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Subject: Re: Transpositions
From: Mura Kievman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mura Kievman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 20 Mar 2017 22:25:17 -0400
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I'm going back to my days as a music major (voice and piano).

Certainly, brass and wind instruments (anything 
not designated as a "C" instrument) had to be 
able to transpose.  I'm sure that is still 
true.  Violists usually knew the treble and viola 
clefs, cellists knew the tenor clef well and also 
the bass clef, and perhaps the treble.  I would 
seem that string players in general didn't need 
to be able to transpose to the same extent as wind and brass players.

Most pianists I knew did not transpose at sight 
even then.  (When as a music major I was 
presented with the soprano clef I just about 
fainted!  But I wasn't singing repertoire where 
that was necessary so I didn't have to worry about it.)

Organists used to transpose but today's organs do 
the transposition automatically ... so the 
organist can play the keys that they see on the 
score and the organ will play it in any key they 
wish.  I remember a histerical youtube of the end 
of the Halllelujah Chorus where the organist 
accidentally hit the transpose button just at the 
end of the piece ... quite memorable.

So my question is:  do today's young organists transpose?

As a singer who never had perfect pitch but I DID 
(and still do) have extreme relative pitch ... I 
always knew when we were transposing, and I had a 
difficult time in doing so when looking at the 
score.  Even if I was only singing a hymn.

But I think RP's post is largely correct ... I 
suspect that today's musicians do not transpose 
as readily as prior generations did.

Mura



At 05:56 PM 3/20/2017, Jon Goldberg wrote:
>Why do you single out clarinets, trumpets and 
>horns? That makes no sense. Those are a
>scant few of what we call "transposing 
>instruments," meaning that they play pitches in a
>different key than notated. (Though the C 
>trumpet, which plays at pitch, is not
>uncommon.) But that has nothing to do with 
>having to transpose (in real time) to a
>"concert" key not on the page. That's a very 
>different thing, that has nothing to do with the
>basic "key" of the instrument itself. If an 
>entire piece were being transposed, they would
>still have to transpose in the same way everyone 
>else would - and it's not assumed they
>would have any skills the other players did not.
>
>Now, of course, if a piece is being transposed a 
>half-step down, a part written for Bb
>clarinet could simply be played on an A clarinet 
>if the player has one, and if the part still
>lies well for the instrument (see below). But 
>most instruments don't have that ability to
>"cheat" that way, lol. (And there's no such 
>thing as an Ab clarinet for a piece going a whole
>step down, etc, lol.)
>
>Also, that's a very naive view of computer music 
>printing. It's the rare piece of music
>(barring the simplest) that would not involve at 
>least some editing in the process. Note
>"spelling" often needs to be reconsidered 
>(especially in music that's already very
>chromatic in nature), adjustments because of 
>ranges need to be take into account (what if
>the new key takes instruments out of practical 
>or literal range? Like a cellist all of a sudden
>asked to play a low Bb it doesn't have, 
>etc...that note needs to go to the basses if possible,
>etc - or, clarinet passages over the "break" 
>might need to be rethought - or maybe put on
>A clarinet instead of Bb clarinet, etc). 
>Keyboard/harp parts may require new voicings for
>practicality's sake. And so on.
>
>You don't really often get to simply transpose 
>"at the click of a mouse." You're damn lucky
>if it's that easy. ;-)
>
>Also, as a Finale user (I don't know about 
>Sibelius in this regard), because of copyright
>entanglements, Finale no longer allows the 
>scanning/converting of previously printed music
>as a starting point. (There used to be a poor-to 
>adequate scanning/conversion program,
>but not on the latest version, and the ruling on 
>versions to come is still in debate, I
>believe.) So there's no "feeding in" of 
>anything. It has to be inputted in, note by note, by
>the user. And by any method, that's 
>time-consuming. Imagine having to do that for every
>instrument of even just one standard-length aria. It's work, folks...
>
>(Any Sibelius users out here can chime in about methods available to them.)
>
>
>On Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:08:14 -0000, Graeme Wright <[log in to unmask]>
>wrote:
>
> >       Agreed Horn, Trumpet & Clarinets need 
> to be able to transpose at sight but other
>instruments do not. I doubt if there was ever a 
>time when the whole orchestra could
>transpose an aria at sight. Now days a music 
>programme such as SIBELIUS would be used,
>feed in the parts and it will print them out in 
>any key you want at the click of a mouse.
> >
> >Kind regards
> >
> >Graeme
> >
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Discussion of opera and related issues 
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>On Behalf Of Ron Magnuson
> >Sent: Monday, March 20, 2017 20:00
> >To: [log in to unmask]
> >Subject: Re: Transpositions
> >
> >> On Mar 20, 2017, at 3:27 PM, R PRADA <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >>
> >> Orchestral musicians are not well trained in 
> transposition these days, so if anyone
>wants to transpose anything outside the 
>transpositions that orchestras have on hand would
>have to pay a copyist some serious bucks to 
>write out orchestral parts in the preferred
>key.
> >
> >As an ex-orchestral trumpet player who learned 
> to transpose up and down all intervals, I
>would be shocked if today’s musicians could not, and do not, do the same
>transposition.  It is just simply part of the 
>job.  What proof do you have of such a claim?
> >
> >Ron
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