immediately after the last note. We have certainly talked about providing an option to perform the transition “late”, i.e. immediately before the first note of the new instrument, but it’s not currently scheduled for implementation. I’m sure we will add this in the future, though.