Play Any Instrument Part In Concert Pitch

(for playing band-instrument parts in their accurate pitch, which a piano cannot do)

You pick up the Baritone Saxophone part, for your favorite big-band tune. You set the key-signature to what's in the music, and set the instrument to Baritone Sax.

You put on your recording of your favorite big-band piece, and start playing along with it, from the music, on the KeyMusician Keyboard.

But the music you play doesn't sound in-tune with the recording!

What's wrong?

The problem is that for several different types of instruments, when you play a written “C” note, the sound that the instrument makes, is not a “C” note, but some other note.

As is the case for a Piano, when you play a “C” note on the KeyMusician Keyboard, the sound produced is also a “C” note, meaning it is a concert-pitch, non-transposing instrument.

When you play a “C” on a Baritone Sax, on the other hand, you are actually playing an E-flat, 9 semi-tones (half-steps) below the written “C” note!

Composers and arrangers deal with this problem, by writing the parts for these 'different' instruments, in a key-signature that will blend with the concert-pitch (non-transposing) instruments, in one harmonious whole.

This practice goes way back in history.

For example, here is part of the first page of the score of Beethoven's 6th symphony:


Notice that the staff lines for the Flutes (Flauti), the Oboes (Oboi), Bassoons (Fagotti), Violins I & II (Violino), Viola, Cello & Bass (Violoncello e Basso), all have a single flat in their key-signature. These are the concert-pitch (non-transposing) instruments used at the beginning of the symphony.

However, notice that:

Beethoven compensated for the different note pitches of these two different instruments, by writing the part in the key-signature that will make it go along with the sounds of the concert-pitch (non-transposing) instruments.

If you set the KMK's key-signature to match what's in any of the instrument parts, play an audio recording of Beethoven's 6th symphony, playing one of the parts (on the KMK) along with it, it will sound fine, except for two of the parts:

That's because the KeyMusician Keyboard, like most of the instruments above, is a C instrument (concert-pitch, non-transposing). The F Horns, and B-flat Clarinets, on the other hand, are non-concert-pitch (transposing) instruments.

The B-flat Clarinets are B-flat instruments, and the F Horns are F Instruments.

But don't despair – we put a new feature into the KeyMusician Keyboard version 1.40, allowing any of the performance-panes (except the Drums, and the Chords), to be any type of instrument you need!

You access this capability by clicking the Transpose button, near the upper-right of any performance pane.

For all of the concert-pitch (C) instruments in the Beethoven example above, you would set the transposition like this:


Notice that the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box, is set to “C instrument”, which is the default value, and is how it always worked before.

For B-flat clarinets, you would set it as follows:


Notice that the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box, is set to “Bb instrument”.

For the F Horns, you would set it as follows:


Notice that the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box, is set to “F instrument”.

You just set it up that way, and play the written music for the part. The software takes care of any necessary transposition.

You can play along with a recording of Beethoven's 6th symphony, and every part you play can be in perfect harmony. Easy-peasy!

You can play your Baritone Sax part (in the example we began the article with), by setting the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box to “Eb instrument”.

But wait – there's more:

There are a lot of band instruments, where although they are actually a B-flat bass instrument, the music they play from, is in the treble clef.

The Baritone, Euphonium, and Bb Bass Clarinet are common examples of this. Simply set the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box to “Bb bass, using treble clef”, and just play from the written treble clef part for such instruments.

There are C instruments (concert-pitch, non-transposing), that simply play an octave lower than the music written for them. The Guitar, and Double-Bass are examples of this. Simply set the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box to “1 octave lower sound”.

There are C instruments (concert-pitch, non-transposing), that simply play an octave higher than the music written for them. The Piccolo, Xylophone, and Celesta are examples of this. Simply set the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box to “1 octave higher sound”.

There are C instruments (concert-pitch, non-transposing), that simply play 2 octaves higher than the music written for them. The Orchestra Bells, and Glockenspiel are examples of this. Simply set the “(Music Played Is For)” drop-box to “2 octaves higher sound”.

This new functionality changed the Transpose dialog box in significant ways.

But if you keep using it the way you did before, it will all work the same as before.

