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I am planning on writing some pieces for transposing instruments and had a question. I wondered whether composers here prefer to write parts for transposing instruments at the correct written pitch and then transpose them later, or just write them already transposed? And why do you prefer your chosen process over an other? 

 

Thanks  :D

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I prefer seeing a score in concert pitch.  I don't care what note they think it is, I want to know what it actually is.

 

edit:  obviously that only applies to a conductor score. Parts for performers would always be transposed, but I'd never really look at them ;)

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Well it's probably best to just get used to transposing for different instruments because it's quicker and more effective. If you don't, it'll cause problems when instrumentalists go to play it because it won't be in the correct key in regard to playing with other instruments. So, unless you're writing for all instruments in concert key, you might as well spend the time learning how to transpose in your mind. Like anything else with music, it'll pay off in the end. :)

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Well it's probably best to just get used to transposing for different instruments because it's quicker and more effective. If you don't, it'll cause problems when instrumentalists go to play it because it won't be in the correct key in regard to playing with other instruments. So, unless you're writing for all instruments in concert key, you might as well spend the time learning how to transpose in your mind. Like anything else with music, it'll pay off in the end. :)

 

I meant writing the part so it's written in the same key as everyone else, and then transposing it for the individual instrument later on as opposed to writing it transposed. Either way it will still be in the correct key at the end :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I asked that to a clarinet player once (why do composers have to learn to transpose instead of having the clarinet player play in concert pitch). She told me it was more about the fingering than the actual key (as far as i remember it).

Playing something in concert pitch means that they have to re-learn their sight reading to adapt to concert pitch. There is no way to "force" them to play in CP because its already a standard.

 

Plus, one mistake and they may end up ruining the peformance. Its not worth learning to sight read all over again when you have many pieces to practice/peform in a single week (a pro's life).

Transposing sucks, but it is a much easier task for us composers than for players to learn to read in CP. Also, our notation software does that for us :D (Sibelius and Musescore are able to do that just fine, don't know about finale)

 

As long as you provide the sheet both in CP and transposed everything will be fine. The conductor is the one who uses the whole score in CP and the players use the transposed one.

Edited by EmperorWeeGeeII
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I meant writing the part so it's written in the same key as everyone else, and then transposing it for the individual instrument later on as opposed to writing it transposed. Either way it will still be in the correct key at the end  :)

If I'm understanding you correctly, it is common for composers these days to work in concert pitch and have the full score in concert pitch. Obviously parts for individual instruments should be appropriately transposed.
 

Instead of forcing the composers to make strange unnecessary transpositions, we should force the players to actually learn to play the real notes indicated in the score.

 

Honestly, complicating everything just to pamper players... Is not good.

 

There are very good reasons for transposing instruments to be transposed. You can't expect a player to be able to transpose in their heads in real time and read in any key. For the composer it's as easy as using the transpose tool in the notation program of their choice. Even doing it by hand it's easy and you can take your time and proofread it. It's the job of the composer to prepare parts properly and to make sure everything is as clear and easy as possible for the performers.

 

I felt like I needed to respond to this because the role of composer is often thought of too loftily. I'd rather try to be humble and remind myself that nobody owes me anything as a composer. I need to do the work to convince others that my music is worth their time.

Edited by Ian
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Well said, Ian.  You, as the composer, are working at your desk with all the time in the world.  The musician is working in real time, (and sometimes a very fast tempo).  Anything you can do to make your score easier to read at a glance is worth doing.  Don't get into some weird competitive mindset where you think that by making your music as difficult as possible you are weeding out any bad musicians who can't play it, and are thus somehow proving your own superiority and providing a service to humanity.  That's a hopelessly immature attitude.  Music-making is a cooperative endeavor.  You can't get anywhere by intentionally making life difficult for the rest of your team.  As the composer, if you take the time to write it out very clearly, you save hundreds of people time and frustration down the line.  

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Ian is completely right. We have the luxury of "thinking" about the music... a lot. We can pour over it. Performers may not always have that luxury.

 

Personally, I think of performers as my instruments. I want to be as efficient and simple with them as possible. Give them what they're comfortable with without compromising my vision. It's all about clear communication.

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