Tranposition: enharmonics and aug/dim transposition interval

Some other products have a limited vocabulary of intervals for transpositions. For instance, in some programs, you can transpose something down by eight semitones, but you can’t specify whether it’s a major sixth or a diminished seventh. I can’t remember which obsolete program I was using twenty years ago, that allowed any transposition to be specified as an augmented or diminished interval, in addition to the usual choices of major/minor or perfect, depending on the interval.

When transposing music to a different key, I found it very useful to transpose by a diminished second (as a way to control enharmonic respelling), and likewise an augmented unison. In existing software, sometimes it’s necessary to transpose twice using a limited choice of intervals, because the augmented/diminished version are not explicitly available.

Similarly, when the transposition is for a transposing instrument’s part, the ability to specify a D# alto saxophone as distinct from an Eb alto saxophone is useful. That’s a real-world use case that is incredibly useful in rock, pop, and soul music, when using alto or baritone saxophones in the ever-popular key of E major, putting the sax in Db (five flats) rather than C# (seven sharps) when appropriate.

Some programs attempt to automatically handle these issues, but the results are not always suitable, and hand-tweaking is necessary.

Will Dorico have a direct one-step way to transpose by any augmented or diminished interval? Will it have a direct one-step way to distinguish between an Eb saxophone and a D# saxophone?

We haven’t yet implemented a feature to transpose a passage of music by a particular interval, but the plan would certainly be to allow you to determine not only the number of scale degrees, but also the quality of the interval, to allow for whatever enharmonic result you’re looking for.

That sounds good. Is any kind of diatonic transposition being planned? This is a useful tool in the composing process, when experimenting with variations of already recored melodies or chords.

Could you clarify what you mean by diatonic transposition? Do you mean that you would simply take an existing set of notes and move that whole set up or down by a number of diatonic steps? If so, then that should be possible simply by selecting a bunch of notes and using Alt+up/down arrow.

By diatonic transposition I mean either…

a) the ability to select all the notes a monophonic melodic line, and use a key command which transposes the whole melody one diatonic step at a time (skipping the notes which aren’t a part of the current scale/key, or…
b) doing the same with polyphonic material. This could be a quick and useful way to check out new harmonic ideas.

If all transposition in Dorico will be diatonic as a default, I hope the app also will have key commands/allow mouse movements (eg with a modifier) to transpose chromatically, because both types of transposition is often used when composing. I’m sure many Logic users will be interested in Dorico, and unfortunately Logic only has key commands for chromatic/non-diatonic transposition (but will miss key commands for chromatic transposition if it doesn’t exist).

is there still no transpose function at all?.. or did I miss it somewhere?

The only kind of transposition you can perform at the moment is step-wise transposition or transposition by octaves using the Alt+up/down or Ctrl+Alt+up/down keys respectively. We know this is not ideal and we plan to rectify it as soon as we can.