When you are working with transposing instruments such as the Bb trumpet, Eb alto sax, Bb tenor Sax, F Horn and other instruments, keep the following in mind:

Be sure to create the staff with the proper transposing instrument. Finale and Sibelius have the transpositions built-in so long as you select the specific instrument when you start a score or make an instrument change. For example, if you use an “unnamed treble staff”  the transposition for the instrument will not be part of the staff.  If you are adding an instrument to the score, select it as follows:

  • Finale 2011 and earlier:  Select the Staff Tool and choose Staff > New Staff with Setup Wizard. If you don’t select a staff the new staff will be placed below the score. If you want it in a specific place in the score, select the staff handle below where you want the new one to appear before you access the menu.
  • Finale 2012 and later:  Choose Window > Score Manager and add the instrument to the score. Adjust the location by dragging the instrument in the Score Manager window.

Sibelius 6 and 7:  Press the letter I to open the Instruments window. Add the specific instrument to the score.

Switching between Concert and Transposed View

When I am composing an arrangement, I usually view the score in concert pitch. Then, when I am done, I change to transposed view, check to be sure the ranges are correct, and then print the score and parts.

Finale: To toggle between Concert and Transposed View

From the Document menu, choose Display in Concert Pitch. Uncheck this option to display the score in transposed view.

Sibelius: To toggle between Concert and Transposed View

  • Sibelius 7: Choose Home > Instruments > Transposing Score. If it is highlighted the score is in transposed view.
  • Sibelius 6:  Click the key of Bb icon in the toolbar or choose Notes > Transposing Score.

With both Sibelius 6 and 7 you can use the keyboard shortcut:  Shift+CTRL+T (Shift+Command+T on Mac)

Guitar and Bass Transposition

Both the guitar and bass are transposing instruments. They are written one octave higher than where they sound. Finale and Sibelius handle the display of these instruments differently.

  • Finale:  When you turn on “Display in Concert Pitch” the bass and guitar will both be displayed down one octave from where they were written so long as you created the part using one of the guitar or bass options.

Finale In Transposed View:

Finale with “Display in Concert Pitch” checked:

  • Sibelius:  When you turn off  “Transposing Score” the guitar and bass remain where they are written – an octave higher than where they sound. In other words, Sibelius ignores the guitar and bass when you switch to a concert score.

Sibelius with Transposing Score checked and unchecked (no difference):