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gcoover

Baritone/tenor music question

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For those of you who read music and play tenor and baritone instruments, I'm curious as to what clef you typically use - treble, bass, alto, tenor, octave? 

 

I don't read bass clef on my contrabass EC but just use normal treble clef (since it's pretty much like playing my treble EC), but I'm wondering about those instruments with ranges between bass and treble.

 

I ask because I'm working on a book of SATB arrangements of various types of sacred music for all types of concertinas.

 

Thanks!

 

Gary

Edited by gcoover

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I can read bass clef, but not with great fluency. For English concertina arrangements, or for both parts in duet concertina arrangements, I prefer to read treble clef.

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I do tend to read bass clef when playing pieces in parts however, in my experience of arranging pieces for concertina bands in the UK, most people prefer baritone parts to be written out in treble clef an octave higher than sounding and bass parts written out in treble clef two octaves higher than sounding.  

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4 hours ago, gcoover said:

I'm curious as to what clef you typically use - treble, bass, alto, tenor, octave?

 

I think it’s a long shot to expect concertina players (or pretty much anybody but viola, cello or viola da gamba players) to be comfortable in alto or tenor clef. I play a duet concertina but I also play cello. I’m quite familiar with bass and tenor clefs, but it would never occur to me to notate concertina music in tenor clef. Depending on the range, I sometimes notate the left hand part of duet concertina music in treble octave clef and sometimes in bass clef.

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12 hours ago, gcoover said:

For those of you who read music and play tenor and baritone instruments, I'm curious as to what clef you typically use - treble, bass, alto, tenor, octave? 

 

I consider that to be three separate questions.  1) What do I read?  2) What do I write for myself?  3) What do I write for others?

 

And I should emphasize that Gary's question refers to standard staff notation... not sol-fa, shape note, ABC, "tab", or other systems.  (I have an old Swedish hymn book where the notes are notated as numbers, but they aren't "button" numbers.)

 

1) I regularly read both treble and bass clefs.  That's because I read music that was written by others, for both treble and bass instruments but especially for keyboard instruments, which normally use both clefs at once.  With a bit of concentration, I can also read the "C-clefs" (baritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano), though not as fluently, since I have almost never had music to read that was written in those clefs.  (Truth be told, I've only ever seen the "alto".  But I would be able to read the others, because I know how they relate to each other in their constrruction.)

 

2) For the English concertinas, I write in bass clef for my bass (cello), especially since I've used it to compose tunes for friends who play cello, and my brother who plays trombone.  I use treble clef for trebles, double clefs (both bass and treble) for my tenor-treble and baritone-treble, since their ranges extend into both clefs.  I don't currently own a standard baritone, but I would be just as happy reading the same double-clef music as for the TT and BT or music written in the treble but hearing it sound an octave lower.

 

For duets, I both write and read two clefs -- one for each hand, -- but use treble and bass interchangeably with treble and octave-treble (i.e., written in treble clef, an octave higher than played, but with that little "8" appended to the clef to indicate that it should sound an octave lower).  My music writing software (Finale) makes it trivial to switch between the two.

 

For anglo, I also use a separate clef for each hand, but treble for the left hand and raised-octave-treble (rather than lowered) for the right hand.  I find this much easier to read than the standard practice in the old tutors which teach with notes rather than tab, which is to use a single treble clef with lots of ledger lines above.  It also has the property that it specifies some fingerings for notes that are found in both hands.

 

3) For others, I restrict myself to treble and bass clefs, and so should you.  Outside the concertina world, the only folks I've ever seen use those other clefs are specialists, and they are all at least as fluent with treble and/or bass clefs.  Within the concertina world, I don't know anyone who uses them, and certainly not by preference.

 

All parts should be available in treble clef, even the bass parts.  This is because most, if not all, concertina players who read notes learned to do so on a standard treble instrument.  Reading something written in treble clef on a baritone or bass with the treble fingering just gives the same notes an octave or two lower, without having to learn to read in another clef or even another range.  And so that is how it's usually done (in my experience), at least for the baritone.  Certainly the old tutors and even sheet music for the baritone English are written that way... in treble clef, to sound an octave lower.  I do believe that some players of bass parts do read bass clef and so some concertina band arrangements are made available in bass clef, though maybe also in "treble" versions.

 

My recommendation is that you make all parts available in treble-clef versions, but that parts which are entirely or mostly within the range of the bass clef also be provided in bass-clef notation, and maybe even dual-clef alternatives for parts that lie equally in both clefs' ranges.

 

BUT you should especially get advice from folks who regularly run concertina band workshops, e.g., Dave Townsend and Jenny Cox.  (There are others, but those are the two I've met.)

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14 hours ago, gcoover said:

I don't read bass clef on my contrabass EC...

 

This is a digression from your topic, Gary, but what is the range of your "contrabass"?

 

According to Wheatstone's price lists, a "contabass" would be three octaves below a treble.  Two octaves below a treble would be a "bass".  Normally, a "bass" would have as its lowest note the low C of a cello, though some (I have one) continue down to the G below.  However, I haven't seen such a "G-bass" in any Wheatstone price list.

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53 minutes ago, JimLucas said:

 

Normally, a "bass" would have as its lowest note the low C of a cello, though some (I have one) continue down to the G below.  However, I haven't seen such a "G-bass" in any Wheatstone price list.

FWIW I also have a Wheatstone G bass with massive resonance tubes.

 

I once tried writing out arrangements for my TT using the treble and bass staves - it confused the hell out of me.  I quickly reverted back to using just the treble stave with ledger lines for the tenor parts.

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15 hours ago, gcoover said:

I ask because I'm working on a book of SATB arrangements ...

