Xylophone transposition

Xylophone is a transposing instrument, transposing up one octave, like a piccolo or glockenspiel, but Dorico thinks that xylophones are in concert pitch. Is there any way to fix this, so that xylophone parts will sound one octave higher than written? This is the standard for xylophone notation.

Edit: Glockenspiel actually transposes up two octaves.

That is bizarre. Browsing through pitched percussion, I found the Alto Glockenspiel sounds an octave higher. So short term you can use that and rename it.

Exploring a bit further, there is also a Soprano Xylophone that also has that transposition.

Indeed, though a Xylophone is a transposing instrument Dorico does not take this in consideration.
Here is an exerpt of the Dorico instruments.xml showing the transposition for the Xylophone:



This should be corrected.

@ ThatVoilaGuy for the time being you may manually change the transposition values in the .xml file:


Thanks for reporting this. We’ll take care of it.

I am not sure if this falls into this category or not when dealing with Xylophone, Glockenspiel, etc., that are transposing instruments.

When I am adding notes to an Alto Sax part, I am typing in the displayed pitch, and Dorico is adding that note to the staff as appropriate. I do not input the concert pitch to have Dorico back-compute what the transposed note would be, and then add it to the staff. And that part makes sense.

However, when it comes to Concert pitch instrument that transpose by the octave or more, such as Glockenspiel, I find myself having to adjust the the transposition on my MIDI keyboard up 2 octaves, for it to display correctly. While this is not super troubling, I think, it would be better if Dorico took the transposition into account when inputting notes. For example, Middle C on Glockenspiel is 2 octaves above real middle C. So I should be able to leave my MIDI keyboard set to the base octave, and type, and Dorico should see that I am typing middle C, and place the middle C on the staff in the glock part.

I hope that makes sense.


I’m so glad that this is going to be fixed! I am currently using a Soprano Xylophone and renaming the instrument to just “Xylophone”. This works, but it’s kind of annoying that I can’t rely on the color of the notes to tell me if it’s out of the instrument’s range, since soprano xylophones have a different range from normal xylophones.

@ Dorico team
Would you mind to sometime think about correcting the Xylophone transposition?

I’m reasonably sure we did fix this some time ago.

Thanks for your answer Daniel.

I just found out that the xylophone behaves differently in two projects!
If I create a new project and add a xylophone, the transposition is correct, so this has been indeed fixed.
But in the project I am working on which is based on an template created with Dorico 2 and where a xylophone was present, the xylophone does not transpose (this is why I wrote in this thread again).
I tried to change the xylophone to another instrument and then back again but there is no change.

Are instruments transposition tables maybe “backed” in a project as soon as an instrument is used?
How can I solve this?

Could you create a new Xylo part and drag the notes from the old one down, transposing the new one if necessary and then deleting the old?

It wouldn’t be very friendly if opening a score in a new version of Dorico changed the existing instrument definitions. Presumably if you care about playback, you have already compensated for the transposition error somehow.

If you create a new instrument you may find there are two instruments in the list with the same name - the “default version 3” one and the one already in the score. That can be confusing since there isn’t an obvious way to know which is which.

I tried this too but no matter what I do the “Xylophone” keeps the wrong behaviour.

Ah, now that you express it I realize that indeed the behaviour of the program at the moment when you create a project should be indeed maintened in some cases like this one.
So this probably confirms that somewhere in the old project (which is the base for my template) the wrong behaviour for the xylophone is saved somewhere.

I verified in the old project where the template comes from and in this project I did not care for playback (for the xylophone) just because of this wrong behaviour.
I simply wrote the xylophone part as it should be (an octave lower) and to make sure the musician plays the right octave I additionally wrote: “Sounds one octave higher”.
I am also not aware of any kind of compensation I would have done and in this older project the xylophone sounds as written instead of an octave higher.
And now in my new project based on this old project this behaviour has been (unfortunately though comprehensively) transferred and the xylophone sounds as written and not an octave higher as it should.

Is it what you get? You get two “Xylophones” you can choose from?
This is not what happens on my system.
If I create a new instrument I can choose between Bass Xylophone, Alt Xylophone, Xylophone and Sopran Xylophone.
There are not two xylophones.
Also after I create a new instrument choosing Xylophone there is still only one “Xylophone” to choose from.
And creating a new “Xylophone” in either the old project or in the new project which is based (via template) on the old project always leads to the xylophone sounding as written instead of sounding an octave higher.
Choosing “Xylophone” in a completely new project made from scratch and based on nothing the xylophone sounds one octave higher as it should.

Is there a way to get rid of this wrong behaviour without having to create a project completely from scratch?
I am very dependent on templates because in the meantime I need for example 17 different master pages for a project.
I use them for Cover, several kind of Titles, Content, Instrument Lists, several kind of Empty pages with or without copyright or page numbers.
It is quite a lot of work to re-create these master pages and it is a real time saver to have all these master pages ready when I begin a new project.
I even use Layouts from older projects because this way I do not have to always add title pages and empty pages at the beginning of each part.

BTW this particular issue is a reason for me to again ask for the ability to export/import single master pages and master pages sets. I would even ask for the possibility to export/import Layouts as this can also be very usefull.

It seems that using templates based on previous projects leads to probably not so clean projects possibly keeping wrong or outdated behaviours from older Dorico versions.

If you send me by email the project(s) in which you need to use the updated xylophone, I should be able to manually fix them and return them to you.

Thanks a lot for you nice offer, I appreciate it very much!
I have sent an e-mail.


I don’t have any Dorico 2 projects that use Xylophone.

If I import a MusicXML file that has a “non standard” instrument definition (e.g. a violin part written as divisi on two staves) I get another “violin” instrument added to Dorico’s list. I was guessing that the same thing might happen in your case.

Ah ok, I see.
That’s not exactly the way I am working.
I do use XML files exported from Finale but instead of importing a whole file into Dorico I open the XML file separately in Dorico and from there I copy manually the content of each track into a template that I prepare for the new project.

I am guessing your Xylophones are Orff Instruments or the equivalent. Am I wrong?

Maybe an option could be added to update the instrument definition to the current database version if doing a Change Instrument to the same instrument?

The naming gets messy. There are Orff “soprano alto and bass” xylophones, in their basic form with diatonic scale notes only and a compass of an octave and a 6th (C to A) in different octaves.

Orchestral xylophones come in various sizes from 3 to 5 octaves. 3.5 octaves F to C is probably the “standard” size. There is at least one 20th century orchestral score (for huge orchestra) with parts for both “xylophone” and “bass xylophone”.

Western-designed xylophones with resonators to enhance the tone begin to morph into marimbas, which have a much more extended bass range. A hybrid instrument called the xylorimba (with a range of 4, 4.5 or 5 octaves) was specified by Messiaen, Boulez, and other French composers. The 1920s and 1930s “xylophone solo” novelty arrangements were usually played on xylorimbas.

And to add to the confusion, Stockhausen has a part for “marimbaphone” … :confused: