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 Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-09 23:07

Does anyone know the history behind the practice of transposing notation?

It’s not at all necessary. Strings do not transpose (they use different cleffs because of range, but a “C” is a “C”). As far as I know, all instruments originally played in C, no matter what the “key” of their horn. Recorder still does not transpose, even though there are “C” and “F” recorders. You simply learn to finger them differently, which is a lot easier than trying to transpose on the fly - especially transpoing from notation written for other transposing horns (like when playing an A clarinet part on a Bb horn). Clarinet is particularly interesting because the instrument is actually in two different keys, one for each register. A modern clarinet in Bb could just as accurately be said to be in F.

I’m not sure what purpose transposing notation serves. The convenience of calling seven fingers down “C” pales in comparison to all the difficulty it causes. It even makes things harder for directors and composers. In fact, I think you could make the argument that transpoing notation, instead of making things easier, actually contributed to a decline in the variety of differently pitched horns. We are stuck with it, for better or worse, but why was it implemented to begin with? Who can we blame?  :)

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-09 23:14)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2017-12-10 00:08

The short answer is so we don't have to learn new fingerings for each instrument.

It's important to remember that the earliest clarinets only had 2-3 keys and were essentially diatonic instruments. Sure you could play accidentals, but they were difficult to finger and often sounded weak and out of tune. The solution to this problem was to have instruments in many keys. If clarinets were non-transposing musicians would have to learn Eb, D, C, B, Bb, A and G fingerings.

Of course now we have Boehm system instruments which make this unnecessary. But in the mid 19th century it was still common for musicians to have instruments in C, Bb and A. The Bb was used for flat keys, A for sharp keys and C for keys with few sharps or flats. Because Boehm system instruments were so good at playing in multiple keys it soon became unnecessary to have all 3 instruments. Because the C really only covered the "middle ground" (relative to number of sharps or flats) between the Bb and A it essentially became obsolete. This left us with the Bb and A instruments we have today.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: echi85 
Date:   2017-12-10 00:17

If I understand your question correctly, the issue has to do with the instruments themselves. There are several factors as to why clarinets are pitched in Bb and A.

1.)Timbre. It's generally accepted that Bb/A clarinets have good tone quality. If you have ever played a C, D, or Eb clarinet, you will know that the timbre of these instruments is brighter and shriller compared to Bb/A.

2.)Intonation. C, D, and Eb clarinets have much poorer intonation compared to Bb/A. Having an instrument that plays in tune with itself is crucial.

3.)Range. It would be very impractical to have all instruments pitched in C. For example, a C clarinet that is pitched one octave above a standard C clarinet would be too small to play. It makes a lot more sense to have an Eb clarinet, only a 4th above Bb vs an octave. You have to fill in the gaps of range with practical instruments.

There also seems to be a misunderstanding as to why the clarinet is called a Bb/A clarinet. These are the pitches that sound whenever C is played on them. You can't call the clarinet pitched in F because F doesn't come out when you play C.

There are a variety of clefs for range reasons. I don't think it's unreasonable for a musician to learn the standard clefs in order to read scores.

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2017-12-10 00:24

echi85, i think you misunderstood the question. Jdbassplayer is correct, during early times, the instrument was not fully chromatic so there is not way for your to "finger them differently".

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2017-12-10 00:31

The original question can be explained like this: when we teach new students, why don't we teach them X|XXO|OOO as the C fingering.

In additional to the historical reasons, one more reason is that using X|XXX|OOO fingering as C make the fingering for the whole scale simplest, which is good for beginners to learn.



Post Edited (2017-12-10 00:32)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: FwLineberry 
Date:   2017-12-10 01:58

The majority of my time will be spent playing with flute piano and guitar in rock and jazz based settings. So, I considered learning the clarinet at concert pitch rather than transposed.

In the end it just seemed simpler to give in to the transposed pitch and concentrate on all the other factors that make clarinet a complex instrument to master.

.
.
Backun Beta, Lyrique Libertas, Lyrique 570C
Ridenour RAmt36, Vandoren 15RV Lyre mouthpieces
Rovner Dark and Rovner Versa ligatures
Legere reeds

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Geronimo 
Date:   2017-12-10 03:23

Matt,

A simple question should have a simple answer, but that's not the case. Transposition makes one musician able to play a variety of instruments with out haveing to relearn them.

For example, in university I have had to play clarinets in Bb, A, Eb, Bb bass, and F (basset horn). I would go crazy switching between Bb and A if I had to keep two different fingerings in mind just to read C parts. This is not even considering saxophones or trumpets.

Another point is that each instrument sounds difficult depending on key. A Bb clarinet and an Eb clarinet are certainly not interchangeable. They sound too different. Ask orchestral trumpet players if they prefer the sound of a c trumpet to a Bb and you are in for a long conversation. Composers also like to have variety of instruments for the color they have in mind. An A Clarinet will have a darker sound than the sprightly tone of a C clarinet.

Another misconception is that if we teach clarinet beginners the "sounding pitch" vs transposed pitch, it will make playing the clarinet easier. However this is certainly not the case. No beginning band book or pieces will have parts for C clarinet. The student (or more likely the band director) will have to transpose the part, completely negating the advantage of learning the clarinet as a non transposing instrument. They would have to do this every time they would want to play any rep (minus the parts written in C), wind band, orchestra, college auditions etc. It's better to keep the clarinet as a transposing instrument.

However, your question is not without merit. While the clarinet, trumpet, and saxophones revolve around transposition, some instruments do not (for whatever reason). Tuba players relearn fingerings for every different tuba they have, french horn players transpose orchestral parts by sight better than anyone, and if we are being completely honest, the trombone is a Bb instrument (it's fundamental pitch is Bb) but learn all notes/positions from sounding pitch.

So I suppose the honest answer is "it's tradition"

-GM

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2017-12-10 03:39

Thanks for asking this question, Matthew!

From the answers above...it would appear the reasoning is tied closely to written music. Without written music, I'm not sure there's really an issue with learning non-transposed fingerings on each instrument. Just a thought.

Fuzzy

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-12-10 09:00

>> You simply learn to finger them differently <<

It's not simply at all :)

>> The convenience of calling seven fingers down “C” pales in comparison to all the difficulty it causes. <<

It's a matter of perspective. Coming from the point of view of both writing music and playing clarinet, to me it's exactly the opposite. Simply writing notes at different locations on the paper and understanding the transposition is extremely easy compared with every clarinet player having to learn different fingerings for different clarinets.

With computer programs now it's almost ridiculous to compare, but I used to write by hand on paper and it's just so much easier to write transposed parts than learning new fingerings as a player. That's even with modern clarinets.

I play pretty much only Bb clarinets so it wouldn't really affect me. I prefer to take the very slight hassle of writing transposed parts than put the huge effort on others to learn different fingerings.

I was surprised to learn some instruments (e.g. tuba) have different fingerings instead of transpositions. Makes much less sense IMO.

I know a couple of players who learned Bb instruments (clarinet and trumpet) as C (non-transposed) instruments. They only play by ear, or play their own music, so they never need to read regular parts written for those instruments. They never play any other clarinets or trumpets transposed differently either.

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-11 01:16

My question was about the historical origin of the practice.

Some observations:

All clarinetists have to learn two sets of fingerings. I learned both C and F recorders. It was easy - mostly because as a clarinet player I already knew both sets of fingerings.

I have not played historical clarinets, but I expect that the timber, intonation, and technical problems of forked fingerings are exaggerated. Baroque recorders are fully chromatic, even with no keys (except for large instruments where you can’t reach). The first thing I learned on C recorder was a Bach piece in E minor. The forked fingerings aren’t at all a problem. Four sharps and flats are no more difficult than on modern horns IMO. I actually liked it a lot because you have more options.

Back in the day, when transposed notation was either uncommon or non-existant, they had horns in a lot of keys, and they got played. They did this because it was more convenient and/or sounded better. But today, for all practical purposes we only play Bb, A, and Bass. This leads me question whether it’s really true that transposing notation makes things easier for the player. Our priorities have changed. Instead of practicing differently pitched horns, we spend that time practicing only one horn in all keys. Music is more technically oriented. It’s a change of mindset.

I think what you said about it having something to do with written music is probably true. If you are in an ensemble and have a part there is no issue. The problem comes in when you DON’T have the music. I have been extremely challenged to play in a group when I have the music in the wrong key. I find transposing on the fly to be just about impossible. (For some reason other people seem to think it’s much easier.) Another place where it’s a problem is when you have one ensemble, but the music is for another. One year I had a woodwind trio, and it was terrible finding Christmas music. If we all had C instruments we could have easily arranged something from just about anything. Basically transposing notation makes you dependent on the page and on publishers. People used to play music with whatever instruments they had, but this is much harder now.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-11 01:19)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-12-11 06:33

Matt74 wrote:

> If we all had C
> instruments we could have easily arranged something from just
> about anything. Basically transposing notation makes you
> dependent on the page and on publishers. People used to play
> music with whatever instruments they had, but this is much
> harder now.
>
You could relearn the names of all the fingerings on a Bb clarinet, naming them instead by their concert pitches - i.e. T xxo|ooo becomes C4 and with the register key it becomes G5. Of course, doing that isn't altogether different from transposing, but it's a different side of the process. You wouldn't be able to read music actually meant for a Bb clarinet that way, so you'd either have to become bilingual or only read music written at sounding pitch.

I do from time to time run across students whose band teachers make such a point of having them learn to identify scales during band warmups by concert pitch names that it confuses them when I ask them to play an F scale and actually mean a written F scale and not a written G scale. They don't read their music that way once the warmup is over, though, so I suppose that's a different category of naming style.

I've sometimes wondered, in the same general vein, why historically flutes (as well as recorders), oboes and bassoons weren't produced in various keys. They couldn't have been any more or less chromatic than clarinets in the 18th or 17th (pre-clarinet) centuries. Did it have to do with the idea that early clarinets were thought of as quieter clarini (early trumpets) for indoor use? The use of different-pitched natural brass instruments (which had no valves and could only play a natural harmonic series reliably) goes back to antiquity.

Karl

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-12 02:08

I don’t know much about historical clarinets.

Recorders were commonly made in C, F, and G (not transposing). Modern alto flutes are in G (transposing). During the 19th c they made flutes and picolos in a number of different keys for band music. Anthony Baines lists all of them. The English horn is in F (transposing), and the oboe d’amore was in A. (I had to look most of that up.)

The need for recorders in different keys cane from playing in consorts, like other renaissance instruments. They were imitating voices in choirs, so they were separated by 4ths or 5ths.

Recorders play very well chromatically, I assume classical flutes are the same. Baroque and classical flute music is in all keys.

Clarinets are more closely spaced - A, Bb, C, D, Eb. It may be that because clarinets overblow at a 12th, and have intrinsically bad intonation, that accidentals were much harder to manage than on flutes or double reeds. Maybe you could make a good chromatic flute or chalumeau, but not a clarinet. So, maybe that’s why you had clarinets spaced a whole tone or semitone apart, rather than in fourths.

This is the most convincing thing I’ve heard regarding clarinets sounding like trumpets. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4jlaiqZk5kU The pitch of the clarinet must have been important.

- Matthew Simington


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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: brycon 
Date:   2017-12-12 02:54

Quote:

I don’t know much about historical clarinets.

Recorders were commonly made in C, F, and G (not transposing). Modern alto flutes are in G (transposing). During the 19th c they made flutes and picolos in a number of different keys for band music. Anthony Baines lists all of them. The English horn is in F (transposing), and the oboe d’amore was in A. (I had to look most of that up.)

The need for recorders in different keys cane from playing in consorts, like other renaissance instruments. They were imitating voices in choirs, so they were separated by 4ths or 5ths.

Recorders play very well chromatically, I assume classical flutes are the same. Baroque and classical flute music is in all keys.


Early clarinets were pitched primarily in D and C (though instruments in other keys existed). I believe there's a very early Denner clarinet, which is a D instrument, in Berkeley. I imagine D was such a common key because the clarinet began as a sort of little trumpet, often doubling the brass instrument. In some Telemann music, for example, the trumpet and clarinet parts are indistinguishable. D, of course, was one of the trumpet keys; the clarinet, then, followed suit.

Two-key instruments like the earliest clarinets, however, don't really produce chromatics in the low register (pitchwise, the upper register is more flexible and can be finagled into producing chromatics). So instruments pitched in different keys became necessary, especially once the clarinet came into its own as a distinctive instrument rather than a trumpet substitute.



Post Edited (2017-12-12 02:56)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-12-13 09:12

>> My question was about the historical origin of the practice. <<

Yes, but your post also included a lot of criticism about the transposition method. No reason not to suggest reasons for a contradicting view.

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-13 11:57

It’s ok if you disagree. We all know why we do it today. What’s not obvious is why people in the past didn’t think it was necessary - and why they changed their minds. I’m not sure better instruments entirely account for such a radically new way of doing things. At least, it seems like a big change to me.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-13 14:30)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-12-14 08:44

Actually many years ago I asked exactly that question on the Klarient List, except without the criticism since IMO the transposing method is better).

From vague memory I think no one really answered it, except a person called Dan Leeson (or something close to it) said he wrote an article that explains it. He supposedly researched this subject a lot. He gave some details on finding the article, I couldn't find it and some time after forgot about it.

I'm just speculating that statistically, musicians thought the same, that the transposing method is significantly better, but it's a guess.

Maybe someone here knows what article it was and how to find it?

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2017-12-14 11:59

Quote:

From vague memory I think no one really answered it, except a person called Dan Leeson (or something close to it) said he wrote an article that explains it. He supposedly researched this subject a lot. He gave some details on finding the article, I couldn't find it and some time after forgot about it.


Is this part of that conversation?
http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/lookup.php/Klarinet/2001/04/000222.txt

(It seems that transposing...in general...was a pretty hot topic back on the list)

Fuzzy



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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-12-14 18:58

Clarnibass wrote:

> From vague memory I think no one really answered it,
> except a person called Dan Leeson (or something close to it)
> said he wrote an article that explains it.

Any of us who have participated in the Klarinet list have read Dan Leeson's comments about this many times. Dan was expert particularly in the music of Mozart and his exchange with Eric James was focused on the problem of what parts to publish for a piece by Mozart. Dan's comment succinctly reviews his view on the importance of using the instruments a composer called for.

I don't know if the article clarnibass mentions goes into more history than Dan develops in this Klarinet excerpt. I don't remember reading anything he wrote on the list that went father into the history of the use of separate instruments for each key. But I think it is telling in a way that he mentions that "Horn players are expected to be able to transpose anything, but not clarinetists." I'm not sure what Dan meant by that, but in fact, throughout 50+ years of orchestral playing I've never heard any horn or trumpet players debating whether or not to use the original instrument in a piece of Classical, Baroque or even later 19th century Romantic music. Trumpet players own a Bb, a C and sometimes a piccolo in Eb. Horn players generally own a double horn (F/Bb) and/or an F horn (or in some cases I know personally several of each). Parts in other keys including trumpet or cornet in A are routinely transposed, and many orchestral trumpet players in my experience transpose everything to a C trumpet, not one in Bb, regardless of the original key. Horn players transpose everything to their double horns.

Whatever the roots deep in the history of the early chalumeaux and clarinets, we are certainly in my experience the only group of instrument players who still debate the issue. Part of the problem no doubt is that good, well tuned C clarinets are so hard to find, mostly, I suppose, because players in the late 19th and most of the 20th centuries stopped using them (or did they stop because the C clarinets available to them weren't up to quality of the Bb and A clarinets?). Limited market demand = limited research and development.

As I've already suggested, the alternative to all of these transposing instruments would be to find a good C clarinet and use it for everything, transposing all the parts as horn players and many trumpet players do to the one instrument. Then any music written at sounding pitch would be accessible with no further changes for the clarinetist.

Dan Leeson would be aghast.

Karl



Post Edited (2017-12-15 00:19)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2017-12-15 00:45

I use my Bb Clarinet to play Eb Alto Saxophone parts and I do this without transposing. I simply do what the Recorder players do. When using the 'Alto' (Treble) recorder in F they use the fingering that keeps them in the C tonality. In other words , they get the C recorder fingering chart and raise it all up a perfect 4th. When I'm playing Eb Alto Sax parts I use the fingering that puts me in the Eb tonality. In other words , I raise the entire Clarinet fingering chart up a perfect 5th. Took me about a month to relearn the Sax fingering. It's interesting to note that from B natural in the middle of the stave down to low B natural, the Clarinet fingering is identical to the Sax fingering. So you actually don't have to relearn those fingerings. Another interesting note is that if one has a full Bohem Clarinet with that extra semi-tone at the bottom of the range, you can play the lowest written note (Bb) of the Alto Saxophone.

Skyfacer

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-12-16 08:34

>> I don't know if the article clarnibass mentions goes into more history than Dan develops in this Klarinet excerpt. I don't remember reading anything he wrote on the list that went father into the history of the use of separate instruments for each key. <<

From what I remember, he said his article does go into that. whether that's true, or if it was a misunderstanding, I don't know, since I couldn't find the article.

>> Is this part of that conversation? <<

Similar subject but not it.

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Michael E. Shultz 
Date:   2017-12-16 15:39

I started out as an alto saxophone player in high school. In 10th grade, I was assigned to the bass clarinet for concert band, then played Eb contra alto clarinet in 11th and 12th grade. Since many of the scores did not have a contra alto part, I learned to transpose the bass clarinet parts on sight. I actually was a little bit better transposing the bass clarinet parts than I was playing the Eb contra alto parts.

Like you said, this is a natural transposition for a clarinet player.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2017-12-16 19:47

clarnibass,

Is this the article you were thinking of? (If not, I'll avoid junking up the thread with future attempts.)

http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/lookup.php/Klarinet/1998/02/000503.txt

Fuzzy

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-17 00:41

Fuzzy: That was excellent. I imagine transposing is much easier when you are only dealing with a few keys. I.e. xxx|xxx x is the root, or xxx|ooo is the root, etc...

Michael: Thank you.

I realized earlier I made a mistake in my initial posting. I said the clarinet could be considered to be in Bb or F. Bb because of the second register, for obvious reasons. F because of the first, as it was fingered like the F recorder. Then I realized my error, there are two ways of identifying what pitch an instrument is in.

1 Every other woodwind except clarinet, is named by what the fingering xxx|xxx x produces in concert pitch. It doesn’t matter what you call the note, only what the concert pitch is. On a Bb saxophone the fingering xxx|xxx x produces concert Bb, but you call it “C” because it is a transposing instrument. On an F recorder xxx|xxx x produces the concert pitch F, but you call the note “F”. The instrument is pitched in F, but is not transposing. On both instruments xxx|xxx x produce the concert pitch the instrument is named after.

2. On transposing instruments we now name instruments by what a nominal “C” actually produces. A “C” on a Bb instrument actually sounds Bb on a piano, so we call it a Bb instrument. This is the definition always given today. The previous definition (1) and this one (2) are interchangeable on every woodwind except the clarinet, because it overblows a 12th.

By the old definition (1) the first register of a clarinet would be in Eb, because xxx|xxx x produces concert Eb. xxx|xxx x on the alto saxophone and first register xxx|xxx x on the clarinet BOTH produce concert Eb. Essentially, they are in the same key. This is why Michael’s trick works. The “problem” (IMO) is that we renamed all the notes when they became transposing instruments, so you can’t use definition 1 anymore. It’s only a problem on the clarinet, because it overblows at a twelfth, and we name it after the second register fingering.

On transposing woodwinds xxx|xxx x is always called “C”, except for the clarinet which overblows at a twelfth.

They could just as well called the clarinet an Eb instrument, and named the note produced by the first register xxx|xxx x “C”. Second register xxx|xoo would be called “C”. I guess they chose to name the clarinet after the second register, because the “clarinet” was invented to play in the second register.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-17 01:02)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2017-12-17 03:14

The actual tonality of a wind instrument , be it woodwind or brass is determined by the sounding of one note. That note is the C one octave above middle C. What the note is that is produced , that's the instruments actual tonality. Keep this 'rule ' in mind and everything becomes very simple to understand. This simple 'rule' has been forgotten to a certain extent , hence the erroronous names some woodwind and brass instruments have.

Skyfacer

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2017-12-17 03:33

It should also be noted that the fingering xxx|ooo is a C on bassoon as well, so the clarinet is not alone in that respect. If you think about it, this means that early clarinets were essentially fingered like a bassoon in the lower register and an oboe in the upper. Unfortunately there are no "rules" when it comes to fingering systems.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-12-20 09:26

>> Is this the article you were thinking of? <<

I don't know, because I don't remember its name. I guess it's likely, I'll read it later. It's a little weird that he didn't link to it and instead suggested ways to find a physical copy, which I couldn't find. I hope this is it and I'll actually read it finally. Thank you for finding that.

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-22 02:17
Attachment:  66A0D12A-A33A-4103-A72A-6E084E4CA6ED.jpeg (391k)

See attached...

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-22 02:22)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-12-22 07:59

Transposing doesn't change the interval structure. No matter which clarinet you play, written E to written F and written B to written C are still half-steps and the other naturals are a whole step apart.

If this was a joke, I apologize for missing it and taking it even half seriously, If it wasn't done just to be cute, it would be useless unless you want to redefine the written scale structure. More to the point (or at least on topic) might be a piano with strings tuned some interval, say a step, lower so written B (in its normal place on the keyboard) would actually sound at 440 Hz. But you couldn't show that in a picture and it would probably sound awful.

Karl



Post Edited (2017-12-23 12:59)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-23 08:40

I think it probably sounds bad no matter what you write on the keys.

- Matthew Simington


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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Burt 
Date:   2017-12-25 01:31

An instrument is NOT a transposing instrument or a non-transposing instrument. Note the baritone horn. Is it a transposing instrument? The baritone bass clef is not a transposing instrument, but the baritone treble clef is. But it's the same piece of metal. It's just a different way of defining the notes. The reason for both is to make it easier to switch from trumpet (treble) or from trombone (bass).

A viola could be considered a transposing instrument (F) so that it could be fingered like a violin. But nobody does this. I guess very few violinists double on viola.

I'm glad the clarinet and sax are transposing instruments. It made matters a lot easier in picking up an Eb or A clarinet or an alto sax. If I had perfect pitch, it might drive me crazy, but I don't have perfect pitch.



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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-25 03:52

See above...

An instrument is transposing if its notation is not written at concert pitch.

The clef changes the line or space C is on, but doesn’t “transpose” the music away from concert pitch.

I don’t know much about brass, except that they come in various keys.

Some instruments (like the F recorder) are said to be in a key other than C, but are not transposing. Instead of transposing the written music, you change the fingering. Music for the F recorder is all written at concert pitch. A “C” written on the page sounds like a C on the piano, so it’s not transposing. It’s called “an instrument in F” because xxx|xxx x sounds like an F on the piano. It’s written as an F, so it’s not transposing.

You could have a horn in any key you wanted and make it a “transposing instrument” or a “concert pitch instrument”. So you are partly right, it’s not really the instrument that makes it transposing or not, it’s a choice we make.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2017-12-25 08:24)

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: FwLineberry 
Date:   2017-12-27 00:27

After flailing around for the last couple of days getting confused between soprano recorder, alto recorder and clarinet fingerings, I'm starting to think that transposing really is the way to go.

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Backun Beta, Lyrique Libertas, Lyrique 570C
Ridenour RAmt36, Vandoren 15RV Lyre mouthpieces
Rovner Dark and Rovner Versa ligatures
Legere reeds

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 Re: Why transposing instruments?
Author: donald 
Date:   2017-12-27 07:05

Yes of course.

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