Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by meandmycornet, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    Right... I'm getting my little head in a muddle, and I need some help!

    Is there a simple rule to remember when transposing?

    I have to keep transposing music in lectures at uni, because near enough the whole group is flutes and obviously they play in a different key to proper instruments!

    The last piece I transposed was in G Major for C instruments so I had to transpose up a tone and add 2 sharps... so the key of A major!

    so is it the same all the time?

    and what would I do if the music was originally written for an Eb Instrument?

    Ooooh my brain hurts just writing this!


  2. yonhee

    yonhee Active Member

    :| Sounds far too confusing but when you transpose do you have to change the key as well as the note then?
  3. jingleram

    jingleram Active Member

    As I see it Fi, can't really explain it, but an example may show it better.
    Playing a 'C' on a Bb instrument will sound the same as a 'Bb' played on a piano (concert pitch).
    Equally, a 'C' played on an Eb instrument will sounds the same as an 'Eb' played on a piano (concert pitch).
    And yes it will always be the same difference that you will have to transpose. :D
  4. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    If the music is in Eb, you would have to transpose up a 4th, or down a 5th. Do you play piano? I find it is much easier if you imagine the piano keyboard in your head while you do it....
  5. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    How do I know if I'm going up a 4th or down a 5th? and how do I know what key signature?

    Yes I do play piano sort of... and I already imagine piano keys when I (try to) transpose!
  6. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

  7. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    This is the way i try to explain transposition to kids I teach, not that is very easy, but with a drawing it helps. It may sound a bit patronising, sorry if it does, it is intended for learners.

    Think of it like a steep road with a load of tower-block offices on it. Near the bottom of the hill you have the Concert Pitch (Key of "C") Offices. Their ground floor is called "Floor A" with each floor above it named after the notes going up the scale (Bb, B, C, C# etc.). There are also a few basement levels (Ab, G, F# etc)

    A few doors down the hill is another building, the Cornet offices (key of "Bb"), again its floors are named in accordance with the chromatic scale, with the ground floor being A. However if you go up to the 3rd floor "Floor C" (1st Bb, 2nd B, 3rd C) and look out of the window towards the "Concert Pitch" offices, you'll be looking directly at the 1st floor of that building, "Floor Bb".

    Likewise if you looked down the hill towards the Tenor Horn office block (Key of Eb), you'd be looking at "Floor G", and if you could see the French Horn (Key of F) offices it'd be "Floor F" and so on.

    Now if you look at key signatures, just find the floor in the other building that corresponds to the one you're on. So the key of G Major in the Concert Pitch Office, is the second basement. If you could look out from there to the Cornet Office, you'd be looking at the ground floor of that office "Floor A". and so on.

    Whilst it may be easier to try to find the patterns, such shift it down a tone and as add two sharps, you will probably struggle with harder transposition. Also you may finder it easier, if converting from one transposing instrument to another, to go via the concert pitch. So if you had a piece in C# Minor (4#s) on a tenor horn, and you wanted to rewrite it in Bb - you'd first say that C# minor in Eb is equivalent to E minor in C (1#) which is equivalent to F# minor in Bb (3#s). I think that is easier than saying up a fourth and take off 1 sharp.

    Well that's how I think of it. I apologise if I've just confused everyone even more.
  8. yonhee

    yonhee Active Member

  9. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

  10. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    In essence yes, but you are either transposing for a higher pitched instrument, in which case you transpose up a 4th; or you are transposing for a lower pitched instrument, in which you transpose down a 5th.

    Make sense?
  11. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    Ermmm well I think I understand what you are saying... I'm now off to draw myself some office blocks! I love that anology! it makes perfect sense!

    Thank you very much!

    Oooh and I get the up a 4th, down a 5th bit now aswell! Thank you Mr Sparke Sir!
  12. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    It's when you get a trumpet in E part you then panic. aghhhhh
  13. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    right ... i'm confused now!

    I've drawn my 'office blocks' but it doesn't seem to work :confused:

    I know that if I'm in playing in the key of C major on my cornet... then a flute player plays in the key of Bb Major... soooooooo why then does that work on my office blocks? according to my office blocks flutes would be in the key of B major when I'm in C major!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Okay dokay! It depends if you play a transposing instrument or not!

    If you play a Bb instrument, the written C (treble clef) played actually sounds as a Bb in concert pitch. If the part was written in concert pitch, that C then would have to be transposed up a tone to match that pitch (i.e., the difference between transposing instrument and concert pitch). If you are playing a part for a trumpet in D, then the difference is a major 3rd, so you play the part a major 3rd higher on the Bb instrument (i.e., the D trumpet's C actually is concert pitch D).

    You have to calculate the difference between the concert pitch of notes written for a particular incstrument (either transposing or not) and the one you are playing. One easy way to remember how to quickly sort it out is to get the transposing pitch of an instrument. If it is above C (e.g., Eb trumpet), then the part (if in concert pitch) would have to be transposed down a minor third. If it is a Bb part the Eb trumpet part is matching then the player transposes down a perfect 4th. If an Eb tenor horn had to play the same Bb part at pitch, then it would have to be transposed up a perfect 5th (although I think it is more consistent transposing down a 4th at first then up an octave which visually is easier).
  15. Flutey

    Flutey Active Member

    If you're in C, then I'm in Bb! Sorted?
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - depends if you are playing flute or triangle :rolleyes:
  17. Flutey

    Flutey Active Member

    Oh dear... so I got that wrong!!!
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - you were right! (... but you did say recently you were playing triangle and not your usual flute or piccolo :cool: )
  19. Flutey

    Flutey Active Member

    Oh good!!! I play all three, but not at the same time!!! Is triangle atonal then?
  20. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Practice is the best way of nailing it. It may also help to look at the full score of a typical Brass Band March, where, at least during the bass solo, the Eb Bass, Bb Bass, and Bass Trombone will be scored with the same notes. (Sometimes in a different octave.) You should be able to follow the transpositon easily enough from that.

    Here's an example - at letter C.

    I'm kinda geometrically minded in transposition, and think of it in terms of scalene triangles.

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