Re: The " key of" question
- From: "BottyGuy_at_gmail.com" <BottyGuy@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 18 Nov 2005 10:16:55 -0800
> David Martel wrote:
> > Guitar is a C instrument and that is a very easy key for guitarists to
> > use. Many horns are Eb or Bb instruments. So There's lots of music in those
> > keys. In a band the solo instrument usually dictates the key. That means
> > that the vocalist finds a comfortable key and then you are expected to play
> > in it.
> Is there a reason for considering different instruments to be
> in different keys, or is it just a historic result ? For
> instance, why is a clarinet said to be in Bb ? When my wife
> plays a C on her clarinet, out comes a Bb. If she wants a
> real C, she has to play a D. Why not learn the proper fingering
> in the first place ?
> My daughter plays flute at school. Her flute is in C, but all
> her sheet music is in Eb or Bb. To play along with a guitar,
> she has to learn new scales, and my wife has to transpose in
> her head on the fly.
> Why didn't it occur to someone a while back to teach all
> instruments in the same key ?
Clarinet, Saxophone, Flute are all transposing instruments.
Basically the music is written to make it the fingering the same for
similar instruments. A sax player can read tenor, alto, soprano, or
flute and use the same written note to fingering conversions. Makes in
harder on the composer, but easier on the orchestra.
A transposing instrument is a musical instrument whose music is usually
written at a pitch different from the pitch that it sounds. The
difference between a transposing instrument and a non-transposing
instrument is only in whether or not the music is written at its
sounding pitch; there is nothing about the physical construction of an
instrument that makes the difference. Instruments whose music is
written exactly as it sounds are said to play in "concert pitch".
There are several reasons why an instrument may be a transposing
instrument. Some instruments, such as the clarinet or the saxophone,
are transposing instruments so that musicians may play different sizes
of these instruments without having to learn new fingerings. For
example, the note that is written as middle C for the alto saxophone
and the tenor saxophone is fingered the same way on both instruments,
but the alto's sounding pitch is higher than the tenor's.
Other instruments may be too high or too low for music written for them
to be easily written on the staff. In this case the music is written
either an octave higher or lower than it sounds, in order to avoid
Transposing keyboards such as transposing harmoniums or electronic
keyboards with a transpose function can have a similar effect, but are
not usually called transposing instruments. Their music is
conventionally written at sounding pitch, though a player may choose to
transpose. (For example, to accompany a singer with higher or lower
range than a song is written for, a keyboard player may transpose the
keyboard up or down so that he or she does not have to rewrite the
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