This mistake almost cost me my recording session

Hi guys,
I have a very serious complaint/report to make.
In this project, I had to start making the music itself in my DAW, then create a score from it, for the recording session musicians. This is very common.
We were going to have a string section and 3 trombones.
When I imported the MIDI from my DAW into Dorico everything looked fine (see attachment)… HOWEVER, when I finished importing, it imported my trombone parts as “Trombone in Bb”. I didn’t notice that at first and kept working on the project.
On the day of the recording session, about 1 and a half hours before, I was printing the score and parts when I noticed something odd. The trombone parts were in treble clef and had a key signature of D Major. Basically, it was a trumpet part. I looked at the printed score and there it was: “Trombone in Bb”.
I had to run all the way back home, fix it, go back and print it again. I almost lost my recording session because of this mistake that Dorico made.

Please, PLEASE fix this ASAP. There is no such thing as a Trombone in Bb. Trombones don’t transpose. It’s unacceptable for a notation software as advanced as Dorico making such a basic mistake.

Glad you caught it. Not to deflect, but this sounds like an issue on the DAW output side. Dorico is going to obey the MIDI data it receives. What DAW did you use initially?

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In other words, Dorico cannot read minds.
Glad you caught the problem in time.

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Maybe in the “Destination instrument” column Dorico could tell us more specifics about which variant of the instrument it has chosen?

There’s no mistake. Historically a Trombone in Bb was commonplace. Dorico correctly gives you the option to choose that one, or the modern non-transposing version in Setup. Caveat MIDI importer, did the Trombone 1 in Bb staff label not give you a clue?

Not historically. Transposing Trombone notation is confined to British brass-band music. If the Team weren’t English we wouldn’t see this instrument included at all. While this can’t be called a “mistake,” it is also not helpful to anyone I can think of. Does anyone write for brass band in a DAW?

“Trombone in B♭” is actually not a good clue because the instrument is pitched there acoustically. I side with the OP that imported Trombones should never be transposing.


I agree. Although, in this case, nothing bad would have happened, the trombonists would pretend they were reading tenor clef, and pay some extra attention to the accidentals.

I think this must be down to something specific in the MIDI file - at least, it doesn’t happen to me in a simple test. Perhaps you could post it here (or an excerpt from it) and we could take a look?

It does exist in the Netherlands as well apparently—I have been asked a few times to make supplementary transposing parts, mainly for young players out of the local brass band system who don’t read anything else.

edit: apparently, the brass bands here are in fact an offshoot of the British tradition.

“Tromba in Bb” is Italian for “Trumpet in Bb.” Plenty of scores list Tromba in Bb, meaning Trumpet. I wonder if something got mixed up in translation going from DAW to Dorico.

I stand corrected, but my reference has always been Forsythe (who makes no reference to brass band music).

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That could be it as well. I used Studio One.

It also says “Trombone”. Sorry for leaving it out, didn’t think it was important.

I will attach here:
hungergames_session.mid (66.5 KB)

Thank you.

To clear some things up:
A trombone is a trombone is a trombone. There are no transposing variants of (what is commonly referred to as) a trombone, unlike trumpets and (theoretically) French horns, which come in different transpositions still today (trumpets usually Bb, C, and the many piccolo variants, Horns in F and Bb, nowadays often simultaneously).

This means if the slide of a trombone is pulled up all the way, a Bb will sound, extending the slide lowers the pitch by up to 7 semitones.
That being said, how trombones READ the music is a different matter. Orchestral trombonists read sounding parts, mostly in bass clef.
British Brass Bands, German Brass choirs and the like have trombonists which play from treble clef parts, which are also in Bb, thus transposing a ninth like a Tenor Sax or Bb Bass Clarinet.
There are educational reasons for that, being that one person has to teach the whole group. If the leader than says “position 1 is what you play when you see a C in a violin clef” it will lead to the same sounding pitch in the ensemble.
But while the orchestral trombonists read a Bb in bass clef, they are doing exactly the same thing and produce the same pitch as the brass band colleagues reading a C in treble clef a ninth higher.
Thus it’s just a difference in notation, and they are not different instruments, although the part name might suggests it, while in trumpet parts the Transposition is simultaneously a recommendation on which instrument to use.

One could discuss that, since the fundamental pitch of a trombone is a Bb, a transposing part would seem more natural, but I think we have to give up to history on that one…

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I think the reason this goes wrong with your file and not with some others is that your file doesn’t use a General MIDI mapping to indicate what tracks use what sounds - it is only the track name that identifies which instrument is being used. Dorico still shouldn’t choose the “Trombone in Bb”, of course, but that’s down to some difficulties in comparing transposing and non-transposing versions of the same instrument using only the name (our ref: STEAM-12391). As it happens we’ve recently been making some changes to this code anyway, for other reasons, so hopefully we should be able to fix this in a future version.


Well, yes. But what about basses then? There are all kinds of them. Should a part be provided for any possible transposition? (I have seen basses notated in treble clef and the corresponding transposition, like in Bb, in Eb, etc. but this I consider a “trick”. It’s just a way to facilitate swapping of instruments between players. “Oh! Look how Johnny has grown! Leave aside that cornet lad, try on this tuba! My oh my, how it suits you! From now on, that’s what you will be playing!” “But I can’t read bass clef, I don’t know the fingerings.” “Hush hush, don’t trouble yourself with such trifling details. Leave it to me…” The next day, a treble clef Eb bass awaits on the stand… :laughing:

Now, I’m not against the practice. After all, any software offers the functionality if there is a demand for it. It’s just unfortunate that in this case… the less-travelled path was chosen.

But again, unless the writing is particularly challenging, I doubt that a trombonist would refuse to read, or have any difficulty in reading a Bb part. The notes on a treble clef Bb part fall on the same lines as a 4th line C clef, which is pretty standard to read as a trombonist. It’s just the accidentals that need attention, to be correctly interpreted to the correct key.

Last time I transcribed some brass band music (Holst Moorside Suite) the trombones were not transposed.

My understanding is that the trombone doesn’t transpose for brass band. That is solely for keyed / valved instruments to enable a player of any instrument to basically play any other one in the band, hence everything in treble clef - except the trombone. A trumpet player can then pick up a flugel or euphonium and play it. But they aren’t going to get anywhere with a bone, that requires a specialist player.

It’s a very specific convention in British Brass Band music, and as some other poster said here, also in some Dutch formations.