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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000816.txt from 2004/10

Subj: Re: [kl] learning to transpose on the fly
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 00:02:32 -0400

Thanks to all who have replied to my inquiry.

Tonight I got out my Klose, found some easy, familiar pieces in an American folk song medley (Oh My Darling Clementine, She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain, etc) and managed to play them in up to 5 sharps and -- well, just 1 flat -- couldn't seem to manage more than that -- too late at night I suppose!). Although I found it challenging, I was pleased at my early progress.

So... it's working so far. But it's hard to imagine the leap to much more difficult music. I can sightread difficult music quite well... but it's hard to imagine making the leap to transposing fast, moving pieces (the type I'd have no problem sightreading) that are unfamiliar. I take it that one might expect to evolve to this over time with repeated practice on the easier pieces and then on gradually more challenging pieces. I'll give it a try!


Subj: Re: [kl] learning to transpose on the fly
Date: 10/26/2004 10:14:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "Keith" <>
To: <>


I agree with Roger that it is practise and familiarity, not innate talent. I
agree with Roger that after doing a lot of it, NOT transposing the bass clef
to C becomes a problem! You can feel good about this one, because most
professionals never have to do it (their groups can afford bassoons) and if
you play along with one they are dead impressed!

If I were starting over, I would pay much more attention to learning
different clefs and using them to transpose. I now do this to some extent,
though I don't know any written guide to it. Anyone?

As it is, I use a bunch of specific tricks to help me get going, until
practice makes it instinctive. The neatest trick for transposing up a tone,
is to read the tops of the notes instead of the middle. And add two sharps
of course. The most useful trick all round is to know what the new key is
and think in that. Which means one has to know one's scales ...

Stick at it, it is a useful skill. Could Dan tell his story here about the
New Jersey symphony and the "conductor" who complained about his C clarinet?

Keith Bowen


Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 07:51:26 +0100 (BST)
From: Roger Hewitt <>
Subject: Re: [kl] learning to transpose on the fly
Message-ID: <>

I'm not sure it is an innate ability/talent, it is mostly practise. For
some transpositions there are possibilities in thinking different clefs and
adjusting key sigs, but the main clarinet requirement of up a tone doesn't
really work like that. Find some fairly easy music that you know and just
do it. It will be awful at first but if you know the piece well enough you
will hear the mistakes and adjust them more quickly. Build up to more
difficult stuff. I found the best way was to do it in a group (we had no
oboes in my school orchestra, so I volunteered. Having to do it "real time"
concentrated the mind very well!
So - practise, that's the only way ... as always.
One final thought: I played bassoon parts on bas clarinet in bands and
chamber music for so long that I was almost unable to play normal bass
clarinet parts! Fortunately, it soon came back.
Roger H

--- wrote:
> I want to learn how to transpose on the fly -- how to look at written
> music and transpose (into any key) as I play. I know many musicians
> have an innate talent here. Not me. I'm going to have to develop the
skill. Suggestions on how to go about this, please?
> Thanks,
> Elisa

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