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Learning to Sight Transpose


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cheiden
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I won't discount the utility of being able to transpose on sight. If you're sitting at a rehearsal and someone hands out a part then you really have no choice. But given the luxury of time I'm a big fan of keying parts into Finale and cranking out a clean copy keyed for the horn I'll be using. Until I have a piece really memorized this seems the best way to avoid clamming up a performance due to a brain glitch or other distraction where I couldn't do the math fast enough. And truth be told, I take a certain amount of pleasure keying in parts for great music.

And when all is said and done the listening audience doesn't give a damn how I read (or write) the music I play. It's not exactly the same subject but I enjoyed learning that Errol Garner was known to have said "No one can hear you read".
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trickg
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cheiden wrote:
I won't discount the utility of being able to transpose on sight. If you're sitting at a rehearsal and someone hands out a part then you really have no choice. But given the luxury of time I'm a big fan of keying parts into Finale and cranking out a clean copy keyed for the horn I'll be using. Until I have a piece really memorized this seems the best way to avoid clamming up a performance due to a brain glitch or other distraction where I couldn't do the math fast enough. And truth be told, I take a certain amount of pleasure keying in parts for great music.

And when all is said and done the listening audience doesn't give a damn how I read (or write) the music I play. It's not exactly the same subject but I enjoyed learning that Errol Garner was known to have said "No one can hear you read".

I did this a fair amount with a software suite I got for my iMac. (can't recall it off the top of my head and I'm not on that computer) It gave me the ability to scan in a PDF, have it recognize it, (to a degree - I always had to do some tweaking to the part to get it right on the page) and then I could transpose it to whatever key I needed. Before my standing Christmas/Easter gig dried up because the music director moved on, I utilized that a lot for doing things on my Eb/D trumpet. I LOVE that little horn! It really peps up the Hallelujah Chorus in a way that Bb just can't. I really enjoyed it when I was doing it with my friend who was doing 1st on A picc, and I was playing 2nd on D, which I think is traditionally how it's supposed to be done? Maybe?

Back in my early 20s, I'd just hand write everything. Back then I was pretty adept at writing things out and I had the time to do it.
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Dayton
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
When it comes to playing in an orchestra, yes, you transpose, but you don’t need to sight read it. Actually, if you are, you’ve done yourself and the band a dis-service.


That has generally been my experience as well, but there have been notable exceptions. Thus, I'd say that anyone wanting to play regularly in an orchestra should be comfortable with at least the common transpositions.

A few examples: (1) The soprano who gets nervous and insists on a different aria at the last minute. Time to sight transpose from trumpet in F. (2) The composer-conductor who brings the music with him. It will almost certainly be written for trumpet in Bb or C these days, but that may not be the horn you are playing it on. (3) You are told which piece you are going to play, find it on IMSLP for trumpet in A, practice that, have the librarian hand you an arrangement in Bb, and intend to play it on your C trumpet at that rehearsal.

Situations like that can be challenging enough without the added worry of shaky transposition skills.
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patdublc
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orchestra transpositions came fairly easy to me. But, I also had the advantage of sitting next to my trumpet teacher in a regional orchestra so he set things up to help me learn.
There's always that situation where you get the music at the last minute, maybe have just one rehearsal, and just aren't confident that you can play it well. In those cases, I have chosen to write out the transposition by hand as its more important to play well than to take too many risks. And I mean write it out by hand because that is a huge teaching aid.
Once comfortable with many transpositions, then you can be confident when somebody slips some music on to your stand just before the performance starts.
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trickg
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great replies.

I'm right there with everyone else - I HATE going to rehearsals ill-prepared to rehearse. This was one of those situations where most folks were seeing the music for the first time on Wednesday. For most of those folks it's no issue - they've played most of that repertoire before. For me, not really being an orchestral player, it was all pretty new.

I'm going to diligently work to learn the skill of sight transposing - I know I'll need it again at some point and it's a skill that I shouldn't have avoided for so long. For now, with the concert being just over a week away, I have the actual C trumpet part for the Tchaikovsky, and I'll probably write out the transposition for the Soro "Danza Fantastica." Everything else has a part for the horns I've got.
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Jerry
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
kehaulani wrote:
Unless I just missed it, this discussion is only about "direct" transposition. There's a whole 'nother set of possibilities by learning to transpose by moveable or changing clefs.

Right now I'm just trying to get my head around transposing from either a Bb part or an F part to play on a C trumpet. I'll deal with clef shifts when that's a bridge I have to cross.

I believe the point being made is if you know clefs, you simply apply the appropriate clef for a particular transposition, thus removing one mental step from the process:
Instead of identifying a note in treble clef (which I'm sure you do by just looking) and then doing a mental calculation of taking it up a fourth, you identify the note in the applied clef and you're done. It just means learning to read all clefs. In the big picture that will probably turn out to be easier than doing interval calculation.

When I was taking lessons as a teenager and my teacher said it was time for me to learn orchestral transpositions, he said we could either do it by interval or by clef. I asked which was easier. He said in the short term: interval; in the long term: clef. Being a dumb teenager, I said that we should do it by interval, not knowing that I would eventually be playing in community orchestras for over 50 years. Why the experienced, accomplished player didn't insist that I learn by clef I'll never know. Now, whenever I come across E or Eb transposition while using a C-trumpet, I just read the part in bass clef because I know bass clef decently. It's the other transpositions I have a more difficult time with because I do those by interval.

To be honest though, one-step up or one-step down is pretty easy for me now, but that might be because as a kid I did a lot of reading off of concert pitch fake books, using a Bb trumpet, and a more recent teacher strongly encouraged me to play Bb parts on a C trumpet because those often lay so much better on C. So I guess, it is just a lot of practice, after all.
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
I did this a fair amount with a software suite I got for my iMac. (can't recall it off the top of my head and I'm not on that computer) It gave me the ability to scan in a PDF, have it recognize it, (to a degree - I always had to do some tweaking to the part to get it right on the page) and then I could transpose it to whatever key I needed.

I've used a few different "music OCR" programs on a few different occasions and the results have been uniformly dismal, though it's been a while since I've tried. In addition to creating parts that were riddled with errors, the errors were so complex that it was nearly impossible to edit them out. I've since abandoned trying to scan into notation apps. I assume at some point this will get better though it's bucking music publishers who'd rather it wouldn't.
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martin mc hale
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Joined: 16 Sep 2002
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Location: welsh national opera

PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2021 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve made a couple of posts about this in the past and in my opinion the only successful way to learn to transpose is to approach it in a systematic manner. To that end the Richard Stegmann ‘orchestra trumpeter’ is a thought through system that begins with basic bugle calls in every usual transposition and then works through a detailed programme of exercises. Transposition is not a quick fix; however if you learn your scales and arpeggios then that will give you a good platform to work from. Handily, this book , written in the 1920’s by the then principal trumpet of the Berlin Philharmonic is now available on Qpress. It is a great tool- everything is in it apart from the patience.
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