Re: Re: Re: Music Theory 1 1/2

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Posted by Mary Ann on October 29, 2002 at 10:57:58:

In Reply to: Re: Re: Music Theory 1 1/2 posted by jlb on October 29, 2002 at 10:36:26:

I'll try to explain the adding flats part. I have perfect pitch, started my music career on piano and violin, and therefore memorized the clefs in the key of C.

Then I, silly me, took up the horn later in life. It doesn't read in C, and I can't look at a C and play an F; it doesn't compute. I have to call it an F, so I created in my own mind something that I call "horn clef." It's jsut another clef, like bass clef or treble clef or alto clef.

The bottom space on the "regular" C treble clef is F, which is a whole step down from 2nd line, which is G (reading in C again.)

Now, to read "horn clef," middle C is on the 2nd line from the bottom. So far, so good.

But if I'm reading horn clef, in order for that bottom space to be a whole step down from the 2nd line middle C, I have to play Bb, not B natural. So I "added one flat" to the key signature.

So the concept is that the relationship between whole steps and half steps stays the same as it does when you are reading C clef, and you have the mentally add sharps and flats to make the correction. Horn players have the luxury of doing this all the time, because back before the horn had valves, you just changed the crook and read everything by its position in the harmonic series; everything was written as if it were in C, with a notation on the part as to which crook to use.

If I'm reading an Eb treble clef part on my bass tuba, I have to mentally add three flats to the key signature and pretend it is bass clef to make the intervals come out right, and be in the key that the composer intended. It is three flats because the key of Eb has three flats, and the clef was designed for a C instrument, which has no sharps or flats.

If you want to make your mental life complicated, you could figure out what you'd have to do to read a trumpet in A part on your bass tuba.

Hope that helps.


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