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 Transposition
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-04-27 01:41

I do not have formal music training and experience but just what I could pick up on my own in my guitar, mandolin, banjo, and clarinet experiences. Never played professionally except to occasionally sit in band a few times as substitute for sick member in my teens.
I somewhere learned transposition by writing the scale notes across a page that song or piece was written in and then writing the scale I desired underneath it, then wrote out the new piece note by note on a sheet of staff paper. I do not do a lot of this but have done a good bit over time and wondered if there were an easier way to go about this many years since I began doing it. Maybe someone could give me some tips. I used it mainly to make pieces easier to play rather than take trouble to lean them as written, and it was cheaper than purchasing specific music in specific keys IF available. Looks like I am going to do some transposing of some difficult pieces. Lots of notes if seldom played are hard to remember and the little fingers do not stretch where needed. If what I do is still the best way I will continue; if not, maybe someone will suggest an alternative or so. Thanks.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-04-27 17:04

BGBG, the way you describe is fundamentally what many musicians do. We just don't all write everything out - particularly the two scales - as you do. It's another advantage to learning the scales well enough that you don't need to see them on a staff to know what notes they contain. Knowing the scale of the original and the scale of the key to which you want to transpose the piece, you find what scale degree (which number of the 7 notes in the scale) a note of the song is, then count up to find which note in the new key is the same scale degree. So, for Danny Boy, the first four notes would be the note below the scale's 1st ("tonic") note - the 7th note of the scale - followed by the (tonic) 1st note, the 2nd note and the 3rd note (sometimes also named "si-do-re-mi"). In your original version, that's (low) F#-G-A-B. When it's transposed to D major (your new version), the notes become (low)C#-D-E-F#. They need to be F# and C# because those sharps are in the key signature of a D major scale.

There is another way. You can count the half-steps (notes of the chromatic scale) up or down from the original scale's tonic (1st) note to the 1st note of the new key, then move each note of the song the same number of half-steps up or down. You don't need to know the contents of either scale or their key signatures to do it this way, just the number of half steps (the "interval") you want to move everything.

Of course, you could always buy a "light" version of one of the music notation software programs, key in the original and have the software do the transposition, but that would take the learning opportunity out of the process.

Karl

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 Re: Transposition
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-04-27 18:04

This may be a dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway: Do you have a method book that you used when you were learning the fundamentals of clarinet (e.g., the notes)?

The reason I'm asking is that, if I were you, I'd be inclined to return to the method book to practice forgotten notes when I encountered them in a piece I was playing for fun. For example, in my Galper method, each note is introduced and then a series of exercises follow so that you can practice that note in various common "patterns" with other notes.

Another technique you might consider is to isolate the hard/unfamiliar notes in a song you're playing and practice those repeatedly until your fingers become comfortable with the movement. For example, for that pesky F#, play the phrase that includes it by itself. If you make a mistake, play it again. Try it slowly about five times. Work towards making the pattern that includes that F# automatic.

It seems to me that there's value in making these notes and note patterns automatic so that you don't get intimidated by them when you come across them in a song you want to play. The paraphrase the great knitting innovator Elizabeth Zimmermann, "You are the master of your music."

Take this for what it's worth. And power to you in your transcription efforts!

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 Re: Transposition
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-04-27 18:24

I **think** some musicians transpose more by ear than by calculation. Fingerings of different pitches (rather than "notes") get wired in, or fingering changes for different intervals do. Familiarity with scales and related patterns can reinforce this facility, but I don't think they necessarily create it. I seem to have, or maybe I once did have, a modest ability this way. In the past some transpositions I unexpectedly ran into just seemed to work without my really knowing how, and without having practiced it. I was far from good at it, but I think some people very much are so.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: Plonk 
Date:   2019-04-27 20:49

I agree with Beth that just learning these notes will be the most efficient solution. You say these notes are played seldom - but that is only because you are likely always playing everything in C. If you stop transposing you'll encounter these notes fairly frequently and they will start your become easier.

If you do want to use some software, musescore is free and you can transpose at the click of a button. There are also lots of scores you can download for free, so you might not even need to input the original.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-04-27 21:45

I studied with Kal Opperman in the 1960's and he would assign what to practice, then add "and transpose the entire lesson into every key". That is a sure way to learn how to play the clarinet well. Today I can still hear any tune and play it in any key. I also assign lessons that way and my advanced students have no problem playing in any key.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-04-27 22:50

Ken Lagace wrote:

> I studied with Kal Opperman in the 1960's and he would assign
> what to practice, then add "and transpose the entire lesson
> into every key". That is a sure way to learn how to play the
> clarinet well.

Absolutely! But that's rather a giant leap for someone at BGBG's current level. As you know well, there was a time not so far back in history (when we were both studying) when anything that showed up on your music stand for C clarinet was played, usually, on a Bb, sometimes on an A. It was expected of any competent clarinetist. And there were lots of players who played everything on a Bb clarinet (hence one of the reasons for full Boehm clarinets with the low concert Db).

