Is it a C or a B-flat? Confused

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tonick, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. tonick

    tonick New Friend

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    Jan 6, 2008
    My question is about a B-flat trumpet.

    Why do they call the open note on a B-flat trumpet a C when it sounds to me to be "technically," that is the frequency of, a B-flat??

    Meaning, when one plays an open note on a B-flat trumpet it is actually a B-flat sound, but they call it a C.

    I don't get it.
     
  2. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    It is a convention that was born in the days of natural trumpets, when parts were written out in the harmonic series based on C, but played on the instrument whose key was called for in the score.
     
  3. Clarkvinmazz

    Clarkvinmazz Forte User

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    It's also because of the music. When reading typical Bb trumpet or cornet music if you see a c on the page it will be open. If we were to go by concert pitch that would also have to be changed, and we'd be playing in a different clef than everybody else.
     
  4. tonick

    tonick New Friend

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    Jan 6, 2008

    Thanks!

    So, the open note on a B-flat trumpet is a B-flat note in frequency, but they call it a C out of convention?
     
  5. Clarkvinmazz

    Clarkvinmazz Forte User

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    Precisely. So when you see a c on the music, it will be a c on the trumpet.
     
  6. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

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    So long as you are reading music written for a Bb instrument (which if you're in a brass band it will probably be). If in doubt check the labeling at the top of the score.

    --bumblebee
     
  7. tonick

    tonick New Friend

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    Jan 6, 2008
    thanks again

    but, if you see a C in the music and you play an open note, you'll actually be playing a B-flat...does that mean you're playing everything in the wrong key?

    I'm new to all this
     
  8. Clarkvinmazz

    Clarkvinmazz Forte User

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    It's okay! Honestly a confusing concept to new people. Basically if you're playing a modern piece of music, if the part says c and you play a c and then the violins have a Bb and they play a Bb you will all be playing the same note. The music is technically written down a step from everyone else, allowing us to read what's on the page and still be in the correct key.
     
  9. richtom

    richtom Forte User

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    Bb trumpet parts are written one step higher than the actual key a non-transposing instrument is in. If a flute plays their written C the Bb trumpet part will show a written D.
    French horns are in F, Alto Saxes are in Eb. They are written in different keys, too.
    Rich T.
     
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  10. tonick

    tonick New Friend

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    thank you!

    so, if I want to "match" a B-flat played on a piano, I would play an open note on a B-flat trumpet?
     

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