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"C" instruments


Ross Brown

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My Dad, who is a reasonable cool guy, plays piano, trumpet, saxaphone and clarinet. He plays and listens to jazz and classical. (I play rock and blues, mostly). He asked me if the bass was a "C" instrument. Told him I didn't think it applied to string instruments to catagorize them that way. He looked at me (over the phone) like I didn't know what I was talking about. Since I don't know if he is on the mark, I guess I don't know what I am talking about. Can any one help me with my answer to him? :wave:
"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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All string instruments are C instruments.

 

Your dad may know a lot about wind instruments which come in a variety of keys, but by asking you the question, he showed that he does not know a lot about string instruments.

 

And then he tried to make you feel stupid.

 

Sorry about that.

 

Lighten up, daddy. You just missed a "teachable moment". He could have used the time to explain to you why some instruments are called "Bb instruments" or "Eb instruments" and others are called "C instruments".

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If I'm not mistaken, he referring to whether the instrument is a transposing instrument or not. If the player reads a C on the manuscript and a C comes out of the instrument, then it's in C. But a horn (it tends to be brass/woodwind that transpose) in Bb would read a C but you would hear a Bb. In Eb you'd read a C but hear an Eb. And so on.

 

However, although a double bass or bass guitar is in C and reads the bass clef, they are transposing instruments because the note you hear is an octave lower than the written note. Likewise for guitar (but that's on the treble clef). So if you're reading tuba music, you should play it an octave higher than normal.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

All string instruments are C instruments.

 

Your dad may know a lot about wind instruments which come in a variety of keys, but by asking you the question, he showed that he does not know a lot about string instruments.

 

And then he tried to make you feel stupid.

 

Sorry about that.

 

Lighten up, daddy. You just missed a "teachable moment". He could have used the time to explain to you why some instruments are called "Bb instruments" or "Eb instruments" and others are called "C instruments".

He has taught me a lot. He is a good guy. I'll ask him to explain...

 

Thanks.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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Is your Dad trying to do some arranging and wants to include a Bass Guitar?

 

Instruments do not always have the same keys. For instance, you can get C and Bb Flues, Bb and G Trumbets, Eb and F Horns etc. It is usual for an arranger to ask the performers what key their instrumnet is as well as their sounding and written ranges.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

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He has given me several jazz books and a book on something he called blues (it wasn't). If he is doing arranging for the bass, I hope he has someone besides me in mind (or is planning on playing rock n roll... I doubt it).

 

Actually it is a lot of fun to talk with him about music and performing, etc. Doesn't really matter what type of music. He is a smart guy. KNowing him he was asking because he is thinking of learning to play the bass. Would be fun to play with him. Not sure why we haven't. Must be the music.

 

Thanks all!

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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Originally posted by Ross Brown:

He has given me several jazz books and a book on something he called blues (it wasn't). If he is doing arranging for the bass, I hope he has someone besides me in mind (or is planning on playing rock n roll... I doubt it).

 

Actually it is a lot of fun to talk with him about music and performing, etc. Doesn't really matter what type of music. He is a smart guy. KNowing him he was asking because he is thinking of learning to play the bass. Would be fun to play with him. Not sure why we haven't. Must be the music.

 

Thanks all!

Hey Ross,

 

Be careful here. It might have been about the blues. Would it be Aebersold's Volume II Blues book?

 

There are different ways to play the blues.

 

I like you honoring your dad here. I trust my son would do the same in conversations out there.

 

Alex is right on; and so is Grant.

 

My seventh grade violins get together with their band friends and try to play along with each other. They can't, and they don't understand why they can't. And this is the first wedge driven between band and orchestra in the public school.

