Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/177

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


that it may occupy the same position in the new scale that it held at first in the original one. Thus Exs. 2 and 3 are transpositions of Ex. i, one being a major second higher, and the other a major second lower ; and the notes of the original phrase being numbered, to show their position as degrees of the scale, it will be seen that this position re- mains unchanged in the transpositions. - Original Key C.


� � � � �3










� �Transposed

�into D.




� � � � �&





� � �Transposed into Bb. 7 i 33






�-4 |* 1


� �-^-




� �-4


� ��It is, however, not necessary that a transposition should be fully written out, as above. By suffi- cient knowledge and practice a performer is enabled to transpose a piece of music into any required key, while still reading from the original notation. To the singer such a proceeding offers no particular difficulty, since the relation of the various notes to the key-note being understood, the absolute pitch of the latter, which is all that has to be kept in mind, does not matter. But to the instrumental performer the task is by no means an easy one, since the transposition fre- quently requires a totally different position of the fingers. This arises from the fact that in trans- position it often happens that a natural has to be represented by a sharp or flat, and vice versa, as may be seen in the above examples, where the BB of Ex. i, bar 2, being the 7th degree of the scale, becomes Cfl, which is the 7th degree of the scale of D, in Ex. 2 ; and again in bar 3, where FB, the 4th degree, becomes E b in Ex. 3. The change of a flat to a sharp, though possible, is scarcely practical. It could only occur in an extreme key, and even then could always be avoided by making an enharmonic change, so that the transposed key should be more nearly related to the original, for example

In D. In Cb. In B fl (enharmonic change).

j II , | I n- 1 1 n

��Hence it will not suffice to read each note of a phrase so many degrees higher or lower on the stave ; in addition to this, the relation which every note bears to the scale must be thoroughly understood, and reproduced in the transposition by means of the necessary sharps, flats, or naturals ; while the pianist or organist, who has to deal with many sounds at once, must be able also instantly to recognise the various harmonies and modula- tions, and to construct the same in the new key. The faculty of transposition is extremely valu- able to the practical musician. To the conductor, or to any one desiring to play from orchestral VOL. IV. PT. 2.


score, it is essential, as the parts for the so-called 'transposing instruments' horns, trumpets, clari- net, drums being written in a different key from that in which they are to sound, have to be transposed back into the key of the piece, so as to agree with the strings and other non-transpos- ing instruments. [See SCORE, PLATING FROM, vol. iii. p. 436.] Orchestral players and accom- panists are frequently called upon to transpose, in order to accommodate the singer, for whose voice the written pitch of the song may be too high or too low, but it is probably extremely seldom that transposition takes place on so grand a scale as when Beethoven, having to play his Concerto in C major, and finding the piano half a tone too flat, transposed the whole into CJJ major !

Transposed editions of songs are frequently published, that the same compositions may be made available for voices of different compass, but transpositions of instrumental music more rarely. In KrolFs edition of Bach's Preludes and Fugues, however, the Fugue in C J major in vol. i. appears transposed into Db. This is merely an enharmonic change, of questionable practical value, the sounds remaining the same though the notation is altered, and is only made to facilitate reading, but the change into G of Schubert's Im- promptu, op. 90, no. 3, which was written in G b, and altered by the publisher, was doubtless de- signed to render it easier of execution. [F.T.]

TRANSPOSITION OF THE ECCLESIAS- TICAL MODES. Composers of the Polyphonic School permitted the transposition of the Eccle- siastical Modes to the Fourth above or Fifth below their true pitch ; effecting the process by meann of a Bb placed at the Signature, and thereby substituting for the absolute pitch of a Plagal Mode that of its Authentic original. Trans- position to other Intervals than these was utterly forbidden, in writing: but Singers were permitted to change the pitch, at the moment of perform- ance, to any extent convenient to themselves.

During the transitional period but very rarely earlier than that a double Transposition was effected, in a few exceptional cases, by means of two Flats ; Bb raising the pitch a Fourth, and Eb lowering it. from thence, by a Fifth thus really depressing the original pitch by a Tone. As usual in all cases of progressive innovation, this practice was well known in England long before it found favour on the continent. A beautiful example will be found in Wilbye's ' Flora gave me fairest flowers,' composed in 1 598 ; yet Morley, writing in 1597, severely condemns the practice. It will be seen, from these remarks, that, in Compositions of the Polyphonic aera, the absence of a Bb at the Signature proves the Mode to stand at its true pitch ; while the presence of a Bb proves the Composition to be quite certainly written in a Transposed Mode. 1 In modern reprints, the presence at the Signature of one or more Sharps, or of more than two Flats, shows that the pitch of the piece has heen changed, or its Mode reduced to a modern Scale, by an editor of the present century. [W.S.B.]

i See Tol. II. p. 474 .

�� �