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Transposition of baroque piece for soprano

Yansalis

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I am learning a baroque aria which is written in D at concert pitch. To play it at its nominal original pitch I would transpose it for the soprano sax to E. But D is quite a bit easier to play. I can pitch the MIDI version of the accompaniment wherever I like, and if I were to order an accompaniment recording I believe it would be straightforward to re-pitch the recording OR the music I send. The latter would probably be fine for the accompanist as they would be playing in concert C.

SO my question is, is there a reason why I should play it at the original nominal pitch? I had started out with that assumption but as I am finding the learning curve substantially slowed down I'm not sure whether to persevere and reap the rewards of improved technique, or take the easy road.
 

Colin the Bear

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nigeld

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So while we're on the topic of the character of keys--on the soprano saxophone. Might it perhaps be easier to sound joyous in D than in E? ;)

It's much easier to sound joyous in D. ;)
 
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David Roach

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I am learning a baroque aria which is written in D at concert pitch. To play it at its nominal original pitch I would transpose it for the soprano sax to E. But D is quite a bit easier to play. I can pitch the MIDI version of the accompaniment wherever I like, and if I were to order an accompaniment recording I believe it would be straightforward to re-pitch the recording OR the music I send. The latter would probably be fine for the accompanist as they would be playing in concert C.

SO my question is, is there a reason why I should play it at the original nominal pitch? I had started out with that assumption but as I am finding the learning curve substantially slowed down I'm not sure whether to persevere and reap the rewards of improved technique, or take the easy road.
Some years ago I played the Bach Oboe & Violin concerto in a version for Soprano Sax and Violin. We played it in Dm concert, which put me in Em - a lovely key on sax, but a little brighter in tone and obviously a tone higher than the original which took me up to a top F# in the Adagio. It was OK because I am used to playing up there on soprano, but I would have been happier to play it all a tone lower. I subsequently discussed the performance with a friend who is a professional oboe soloist who said it would have been fine to play the Cm version (which I did not know existed) because some violinists prefer it.
So there you go, even Bach is sometimes played in different keys. Unless you are planning a concert with an orchestra where there are set printed parts in only one key, do as you find most agreeable!
 
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Subtilior

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I am learning a baroque aria which is written in D at concert pitch. To play it at its nominal original pitch I would transpose it for the soprano sax to E. But D is quite a bit easier to play. I can pitch the MIDI version of the accompaniment wherever I like, and if I were to order an accompaniment recording I believe it would be straightforward to re-pitch the recording OR the music I send. The latter would probably be fine for the accompanist as they would be playing in concert C.

SO my question is, is there a reason why I should play it at the original nominal pitch? I had started out with that assumption but as I am finding the learning curve substantially slowed down I'm not sure whether to persevere and reap the rewards of improved technique, or take the easy road.
Most saxophone music that has been arranged or adapted from Baroque or other early repertoire has been transposed. Also, the original in D would have been played on instruments at a lower pitch than 440Hz, typically somewhere between 415 (a semitone lower) and 390 (just over a tone lower). It is also possible the notation you are working with is not in the original key.
 
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Nick Wyver

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Most saxophone music that has been arranged or adapted from Baroque or other early repertoire has been transposed. Also, the original in D would have been played on instruments at a lower pitch than 440Hz, typically somewhere between 415 (a semitone lower) and 390 (just over a tone lower). It is also possible the notation you are working with is not in the original key.
Which also makes a nonsense of the idea that keys have different characters.
 
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nigeld

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Keys will have different characters if the players believe that they do.
 
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jbtsax

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Keys will have different characters if the players believe that they do.
I have had both a classical and jazz pianist who play at the highest level describe to me how different keys convey a different feeling or "color" to them.
 
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7201

 
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I have had both a classical and jazz pianist who play at the highest level describe to me how different keys convey a different feeling or "color" to them.
I don’t doubt it. Some people see colours when listening to sound. But it makes no sense when you think that all music in C, for example doesn’t sound the same.

Czardas violin piece - which movement is it that is fast and playful, but in a minor key?

Also, once you have chords with four or more notes, you’ll have major and minor triads present : C maj7 - C and Em. And if chord V7 is rarely used you have lots of choices for minor chords.
 
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Yansalis

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I have had both a classical and jazz pianist who play at the highest level describe to me how different keys convey a different feeling or "color" to them.
A musician at the highest level would possibly be sensitive to things like how each pitch has its own color in a given instrument design, and instrument to instrument. Brought up to the level of a key, i.e. a set of notes each with their own 'fingerprint' it would not be surprising for them to say each key has its own color or flavor.

But this is not the sort of thing that could be claimed to be noticed more or less universally, which the key 'affects' of non-equal temperaments can at least be argued to do.
 
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nigeld

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I assume that different keys feel different on stringed instruments because the strings that are not being bowed will resonate.
 
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Yansalis

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Could that effect (of keys having their own 'character') be only cultural ?

I think the keys having a different character in some sense in a non-equal temperament is objective, but whether the resulting 'affect' is what anyone says it is is another matter. In other words FWIW I think there are objective effects on the listener, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that we know of a mechanism by which those translate into universal emotional tendencies or effects. I speculate that the effect on emotions is indirect and therefore somewhat variable.
 
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7201

 
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I think the keys having a different character in some sense in a non-equal temperament is objective, but whether the resulting 'affect' is what anyone says it is is another matter. In other words FWIW I think there are objective effects on the listener, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that we know of a mechanism by which those translate into universal emotional tendencies or effects. I speculate that the effect on emotions is indirect and therefore somewhat variable.
Sounds like the “programme music” of the Impressionism movement all over again. La Mer - everyone knows it’s supposed to be the sea - and other statements about other pieces. Didn’t work then...
 
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