 

Another bit of trivia: the French horn evolved from the old hunting horn. In Beethoven's day, a French horn could be pitched in any key by adding a bit of pipe called a crook. Imagine attending a Beethoven concert and seeing a French Horn player taking their instrument apart onstage during the tune.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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"C" concert pitch is correct if memory serves me right. HIgh School Concert Band, my conductor would start the class out with our tuning pitch. Flutes would start, then it would gravitate throughout the rest of the room, clarinets,oboes, trumpets. Everyone had their "concert C" note. Sort of like the 'brown note' but much prettier. I played tenor sax, our note was Bflat. The bass guitar would play "C". In jazz band the rhythm section would play in some odd keys. I think to facilitate the other instruments. Certain keys are not to friendly for some wind instruments.

Or, UTS-D is right, "B"=bass "G"=gu***r "F"=flute "T"=trombone? well maybe needs some rethinking.

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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Ross - blues might be the perfect bridge for you and your dad to play together. So much of rock is based on the blues. And most rock folks find blues easier to work with than other music forms.

 

Give it a try!

 

I thought C was for cookie - it's good enough for me.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Hey Ross,

 

Be careful here. It might have been about the blues. Would it be Aebersold's Volume II Blues book?

 

There are different ways to play the blues.

 

[/QB]

It is Aebersold's Vol II Blues. I put the CD in last night. Will be fun. A little too jazzy for me as a playing style, but I will learn a lot by playing along. Will use that in the stuff I play. He gave me some other improve books (jazz)and a New Orleans style jazz/blues book.

 

I was given strick instructions when I joined my new band. no jazz, no rap. Classic rock and blues only. OK with me. I'll have fun either way.

 

Thanks.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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New Orleans jazz? If it's Dixieland, you gotta find yourself an old beat up sousaphone to play it right! ;) Man, I'd love to be in a New Orleans street band sporting some "heavy metal". :cool:

 

----------

 

Speaking of sousaphones, I played trombone and tuba in the band. Neither are transposing instruments, i.e., when tuning to concert Bb, both play Bb.

 

[Aside: trying to tune a string instrument to Bb works just about as well as tuning a trombone to A; for a full symphony orchestra, you'll hear two tuning pitches because of this.]

 

Same thing (Bb) for baritone/euphonium. If I recall correctly, my tuba was always BBb, or "double B-flat". My wife's cousin majored in music (tuba) and has a smaller F tuba as well as a more common BBb. When playing the fingering for a Bb scale, for example, an F scale comes out of the F tuba.

 

Sometimes in order to balance a band, the director may strongly suggest that trumpet/cornet players switch to baritone. One stumbling block is learning a new clef (bass instead of treble).

 

The other is relearning all the names of the notes that go along with the fingerings. For example, a tuning pitch of concert Bb is played with all valves open on both trumpet and baritone, but the trumpet player will tell you he's playing a C and the baritone player will tell you he's playing a Bb. (It's really a Bb.) So, it may be a Bb tuning for the trumpet, but somebody's been lying to them for centuries about what pitch they are actually playing!

 

Flutes are non-transposing, too. (Somebody already said that, no?)

 

But I made a mistake when I asked a friend to play either alto or tenor sax for me. He couldn't make out all the notes on the recording I gave him, so he asked me what notes they were. Not having the means to whip up proper sheet music at the time, I just gave him the typed out note names (as above). Of course, I was using concert (true) pitches, and I'm still not sure what the transposition is for sax. He was quite puzzled until he had another sax guy help him figure it out.

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Here's the deal, Jason.

 

All woodwind instruments have approximately the same fingering. All fingers down is C. Take off one finger at a time and you end up an octave higher.

 

(wind players (I used to be one) bear with me, I know it's an oversimplification)

 

Now if the instrument is the perfect length so that notes really are C's, everything is copacetic. A flute is like that. So is an oboe.

 

Now make the instrument a little bigger or smaller to get a different sound. We could keep calling the notes by the same names and transpose the music or we could give the fingerings new names and make our wind player learn all new names for the notes.

