Tenor Voice and Octave Down Treble Clef


I’m writing a piece for 4 voices, and my tenor will sometimes switch out into a bass role, and he prefers to read bass clef when doing so.

The first issue I ran into is that when I use bass clef on a tenor voice, it transposes down an octave. It’s my understanding that tenor voice is treated as a transposing instrument in dorico, so I tried a work around suggested in another thread. I used a baritone voice and renamed in tenor, and carried on writing.

The second issue occurred once I tried to write for that voice in octave down treble clef. The clef itself doesn’t transpose, so written notes sounded concert and an octave higher than what the tenor would read.

Will this / has this been addressed? Is it possible to make my own clef so that middle C is the second space in the staff? Thanks!


This is a known issue. Ottava clefs in Dorico do not transpose: they are purely ‘cosmetic’. Transposition is a property of the instrument itself, rather than the clef it uses. So Tenors are lumped in with Contrabasses: playback transposed down the octave, no matter what clef is used.

The alternative, as you’ve found out, is to use a Baritone or Bass singer, but then the Tenor G8 clef will playback exactly as a Soprano G8 clef…!

It is possible, though not easy, to add a custom clef to your userdefaults.xml file. You can then use another vocal instrument, like “Voice”, and then use whichever clef you like. I might put up some instructions here, once I’ve figured out an easy way to outline the procedure.

Another possibility is to add a Baritone part to your score, and assign it to the Tenor in Setup mode. Then you can have the tenor switch to baritone, just like oboe switching to English horn; and you can hide the “To BAR” text in Engrave mode.

I see there is somebody experiencing difficulties similar to mine.
I’ll describe my case.

I set up a vocal SATB ensemble. Dorico gives me 3 Treble Clefs and a Bass Clef. Correct! Strange as it seems, I would rather prefer to use ancient keys. So I change to Sop Alto Tenor and leave the bass clef as it is. What happens? Tenor clef write (and plays) sounds one octave higher than needed. If I add a cello staff, the tenor clef works perfectly. If I copy and paste the music from the cello to the tenor staff: same problem. I have tried also using a tenor 8b clef but this does not help either.

If you want to use a C-clef, use any other voice instrument and rename it as Tenor. If you want to use the G8 clef later on, then change the instrument to Tenor and remove the C-clef.

Any news about the issue I submitted above? As you may understand I would like to be able to use (as I need to) a regular Tenor clef on a tenor part in SATB environment.Thanks

As I wrote in my post above, if you want to use a C-clef for the tenor part, then use a different ‘voice instrument’, e.g. Baritone, Voice – even Bass or Soprano! – and rename the Staff Labels as Tenor. Then change the clef to the C-clef.

(In other words, any other Singer ‘instrument’, except Tenor, will display the C-clef at the correct octave: just change the label. You may need to change the sample sound, too.)

There hasn’t been a Dorico update since your previous post, Ruxton, so no, there’s certainly no news.