Transposing Instruments confusion

I am confused, actually I have never fully grasped the concept, or perhaps I have?
I am trying to transcribe by hand from a PDF to DORICO, the first 40 bars of Beethoven’s fifth.
Already in the first bar I have a problem. ( in bars 16 to 24 much more so)

In the PDF score I am copying, there is a Clarinet in B flat. The key of B flat has 2 flats, yet in the score (and in all scores) there is only one flat. Why?
Similarly there is a French horn (Corni) in Es. What is Es? It has no flats or sharps.
The symphony is in C minor, so quite rightly Dorico sets 3 flats at the beginning of each stave. But the score has different key signatures for transposing instruments. How do I change the key signature of just one instrument?
I have other more complex doubts but first this.


Hi @SibeliustoDorico , maybe start here:

Dorico handles transposing instruments automatically if you assign the correct instruments to the players. You can then look at the score in Concert Pitch or in Transposed Pitch.


you can create horns without key signature, but their written pitches will follow the Concert vs Transposing view:

Thank you, yes, I am quite aware of that.

A clarinet in Bb is a transposing instrument: using the same fingering, it will sound a whole step lower than other wind instruments. ‘In B flat’ is not indicating the key of the piece, but the transposition in relation to non-transposing instruments ‘in C’. BTW, there used to be also clarinets in C, but they are pretty obsolete now.
Beethoven’s 5th is in the key of c minor. Because the clarinet sounds a whole tone lower (if the clarinettist fingers a C, you’ll hear a Bb), in order to hear a piece in c minor, the clarinet part must be written one major second higher, in the key of d minor, which has a key signature of 1 flat. Other instruments (flutes, oboes, bassoons) are not-transposing, therefore they get the untransposed key signature of c minor, with 3 flats.

Edit to add: Es is German for E flat. A c played on a horn in Eb will sound as Eb. In Beethoven’s time, horns usually were written without a key signature.



Es means in German Eb
Fis means F#
and so on…

So “s” added to the name of the note is b, and “is” is #

[Edit: Clarification by Pjotr]:

Thanks, that really helps. How did you manage in DORICO the three instruments with different key signatures? When I try to change one, they all change.

They all have the same inherent “key signature” (the sounding one that you can visualise if you choose the Concert Pitch View): they only show everyone it’s own transposition (own key-signature and pitches). If you read carefully the first link I posted and also the explanations of @PjotrB , maybe it will become clearer.

If you are confused:

  • when you write a new piece, just write in Concert Pitch, and at the end before printing you can choose to visualise the Transposed Pitch view.

  • If you transcribe some existing score, choose your instruments carefully (as written in the instruments list of the existing score), choose the Transposed Pitch view, set your key signature (this will adapt automatically for the transposing instruments!) and then just copy what you see. At the end if you switch to Concert Pitch view you will see that all instruments (apart from some horns and timpani that have an options to not show any key signature) will display the same key.

I see at the bottom of your score : “Concert Pitch, transpose pitch, No selection” Mine has none of that.

Which Dorico version are you using?

(but you find them also in the Edit menu)

I believe it’s the latest PRO, let me check. DORICO 5, My wife has served dinner, I also need to digest your information. Please keep in touch, I’ll write after I test this new knowledge. Thanks.

Actually, the suffix for flat is -es in German (and in Dutch), but after A and E it is contracted to ‘As’ and ‘Es’.
Extra confusion: a B flat is called ‘B’ in German, and what’s a B natural in English is called ‘H’.
Even more confusion: despite using the German system in general, the Dutch say ‘Bes’ to B flat and ‘B’ to, well, B. Sorry!

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opsss, yes you are totally correct! Thank you for the clarification.

I think I’m beginning to get it, or perhaps I’m more confused than ever.
Since I’m copying the original score, I must have DORICO set to Transpose Pitch, this way it is written as it is in the original score and sound correctly. That is:
The first three notes in the clarinet ar written as A but sound like G, which makes sense , since the Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, and Double bass are all playing G!

Yesss! :smiley: