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#1
it reaally confuses me. I've been reading about it in my music theory book and one of the examples for an Eb instrument is the alto sax and it says "alto sax in Eb plays C" "we hear Eb" so when a saxophonist reads an "Eb" off the staff it really sounds like a C?? why not just make the note hes playing an Eb and not a C? am i missing something here?
<Raven> I got so baked last night
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#2
I know something that may or may not help.

Trumpets are usually Bb instruments.

If you play a C on A Bb trumpet, it will sound a Bb.


to transpose for a trumpet, you just add/subtract a whole tone.

edit- so basically when a sax player plays a C, it sounds like an Eb. This is noticeable when playing with other instruments.
Last edited by branny1982 at Jun 2, 2008,
#3
its not HOW they are transposed that i need help understanding, its WHY really i guess...
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#4
Quote by C.C. Deville
so when a saxophonist reads an "Eb" off the staff it really sounds like a C?? why not just make the note hes playing an Eb and not a C? am i missing something here?


other way around
if C is written, we will hear Eb.
If D is written, we will hear F
and if you want to hear a C, you have to write A.

i forget the reason for having instruments be pitched differently, but i don't remember right now. basically in short: it is what it is, don't complain about it.

edit:
i think it has something to do with ease of writing, on top of other things. for example, writing guitar in treble clef exactly how you hear it would be tedious with the amount of ledger lines (guitar is heard one octave lower than written) There are other reasons too though, go google it up.
#6
It's because of just the way instruments are made I think, some keys and things are easier to play than other.

For example, as branny said, the trumpet is usually in Bb, so when you play a C, it sounds as a concert Bb (concert pitch is the pitch of things you tune to, I believe then a concert C would be just a c on a piano/guitar). C major is the easiest scale to play on trumpet, but as it's tuned a tone lower, it's actually Bb major.

The same would be true for the sax, although instead of Bb it's Eb

Sorry if that didn't actually help at all, I can do transposition well enough but the theory behind it boggles me
#7
Trumpet music is generally written in Bb major. However, Bb is not easy to read in sheet music. Long ago, musicians decided that they would write down C on the staff and then teach trumpet players than the Bb they were actually fingering is C. So when they think they're playing C, we hear them play Bb.

Of course, this isn't trickery as I suggest; trumper players know what they're playing. That's why you hear "concert pitch" talked about. A trumpet player will see his music written in C, but tell everyone that the song is in "Concert Bb," meaning that the pitches heard at the concert fall in the key of Bb.

Edit: I had a disclaimer saying that I may be wrong about the notes. I was and I was corrected, and the appropriate corrections have been made to the post.
Last edited by bangoodcharlote at Jun 2, 2008,
#12
bangoodcharlotte thats sorta where i was getting caught up... theyre being told to play C but they are really playing Bb... adlsfjksdklfdj i dont know, maybe its just better not to question it haha =/
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#13
On say, a tenor sax, a Bb scale is significantly easier to play than a C major scale. However, a Bb scale is harder to read and more "complicated" than a C major scale. So it's pitched as a Bb instrument to combine the ease of playing Bb major(at concert pitch) with the ease of reading C major. That's my understanding of it anyway.
#14
You can get Eb trumpets. Trumpets exist (that I've seen) in A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A and Bb (going up the octave ... they just get smaller). It is noted that they change in tone as they get smaller; the Bb trumpet is the one with the distinctive tone people associate with trumpets. To make it easier on trumpet players (we ain't the smartest bunch ... but surely the best looking), all their music is written the same way; you read on any trumpet with the same fingerings, just the pitch is different. Because most trumpet players play Bb instruments most of the time, most trumpet music is presented in Bb. Similar systems exist for reed instruments.
#15
Quote by Nick_
we ain't the smartest bunch ... but surely the best looking


well played you sneaky bastard, haha.

itt: random trumpet discussion!
piccolo trumpets sound amazing.
#16
But why can't we all be like Maynard and play silly high on a normal Bb trumpet? (Reportedly he can go to the triple Bb (concert Ab), almost 2 octaves above the "high" C)
#17
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Trumpet music is generally written in Bb major. However, Bb is not easy to read in sheet music. Long ago, musicians decided that they would write down C on the staff and then teach trumpet players than the Bb they were actually fingering is C. So when they think they're playing C, we hear them play Bb.

Of course, this isn't trickery as I suggest; trumper players know what they're playing. That's why you hear "concert pitch" talked about. A trumpet player will see his music written in C, but tell everyone that the song is in "Concert Bb," meaning that the pitches heard at the concert fall in the key of Bb.

Edit: I had a disclaimer saying that I may be wrong about the notes. I was and I was corrected, and the appropriate corrections have been made to the post.

So If a piece of music says, "Clarinets in Eb," it's actually playing a C? I'm trying to transcribe Holst's The Planets Suite from sheet music, and I often run into a wall where it doesn't sound right with the clarinets, or the bassoon, etc.
#19
well it seems like as long as on sheet music it told what instrument it is for it would be understood, the range of the instrument and you could just make it appear on the staff "normally" but still be understood that it's in the instrument's range. Sorry if that's confusing haha
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#20
I wonder if people who have perfect pitch who learned another instrument first would have trouble reading music made for a trumpet. That is, if they looked at the staff, and it said to play a C, and a Bb came out, wouldn't their perfect-pitchy mind go for a loop?
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#21
Quote by seedmole
I wonder if people who have perfect pitch who learned another instrument first would have trouble reading music made for a trumpet. That is, if they looked at the staff, and it said to play a C, and a Bb came out, wouldn't their perfect-pitchy mind go for a loop?
I'm sure you could train yourself to be used to it.

Here's a better perfect pitch conundrum: Someone is born with perfect pitch and through genetic testing, the parents discover that fact and try to train the kid to recognize pitches (remember, you have to know that 440Hz is A, otherwise you would call it "note 1" or something nonstandard). The dad has an old guitar and when the kid is old enough to talk, he begins teaching the kid "this is A, this is B, this is F#" and such. However, the guitar is tuned down 1/2 step, so when the kid thinks he's learning the pitch of an A note, it's actually Ab.


CC, let me answer your question: A trumpet player will read a piece of music written with the key sognature as C. Every note on the staff will fall into that key (ie no accidentals). However, when he plays it, we hear it as Bb. Think of it as a downtuned guitar. You call 0 2 2 1 0 0 an E chord, but on a guitar tuned down a whole step, it's heard as a D chord.
#22
Quote by Freepower
One of the main reasons for transposition is the number of ledger lines a musician has to read - guitar, fr'instance, would be practically unreadable if untransposed.

I've always wondered why people dont just use the tenor clef and forget about the transposition. .
But yes, i was told intstruments were transposed to save on the number of ledger lines.
#23
Quote by bangoodcharlote
I'm sure you could train yourself to be used to it.

Here's a better perfect pitch conundrum: Someone is born with perfect pitch and through genetic testing, the parents discover that fact and try to train the kid to recognize pitches (remember, you have to know that 440Hz is A, otherwise you would call it "note 1" or something nonstandard). The dad has an old guitar and when the kid is old enough to talk, he begins teaching the kid "this is A, this is B, this is F#" and such. However, the guitar is tuned down 1/2 step, so when the kid thinks he's learning the pitch of an A note, it's actually Ab.


CC, let me answer your question: A trumpet player will read a piece of music written with the key sognature as C. Every note on the staff will fall into that key (ie no accidentals). However, when he plays it, we hear it as Bb. Think of it as a downtuned guitar. You call 0 2 2 1 0 0 an E chord, but on a guitar tuned down a whole step, it's heard as a D chord.


so why arent they told the key is C major and play the notes of C major and not Bb?
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#24
Quote by C.C. Deville
so why arent they told the key is C major and play the notes of C major and not Bb?
If a trumpet was to play in Concert C major, that is, the key we hear is C major, the trumpet music would be written in D major.

Think of it as playing your guitar down a whole step, but you're playing with a pianist. The pianist plays in C major while you back him up. Since your guitar is down a whole step (nevermind why you would do this), you would play your standard D chord x x 0 2 3 2 but it would sound like a C and fit perfectly with the pianist.
#25
Quote by C.C. Deville
it reaally confuses me. I've been reading about it in my music theory book and one of the examples for an Eb instrument is the alto sax and it says "alto sax in Eb plays C" "we hear Eb" so when a saxophonist reads an "Eb" off the staff it really sounds like a C?? why not just make the note hes playing an Eb and not a C? am i missing something here?



Transposition just makes it easier on the reader. it keeps the notes of each instrument reasonably within the range of the staff (ofcourse you will still have ledger lines)

btw the guitar sounds an octave lower than written. If it werent transposed that way, we would be reading all below the staff, or using bass clef.
#26
Quote by GuitarMunky
btw the guitar sounds an octave lower than written. If it werent transposed that way, we would be reading all below the staff, or using bass clef.
When I first read this, I thought, "True, but anyone who can read music for guitar knows that, so it doesn't metter." But wait, isn't the same true of trumpet or clarinet?

When you read standard notation for guitar, you know that you're not playing EXACTLY what is written, but you've been taught to play the different pitches anyway. The same is true on the trumpet, except it's off by a whole tone rather than an octave.
#27
Quote by bangoodcharlote
When I first read this, I thought, "True, but anyone who can read music for guitar knows that, so it doesn't metter." But wait, isn't the same true of trumpet or clarinet?

When you read standard notation for guitar, you know that you're not playing EXACTLY what is written, but you've been taught to play the different pitches anyway. The same is true on the trumpet, except it's off by a whole tone rather than an octave.



My point was just about why transpositions are necessary, and that what guitarists read in standard notation is transposed as well.

I dont think that EVERYONE "that reads guitar music" is aware of the fact that a guitar sounds an octave lower than written...... so it does matter enough to mention it IMO.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 3, 2008,
#28
Quote by GuitarMunky
My point was just about why transpositions are necessary, and that what guitarists read in standard notation is transposed as well.

I dont think that EVERYONE "that reads guitar music" is aware of the fact that a guitar sounds an octave lower than written...... so it does matter enough to mention it IMO.
Dude, I don't always disagree with you. That post agreed with you.
#29
haha yeah i definitely didnt know that the guitar sounds an octave lower than its written but thats an octave the note is the same really C-C not C- Eb.
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#30
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Dude, I don't always disagree with you.

Yes you do!!

JK

Sorry, I misinterpreted you. Be consistent & disagree next time!
#31
Quote by C.C. Deville
haha yeah i definitely didnt know that the guitar sounds an octave lower than its written but thats an octave the note is the same really C-C not C- Eb.

well..... it does depend where on the neck you are playing, a guitar also sounds an octave higher!
#32
Quote by branny1982
well..... it does depend where on the neck you are playing, a guitar also sounds an octave higher!


Im not sure I follow..... when does a guitar sound an octave higher than written?

Quote by C.C. Deville
haha yeah i definitely didnt know that the guitar sounds an octave lower than its written but thats an octave the note is the same really C-C not C- Eb.


well its the same concept though. The transposition is for the purpose of making the music easier to read based on the range of the instrument.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 3, 2008,
#33
when does it sound an octave lower?


edit - i am not sure if i followed correctly before. As far as i was concerned, if i play a C on a guitar it comes out as a C relative to a concert pitch C.

now, when it was said that the guitar is an octave low, i assumed they meant the low notes.... there are 4 octaves on a guitar, so depending on which notes you play, you can be octaves over/under.

BUT, i am obviously wrong about this.
Last edited by branny1982 at Jun 3, 2008,
#34
Quote by branny1982



As far as i was concerned, if i play a C on a guitar it comes out as a C relative to a concert pitch C.




The guitar "sounds" an octave lower than written. If you were playing piano and read that same C written in the same place on the staff..... it would sound an octave higher than if you were reading/playing it on guitar.
#35
Quote by GuitarMunky
The guitar "sounds" an octave lower than written. If you were playing piano and read that same C written in the same place on the staff..... it would sound an octave higher than if you were reading/playing it on guitar.



my question is which C do you start on for a guitar if i did have a piece of music to play?
song stuck in my head today


#36
^Middle C written on a staff is played on the A string, 3rd fret, but it sounds an octave lower than middle C.

About transposing instruments...I think it's already been said that it has to do with the range of the instrument when the notes are written on paper.
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#37
Quote by lbc_sublime
my question is which C do you start on for a guitar if i did have a piece of music to play?



If its written for guitar, play it as written. If it written for piano, play it an octave higher. For instance if you were reading the melody of a jazz tune from the real book you would generally play it an octave higher than written.
#38
Joe's right sublime middle C on guitar is 3rd fret A string
<Raven> I got so baked last night
<Raven> that I WOKE UP high o_o
<Raven> Do you have any idea how euphoric that is?
<Raven> I felt like I was being born.
#39
Quote by C.C. Deville
Joe's right sublime middle C on guitar is 3rd fret A string



Actually, if you play a middle c on the piano, it will be the same octave as playing c on the 2nd string 1st fret on the guitar. again, thats because the guitar sounds an octave lower than written.
#40
^Right. That's why if you have a middle C WRITTEN, since guitar is played an octave lower than written, you would play the 3rd fret on the A string.

EDIT: I assume that's where you're coming from when you say that if you're playing a PIANO piece on guitar you'd play it an octave higher than you normally would?
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