You might need to use PlayScore’s transposition for several reasons:

  • A score contains transposing instruments with differing key signatures
  • You want to make the music sound higher or lower
  • You want to change the written key of your music

These situations are all different:

The score has transposing instruments (with different key signatures)

Normally PlayScore 2 assumes that all staves have the same key signature.  This assumption helps PlayScore 2 read poor quality scores, but it doesn’t work when there are transposing instruments.  To handle transposing instruments correctly.

  • From the Play screen tap the cogwheel Cog

  • In the control panel, set the Auto transposition switch to on

  • Also (optionally) in the control panel turn on Lyrics and text *

PlayScore 2 will reprocess the music.

* Lyrics and text is only necessary when PlayScore needs to read text to the left of the staff naming the instrument and possibly its key, see below.

Solo parts

If you are using PlayScore to hear your part (single-staff music showing just your part), then you should set the transposition directly.  Go to the Staff settings screen Stave and set a transposition using the +/- controls.  For example if you play the B flat clarinet, set the transposition to -2.

Making music sound higher or lower

Suppose you want to make the music play in a different key:

  • To play a piano accompaniment intended for the violin work with a transposing instrument such as the clarinet

  • So that it will suit your voice better

  • From the Play screen tap the Staves button Stave Iconlower left

  • Use the Transpose controls to move ALL the staffs up or down by the same amount

  • Tap Done

As an example, suppose you have a song with piano accompaniment but you want PlayScore 2 to accompany you on your Bb clarinet.  Because every note on the Bb clarinet sounds a tone lower than written, you should transpose the music down by two semitones.  Then the piano, played by PlayScore 2 will accompany your clarinet in the same key.  Note that the music still looks the same.  PlayScore 2 just plays a tone lower to match your Bb clarinet. (in this example you would also need to mute the voice part so the PlayScore 2 plays just the accompaniment)

Changing the written key

This is different from the example above.  In this case the aim is to transpose the notation for the music, for a human to play.  The best way to do this is to export the music as it stands as MusicXML, and use SeeScore or a notation editor like MuseScore, Dorico or Finale to transpose the music.  One advantage of using SeeScore is that you can do everything on your mobile device.

  • Use PlayScore 2 to scan the music or import a PDF

  • From the Play screen tap the share icon and choose ‘Save as MusicXML’

  • Open the MusicXML file in SeeScore or your favourite notation editor

  • Use the notation program’s transposition function to change the key as desired

Setting transpositions from the printed instrument names

To do this turn on Lyrics and text under the cogwheel Cogwheel as described above.

Most scores have the names of the instruments, and any transposition written to the left of their staves.  PlayScore can use this information to

  • Read instrument keys such as Horns in F

  • Find instruments that transpose at the octave such as guitar, double bass and piccolo

  • Find instruments like percussion and horns that don’t normally take a key signature

PlayScore also uses instrument names to help match up staves between systems written in compact format (where instruments sometimes drop out for a while)

Transposing brass

In traditional classical scores and some others, certain instruments are written without a key signature.  Horns for example prefer music where key accidentals are written as they arise, rather than in a key signature.  To set the correct transposition for these instruments (e.g. horns and trumpets), PlayScore must read the text to the left of the staff giving the instrument’s key, for example Horns in F.

To do this turn on Lyrics and text under the cogwheel Cogas described above.

Guitar and other instruments that transpose at the octave

Some instruments (eg piccolo) transpose at the octave.  A piccolo, seeing a notated middle C plays the C one octave above.  In the case of the guitar the transposition is the other way.  A written middle C played on a guitar sounds one octave lower.

So that PlayScore can observe these octave transpositions be sure to turn on Lyrics and text under the cogwheel.  Your score will then play and export correctly.

If your music does not have the names of the instruments printed, or you don’t turn on Lyrics and text, you can set octave transpositions manually from the Staves screen.  In this case, if you export the score to a music editor such as MuseScore, Dorico or Finale you will also need to set the transpositions in the music editor.

With Lyrics and text turned on, everything is automatic.

NB The instrument dropdowns on the Staves screen let you set the instrument used as the sound for each staff.  These are simply for setting the sound used.  They do not imply any transposition.  This lets you try out different sounds without changing the the pitch.