Why is trumpet music transposed??

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by oldlips48, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    I've done some searching of the forums and I've come across great discussions on approaches to transposing and the different key trumpets that have been developed through the years (Robin, your knowledge in this area is amazing!). But none answered the (I think fundamental) question I have.

    Why are trumpet students taught to read a C on the page when the tone coming out of the trumpet is Bb?

    I learned trombone in high school to play in the jazz band and they are written in concert pitch, why isn't the same done with trumpets?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Matt o-iii<O

    Matt o-iii<O Pianissimo User

    Dec 25, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    It's an interesting question... I've thought about it myself as I double on Trom and Eupho.
    I guesss it's also in regards to the relative range of the instrument?
  3. Trumpet Dad

    Trumpet Dad Pianissimo User

    Jun 20, 2008
    New Jersey, USA
    I believe it is so that you do not have to learn new fingerings for each different pitched trumpet. All of the fingerings are the same whether you play a B-flat trumpet, C, D, E, or E-flat.

    A 'C' is fingered the same (all valves up) on any trumpet. The sound that comes out of the bell however, will be the pitch that the trumpet is keyed in.
  4. max3k

    max3k Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 7, 2007
    That should tell you how lazy trumpet players are.... :-)
  5. MaynardTrumpet

    MaynardTrumpet Pianissimo User

    May 25, 2008
    No. It's common sense so you don't have to learn new fingerings every time. Trust me, there are trumpet players that can play 3 other instruments, that proves you wrong about us being lazy. We're not, do you know how difficult it is to actually play trumpet?
  6. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 25, 2008
    I play 2 other instruments.
  7. CHAMP

    CHAMP Piano User

    Nov 16, 2005
    how well?
  8. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    I think this is because it makes more sense for the fundamental pitch to be labeled "C" as the C is one of the basics of music. Do is C. Piano students are taught notes in reference to middle C.
    I find that Trombone, Euphonium, and Tuba are the ones written strangely. Every other instrument has it's fundamental pitch written as C. Written C on an F horn is concert F. Written C on an Eb Trumpet is concert Eb. But Trombone, Euphonium and Tuba are Bb instruments, yet they are notated like C instruments where written C is concert C. Although I believe British Brass Bands have everything written in Bb for all Bb instruments.
  9. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    I'm pretty sure max was just joking lol. It is not very difficult to play trumpet, but it is very difficult to play the trumpet well, as is any other instrument. I think we have to look into this alot deeper than just trumpet. Baritone is in the key of C, and so is there music. Alto's are in the key of Eb, and so is there music. (Sorry if I got that wrong, I'm pretty sure there in Eb lol) I think they write in the key that the intrument is in just for the sake of complicity.
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    The fundamental pitch of a natural trumpet is generally notated as "C" (Handel being a rare exception). The overtone series produces another C an E, a G, a Bb, another C, a D, E, F(#) etc. If we think of an instrument producing the overtone series, it makes sense to notate music in this fashion.

    When valves were added, the first trumpets were pitched in the key of F, and parts were written for F trumpet, with concert F notated as a C. The Bb trumpet, more secure in the high notes, made it's way into the orchestra, and was also transposed.

    Our written C sounds Bb. No big deal, since our complete training includes transposition.

    If you can't transpose, you're not in the trumpeter's club.

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