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Definition of transposing instrument


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#1 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:12

An instrument is transposing if by convention it's written music is notated at a different pitch from the actual sound made. Right?

The music of my humble descant recorder is written one octave lower than it actually sounds. Sometimes this is made clear with a little octave sign above the treble clef but usually this is omitted.

So does that make the descant recorder a transposing instrument, or does a octave shift not count as a 'different pitch'?

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#2 Maizie

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:02

Yes, it counts as transposing even if it's an octave.  Garklein, sopranino, descant, bass, great bass - all sound an octave (or multiple octaves) from written pitch and are therefore technically transposing instruments.

Not all theory books will tell you this.  Indeed, at one point Trinity theory materials insisted that the descant was non-transposing, but the treble was, and when one forum member queried this, Trinity insisted it must be transposing because it was "in F" ohmy.png  The recorder teacher I had at the time was not surprised in the least, despite having worked with/for Trinity for many years!!


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#3 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:39

The item I read was aimed at Trinity candidates and I did wonder if it was a case of giving the response needed for the exam rather than explaining it fully.
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#4 Tenor Viol

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 22:43

Yes, what @Maizie said, e.g. double bass is transposing as it sounds an octave lower than written.


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