Instrument transpositions

When typesetting scores that involve transposing instruments, some parts can be typeset in a different pitch than the concert pitch. In these cases, the key of the transposing instrument should be specified; otherwise the MIDI output and cues in other parts will produce incorrect pitches. For more information about quotations, see Quoting other voices.

\transposition pitch

The pitch to use for \transposition should correspond to the real sound heard when a c' written on the staff is played by the transposing instrument. This pitch is entered in absolute mode, so an instrument that produces a real sound which is one tone higher than the printed music should use \transposition d'. \transposition should only be used if the pitches are not being entered in concert pitch.

Here are a few notes for violin and B-flat clarinet where the parts have been entered using the notes and key as they appear in each part of the conductor’s score. The two instruments are playing in unison.

\new GrandStaff <<
  \new Staff = "violin" \with {
    instrumentName = "Vln"
    midiInstrument = "violin"
  \relative c'' {
    % not strictly necessary, but a good reminder
    \transposition c'
    \key c \major
    g4( c8) r c r c4
  \new Staff = "clarinet" \with {
    instrumentName = \markup { Cl (B\flat) }
    midiInstrument = "clarinet"
  \relative c'' {
    \transposition bes
    \key d \major
    a4( d8) r d r d4

[image of music]

The \transposition may be changed during a piece. For example, a clarinetist may be required to switch from an A clarinet to a B-flat clarinet.

flute = \relative c'' {
  \key f \major
  \cueDuring "clarinet" #DOWN {
    R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
    c4 f e d
    R1 _\markup\tiny "clarinet"
clarinet = \relative c'' {
  \key aes \major
  \transposition a
  aes4 bes c des
  R1^\markup { muta in B\flat }
  \key g \major
  \transposition bes
  d2 g,
\addQuote "clarinet" \clarinet
  \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Flute" }
  \new Staff \with { instrumentName = "Cl (A)" }

[image of music]

See also

Music Glossary: concert pitch, transposing instrument.

Notation Reference: Quoting other voices, Transpose.

Snippets: Pitches.

LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.15 (development-branch).