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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2001, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores - Someone HELP!

I talked to a couple of my buddies today in school, and (for a sum of money - don't know how much yet) I may be able to get the local youth philharmonic orchestra (of Livonia) to play with me in my high school's talent show next year!

That's great and all, and I was excited by the thought of writing a piece of "classical" music for a real orchestra. Until I read about these transposing instruments, or whatever they're called. The instruments that aren't in C.

I am STRUGGLING with this concept. I think I'm getting it, but I was wondering if there was someone here who could give me a simple, clear explanation of this.

What I understand so far is as follows:
- Instruments not in C read C as the natural note of the instrument. I.E., an Eb clarinet player sees (our) C on a staff, but plays the Eb above it (because an Eb Cl. sounds a minor third higher than concert pitch).

- Scores for non-C instruments are written with opposite-symbol key signatures. I.E., if a score in the key of concert pitch C is written for Bb clarinet, then, because Bb major is 3 flats and C major is none, the Bb clarinet score's key signature must be 3 sharps to equal the 3 flats.

Now that I reread this, I hardly understand my own explanation. Can someone PLEASE help! :idunno:

-Justin
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2001, 07:16 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

ohhh i know what you're talking about...

the players of those Bb or Ab instruments use the same key signatures as we do, except for the fact that they are trained to read a "C" on our music as a Bb or whatever... I think that's the way it works, they look at a 3rd space C for example, but they play it as a Bb on their instrument...

i dunno, anybody in here play one of those instruments?

The best thing, imho, is to talk to your music director, and approach him intelligently as he doesn't shoo you off as some amateur wanker, and approach him with this question. i'll also ask my musicianship teacher (Prof Bill Westcott, gonna see him tomorrow in class), and see what he says. I'll give him a sample piece of music, and ask him how to write it for different instruments.

better yet, email me a sample of the music you want to use, maybe a couple bars or lines, and i'll ask him how to do it, and i'll give it back to you written for the other instruments.

i think all it takes is practice to adjust your writing style from centering on "C."

write the C major scale down on a piece of notation paper, but then think of it as a Bb or Ab (whatever the instrument is you're writing for) major scale. then change the key signature around (add flats or sharps) to make it "C" or whatever key you want. for them to get to think of their blank key signature major scale C, you'll have to adjust their key signature (which is generally blank for Bb or Ab or whatever their natural note is) for them to get it in C, like how we'd change our key signature around to get into Bb. Just think backwards, i guess. For them to think in "C", they have a key signature with flats or sharps, and for us to think in Bb or Ab, we'd have to add flats and sharps to our blank key signature to get it into that key.

now i *THINK* i am right (as i usually think i am), but check around and ASK YOUR MUSIC TEACHER or the conductor of the orchestra.

congratulations btw, on the opportunity and the best of luck... you're living my dream and i think its totally amazing what you're doin. tell me how it goes, alright?

-Pryde
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2001, 07:35 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

Yes. *A Bb trumpet, for example, will see a "C" on his score, but the note that comes out will be a Bb. *Thus, any piece in the key of Bb will be written on his score in C, and any piece in C will be written in D.

This is no BIG deal - just keep the amount of "shift" in mind when copying the score (any decent notation package will do this automatically). *The key signature will take care of most accidentals. *But be careful of any nonharmonic tones or modulations - double check them; that's where the errors happen.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2001, 10:10 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

I don't know how keen you are on this idea, but if you've never written music for those instruments before, you might ask one or two of the respective players help. *Just as we guitar players (and piano) like to hear certain musical ideas on our instruments, most violin, etc. players have their own "pet" sounds if you will; things they like. *I don't mean to insult you either, you very well might know all of this, but writing orchestral music is quite a different beast than say normal "rock band" music. *They will be expecting quite a bit in the way of harmony and melodic concepts. *Then again, you might be a master of all this! I've just seen a couple friends of mine try to make music like this and it ended up really bad, and embarassing. *
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2001, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

Thanks for the advice/encouragement and the bestowment of knowledge. I now get the concept! And yeah, I'll talk to some of the orchestra members, thanks!

-Justin
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-07-2001, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

oh, btw, Eric, I have this college level music theory book handy and it covers EVERYTHING. So don't worry, I'll try not to embarass myself

-Justin
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-07-2001, 06:03 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

btw....not many people realize that the guitar is actually a transposing instrument......sounds an octave lower than written
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-07-2001, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

I did! but it's an octave, so we don't really care too much :laugh:

-Justin
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-09-2001, 02:00 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

make sure you know the full range of each instrument, dont have a solo flute playing chords and everything will work out fine.

what I used to do before all that stuff became second nature was write all score parts in either treble or bass and when I had finishd then I would take the horns, clarinets, cor anglais etc etc and put them into their correct staves (viola blah blah) and correct key sigs.

save brain power........... of course somnthing like sibelius will do that for you......... but wheres the love I ask you????


Steve
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-12-2001, 12:57 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

I would say take the easy route and use something like sibelius. Just select the lines that need changing and let the computer do the transposition. It also means the printed version is easier to read (unless less you have PHENOMINAL notation).

Or get the musicians to help you out - they will probably be used to it...

Pete
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-12-2001, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

I have, already, a less-than-legal (read: free) copy of Cakewalk Overture 2. I like it. However, it doesn't have transposition out of concert pitch.

I just got the Sibelius 2 demo. I'm learning the program and it looks great. Cakewalk looks professional, but damn, this is amazing. And yes, it does the transpositions.

One slight problem: it's $600.
EDIT: Can't seem to find any free copies either.. anyone want to help out? hehe

I can't even SAVE anything for cryin' out loud!

-Justin

(Edited by sixstringphoenix at 3:25 pm on Nov. 12, 2001)
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-12-2001, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

Quote:
From Devo: of course somnthing like sibelius will do that for you
Quote:
From welshpete:
I would say take the easy route and use something like sibelius.
Steve, Pete- you guys seem to recommend Sibelius as if $600 was a drop in the bucket... do you have it yourselves?

-Justin
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2001, 01:03 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

there are ways and means of getting everything, unfortunately sibelius is one of those harder to get things.

Im not advocating piracy as many people on this site make a living as programmers.

but my sibelius came from a friends original cd and a serial generator as I am poor student.

there is a crack for the original demo version here

Steve
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2001, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

Unfortunately I got the new demo, Sib2, so that crack won't work. Thanks anyway.

I can sympathize with you Steve, as I am also a student who can't afford all this nifty software...

-Justin
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2001, 04:13 PM
 
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Transposition in Orchestral Scores

give me a few days I may be able to get a sib1 copy out to you. I have the demo version here somewhere.

ps thanks for all the encouragment to play at jemfest, it went down quite well but scared the crap out of me
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