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So this is an arrangement that I started while working on my Pathetique Sonata arrangement. Given the name Moonlight Sonata, I thought "Okay, I will use woodwinds for this arrangement instead of strings." The main problem I have with checking my woodwinds to see where I need to put slurs is that I can't use the singing method for all of my woodwinds. Most noticeably for the bassoon, I just can't do it. I'm an alto that extends into the soprano range as far as singing is concerned. Years back, my voice could cover almost the entire range of the piano(really, I could sing soprano, alto, tenor, and bass back then with no issues). But now that I have went through puberty, my tenor and bass capabilities have went away entirely and my soprano has gotten all squeaky and strained topping off at about a high C or C# when I used to be able to go to a high G(and no, this is not because I pushed my soprano too far). This means that there are some instruments that I can't use the singing method for to determine where the slurs have to be.

As mentioned, I can't use the singing method at all for the bassoon because my tenor and bass capabilities are gone. For the flute, it is very difficult because the majority of the flute is in the soprano register and as mentioned, my soprano is not all that great anymore so the singing method is probably not very accurate for the flute given that I don't have a friend who is a natural soprano. But I think most of the melody is already separated by rests so I wouldn't have to do all that much tweaking for the flute. The oboe in my arrangement also goes quite a ways into the soprano register. This means that the only instrument I can accurately check via singing the line is the clarinet given that the clarinet stays in the alto range and I am a natural alto.

This brings me nicely into the instrumentation. I initially decided on a quartet because it like fit the first 2 movements of the sonata perfectly. And your standard woodwind quartet is Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon. But the third movement will prove to be quite a challenge for a quartet what with all that alberti bass and fast arpeggios and just the tempo alone. The first movement seemed to be very neatly separated into 3 voices, those being:

Upper voice: Melody

Middle voice: Constant Triplets

Lower voice: Bass line in octaves

This fit very well, at least to me, to a woodwind quartet. I had to move the bass up an octave from the original piano score so that it would be in the bassoon's range. This meant moving the octave doubling up an octave as well. The triplets were moved up an octave as well but not because I had to move the bass up an octave.

So this was the instrumentation that resulted:

  • Flute playing the melody
  • Oboe playing the triplets
  • Clarinet playing the upper note of the octave
  • Bassoon playing the lower note of the octave

But I have gotten quite a bit of feedback saying "No, don't put the triplet arpeggios in the oboe. It is the hardest instrument to get nice sounding arpeggios on. And definitely don't ask an oboist to play pianissimo in the low register, that just isn't going to work. And constant triplets will cause your oboist to die from lack of breath before the first movement is finished. Write it for a quintet and have the clarinet do the arpeggios in their original octave. The clarinet can easily do quiet arpeggios in the low register."

So that would mean having the horn double the bassoon instead of the clarinet doubling the bassoon. But then, what is the oboe going to do? The melody is already taken up by the flute. Should it just double the flute an octave lower? In the same octave? Should it have it's own harmony part? The harmony seems to be taken care of with the triplets and the bass line. What about when the clarinettist runs out of breath to do the triplets? Should I have the oboe do the triplets an octave above the original then for a few bars to let the clarinettist catch its breath? What if those triplets happen to be in the low register? Should I then have the flute do the triplets, also an octave above the original, and have the oboe play the melody that the flute would have played?

As you can see, expanding it from the quartet I have now to a quintet brings in a lot of questions. It brings in even more for the minuet movement that I am working on right now because that movement seems to be perfectly fit for a quartet. And as for the third movement, I have no idea what I'm going to do.

So here is the pdf and mp3 for my arrangement so far. What do you think of it? You think I should add a horn and make it a Wind Quintet? You think I should put the triplets in the clarinet and in their original octave instead of in the oboe an octave above the original? Also, do you think the minuet is too slow? If so, how much should I increase the tempo?


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Frankly I think it's a travesty doing this to Beethoven. If he'd wanted it for instruments other than the piano he'd have composed it for them.

However, one thing your work has in common with Beethoven is that he doesn't expect his oboists to breathe or relax their embouchure! I'd question the oboe being an appropriate timbre for this work. 

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I like what you have so far, but I'd have to agree with not having the oboe play the arpeggios, but instead of moving them to the clarinet, how about you just switch the flute and oboe part? That shouldn't create any problems. Also, maybe you could start off the piece without the clarinet doubling and have the clarinet come in at measure 5 with the chord.

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