I might be slightly off-topic here, but this is the closest StackExchange site I could find to my topic, so here goes...

I recieved a sibelius file with a choir arrangement from a friend. Now, I want to make some changes, and among them is changing the clef of the tenor part from bass clef to tenor clef (i.e. a regular treble/G clef with 8va noted underneath).

I've found the option "Create Clef (Q)" which lets me change the notation, but for some reason it doesn't honor the 8va and therefore plays everything one octave too high when I try to export the MIDI track.

How do I tell Sibelius to play the part one octave down?

  • Are you sure you're inserting the correct clef? This is not a condescension. I've been using Sibelius for a few years now and have not had this problem. I'd love to find some way to help though. Does the clef look like this The one labeled vocal tenor clef.
    – Stephen
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 18:28
  • 2
    This is perfectly on-topic, no worries.
    – user28
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 19:38
  • @Stephen: Yes, I'm using the treble clef with an 8 underneath. Still marks notes in the middle of the staff red, and plays them an octave higher than I want them (in the soprano register...) Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


The Sibelius manual notes that there are so many different expectations about which clefs should do what for different instruments, that clefs added with the basic clef dialog don't actually change any pitches, whether or not they have 8va signs.

In order to do what you want, you need to actually change the transposition of the clef in the instrument definition, either by adding a Tenor singer instrument that has the transposition pre-set (Create > Instruments... or press "I") or by editing the instrument you're already using (if you know which it is) in the instrument definition editor (House Style > Edit Instruments...).

The bits you want to change, if you decide not to use one of Sibelius' pre-made instruments for Tenor voice, are:

  • Notation, Sounding pitch clef (to Treble down 8)
  • Transposition (both to C3 – middle C is C4)

1) Create a new Instrument staff line defined as Tenor Vocal. This will have a tenor clef on it.

2) Use the Copy Voices command to cut out the tenor part from the existing bass clef in your score.

3) Paste the tenor part into the newly created tenor staff.

4) Transpose the entire line up or down an octave as needed.

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