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Some Beginner Questions

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I'm writing a piece for Scottish Standard Grade, it's for string orchestra and I have two questions. They are:

1) How much lower is the viola compared to violin?

2) What is chord VI of A minor?

3) What is the best key to change into (Am to ?)?

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I don't know the answers to these questions but I'll take a shot anyway,...

1) How much lower is the viola compared to violin?

The violin is tuned G3, D4, A4, E5

The viola is tuned C3, G3, D4, A4

I think that places the viola an interval of a fourth lower than a violin.

Is that right? (this is like taking an exam :) )

2.) What is chord VI of A minor?

The chords of Am are:

i, ii_dim,III, iv, v, VI, VII

resectively:

Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G

Is that right? Can anyone confirm or correct?

(don't trust me I'm new to this! ;) )

3) What is the best key to change into (Am to ?)?

I have no clue, I didn't know there was such a thing as a "best key". I thought it was entirely dependent on artistic creativity, and what the composer wants. So I'll have to say "duh?" to that one.

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Abracadabra, your exam paper was returned. You received a C grade, 78%. ;)

1. Abracadabra was right on the notes of the open strings, but he said the viola is a fourth below the violin. It is actaully a perfect fifth. It's lowest note would be C3, one octave below middle C

2. Abracdabra was perfectly right, it is F major.

3. Do you mean you want to modulate? There is a thread or two devoted to the subject of modulation, and that is basically the crossing over from one key to the next. There is no BEST key to go into from A minor, it all depends on context and what the composers wants. In other words, its up to you, but you can learn more about the topic to make better decisions. From A minor, some particulary easy keys to go straight into would be D minor, C major, G major, and maybe A major. You could basically go to any key if you set it up right, and that's what modulation is, making the transition betweens keys smooth and logical.

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1. Abracadabra was right on the notes of the open strings, but he said the viola is a fourth below the violin. It is actaully a perfect fifth. It's lowest note would be C3, one octave below middle C

Hmmm?

Ok, I came up with an interval of a forth by counting wholetones between the A and the E, but I counted wrong.

How do you count that anyway. I was counting from the A up to the E.

Do you not count A?

You start with A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, you count the E and that's seven semitones for a perfect fifth.

Is that the correct way to count an interval?

I always get confused about that. When you count semitones you start the count with the second semitone, but if you are counting whole tones you start the count with the first whole tone?

In other words, you woud start with A if you are counting whole tones, but then to find out what kind of specific interval you need to count semitones?

I actually counted whole tones but I counted wrong because I didn't include A in the count. When counting whole tones I should have included the A right?

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Wow, I know of run-on senteces, but questions that sound like run-ons? :P

When naming an interval you count diatonically, thus:

Note name:C D E F G A B C D ect.

Interval: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ect.

___C__ __D___ __E__ __F___ __G__ __A__ ect.

Unison Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth ect.

For semitones, I'm not sure. I believe you could look at it two ways, 1.) E is 7 semi-tones from/above A. 2.) A to E, a perfect fifth, encompasses 8 semi-tones. Make sense? Probably not, but at least I tried.

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Ok, what you say makes sense, but I’m not sure that the conventions I’ve previously learned do.

When counting diatonically it makes perfect sense to me that we need to begin by including the first pitch in the count. Otherwise a unison would be zero and that would just screw everything up.

So diatonically I’m completely with you.

It’s the semitones that bother me. As you say, a perfect fifth encompasses 8 semitones. I see no problem with that either, it seems to be inline with the diatonic method of counting.

However, I learned that “by definition” a perfect fifth is 7 semitones “apart” or “above” as you say, thus changing the way the count must be made. I guess that’s the part I don’t get.

Why didn’t they just define “by definition” a perfect fifth as encompassing 8 semitones? Then they wouldn’t have needed to have two differnet counting strategies?

So even though I think I can remember this now, I still think it would have been simpler to just stick with one counting strategy when counting either diatonically or using semitones.

Oh well, never mind me.

It just seems that by definition things are a little more complicated than they need to be. I guess there must be some historical explanation for being that way.

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I just have just learned all the interval names and use them instead of saying "ten semi-tones above A". Rather, that would be, I think, a major sixth from A, if you assume the aforementioned ten semi-tones to yield an F#.

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I think it depends who explains it. My theory book explained it entirely different than our music teacher. The original point still remains though. The viola is a FIFTH lower than the violin (Viola being C3, Violin G3). The nack is reading alto clef, which can be painful. But normally when I count intervals I go;

A to E

so you use the scale;

A B C#/C D E F#/F G#/G (depending on major/minor)

And E just happens to be the fifth one after the A.

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I'm writing a piece for Scottish Standard Grade, it's for string orchestra and I have two questions. They are:

1) How much lower is the viola compared to violin?

2) What is chord VI of A minor?

