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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by breakup, Oct 27, 2015.
That is exactly how I work it.
Were you read piano music, the instrument pitched in C, when the music for that instrument has a key signature of two flats in concert key of Bb, yep, I can play a whole tone higher with neither sharps or flats needed in the key signature of music for my Bb instrument vis I just subtracted 2 flats. Yes, it is true if I wanted to play my Bb trumpet in concert key of C, it would be as if I were playing in D. From a conductors viewpoint, the call is for "C" pitched instruments always and you can hope you've been provided pre-transposed music for your instrument if is not a C pitched instrument, but unless you can afford full orchestral scores, that is unlikely.
The main thing is to do whatever it takes to make it second nature, automatic, so you don't have to think about the notes, you just play them. Also, when you can hear them in your head, it makes it easier.
I have to admit I get caught out once in a while when switching back and forth. For instance, I'll forget to stop transposing when I read a Bb part right after a C part or play a C part as if it was in Bb if it happens right after a Bb part. This doesn't happen as much when switching from/to D or Eb, however, probably because I don't play Eb or D parts as often. Fortunately this has never happened during a performance.
This works for all transpositions between instruments of different pitches:
1) Locate the pitch of the instrument you are playing on the circle of fifths
2) Locate the pitch of the music you are playing on the circle of fifths
3) Count the number of steps clockwise or anticlockwise to get from 1) to 2)
4) Add the same steps to the key of the music you are playing
Say your instrument is Eb cornet and you want to play a part written for clarinet in A that is in the key of Db major
1) Eb is 3 steps anticlockwise from C (9 o'clock)
2) A is 3 steps clockwise from C (3 o'clock)
3) Transposition requires 3+3 = 6 clockwise steps
4) Db major plus 6 clockwise steps (Db-Ab-Eb-Bb-F-C-G) so you play part in key of G major (down a written 5th)
Good heavens. I have never understood all of these add-subtract sharps and flats, etc. systems to do something that I think is really simple. Trumpet is one step up from concert. So whatever key is concert, just go up one step and shazaam!, you've got the key. Takes less than a second.
@OP - learning to sight-transpose is very common. You're just discovering it but it's standard a skill. Going back, generations of jazz and popular musicians learned most of their tunes from the piano books (if not by ear). Many of the first generation of recorded play-alongs were in concert key (often for singers). For classical musicians, learning transposition is much more complex and sophisticated, although the average musician probably doesn't get into that. Keep it up. It's a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your playing days.
(Writing a new post since the editing function for me in this forum format is ****** up.)
Seth... regarding your cycle of fifths system, I just relate everything to concert pitch. Using your example, A clarinet is a minor third down from the concert pitch making its key of Db a concert Bb. Eb cornet is a major 6th up form concert, making that concert Bb the clarinet is playing, a G. Two steps.
As a former Horn player, once I started playing symphonic music there was a lot of transposition required. On trumpet, I just read one step above. However, it was a very freeing realization to realize: 1.) EITHER add 2 sharps or subtract 2 flats (depending on the key) and think in the new key 2.) Play one step higher than the note you see.
These 2 concepts made it possible for me to play without thinking and just read
If the original key is in flats I subtract 2, if it's in sharps I add 2. Makes it much simpler
Yeah but I still don't understand how the subtracting and adding of sharps and flats is easier or quicker than just thinking a step up. I know it works, because plenty of people do it. But I have never been able to understand how that's quicker than just looking at a piece of concert music and thinking one step up. A concert = G trumpet; F# concert = G# trumpet. Finito.
I find that the biggest challenge for most is remembering whether the interval goes up or down. Yes, there are shortcuts. It's possible even to skip the concert pitch reference and reason "A is a diminished fifth down from Eb, so Db drops down to G". But you only know instinctively that this works through lots of experience and practice.
But as you say, it's really only those who play classical who are going to run into the really nasty ones (early romantic stuff for E trumpet for example) with any frequency.