 

"They" decided it was easier to change the written music. So now a multi-instrumentalist can pick up a C flute, F alto flute, Db piccolo, Bb clarinet, A clarinet, Eb alto sax and now the fingerings almost immediately.

 

When saxes were invented there was a C saxophone. People decided they liked the sound of the Bb tenor (a little lower) or the Eb alto (a little higher) better.

 

The saxophonists just pick up a new horn, look at the transposed music and they are ready to roll.

 

That's why.

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Thanny XIII!!!!

 

trombone are concert instruments! We say that it's in Bb because the first harmonic on the first position (slide closed) is a Bb!!!!

So as trombone player, we read charts in C.

 

Same thing with flute. It's in C. You must revise your music homeworks.

 

But Alto trombones are in Eb, and we read in Eb. It's like trumpets. For a classical gig, you can be asked to use a horn in C, Bb or Eb. However, most of the trumpets are in Bb.

 

Ok: Alto, Barytone sax Eb

Tenor, Soprano sax Bb

Trumpet Bb

Trombone, Tuba C

(Tuba can be in Bb, Eb, or F)

Flute, Piccolo flute C

Alto flute G

Oboe, basson C

Clarinet Bb

 

I've to write for those instruments since years; I'm doing a lot of arrangements and compo for large jazz band and scores.

 

It can be strange for you, bass players to see that but there's different keys for each instruments to adapt fingering, almost in sax family.

I've no more a guilty conscience, only a stomach.
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Originally posted by Ross Brown:

I was given strick instructions when I joined my new band. no jazz, no rap. Classic rock and blues only. OK with me. I'll have fun either way.

 

Thanks.

Hmmmmmm!

 

We are all a combination of all we've listened to intently.

 

If you listen to the Aebersold, it will get inside you.

 

I'm wonderin'; if I were in such a band, at just what note would they turn in unison and say, "WE SAID NO JAZZ!" :D

 

Of course, Van Morrison's "Moondance" with that stumbling bass line shows just what rockers can do when they try to play jazz.

 

I'm not that much of a jazz bassist really. But I couldn't make a promise that I wouldn't put in a chromatic leading tone every once in a while.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Originally posted by jeremy c:

 

The saxophonists just pick up a new horn, look at the transposed music and they are ready to roll.

 

That's why.

If they're a professional, they also need to know how to transpose the music to Bb or Eb from a lead sheet written for "C" instruments, which will invariably get thrown in front of them at some time or another.

 

They don't have to enjoy it, but most of the horn players I talk to say it's a skill have some proficiency at...the same way that bass players should be able to sight read treble clef, tenor clef, or alto clef if necessary.

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

bass players should be able to sight read treble clef, tenor clef, or alto clef if necessary.

Well I'm certainly getting a workout in treble and alto clefs in my music class. Can't say I enjoy it. We've had to enter two string quartets -- two violins (treble), viola (alto), and cello (bass) -- and all I have to say is thank goodness there are ways to enter the notes other than in real time! ;) Of course, I have no problems reading bass clef; it's dealing with the keyboard interface that's not natural in that setting.

 

Back to topic, my wife has soprano (tuned to C) and alto (tuned to F) recorders, so I know exactly what Jeremy is talking about. I can't say I'm proficient on either, but when messing around with them I just keep things simple and stick to the key of C (soprano) or F (alto). I'm not sure what the "correct" way is to deal with these, i.e. with all fingers down is it always written as a C even though the alto will be playing an F? (This doesn't seem to be the case based on the fingering charts I've seen.)

 

Harmonica players seem to use the same strategy, as far as I can tell: a different instrument for each key.