3) What is the best key to change into (Am to ?)?

I too am taking SG music - big mistake - and we have yet to cover any composition at all, and it's very near the prelims, so all the rest of my class who don't compose will be screwed :D

What exactly was it that you are asked to do?

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We've done a Scottish Waltz, and we're doing blues improvisations. I'm not confident on them though so I am going write a piece for String Orchestra and Woodwind Quartet.:wub:

What key is the bassoon in though? i.e. Clarinet in Bb, or Flute in C

Thanks

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the bassoon is in C (otherwise known as concert pitch). You don't normally have to indicate something is "in C" unless you're also using a non-standard transposing instrument.

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Yeah, sometimes there's is a clarinet in Bb, A or Eb, and there is a C clarinet too. Same with trumpet. I always write the instruments' keys though, like 'Bb trumpet' instead of just 'trumpet'. I know it's not really necessary, but I like to know that it is obviously written for a Bb instrument. Bassoons, trombones, tubas, and most concert pitch instruments that don't have transposing counterparts don't come with a named key. Technically, I think a bassoon is more of an F instrument in how its fingered, but I could be wrong. Point is, they never specify the key, there is no bassoon in any other key than C.

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Yeah, sometimes there's is a clarinet in Bb, A or Eb, and there is a C clarinet too. Same with trumpet. I always write the instruments' keys though, like 'Bb trumpet' instead of just 'trumpet'. I know it's not really necessary, but I like to know that it is obviously written for a Bb instrument.
You should always include the key for the: Clarinet, Trumpet, and Horn (though writing for Horn in anything but F is pure folly on your part).

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You should always include the key for the: Clarinet, Trumpet, and Horn (though writing for Horn in anything but F is pure folly on your part).

Wrong, the Eb horn exists. It is a completely different instrument than the F horn, it is also called the tenor or alto horn. This discrepancy, as to whether it is a tenor or alto horn (I prefer it as alto) is why it is simply referred to in the score as Eb horn. Used mostly in brass bands and in Europe (more Britain) to replace the F horn in band-related ensembles. If you want to write for a French horn in Eb, that's another story. There is no such thing. A horn in Eb in this case would have to be a natural horn, and these instruments are not used anymore, though some period ensembles my have a natural horn player. Natural horns have crooks of different sizes, so any natural horn can play in any of the 12 keys, from Bb basso to the Bb above, the latter of which is the harmonic series of the trombone, incidentally. Mozart wrote four horn concerti, one in D, and the others in Eb. They can all be played on a single natural horn with a D crook, and an Eb crook. The horn solo would be written in C, transposing for the key of the horn. So you can't just play the Mozart horn concerti on a modern valved F horn without transposing the original parts to the key of F.

Point is, after all that ranting was done and over with, today, there is F horn (French horn) and Eb horn. Two different instruments. 200 years ago, there were natural horns in all keys, but that's beside the point.

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Point is, after all that ranting was done and over with, today, there is F horn (French horn) and Eb horn.
Sorry, I was being US-centric. Over here in the colonies the Eb Horn is referred to (if at all) as the Eb Alto Horn (it's a member of the Saxhorn family).

When we refer to the "horn", we refer to the Horn in F (sometimes called the French Horn, even though it's actually a German-type instrument. *boggle*).

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The name for the instrument "English horn" is actually incorrect. It comes from the French term meaning "bent horn", since, though it is quite like an oboe, its neck is curved. Thus, the term "bent horn" was used by the French, which is "cor angl

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Wrong, the Eb horn exists. It is a completely different instrument than the F horn, it is also called the tenor or alto horn. This discrepancy, as to whether it is a tenor or alto horn (I prefer it as alto) is why it is simply referred to in the score as Eb horn. Used mostly in brass bands and in Europe (more Britain) to replace the F horn in band-related ensembles. If you want to write for a French horn in Eb, that's another story. There is no such thing. A horn in Eb in this case would have to be a natural horn, and these instruments are not used anymore, though some period ensembles my have a natural horn player. Natural horns have crooks of different sizes, so any natural horn can play in any of the 12 keys, from Bb basso to the Bb above, the latter of which is the harmonic series of the trombone, incidentally. Mozart wrote four horn concerti, one in D, and the others in Eb. They can all be played on a single natural horn with a D crook, and an Eb crook. The horn solo would be written in C, transposing for the key of the horn. So you can't just play the Mozart horn concerti on a modern valved F horn without transposing the original parts to the key of F.

Point is, after all that ranting was done and over with, today, there is F horn (French horn) and Eb horn. Two different instruments. 200 years ago, there were natural horns in all keys, but that's beside the point.

In Britainland we refer to those as tenor horns, and I've only ever seen them used in a Brass Band.

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We've got a tenor horn player in our school orchestra - mind you there are no french horns so...:P

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