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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Transposing problem in the General forums; I've never played a transposing instrument until now as I am trying to learn the trumpet. I have 'absolute pitch,' ...
  1. #1
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    Oct 2009

    Transposing problem

    I've never played a transposing instrument until now as I am trying to learn the trumpet. I have 'absolute pitch,' so it's very difficult for me to play written music in the correct key. Basically, I've taught myself the fingerings in concert pitch, and I don't know if I could actually teach myself the fingerings in the transposed pitch (up a whole step).

    Has anyone here every heard of someone overcoming this obstacle? I am considering learning to read alto clef, which is essentially the same thing as reading a step higher, but the accidentals would be a whole other issue...surely someone here has had an experience or known someone with this problem?


  2. #2
    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
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    Re: Transposing problem

    Lucky you! If you have perfect pitch, you'll need to learn to double transpose. This means, if you are playing a part written it, say in Eb, and play it on say, a Bb trumpet you'll need to take the written part to C in your mind, then do the transposisition for the Bb trumpet in your fingers.

    I would suggest buying a really good C trumpet and going through the normal Arban trumpeter hazing to get your trumpet chops together.

    Afterwards, imagine/visualize/transpose everything a tone lower in your head, and then try it on a Bb trumpet.

    Good luck!
    "A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
    C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength

  3. #3
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    Jul 2008

    Re: Transposing problem

    I second VulganoBrother here!

    Get a good C-trumpet. On that the notes
    will sound the way you expect.

    Start working on transposing eventually.

    Good Luck!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Transposing problem

    If you have absolute pitch, meaning hearing the note and can tell the name in concert pitch,
    then if's better to think in concert pitch all the time. That is, for you, the fingering of low C is 1-3.
    It's better to memorize all the fingering/notes at once. (thus every note has sounding name,
    in concert key, and notated name for trumpet... think in paralell, but principally in concert key)

    When seeing the notation in Bb, mentally (or using notation software) translate it in concert key,
    that is, written C major for Bb trumpet becomes key in Bb major for you.
    The beginner's method is full of Bb and F keys, so play through them to think in paralel.

  5. #5
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Transposing problem

    Use clefs to transpose. Eb is bass clef, Bb is tenor clef up an octave, D is soprano clef. You just need to add enough accidentals to make this work.

    If you learn to read Clefs, you will always be in "concert pitch" and at least in the beginning avoid confusion.

    I think that you are making this a problem though. Perfect pitch does not necessarily tie a specific note to a frequency. That is simply a matter of learning to read the new "language". As you have just started trumpet, you are not accustomed tot he language of Bb yet.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

  6. #6
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    May 2009
    San Gabriel, CA

    Re: Transposing problem

    While I know the written trumpet notes are not matching what your ear is telling you, I strongly recommend that you keep trying to play the Bb trumpet as written. After a while, your brain will eventually wrap around the 1-step transposition.

    As an arranger/orchestrator, we are trained to think in the key of the instrument we are writing for rather than in concert key. Doing so gives you a greater sense of the instrument itself as compared to just mechanically transposing from concert pitch. It's like speaking a foreign language. You'll do much better if you force yourself to "think" in that language rather than thinking in English and then translating in your head. And it's the same with playing Bb trumpet. Our whole world revolves around our fundamental being named "C". So, it's just easier to think that way.
    "First Trumpets. Don't add notes above what's written!"
    --Former Cal Band Director Bob Briggs, rehearsing the final chord of Battle Hymn of the Republic.

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