Here is a full description of the Transpose dialog box:

The New Transpose Dialog

When you click on the “Transpose” button, at the upper-right of any performance pane, a dialog box similar to the following will appear:


The first four drop-boxes are used to specify the key-signature. If you change any of them, the other three will change to correspond to the change you selected. The 5th drop-box is not affected by what is specified in the first 4 drop-boxes.

You would use the first drop-box in the case where a singer explains that it is pitched too high (or low), and asks if you could transpose it down (or up) a certain number of semi-tones (half-steps).

You can do this with a smile, accommodating the singer, because the fingering is the same in every key-signature, and you just play it (in the new key-signature) the way you are used to, in the former key-signature.

The second drop-box is probably the one you will use the most. To use it, you count how many sharps (#) or flats (b) are in any clef of the written music, and specify the number you counted. In the case above, it's 3 sharps.

Another way of specifying the key-signature, is by its major key name. You use the 3rd drop-box to do this. In the case above, it's “A Major”. If someone specifies a key-signature with just its letter-name, it implies it's the major key.

Another way of specifying the key-signature, is by its minor key name. You use the 4th drop-box to do this. In the case above, it's “F-sharp Minor”. The key-signature of a minor key-signature will always have “minor” as part of its name. A letter-name by itself, implies major.

Note: You'll probably notice in some drop-boxes there is more than one way of specifying the same thing. In such cases, it's usually best to choose the option that requires the lesser amount of transposition.

You seldom use the 5th drop-box, and normally leave it set to “C instrument”, which means the KeyMusician Keyboard (like the piano, or cello) produces its music in concert-pitch, with no transposition.

The case where you would use 5th drop-box, is where the music you are playing from was written for some other type of instrument, such as a B-flat trumpet, or an F horn.

The “Affected Panes” radio button, controls whether the key-signature and/or instrument-type specified, is to be done in only the current performance pane, or whether it is to affect all performance panes.

When you click the “OK” button, the specified change is made. If you click the “Cancel” button, no changes are made. If you click the “Help” button, this information appears.

Note: the use of an instrument type other than the default “C instrument” is not supported in the Chords pane, and the code will prevent you from accidentally doing so.

For most cases, this is all you need to know about the Transpose dialog.

More Information For Using The 5th Drop-Box

The “Music Played is For” drop-box can change the sound of the KeyMusician Keyboard, so that you can play written music for many types of musical instruments, such that when played together, it will sound as one harmonious whole.

It means you can play from band or orchestra parts, or even parts in an orchestra score, and it will go with an audio file of a band or orchestra performing the piece.

It changes the sound of the KeyMusician Keyboard according to the following table:

Instrument Transpositions


Instrument Type

Actual Pitch When Playing a C)

Transpose from the written note

C instrument

C

0

Bb instrument

Bb

-2

Eb instrument

Eb

-9

F instrument

F

-7

G instrument

G

-5

Bb bass, using treble clef

Bb

-14

1 octave lower sound

C

-12

1 octave higher sound

C

+12

2 octaves higher sound

C

+24


C Instruments:

Piccolo (+1 octave), Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Trombone, C Tuba, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, C Trumpet, Timpani, Xylophone (+1 octave), Orchestra Bells (+2octave), Vibraphone, Chimes, Guitar (-octave), Harp, Piano, Celesta (+1 octave), Harpsichord, Harmonium, Organ, Pipe Organ

Bb Instruments:

Bb Trumpet, Bb Cornet, Bb Clarinet, Bb Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone, Euphonium, BBb Tuba

Bb Bass Instruments in Treble Clef

Baritone, Euphonium, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Tuba

Eb Instruments:

Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Alto Clarinet

F Instruments:

French Horn, English Horn, Basset Horn

G Instruments:

Alto Flute

1 Octave Higher:

Piccolo, Xylophone, Celesta

2 Octaves Higher:

Orchestra Bells, Glockenspiel

1 Octave Lower:

Guitar, Double Bass (String Bass), Bass Oboe


You can get this new feature. Simply go to the Member Page, and download & install the latest version. If your version is 1.40, or above, you already have it.

So get out those band-instrument parts, and play-along with others doing the same. In theory, you could have an entire band or orchestra, made up of musicians playing the KeyMusician Keyboard.


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