What are you "thinking" when you transpose.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jdostie, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Feb 20, 2008
    I ask this because I had to force myself to stop renaming notes ie A sharp as Bb or F flat as E. I realized I was setting myself up . . . So I stopped using that crutch.

    So, the question is, what are you thinking as you transpose . . . If you see a c, do you think, oh, that's a D now, or do you think concert c, and similarly, if it's c# are you then thinking d ## or concert c#?

    And, does this question even make sense? I imagine it gets more complicated transposing from other keys, and to different pitch instruments . . . Bt for now, I just need make sure my basic mindset is right.
     
  2. amzi

    amzi Forte User

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    I have to admit that I usually don't think about the specific notes. Once I "hear" the key signature in my mind each note is only relative to the one it follows. If I'm coming in after a long rest I might need to think about the note I'm going to start with, but that's about it. It is sort of like playing in irregular rhythms--an 8th note is still half a quarter note; regardless of the time signature.

    If it makes any difference I memorize music entirely by sound. I don't see the manuscript in my mind, I can't tell you the name of any of the notes I'm playing. I just know what it's supposed to sound like and play that. It has gotten me into trouble a time or two. Once I began an introductory cadenza on the wrong partial--had to start all over again because my accompanist had no idea what I was doing.
     
  3. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

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    If I'm transposing on the fly I've usually learned to "sing" the tune beforehand and can generally play the tune up and down from the initial key I learned it in -- but don't ask me to relay the notes to you as I go! Often if I only learned a song by ear I don't always think of what the note names were anyway. (e.g. my boy was playing Una Paloma Blanca on his CD player recently and I just played along in whatever key the track was in - but I couldn't tell you the key now).

    But if I'm just remembering a sequence of notes (C then F then G then Ab then G then F then C then Ab then F then Ab...) then I have greater trouble doing this and would need to work it out on paper beforehand, or if reading the song could only manage this well if the tempo were slow enough.

    Sigh - too much busking and too little formal education...

    --bumblebee
     
  4. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

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    Wow - I think I was channeling you when I wrote my own response (hadn't seen yours first)!

    --bumblebee
     
  5. B15M

    B15M Forte User

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    Monroe Ct.
    I'm not good at transposing. Up or down one step is OK for me. I have to really work on it to go more than that.

    When I read music without transposing I never think of the notes. I see it on the page and just know what to do. When I'm using my C trumpet with music for B-flat, it's the same thing.

    When I started, I transposed simple songs that I knew. After a while you don't think of the note any more. It just flows until you hit a flat or sharp. After a while, even that stops being something you think about.

    Keep it simple until you're not thinking notes.
     
  6. Gliss Girl

    Gliss Girl Pianissimo User

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    Aug 31, 2009
    Portland, MI
    This is a great post...I immediately thought of my girls' piano teacher. She doesn't teach notes (well, she did spend enough time on that so that my girls know the concept of notes and can name them - I'm too old-school to trust a teacher who wouldn't at least do that) She teaches piano just as most of you are describing here, in intervals. She said that then, they will develop with the ability to read the intervals and play any tune in any key. It is definitely hard for me, though, sometimes, when I'm helping my 8-year-old practice - She asks about her starting hand position, and I say "put your fourth finger on "D". She usually just stares at me blankly - although does get it with some thought. I wish I would have learned that way, it would make it so much easier to wean myself from notes now and set myself free learning intervals. I'm sold on that kind of teaching for beginners - but am rooted in the way I was taught music as most of us are. I've been advised to go to "C" trumpet for my next horn. I think I'd rather work on the improvising - it would be a lot cheaper!
     
  7. R.T. Swing

    R.T. Swing Pianissimo User

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    Feb 6, 2007
    UK
    I think of the key, up a tone = +2sharps etc. Then I do think notes but its kind of a reflex, I don't think a written e becomes f sharp but rather e=f a=b b=c c=d, but because I have the new key in the back of my mind the e will automatically come out as f sharp. When the original key has accidentals I need to pay closer attention, or with unfamiliar transpositions. The more I use a different key the easier it becomes. (hope it makes sense. it does when I transpose.)
     
  8. R.T. Swing

    R.T. Swing Pianissimo User

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    Feb 6, 2007
    UK
    On the double bass and piano I find transposition a lot easier, I think for myself I then think in patterns and the notes underneath the fingers become second nature and require no thought.
     
  9. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

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    Jenneifer Aniston. (for VB)
     
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  10. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Feb 20, 2008
    This would (will) most likely be my default but I am sure it will be a struggle. And the root of my question is in this, is it better to force myself to somehow still think E but have my ear recognize the semi-tone one step up, and play with first valve, think Concert E, to distinguish the difference, or some other mental trick? What I don't want to do is do this weird mental thing (I probably will anyway) I see a B, let's see this is written in C, move up one position, that's a C, but I am adding two sharps uh, the key was C major, now F and C are sharp, so it's C sharp. Maybe that's just the way it is, and then over time that just becomes automatic, but if it's better to just automatically think "Concert B" sounds/feels like "this" with valves 1 and 2 . . . I think you get my meaning.

    With regard to piano, or any keyboard (I think guitar is similar as well), interval thinking is a simple matter because you just shift (literally) the number of keys (both black and white) to make the transposition happen. with strings, I imagine you can just physically move up or down the neck the appropriate amount? Brass instruments in theory do the same thing, but in my mind at least, it's more gymnastics - figure out which valve combination moves the right number of steps, or move to the next semi-tone (open position) and then adjust the valves accordingly... Or, does this too become a semi-automatic thing for the more - initiated player?

    Jennifer Aniston? Doesn't that cause you to play some unwritten flourishes?
     

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