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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001019.txt from 1997/09

Subj: Transposition, Schuller, etc.
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 18:30:19 -0400

I promised myself I wasn't going to get involved with this subject this time,
but since you brought up Schuller, I'll just add these comments.

#1: Brahms wrote often about his preference for the natural horn over the
valved variety. Virtually all of his horn writing, including the trio, were
written to be playable on natural instruments. Outside of specialty groups,
this is never done, not even by Mr. Schuller, a former horn player.

#2: Trumpet parts are often transposed to different instruments, especially
trumpet in "a" (anyone ever done the Stravinsky octet with a REAL a-trumpet)?
Are trumpet players guilty of musical treason as well? Fortunately for them,
they learn to transpose early (as do horn players).

I don't think the comparisons are completely invalid.

#3: We are already playing all compositions by composers pre-1850 or so in
the wrong keys. The standardized pitch is much higher than when the
compositions were premiered.

In a message dated 9/22/97 5:00:37 PM, you wrote:

<<Well it's true that not only can a player get away with playing the wrong
clarinet, but that it's actually a tradition to play this or that passage on
the wrong clarinet. I remember one of my clarinet teachers telling me to
play various passages or entire movements on Bb instead of A or the other
way around when I had both clarinets sitting in front of me, and also
telling me that one of the clarinetists in the orchestra bought his C
clarinet because he couldn't transpose. What you can get away with and what
you should do are two different things. "Everyone else is doing it" is an
excuse you probably wouldn't take from your students or your children.

Also on this general subject, has anyone read Gunther Schuller's new book
(The Compleat Conductor)? The NY Times book review kind of trashed him, but
this is the general theme of his book- loyalty to a composer's score. I'd
like to hear comments about it from anyone who has read the book.

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