Sunday, January 26, 2014

Removing a Key Signature from Transposing Instruments in Finale

When you write for a transposing instrument (clarinet in Bb or A, saxophone in Eb, horn in F, trumpet in Bb or D) in Finale, it automatically inserts a key signature. This is fine for tonal music, but it is not desirable for non-tonal music.

You can write for the transposing instrument "in C," meaning the pitches will sound as written (not transposed) by unchecking the "transposition" box in the "Staff Attributes" dialog box (click on Staff Tool, double-click on the staff of the transposing instrument to get there).  This gets rid of the key signature (assuming there is none in your score), but it does not solve the problem, because you will eventually have to transpose the part so that the performer can read it properly, and at that point, Finale will insert a key signature.

Here is how you remove the key signature while maintaining the correct transposition. I use Finale 2011, so for later versions, I have pasted the instructions from Finale's website.

For Finale 2011 and earlier:
  1. Make sure your score does not have a key signature by selecting "C major" or "A minor" as your key. Then…
  2. Select (by clicking) the Staff Tool.
  3. Double click the staff of the transposing instrument. This opens the "Staff Attributes" dialog box.
  4.  If you want the correct transposition in your score, make sure the "Transposition" box has a check mark. If you want a "C score" (untransposed score), keep it unchecked.
  5. To the right of the "Transposition" check-box, is a button labelled "Select…"  Click on this.
  6. This takes you to the "Staff Transpositions" dialog-box.
  7. At the top of this dialog box, make sure the "Transposition: Key Signature" button is on. Do NOT use the drop-down menu to the right of these words to select your transposition; this will insert a key signature into the clarinet part, which is what we are trying to remove!
  8. Instead, click the "chromatic" radio button, and THEN select the desired transposition from the drop-down menu next to the word "chromatic." 
  9. Click "OK" twice to exit these dialog boxes and return to your score.

For Finale 2012:
  1. Open the ScoreManager window. (Windows menu > ScoreManager).
  2. Select the Transposition option and click Other under the instrument list tab.
  3. Click the radio button next to Chromatic (under some circumstances, you may need to change the transposition level if it is not already set to the appropriate interval).
  4. Click OK to leave the ScoreManager window and return to your score.

For Finale 2014, the process is simpler than in previous versions.

To set up a new document without a key signature:
  1. Go to File > New > Document with Setup Wizard.
  2. Select the desired ensemble or click Next to choose individual instruments and continue through the Wizard.
  3. On the fourth page of the Setup Wizard, choose Keyless from the key signature drop-down menu.
  4. If desired, choose the key for the tonal center and select Hide Key Signature and Show Accidentals.
  5. Click Finish.
To set a section without a key signature by using the Key Signature tool:
  1. Select the Key Signature tool.
  2. Choose Keyless from the key signature drop-down menu.
  3. If desired, choose key for the tonal center and select Hide Key Signature and Show Accidentals.
  4. Ensure that the measure range is correct and click OK.


Byrann Gowan said...

This is a really useful thing to use for finale, especially since, although the double is a transposed instrument, it only transposes down an octave, and therefore the notes I play on the double bass are the exact same notes on the score. So, for me, this is extremely useful, as it does get confusing for me to see a note but hear a completely different note. I do like, however, how finale is able to automatically put in a key signature, because it takes away one extra step in figuring out what key signature I'll need for the instrument. It is a really useful feature; Finale has a lot of really great features, and I'm sure that I haven't even covered half of them

Andrew Gale said...

It's great to have access to direct, step-by-step instructions for solving problems that I run into with Finale. It's also very helpful that you've included the step-by-step solutions for a number of editions of Finale. The help menu in Finale is not always easy to navigate through when I run into problems, but your description is easily accessible and concise. However, I noticed that the playback becomes an issue when removing key signatures for transposing instruments (such as the clarinet in Bb).

Samantha Evans said...

This is such a helpful guide for navigating the key signatures in Finale! Having instructions for different editions is also very helpful because I know people are constantly updating their versions of Finale is slightly different. It is also helpful because Finale is not always the easiest nor the friendliest program to use, and a guide like this is very helpful! It was also notably easier to change key signatures when I switched from Finale Print Music to Finale 2014. The hide the key signature/show accidentals feature was very helpful!

Robert Humber said...

I feel like the longer you have been using programs like Finale, the more useful little tricks you find to make things easier for yourself. Even in just the first composition lesson I had with Dr. Ross I learned at least three solutions to problems in Finale that made me go 'wow... that was easy'. Updating from PrintMusic to Finale 2014 was extremely useful because you don't realize how many little things PrintMusic is missing until you're in comp class. As far as the removing of the key signature, this post was extremely helpful. The fact is, it's a super easy thing to do but the Finale help menu isn't always the easiest to navigate and it really helps to have the instructions right there. I was kind of dreading finding out how to remove the key signature from my English horn sonata but it turned out to be child's play. Thanks Dr. Ross.

Emery van de Wiel said...

This is a problem I've been purposely avoiding as I didn't know how to get rid of a key signature. My first composition I had considered a soprano saxophone but very shortly changed my mind when I thought of the difficulty an Eb instrument could cause. I should have checked this blog first! I am now considering going back and changing my original composition. Thank you for the excellent step by step guide.