 

My instinct would be to stick with the standard clefs for SATB arrangements: treble for S and A, treble with a little 8 under it for T and bass clef for B. That's how it's done at the West Gallery workshop I attend each year; singers and instrumentalists using the same score. (Bb and Eb parts are provided for transposing instruments but you wouldn't need that for concertinas unless you had an F-tenor or an F-bass, as mine was before I had it converted.)

 

I normally play my bass at these workshops, reading from the bass clef. One year when my bass was in for repair I played the tenor part on the left hand of a Crane duet. Strangely, I was the only instrumentalist playing at the intended pitch. The others were playing an octave above the singers.

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12 minutes ago, SteveS said:

I once tried writing out arrangements for my TT using the treble and bass staves - it confused the hell out of me.  I quickly reverted back to using just the treble stave with ledger lines for the tenor parts.

 

Interesting to me that you say you don't have trouble with the (short) ledger lines, but you do have trouble with the bass clef, which is really just long ledger lines.  8^)

 

Putting too much space between the treble and bass clefs?  Because the bass clef is really just the five ledger lines below the one for middle C.  It's just that they're stretched across the page and the ones below the note you're reading aren't invisible (while the one for Middle C is invisible, unless that's a note to be played).  And so the space between the two clefs should be just enough to fit the Middle C line in between as if were actually there.

 

All together, the treble and bass clefs and Middle C essentially form a "grand staff" of 11 lines, and those two staves are just the highest and lowest 5-line subsets.  Meanwhile, those "C-clefs" (alto, tenor, etc.) are just other 5-line subsets of the 11, with each subset containing an actual across-the-page line for Middle C.

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I tend to agree with Jim - for me it's just the single part of a harmony setting that I too would like to read through the treble clef, as long as I would be playing f.i. a baritone as a treble, transposing one octave downwards - OTOH should I play multi-part harmony on one instrument, I would surely prefer the eleven lines...

 

Best wishes - 🐺

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2 hours ago, JimLucas said:

Interesting to me that you say you don't have trouble with the (short) ledger lines, but you do have trouble with the bass clef, which is really just long ledger lines.  8^)

 

This whole outlook makes logical sense on paper, but in practice it’s more of a gestalt thing. When you see, for instance, a G below the staff in the treble clef, you know what note it is not because you count two ledger lines above it, but because it looks like what you’ve learned a low G looks like. If you’re not experienced reading bass clef, that same note will look unfamiliar, even in a double staff, because the image has a different overall shape than the low G you’re used to seeing despite the fact that the lines of the bass clef are analogous to the ledger lines below the treble clef.

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18 hours ago, JimLucas said:

All parts should be available in treble clef, even the bass parts.  This is because most, if not all, concertina players who read notes learned to do so on a standard treble instrument.  Reading something written in treble clef on a baritone or bass with the treble fingering just gives the same notes an octave or two lower, without having to learn to read in another clef or even another range. 

 

On 5/6/2020 at 11:54 AM, cohen said:

I do tend to read bass clef when playing pieces in parts however, in my experience of arranging pieces for concertina bands in the UK, most people prefer baritone parts to be written out in treble clef an octave higher than sounding and bass parts written out in treble clef two octaves higher than sounding.  

 

Thanks so much for everyone's input - this is probably what I'll end up using. But of course, had to check in with the CNET Braintrust to make sure!

 

Funny thing, is I've forgotten how to read bass clef, even being an old keyboard player from way back. I find myself finding "C" and then counting one, two, three, four, etc. to figure out what the other notes are.

 

The plan is to put out a book of all sorts of sacred songs, from Sacred Harp to gospel to good ol' Methodist hymnal, with all the parts together, and also as four separate staves for part-playing.

 

And for Jim, I have a 35-button Lachenal double action bass that starts at middle C and goes down two and half octaves from there to a low F. Awesome sound in those low notes - almost felt more than heard.

 

Gary

 

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3 hours ago, gcoover said:

And for Jim, I have a 35-button Lachenal double action bass that starts at middle C and goes down two and half octaves from there to a low F. Awesome sound in those low notes - almost felt more than heard.

 

Hmm.  Sounds like my own, but mine only goes down to G.  Is your low F where the G# should be, as is often done on trebles?

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4 minutes ago, JimLucas said:

Is your low F where the G# should be, as is often done on trebles?

 

the never-ending controversy Jim 😎, as some might prefer the Ab...

 

best wishes - 🐺 

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11 minutes ago, JimLucas said:

 

Hmm.  Sounds like my own, but mine only goes down to G.  Is your low F where the G# should be, as is often done on trebles?

 

That's where it is. We should work up some duets! "Big Bottoms" from This is Spinal Tap comes to mind...

 

 

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1 hour ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

the never-ending controversy Jim 😎, as some might prefer the Ab...

 

My treble Edeophone came to me with a low F in place of the G#.  I had it switched with the Ab, since I more often have use for the G# than for the Ab.  (It's equal-tempered.)

 

But I also want a low F# or even E or D at least as often as a low F, and even occasionally the Ab, so I keep my other trebles with both Ab and G#, and I have a tenor-treble which I use when I want to go below the G.

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my TT has a very low B (replacing the D#), though a very low Bb would of course be lovely too, and my BT (which transposes to Fmaj) has a very low E replacing the G# (though a very low Eb would be desirable as well), asf. ad infinitum... 😎

 

(BTW, the solder work is all mine...)

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1 hour ago, gcoover said:

We should work up some duets!

 

Now why does that remind me of my junior-high bandleader complaining that the sousaphones sounded "like a herd of elephants marching through a field of marshmallows"?

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