Feb 072014

This post is going to be boring, informational, boring, instructive, boring, hopefully helpful… and did I mention boring? Unless, of course, you want more detailed information on transposing scores using the personal composer demo. Which a lot of you do seem to want. Soooo… hold on to your seats, and away we go…

First, a couple of general notes:

  • To transpose a score, you will need to download the score in Personal Composer format. It has a .pc extension. (The following sentence is in all caps, bolded, italicized, hmmm… should I make it red? or lime green?… because it’s the number one problem people have in trying to transpose files.) YOU CANNOT TRANSPOSE PDF FILES. Except manually. Which is a pain.
  • Not all songs have Personal Composer files available yet. I am adding them… slowly. The problem is, of course, life. And the universe, and everything. There is so much content on this site that keeping it in shape is simply an ongoing task that will last as long as I do. I know of no one willing to undertake the task when I die (or am translated, if I give up Diet Coke), so I really do hope to finish in my lifetime. However, I beg for your patience since it really is a time-consuming task.
  • The Personal Composer demo works only on PCs, not on Macs. I am truly sorry this is so, but there it is. If you have only a Mac, it is possible (one might say “very likely”) that you have a friend with a PC who can help you out.

Okay… now that the basics are out of the way here are the details, step by step.

  1. Download the Personal Composer demo. The download is about 5.5 Mb
  2. Install the demo program on your PC. (Not on your Mac. It won’t work.)
  3. Download your chosen .pc file. (Not .pdf file. It won’t work.)
  4. Open the .pc file (if it doesn’t open automatically) by either double-clicking the file in your Windows Explorer, or by opening the Personal Composer program and using the file/open command.
  5. Click the “Staff” command — bottom row, left-most button.
  6. From the tool menu that appears, select “Key Signature” — middle button.
  7. Click on the staff at the beginning of the section you wish to transpose. If you are transposing the whole song, that would be measure 1. A menu full of options will appear.
  8. Choose the appropriate menu options. These will be unique to you, so I can’t specify what they’ll be.
  9. When you are sure you have the correct options selected, hit “Ok.”
  10. If the music contains key changes, they will be adjusted automatically.
  11. Print your transposition AND PROOF IT CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU CLOSE THE DEMO. You can’t save your work in the Personal Composer Demo (hey, it’s a demo!) so be sure your transposition works for you before you close the program.
  12. There may be some cosmetic issues with the score–accidentals don’t always have enough space, stems don’t always end up the right direction, cross-staff notes don’t always beam correctly, that sort of thing. If it bothers you, you can clean these up.
  13. That’s all folks!

I really sincerely hope this will be helpful to anyone trying to transpose this music, because there’s nothing more in the storage rooms of my disorganized brain that I can dig out to shed any further light on the process. It looks complicated, but it’s really not that bad, so give it a try. As much as I’d love to, I can’t do transpositions on demand. Sleep is too important to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Transposing!

  18 Responses to “Transposing Using Personal Composer”


    I purchased your Personal Composer in the 80’s. I was one of the Beta testers after the original creator died and his dad was helping. We conversed many times developing the program further. I have forgotten his name but I am sure he has gone on to be with the Lord.

    Question is, can I still download the full version on my PC? I am working with William Carey University and would like to use it again.


      I don’t know of anywhere to download the full version of the program. I have the demo program available here on my site by permission, but to install the full program you’d probably need to have your original installation files and registration numbers. Sorry I’m no help with that!


    Is there a way to play back the individual parts separately on Personal Composer?


    Does the personal composer still work? I need to lower the key for be still my soul for a low alto voice.


    I downloaded the Personal Composer, but I can’t open your pc file. What am I doing wrong?


      Which file are you trying to transpose?


      Hi Tara, I was having the same problem. I couldn’t save the file in anything but .html and when I opened the file it was just gibberish.

      I got it to work by right clicking the desired song/file under the “Transpose or resize the music”, then select “properties”. I then highlighted, right clicked, and copied the address (URL); make sure to get the whole thing, down to the “.pc”. Then after opening Personal Composer click the “open” button. When that window opens paste the copied address in the “file name” box and click open. My computer took a moment to process. If you are asked if you want to continue as a “read only file” click yes. The file should then open and be ready to play with.

      Hopefully this works for you, the above process worked perfectly for me. Good Luck!


    Just wanted to mention that the Personal Composer site is no more. I wonder if you could get permission to post the demo on your site.


    Is this something where others could help you get your files in .pc format? I have used other music composition software before to be able to transpose songs at will….I’m not sure if Personal Composer is more complicated than other music composition software programs? I don’t have a lot of free time to give, but I would be happy to help where I can if this is something where other people could help out. If it is something that you can just do on your own, that is fine too.

    Thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do by composing such beautiful music, and then making it free and accessible to everyone!


      How very kind of you! Thank you so much for offering to help. I wish I could take you up on it… but, no, I have to do it myself. The time-consuming bit is resizing some lyrics and reformatting pages in general. It took a few years before I settled on a format that would work for most scores, and now the older ones need to be revised to match. It’s happening… slowly but surely. ๐Ÿ™‚


    First of all thank you. I have been doing Be Still My Soul and Abide with Me for about three years now at church and at Christmas What Child is This. I appreciate all the hard work that went into making these pieces. The piece that I want to do most is one that has a big blank space in the accompaniment. It is Come Thou Font of Every Blessing. I am having the hardest time with this because I am not naturally strong with rthymn. I am off. Any thoughts on what I can do to fix this?


    I just want to say Than You! I have loved your music and appreciated your generosity for many years.


    You are amazing. You give so much and enrich so many lives that I’m sure the diet coke bit will not count against you. Thanks you for sharing your incredible talent with us. And now you are doing this. I know this will entail HOURS of work, so thank you in advance. Our stake choir, and my ward choir, always use at least one of your songs in our performances and they always get a positive reception from both the choir and the audience. I hope this endeavour is as straightforward as possible for you. ๐Ÿ™‚


    Sally you give so much and I thank you…I am not a wizard at computers but love what you do to the music…of course I am not an accompanist…and at times some words are said that I really don’t hear (got the new hearing aids and dang now I can and read faces)…but I love using your work with the Sweet Ward choir and singing some of your arrangements as solos myself…more for low voice please!!! haha Thanks you for all you do!

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