What are the practical reasons for still having transposing instruments?

Asked by: Crystal Matzen

To make it easy to switch between instruments in the same family, the parts for these instruments are transposed so the same written note has the same fingering, but produces a different actual pitch.

Why do transposing instruments exist?

In some cases, instruments families with members in different keys may have arisen to simplify technical matters: early clarinets, for example, weren’t well suited to chromatic playing, so instruments of different sizes were necessary to make it possible to play in any key.

What instruments should be transposed?

transposing musical instrument, instrument that produces a higher or lower pitch than indicated in music written for it. Examples include clarinets, the English horn, and saxophones. Musical notation written for transposing instruments shows the relative pitches, rather than the exact pitches, produced.

Why are clarinets transposing instruments?

Transposing instruments make it easier to switch between instruments in the same key since the musician won’t have to learn new fingerings. Having transposing instruments also makes reading music in concert key much easier. Many orchestras require the clarinetists to play an A clarinet.

Why are some instruments not in concert pitch?

Many instruments are transposing instruments which do not play in concert pitch. This is where it can become confusing because a conductor will have to transpose many parts of the score because an orchestral score is not written in concert pitch.

Why do instruments have different pitches?

The reason the same musical note sounds different when played on various instruments is because the harmonic overtones and envelope of each instrument is unique. When a frequency is played, other frequencies, called harmonics, are created. Each instrument has a unique harmonic character.

Why are trumpets not in concert pitch?

The main reason to not think in concert pitch, and the reason we write transposed parts for wind instruments is that in written pitch the fingerings remain the same for all instruments in the family.

What is the meaning of transposing instruments?

Definition of transposing instrument
1 : a musical instrument that sounds pitches different from those indicated by the notation.

What does transposing mean?

transitive verb. 1 : to change the relative place or normal order of : alter the sequence of transpose letters to change the spelling. 2 : to change in form or nature : transform. 3 : to render into another language, style, or manner of expression : translate. 4 : to transfer from one place or period to another : shift.

Why do saxophones transpose?

Saxophones are transposing instruments to make switching between the types of saxes easier without learning new fingerings. It also makes the music easier to read as reading notes in their actual range would result in having to read many ledger lines above or below the staff.

What instruments do not have to transpose?

The following are NOT transposing instruments: Flute, oboe, bassoon. Trombone, tuba. Violin, viola, cello.
The following are transposing instruments:

  • Clarinet, trumpet (Bb)
  • French horn (F)
  • Double bass (8ve down)

What group of instruments does not have to transpose when they play?

There are many non-transposing instruments, instruments where concert pitch and written pitch are the same. Violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, bassoon, trombone, etc. all play in concert pitch.

Why are saxophones not in concert pitch?

Why is this? Because the sax is a much bigger instrument than the flute so it will obvioulsy produce a different note. To produce a concert pitch G the sax player will have to use different fingering. This leaves us with a bit of a snagette!

Why is saxophone in E flat?

Because the D major key is a whole step above the C major key, it contains two sharps. Since alto and baritone saxophones are in E♭, (meaning they produce an E♭ when playing a written C), in order to produce an actual C, they must play an A, which is a perfect third down from C.

Is violin a transposing instrument?

Put simply, a transposing instrument is one whose musical notes are written at a pitch different from actual concert pitch. Instruments such as the piano, flute, violin, viola, and cello are not transposing instruments.

Is the accordion a transposing instrument?

An Accordion that transposes up a half step from concert pitch. Older and traditionally made instruments use a pitch sharp of F described as F+ (F-plus). See History of Pitch Standards in Western Music.

Is guitar a transposing instrument?

In fact, the classical guitar is a transposing instrument because the sounded note is an octave below the notated note. Other examples include the descant recorder (which is an octave above notation), which explains why it can apparently play lower than the (non-transposing treble recorder) – it can’t!

Is alto flute a transposing instrument?

It is a transposing instrument in G (a perfect fourth below written C), and uses the same fingerings as the C flute. The bore of the alto flute is considerably larger in diameter and longer than a C flute and requires more breath from the player.