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Topic: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

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  1. #1

    Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    When I was in orchestra many moons ago, I know the clarinetists always played Bb clarinets, and transposed in their heads if they got a part in A... same as we horn players did for all the thousands of transpositions we got.

    I have a piece whose clarinet parts would be so much cleaner if written in A, but I don't know if anyone actually PLAYS A clarinets anymore. I write all my scores with transposing parts, and have always stuck with the Bb, but was wondering what common practice is these days for those score preparers who like scores with transposing parts.

    Any thoughts from the GPO cashew gallery?
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2
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    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    If you know the specific group you writing for, then just ask them.

    I just finished the music prep on a film recorded in Prague. We didn't know what the players were using, and there was no way to check ahead of time. So the instruction that I was given was play it safe, transpose for Bb clarinets.

    Lastly, I think you use Sibelius. Make the part in A if that's your preference, but also include an alternate Bb version. That should be easy to do.

    Just some thoughts,
    Jeff

  3. #3

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    Thanks, Jeff.

    I'm not writing for a specific group, and I know I can easily transpose parts with Sibelius. I guess I was curious about general practices in modern composition, and how the score should be prepared. I suppose I could avoid all this by writing scores in C, but I'm a bit entrenched in old tradition in that regard. Mainly, I can't stand looking at horn parts in C... they never fit well on the staff with a treble clef.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    I'd say use Bb clarinets as a "standard", unless you actually need the semi-tone lower that the A clarinet gives you.

  5. #5

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy
    I'd say use Bb clarinets as a "standard", unless you actually need the semi-tone lower that the A clarinet gives you.
    I agree. I daresay it's easier for a Bb clarinet player playing a Bb clarinet would find a bunch of sharps or flats in a real Bb part easier to read than transposing an A part, especially at sight.

    I also agree that the Bb instrument will be used as a standard.

    Jim
    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    N9EJR
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  6. #6

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    Thanks, Jeff.

    I'm not writing for a specific group, and I know I can easily transpose parts with Sibelius. I guess I was curious about general practices in modern composition, and how the score should be prepared. I suppose I could avoid all this by writing scores in C, but I'm a bit entrenched in old tradition in that regard. Mainly, I can't stand looking at horn parts in C... they never fit well on the staff with a treble clef.

    Dear Skysaw:

    I too write all of my scores in the traditional [correct :-) ] way, id est transposed. And I will encourage you to continue writing in this manner, and avoid the folly of “C” scores. For me reading a transposed score is so much easier, with a C score you end up with either lots of ledger lines or many clef changes and usually both. I have seen trumpet parts written in bass clef and horn parts written in alto cleft. Many Baritone Saxophone parts in tenor clef, a very strange choice, since the Baritone Saxophone is one the easiest instruments to transpose to and from concert pitch. I could go on, but I will cut it short. Take care.

    Sincerely,

    Ed
    //
    // Ars longa, vita brevis
    // http://edosbear.blogspot.com/
    //

  7. #7

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    Thanks for the suggestions. They more or less confirmed my thoughts, but it's good to know others are of a like mind.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  8. #8

    Re: Part-writing -- Clarinets in A

    A clarinets are still used in orchestras. If the music is in the key of A, A Bb clar would be playing in B, while an A clar would be in the much easier key of C.

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