For BGBG, I agree with the posts that suggest you'd be better off learning to play in keys that need those notes you find unfamiliar. I realize you only play for yourself and you don't play in ensembles where everyone has to play from the same arrangements. But you're limiting yourself by not venturing at least as far as the 5 keys with 0, 1 or 2 sharps or flats (C, F, Bb, G, and D Majors) and, yes, their related minor keys (having the same key signatures - a, d, g, e and b minors). And once you learn up to 2 sharps and 2 flats, the sound and the concepts will be more familiar and adding 3 sharps/flats won't be as intimidating as it is for you now.

Karl

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 Re: Transposition
Author: brycon 
Date:   2019-04-28 02:47

The scale-degree technique kdk recommends is a great way to transpose melodies at sight or by ear (it's the way I teach theory I students to transpose).

"Moveable do" solfege, whereby scale degree 1, regardless of key, is sung as "do," solidifies the aural connection to the scale degrees. And if you don't know or don't want to know moveable do solfege, you can just practice singing through melodies with the scale degree numbers. Once you know the scale degrees of a melody, you can map it onto whatever scale/key you wish (this technique is basically what you're already doing to transpose, by the way).

The scale-degree technique, however, becomes much more difficult in music that modulates or isn't entirely tonal. When I transpose difficult things at sight, such as reducing a symphonic score on the piano, I think in terms of clefs. Familiarity with the treble, bass, soprano, mezzo soprano, alto, and tenor clefs will get you through any transposition.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-04-28 03:10

I had always wanted to play the clarinet but never had time so in May 2014 I rented a Yamaha Bb and took around 15-16 lessons. And I was mostly interested in playing songs I liked so never developed a lot of technical skill which I am now regretting. So I need now to practice scales and notes to be able to play and remember them better. I have a few beginner books and note charts but nothing really elaborate for it is mostly a hobby for my own enjoyment, but that does not mean I am not interested in learning and becoming better.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-04-28 04:10

Well, I don't think you need a ton of technical skills per se, but you'd probably have more fun playing the songs you enjoy if you don't feel stuck when you get to unfamiliar notes.

For now, the easiest thing might be to try to practice the bits of the song around the tricky notes. So, for example, C# and F#, let's pretend to you want to play "Danny Boy." (Forgive me if this feels like I'm dumbing things down -- just trying to be ultra-clear about how I might approach a tricky bit. I downloaded the piece so I could see what you were playing.)

Before you start to play, look at the key signature (that bit after the treble clef). Remind yourself what notes will be sharp in your piece: the Cs and the Fs. If you can't remember how to play those notes, flip through your beginner book and locate the lessons that teach those notes to refresh yourself now, before you start to play your song.

Play the first four notes of your song. (C#, D, E, F#). Did you get all the notes? If so, yay! If not,...

... stop. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

"Man, there's that F#! Gets me every time!"

Play just the F#. Play it a few times.

Now play the E followed by the F#. Can you do it? Yay! Play those two notes together about five times to get the shift from E to F# feeling automatic.

Go back to the beginning and play the first four notes . Did you get all four? Woo-hoo! Play the four notes together several times, until your fingers don't seem tangled up anymore.

Now you can start playing again. Stop when you start messing up and go through the process again of isolating the note you missed, playing it correctly several times, and then playing it correctly with the notes around it.

I don't want to suck all the enjoyment out of your playing, but I don't want you to continue to feel frustrated or held back, either.

For other readers, I'm pretty sure the arrangement BGBG is using is from www.free-scores.com "Danny Boy," arranged for Bb clarinet, guitare (sic) and/or piano by Bernard Dewagtere.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-04-28 06:24

Yes, Beth, that IS the arrangement. The one I WAS using is in Gmajor with an F# and begins with a low F#3. I just wanted to try one a little higher pitched.
Now I will have to start LEARNING again. Not just having fun playing. And as you said, it is no fun when get to that note you have no idea how to form and I hate looking at these tiny note charts. In fact I made 4x6 cards with one note on each. Trouble there is you can only look at a few at a time instead of all of them. But they are much easier to see and understand. I must go back and read your other posts. Lots of helpful things in there. Wish I had time to read the whole BBoard. Thanks for the tips. I think I posted before this one and either it was censored or I failed to click the POST button which is much more likely. Oh, well....can't succeed all the time. Now have to start playing these scales.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-04-28 18:41

I find this business of having to use a chart to work out how to play notes a bit puzzling. Certainly when you begin to learn your way around the clarinet you need a fingering chart, but in a fairly short period you should have developed sufficient familiarity with the instrument that finger placement becomes automatic. I would expect a student to be able to be able to easily place their fingers for the standard fingerings of any note in the chalameau and clarion registers and to be able to name the note after perhaps 4 lessons. Some achieve this much sooner. If you know the finger placement for the natural notes then the fingering for the sharps and flats should be instinctive. The notes follow a logical progression up and down the instrument and there are a limited number of methods for for playing sharps and flats.

Tony F.

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 Re: Transposition
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2019-04-28 18:59

Explanation:
The thing is, I had stopped playing for 7 months and sort of forgot how to form some of the notes. Fortunately it is coming back now. I am not an active student now but do try to play some every day, and usually without fingering charts.

I actually DID memorize all the notes to begin with and did not mean to imply I play by looking up each note on a chart then forming and playing it. Only look up if I am unsure of a note. Hope that clarifies it better.



Post Edited (2019-05-01 08:02)

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