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Originally posted by Dave Brown:

[QB] I'm wonderin'; if I were in such a band, at just what note would they turn in unison and say, "WE SAID NO JAZZ!" :D

In a classic rock and blues context, "no jazz" usually means "don't show up the guitarist". ;)

 

* for just about anything, playing straight quarters or 8ths on the root will work nicely

 

* in a 12-bar blues, see above or use a boogie woogie line (same arrangement as the guitarist, if he's playing one too)

 

* for most riffs, see above or play a "simplified" version of what the guitarist plays; only for the simplest riffs may you exactly double the guitar

 

* you'll never get a bass solo; if a song on the playlist calls for one, it will be cut from the list

 

* you're only allowed to play the (flatted) 7th on b7th chords; on 7th chords, your only choice is the root

 

* anything that deviates too far from the drummer's boom-tap-boom-tap rhythm is straight out

 

* if you can't play it by only downpicking or using one finger, it's probably jazz

 

* by default, slap = jazz

 

* who's Billy Sheehan? tap = jazz

 

:D:D:D

 

On a more serious note, what they mean is "keep to the original recording as much as possible and don't overplay".

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Originally Posted by Dave Brown:

Hmmmmmm!

 

We are all a combination of all we've listened to intently.

 

If you listen to the Aebersold, it will get inside you.

 

I'm wonderin'; if I were in such a band, at just what note would they turn in unison and say, "WE SAID NO JAZZ!" :D

 

Of course, Van Morrison's "Moondance" with that stumbling bass line shows just what rockers can do when they try to play jazz.

 

I'm not that much of a jazz bassist really. But I couldn't make a promise that I wouldn't put in a chromatic leading tone every once in a while.

OT: Yes. I am with you. I play what is in me. It is usually slightly different everytime, as long as I meet them at the right places. I am not a "jazz" player but I know that there are elements of jazz in what I do. I am not really a classic rocker (whatever that means) I play what I have to to make the song/bass line work and the rest is blues. It is my style.

 

We have tried Moondance and may put it on our set list. I'll leave that up to the the guitarist and singer. I won't play the Van Morrison/Jon Hendrix CD version. :eek:

 

Great discussion on C instruments. I really appreciate eveyone's input.

 

Thanks.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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When I was a child an study piano, allmost the songs start in C. When I switch to Rock and bass guitar, surprisingly allmost the tunes are tuned in E or A.

I remember I´d said: "OK, the piano it´s a C instrument, the bass it´s a A instrument"

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Back to topic, my wife has soprano (tuned to C) and alto (tuned to F) recorders, so I know exactly what Jeremy is talking about. I can't say I'm proficient on either, but when messing around with them I just keep things simple and stick to the key of C (soprano) or F (alto). I'm not sure what the "correct" way is to deal with these, i.e. with all fingers down is it always written as a C even though the alto will be playing an F? (This doesn't seem to be the case based on the fingering charts I've seen.)

 

Harmonica players seem to use the same strategy, as far as I can tell: a different instrument for each key. [/QB]

Why don't you ask your wife? Us girls know things too you know! ;)

 

Actually the Treble(alto) Recorder isn't a transposing instrument but has a completely different fingering than the Descant. The music is written in concert pitch but for example one finger + thumb is E (top space) instead of B (middle line) and it's range only goes down to F (first space).

 

As for harmonica, you need one in every key because it is not a chromatic instrument so its only able to play one major and relative minor(with a flattened 7th of course), just like the tin whistle as it happens.

It's not a sin to fall but it is a sin to lie there.
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If they're a professional, they also need to know how to transpose the music to Bb or Eb from a lead sheet written for "C" instruments, which will invariably get thrown in front of them at some time or another.

 

They don't have to enjoy it, but most of the horn players I talk to say it's a skill have some proficiency at...the same way that bass players should be able to sight read treble clef, tenor clef, or alto clef if necessary.

You must be thinking of professionals playing with amateur bands. In these days of one click transposition in my experience you would never be asked to transpose at sight from concert pitch.

 

And do Bass players really have to read Alto Clef??!! Thought that was only Viola players.

 

And by the way, whats the different between a viola and a trampoline?

 

You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline! :D

It's not a sin to fall but it is a sin to lie there.
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