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Clarinet in B ?

Transposing instruments

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#1 Tom Nor

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 15:48

In the "BIG 7" ABRSM Theory Workbook (the one by Crossland and Greaves), question 5 section,  the question on page 89 shows a score by Richard Strauss.   The following instrument is indicated on the score:  

 

"Klarinetten in B".    

 

On page 90, this  is abbreviated to: 

 

Kl (B)

 

It is obvious from the score that this would be referred to in English (e.g. in the AB Guide) as a  "Clarinet in Bb", as the key signature of the non transposing instruments (one flat) is a whole tone lower than that of the "Klarinetten in B" (one sharp).  

 

My questions for the forum are:  

 

Is this a misprint or a mistake ?

 

Or is it a peculiarity of German scores (to call what we would call Bb a B) ?

 

Are there any other cases where the flat or sharp is dropped "by convention" ?  

 

I did a bit of Googling around and I didn't find an answer to this.   

 

Another related question:   I'm doing the G7 ABRSM Theory Exam in June, and I have formulated a rule on transposing instruments, to aid memory, that they all transpose DOWN (e.g.  Cor Anglais sounds a perfect 5th LOWER than written - so it would be described as "in F", but this is one of those instruments that is not usually described as "in something" in the score, so you need to learn that);    unless the interval is an octave or multiple thereof (e.g.  piccolo, Glockenspiel, Xylophone which all transpose up but by octaves).     So, if anyone is aware of an exception to this rule, please mention it.   

 

I do want to know the answer to these questions as once in a while, you get an question where it is not so obvious what the actual interval of transposition is from the key signature (e.g. with Horns there is "an area of some confusion" as Eric Taylor so marvellously puts it on p 216 of the Blue AB Guide...... as key signatures are sometimes written, and sometimes not !)

 

Any other tips on transposing instruments gratefully taken - I'm a pianist, not an orchestral player, and the whole transposing instrument scene is one that I view from afar with a bit of amazement and amusement.....along with tenor and alto clefs, something to be understood but rarely encountered in practice (although the tenor clef came in useful recently as the choir I sing with is doing a piece accompanied by cello, so the tenor clef has helped me to figure out entry notes there).    


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#2 andante_in_c

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 16:07

Yes, the German name for B flat is 'B' and B natural is 'H'.


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#3 sbhoa

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 16:09

Trumpet in D or Eb is up a major 2nd or minor 3rd or is the trumpet one of those where the player has to do the transposition?


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#4 Tom Nor

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 16:19

Thanks Andante_in_C.    I suspected might be the issue here, I remember JS Bach composed a piece (don't remember which one....) based on his name, so 

 

B = Bb

A = A

C = C

H = B

 

must have been the notes.....

 

Rather chromatic for a melody.....

 

Sbhoa you are right about trumpets, Eric Taylor mentions one on page 216, a trumpet in D sounding a tone higher and also ones in Eb and E a minor or major third higher.......  It's the same section which describes "an area of some confusion".     I will have to read that section carefully!     Hopefully, not too many brass instruments will come up in the exam....


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#5 Hildegard

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:23

The clarinet in Eb transposes up (sounding a minor 3rd higher than written). Horn parts written in the bass clef also transpose up. Neither are likely to occur in AB theory questions.

 

The tip I give for Cor Anglais transposition is to remember that cor means horn. It transposes the same as the most common type of horn (i.e. in F, sounding a 5th lower than written).


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#6 fsharpminor

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:05

Thanks Andante_in_C.    I suspected might be the issue here, I remember JS Bach composed a piece (don't remember which one....) based on his name, so 

 

B = Bb

A = A

C = C

H = B

 

must have been the notes.....

 

Rather chromatic for a melody.....

 

Sbhoa you are right about trumpets, Eric Taylor mentions one on page 216, a trumpet in D sounding a tone higher and also ones in Eb and E a minor or major third higher.......  It's the same section which describes "an area of some confusion".     I will have to read that section carefully!     Hopefully, not too many brass instruments will come up in the exam....

And of course Dmitri Shostakovich uses this motive in many works....DSCH thus.. D = D   Es = E flat   C = C   H = B . Its almost like twisting  B-A-C-H  around.


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#7 Tom Nor

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 19:48

New insight on this topic.   I found an old post on here (2003) that suggests a two-step rule:  

 

(1)  Horns and Saxes always transpose DOWN

 

(2)   Other Instruments transpose to minimize the interval to C.   So for example, the Clarinet in Bb transposes down a tone, but the Clarinet in Eb transposes up a minor third (rather than down a major 6th which is a bigger interval).  

 

I think this rule-pair is generally correct, but there are a few exceptions among rare horns (unlikely to come up in the exam).   More likely to occur is the Cor Anglais, or English Horn - mentioned by Hildegard -  which transposes down a perfect 5th (it is "in F").      You might think this was covered by rule (1), but of course the English Horn is not a horn at all, so you need to have that clear !

 

Horns have quite the potential for trouble in the exam, as they are the ones which are sometimes written without key signature (?why?), so your chance to check you have the right interval by checking the key signature is not available.    I'm glad I am not a horn player, it looks jolly confusing (and also really hard work to blow !)


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#8 violinlove

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 21:17

See here for all you need to know about horn transposition

http://hornmatters.c...rence-Chart.pdf

So in other words the horn could transpose up or down - but I have only ever seen exam questions with Horn in F.

 

Make sure you know the German B = English B Flat   and H = English B 

Es or S  = E flat - I have seen that on an exam question before.

 

You should be sad you are not a horn player not glad - it is the most wonderful, exciting and frustrating instrument on the face of the earth. I took it up 5 years ago as an adult and am obsessed.


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#9 Hildegard

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 08:13

Horns have quite the potential for trouble in the exam, as they are the ones which are sometimes written without key signature (?why?),

 

Because originally the crooks used by players of the natural horn did the necessary transposing - same for natural trumpets - so players only ever needed a part in C major / A minor. If the instrument was crooked in D, playing a scale of C major would produce a scale of D major, etc. Change to a Bb crook and playing a scale of C major would produce a scale of Bb major, and so on. No need for key sigs - only for a good supply of crooks!


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