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 How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Johnny Galaga 
Date:   2021-08-27 05:30

If you're really playing a 'C', then why not just call it a 'C' instead of a 'D'?

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-08-27 06:11

There are full discussions of this topic elsewhere on the bboard. However, I think the best reasoning is: using the idea of transposing keeps the fingering consistent between the various pitches of clarinet (Eb, A, Bb, C, etc.) - or saxophone...or....

If it weren't for printed music, I'm not sure it would really matter as much.

Fuzzy
;^)>>>

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Michael E. Shultz 
Date:   2021-08-27 15:02

Stephen Fox makes a C clarinet, and the C melody saxophone was popular in the early 20th century. Being able to play along with the piano on the same sheet music without transposing was a plus back then.

"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: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-27 16:34

In some respects it is just semantics. If you prefer you can just say that your chalumeau "C" is thumb, first finger and second finger (and all other notes of the horn correspond) it's just that our Bb clarinet music is traditionally written a step up. Then you'd read "C" music no problem. If I am understanding it correctly, British brass players think backwards like this.




...............Paul Aviles



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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2021-08-27 21:00

In short, when the clarinet was first developed it didn't have enough keys to play all the sharps and flats so a composer used a different Clarinet to compensate. I'm not sure why they didn't just write everything for C clarinet but obviously the Bb and the A clarinet became the standards. My guess, because to the tone quality. There's very few solo and chamber music works in C clarinet. I've heard of a few but don't remember which they are by some very early composers. Sometimes Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert used it in some movements either for tone color or in order to be able to play all the sharps and flats. Even Berlioz, Brahms and Tchaikovsky and others used the C clarinet in some scores when the others were capable of playing every note.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-27 21:16

FWIW, English Horn and Oboe d'Amore are both written as transposing instruments, while oboes themselves are saddled with whatever key signature is in force and whatever chromatic notes the composer writes. Same with alto flute (bass flute is written an octave higher but the note names are the same as "concert" pitches). Outside of fairly advanced groups, mostly orchestras, you don't run into these very much.

Of course, trumpets and horns are written as transposing instruments because the originals had no valves and could only play notes in their natural harmonic series.

So, just as a tangential thought, is there a bassoon that is written as a transposing instrument (not counting the contra, which is only an octave)?

Given the historical decision to keep clarinet and low woodwind fingerings consistent, I've always wondered why F recorders (alto and bass) are not transposed. Players do have to learn two sets of fingerings (very similar to the two registers of a clarinet).

Karl

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2021-08-27 21:24

kdk wrote:


>
> So, just as a tangential thought, is there a bassoon that is
> written as a transposing instrument (not counting the contra,
> which is only an octave)?
>

Yes, I think the tenoroon (pitched either a 4th or a 5th higher than a bassoon) is a transposing instrument.



Post Edited (2021-08-27 22:55)

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2021-08-27 21:41

Yeah, what Ed P. says. Most likely other instruments that are not concert pitch (Bb trumpet, Fr. Horns, Alto/bari sax), etc. are pitched that way simply because of a desired tone, whether you call it a superior one or not. I really like the C clarinet sound and wish mine were repaired.

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-27 22:45

Fascinating. There are even a couple of YouTube videos. I'd never heard of it or the alto bassoon. FWIW, there's a Wikipedia entry about them.

Karl

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: davyd 
Date:   2021-08-28 19:52

What's the transposition for the little Ab clarinet? Is it written a major third above pitch, or a minor sixth below pitch? How did it even get invented anyway?

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2021-08-29 01:58

I believe that historically there are two completely different definitions of the key of an instrument.

#1. An instrument is said to be in the key of it’s lowest note. On woodwinds this is usually (xxx|xxx x). If it sounds like concert “F” it’s in “F”, etc. I think this comes from renaissance consorts where you needed a bunch of recorders (or whatever) all pitched about a fourth apart. If memory serves “C”, “F”, and “D” were common.

#2. An transposing instrument is said to be in the key of the concert pitch note sounded when you play a “C”

They amount to the same thing because (xxx|xxx x) is considered “C” on transposing instruments. The only difference is that instead of defining the instrument by the concert pitch note sounded when you play the lowest note, you define it by the concert pitch sounded when you play a nominal “C”. This obscures everything. IMO the choice to transpose parts introduced all sorts of difficulties, for questionable benefits. Calling them by their lowest note makes things much more rational. I think transposition must have started in the 19th c. when they started making band instruments in all sorts of weird keys like Eb. Anthony Baines says some of these weird keys and sizes were intended to allow one instrument to substitute for another - like if you had 20 clarinets and no piccolos or something.

In renaissance music “transposition” of a sort was accomplished by simply moving the clef. The only object was to make the notes fit better on the lines. Instrumentalists were not bound to certain lines and spaces being FACE, etc. The note was determined by the placement of the clef, not the line number, just like chant notation. A “C” was a “C” because of the clef, no matter where it was on the lines. Technically you can put the treble or “G” clef wherever you want. They didn’t have any hang-ups about “A”=440 either.

All clarinetists already learn two sets of fingerings, “C” and “F” because of the overblown 12ths. You can easily play a recorder in “F”. If the clarinet were at concert pitch that would be great. The problem is that the clarinet is a whole step “off”.

The Bassoon is actually in “F” because (xxx|xxx x) plays a concert “F”. Nobody thinks about it that way though, because the parts are written at concert pitch, and for all practical purposes, there’s only one bassoon.

The tin whistle in “D” is actually in “C”. Music is written at concert pitch and fingered normally. (xxx|xxx) sounds like concert “D”. It’s named “D” because it plays a “D” major scale, but it only has six holes (xxx|xxx). If it had 7 (xxx|xxx x) it would be in “C”. It’s a concert pitch instrument. The “C” tin whistle on the other hand could be considered a transposing instrument in Bb. (xxx|xxx) is concert "C". (xxx|xxx x) would sound concert Bb. However, I get the impression that for the most part they play by ear, so (xxx|xxx) is just the first step of the scale.

I you are a clarinetist or recorder player, you could play English horn without a transposed part. It’s in “F”. (xxx|xxx x) sounds concert “F”. Seems like a lot of unnecessary extra work to have the parts transposed.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2021-08-29 08:05)

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 Re: How Come It's A Transposing Instrument?
Author: Johnny Galaga 
Date:   2021-08-29 08:36

E-mail notifications on here don't seem to work, even if you check the box when you post something.

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