John B Dick
Transposition
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:22pm
87.115.169.19

The keys of D and A would be played on the Clarinet in A, or a B flat with a piece de rechange for A. They are then fingered as F (the Home Key of the clarinet) and C.

Alternate joints for B natural and for A were worth investing in for the opera orchestra player to cope with star sopranos who wanted to sing their way, in the key that suited them for range or familiarity.

It is not a HIP to play in these keys on a B flat clarinet. I wouldn't even try.

WG and village band players mostly had the C and many survive in collections http://www.mimo-db.eu/UEDIN/2447 is one of two in my collection. C and G were the best keys and not better suited to other sizes, The C clarinet was very suited to playing g2 voice, violin or keyboard parts.

The Village Choir painting shows clef substitution transposition with a Bb clarinet doubling the C4 Tenor clef part for a tenor led tune, possibly in E flat, up at least one octave from the singers. The player is thought to have come fron the orchestral/opera repertoire.

Elgar's quintets were written for a player from the band repertoire with a C clarinet, though the published parts are for the standard pair.

By the mid 20thC the C clarinet had got a bad reputation, eschewed by the orchestral elite (outwith German language areas) because of its association with pier and ferry use and the silent cinema in the hands of less highly paid players with repertoire not designed for the instrument sometimes struggling in an inappropriate tonality.


D is the home key of the flute, but A is distant. I've played a sonata by Frederick the Great in this key, but he was a flute player wanting to downplay any suggestion that the flute was limited by the few keys it could play in. B minor and G major are about the limit. Cross fingered G sharps are the problem in the key of A. An 8-Key flute is OK.

What is the source part instrument/voice, original clef, range and tessitura? Has an editor transposed down from E flat to D, and B flat to A for 21stC voices? Maybe even fron F to D and C to A.

The problem you have is an entirely modern one. Historical players had plenty of problems, but playing in unsuitably remote keys was not one of them.

If you can scan aprinted part into Sibelius, you can put it into any key.

  • Bb parts for some Red Book pieces
    Pete John, Tue Jan 8 11:03am
    Amongst Bristol Harmony's rehearsal list for this term are three Red Book pieces for which I do not have Bb parts, namely 40 [Gilgal] and 114 [Saratoga] in D, and 130 [Wrestling Jacob] in A. While... more
    • Transposition
      John B Dick, Mon Jan 14 10:22pm
      • transposition and Bb clarinets
        Peter John, Tue Jan 15 5:42pm
        Thanks for this fascinating response. I hadn't realised that clarinets had been produced other than in A or Bb. Life in a WG band would certainly be simpler with a C instrument: as it is, though, I'm ... more
        • Re: transposition and Bb clarinets
          Edwin Macadam, Wed Jan 16 10:48am
          Peter, The music for the two West Gallery Harmonies (ie the Red Book and the Green Book) was originally set in Capella by Gordon Ashman. However, when he passed away these were taken over by Mike... more
          • Red Book Bb transpositions
            Peter John, Wed Jan 16 12:13pm
            Good morning Edwin, and thanks for this. I'd approached Mike as soon as I bought the clarinet and he happily and rapidly sent me what he'd already transposed. Ros Clements has been in touch this very ... more
        • Re: transposition and Bb clarinets
          Anonymous, Tue Jan 15 11:43pm
          I could have easily done it on Sibelius 2 but I had to upgrade Windows on transfer to a new computer and so had to buy the current Sibelius. After writing 8 bars, I wanted to squeeze into the same... more
          • Transposition
            John B Dick, Sun Feb 3 1:36pm
            How did I get to be anonymous? Did I just not fill in the header?
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