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Topic: KEY confusion??

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  1. #1
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    KEY confusion??

    I'm looking at a mini score of Coplands BILLY THE KID.
    The Horn & Trumpet are listed as F & Bb, respectively.
    The piece is in Eb concert, but both Horn & trumpet are written in C.
    What am I missing?
    Gary

  2. #2
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    Are you sure that the horn & trumpet are written in C, or are they simply written without a key signature?

    JT

  3. #3
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    Hi JT,
    Horn & trmpt have no key signature, but wdwds , trmbs & tuba
    do have appropriate key signatures.
    Gary

  4. #4

    Re: KEY confusion??

    it is traditional to write a horn part without key signature, it is, however, transposed "in F".

    there doesn't seem to be a real consensus on the way to notate Bb trumpet parts. in this particular case, I would presume that they took the same approach as the horn part: transposed as in Bb, but with no key signature (in other words, accidentals "on the fly").

  5. #5
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    Thanks Michel,
    So how do you adapt the key in Finale? Write the pitches with an altered interval,,?

    Thanks, Gary

  6. #6

    Re: KEY confusion??

    To clarify Michel's post, it was once standard practice for horns and trumpets not to use key signatures, regardless of the key of the piece or the transposition of the instruments. For the most part, that practice is no longer followed.

    If you really want to do it in Finale, you can set it up in staff attributes, allowing the horns and trumpets to have independant key signatures.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  7. #7
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    It seems that Horn & Trumpet are not written in Concert pitch but in instrument key. If you wish to play the score properly in concert pitch, you need to transpose the B instrument staff down by two semitones and the F instrument staff down by a fifth.

    I don’t have Finale. My notation software allows me to transpose any staff to either concert pitch or instrument key. Except for transposing by an octave where appropriate (Double Bass), I always use concert pitch. Brass or woodwind players often prefer their parts written in instrument key.

    Herbert
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  8. #8
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    Thanks dan & Herbert.
    I have scores with brass in various keys appropriate to 19th Century instruments(& earlier.)
    I still am by all instruments other than these 2 are in appropriate key signatures.
    The purpose of keys in writing is to have the best, clearest info to the performer.
    As a clarinet, sax player who also taught band 35 years, I can transpose easily up a step, but I'd rather see it already transposed.
    I can read an Eb part by reading it as bass clef & transposing up a step-but it's a bit harder--especially for quick moving notes.
    The most difficult transposition is the F instruments. Seeing a note 5 steps higher than concert pitch involves deep concentration.
    When I started teaching in 1964 most Band scores were reduced scores in concert pitch. This makes it more difficult to follow individual notes, but is easier to read.
    I've found writing in concert easier when entering multiple instruments from another source, but prefer to think of each horns written pitch when newly composing.

  9. #9
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    Re: KEY confusion??

    Gday Gary,

    As a Double Bass player, I can always transpose my part perfectly by an octave. Any other transposition would not be easy for me and not good enough to play in real time. I have a lot of respect for people like you Gary, who can transpose on the fly.

    I mostly arrange music on paper (the PC). Here I am ok with transposition, because I have sufficient time to think. It is always good exercise for me, but it is a lot of “Strain on the Brain”.

    It is not the first time that the subject has been discussed on this forum.

    My understanding is that the conductor’s score is always written in concert pitch, but it is the duty of the concert master to provide instrument key adjusted music as required.

    Best wishes,

    Herbert
    GPO, JABB, CMB, GWI, GOFRILLER, HALION PLAYER, ACCORDIONS by E Tarilonte
    Cubase 6, Notation Composer, VSTHost, GoldWave audio editor.

    Interests:
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    Electronics, Software Development, Physics – Plant Physiology, Creative Horticulture –
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  10. #10

    Re: KEY confusion??

    Quote Originally Posted by sonata5920 View Post
    My understanding is that the conductor’s score is always written in concert pitch, but it is the duty of the concert master to provide instrument key adjusted music as required.

    Not quite true.
    SOME publishers create study scores in concert.
    This is NOT a standard for conductor scores, however.

    Conductors do not like needing to transpose on the fly themselves while rehearsing with their musicians.

    Imagine the confusion:

    Conductor: "Clarinet 2! that C is flat"
    Clarinet 2: "Which C? I've been playing a sustained D for 25 measures!"

    It gets even worse when Clarinet 2 has to switch back and forth between clarinet in Bb and clarinet in A.

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