Key signatures

Key signatures are the markings that show the current key of music by indicating which notes in the scale for that key are sharpened or flattened. They are shown at the start of each system on every applicable staff.

Traditionally, accidentals are organized following the pattern of the circle of fifths, which is different for sharp keys and flat keys.

Using key signatures saves space, as by indicating which notes are generally going to be sharp or flat in the music in one group at the start of each system, these notes do not need an accidental beside them every time they occur.

Mid-system key signature change from E♭ major to B major

Once you have input a key signature, all notes you subsequently input follow the key signature; for example, if you input an F after inputting a G major key signature, an F is input automatically.

Key signatures that do not show accidentals, such as A minor or open key signatures, are indicated by signposts.

Instruments that do not usually have key signatures, such as timpani or horn, have a No key sig variant in Dorico Pro which never show key signatures. You can select the appropriate instrument variant from the instrument picker when adding or changing instruments. You can set which instruments show key signatures in the Edit Instruments dialog.

Flows without any key signatures are treated as if there were an open/atonal key signature rather than A minor or C major.

By default, key signatures apply to all staves. However, there are certain situations, such as in polytonal music, where some parts require their own key signature, independently of the rest of the ensemble. You can input key signatures that apply to all staves or only apply to single staves in Dorico Pro.

In Dorico Pro, key signatures exist within the overarching tonality system for your project. The two tonality systems that come as standard in Dorico Pro are 12-EDO and 24-EDO.

Once you have selected or created a tonality system for your project, you can create custom key signatures and custom accidentals within that tonality system.

  • You cannot hide key signatures, as they provide crucial information about the pitch of notes. If you do not want to see a key signature, you can input an open key signature or delete all key signatures from the flow or project.

  • You do not have to input multiple simultaneous key signatures if you have transposing instruments in your score. Dorico Pro handles instrument transpositions automatically.