Creating a New Score from Transposed Parts in Finale or Sibelius

Q: I’ve got a chart with just the parts and I’m re-constructing a score. I want to enter the notes as they are without going through transposing. Is there a way to just enter the notes onto a transposed score? It seems like there must be an easy way to do this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks . . .

A:  I’ll walk through the steps for creating a score from an existing set of printed parts in both Finale and Sibelius. You can create a new score from existing transposed parts in either program, but as you’ll see, one notation program has a clear advantage in this particular area.


Set up your score, making sure that the instruments have the correct transposition assignments. If you use the Setup Wizard or add New Staves With Setup Wizard, the transpositions will be automatically set up correctly.

In either Page View or Scroll View, you can switch back and forth between Transposing and Concert Score by toggling “Display in Concert Pitch” off / on in the Document menu:

When there is no checkmark next to “Display in Concert Pitch”, you are viewing the score Transposed.

Select the menu item again to toggle to Concert Pitch. With the score in Concert Pitch, any notes you enter into any staff  via Simple Note or Speedy Note or MIDI keyboard will be at Concert Pitch:

When you are viewing the score Transposing, you can enter notes via Simple Note, Speedy Note, or MIDI keyboard in Step Time, and whatever you enter will appear in the staff. If the staff is transposing, and you enter the transposed notes, they will be entered at written (e.g. transposed) pitch.

However, what you *hear* during note entry (e.g. via MIDI Thru) are *always as if* they were concert pitch.  For instance, while you are entering notes from a clarinet part which is written a whole step higher than concert, you will hear the notes *sounding* a whole step higher than concert pitch. Once you play back the score, however, they will both look and play back correctly:

However, if you are RECORDING transposing notes (e.g. from Parts) in real time via Hyperscribe in Finale, and enter the same line from your printed part as above, you wind up with:

The clarinet is now transposed a whole step too high! It has effectively been transposed twice. I make no judgement here about MakeMusic’s level of quality control here, but I will mention that this double-transposition issue with real-time record has existed in at least the last two versions of Finale. Enough said. Let’s cover how to untangle this mess.

If you are recording music via Hyperscribe in real time, one solution is to restore the correct transposition after the fact:

  1. Record everything into the transposing staff just as written
  2. I recommend turning off MIDI thru so you aren’t hearing the score bitonally. Use the Force, Luke.
  3. Select the entire staff using Mass Edit (click just outside the left edge of the first bar of the staff)
  4. Use Utilities > Transpose to transpose the notes in the staff chromatically in the opposite direction from the instrument’s defined transposition (e.g. for Bb Clarinet and Trumpet, transpose the notes down a whole step, chromatically; transpose Alto Sax down a major 6th, chromatically, Tenor Sax down a major 9th chromatically and so forth.)
  5. You may need to respell the notes in some cases after manually transposing.

Here is another workaround that involves temporarily faking the transposition of the part with a real key signature:

  1. Set your score to Concert Pitch.
  2. I recommend turning off MIDI thru so you aren’t hearing the score bitonally. Use the Force, Obi-Wan.
  3. Choose the first empty transposed staff you want to enter music into. (e.g. you have entered no music into this staff yet.)
  4. In the Staff Attributes, under Independent Elements, check Key Signatures. OK.
  5. Choose the Key Signatures tool. Set the key signature for this staff / instrument to what it would be in the transposing score. So, for a Bb instrument in a score in C major, you would choose D major. If you already have correct pitches entered anywhere in this staff, set “hold pitches chromatically” before you OK the Key Signature dialog.
  6. When you exit the dialog, the staff you are about to record into looks like it is transposing relative to the concert pitch key, which should be displaying on ALL other staves. In other words, the key signature of this staff should now match the key signature of your printed part, but as far as Finale is concerned everything is in concert pitch – it’s just that via Independent Elements, the part is actually in a different key (which, hey, it is).
  7. Select Hyperscribe, and begin recording into the staff which you’ve defined.
  8. When you are done recording, select the Staff Attributes Tool and uncheck Independent Key Signatures
  9. Finally, uncheck Document > Display in Concert Pitch so the score is displaying transposed again.


In the Home tab of Sibelius 7, make sure Transposing Score in the Instruments Group is highlighted:

Click the Note Input Tab. Select Written from the popup menu for Input pitches:

And… done.  You can start entering music from transposed parts using your computer keyboard or your MIDI keyboard in either Step Time or Flexi-time right away. Everything will look and sound correct, without any further steps.

This is just as easy in Sibelius 6, although things are located a bit differently. First, in the toolbar, make sure your score is Transposing:

Then in Preferences > Note Input, select the “Input Written Pitches” radio button:

Summary: If you are a Finale user, you may wish to contact Makemusic Support and refer to Case Reference #110925-000078. If you are using Sibelius 6 or 7, well, you can relax because by now, your chart is probably already done.

for Dan Rowe

3 Replies to “Creating a New Score from Transposed Parts in Finale or Sibelius”

    1. There are a number of possible causes for latency over MIDI, some of which have nothing to do with Sibelius. Without any knowledge of your hardware platform & OS, MIDI keyboard make / model or other info, my recommendation would be to do a browser search for “latency from midi keyboard” on the internet, (fine tune the search for your particular setup as needed) and you should be able to find a more specific answer for this question. Good luck!


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