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Thread: [HELP] Compositions in 5/6 # and b keys

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    Default [HELP] Compositions in 5/6 # and b keys

    Hi!

    I am currently composing a piece and would need to transpose it to sound better.
    I was wondering if playing would be challenging in Bb-minor or Eb-minor for Cello and double bass players.

    I understand that they prefer open string notes but usually they should manage, right?
    Also, should I write pieces in # rather than b keys? Would c# minor be better than Bb minor?

    Thank you for the answers!

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Professional players can handle lots of flats. The further away from professional string players you get, flats become more of a problem in regards to intonation. You must decide "who" you are writing for.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Thanks for the answer!
    So it's a general rule than 6 sharps are better than 6 flats for violins/cellos/double basses etc?

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Well, yes, but amateur players, regardless of being strings, winds or brass, will still trip over the 5th and 6th sharp since they rarely are forced to encounter them. It's the intonation that will be better for strings.

    Have you considered transposing the score from b-flat minor up to b minor or e-flat minor up to e minor. That would be far better.
    Last edited by Vasks; Dec-03-2020 at 15:01.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    At least for the violin (but I'm willing to generalize to the whole family), it's a legend that musicians needs empty strings. Alas, Berlioz made the wrong claim in his Traité d'instrumentation, and many authors just reproduce this error, including Wiki.

    Up to the fifth position, any half-decent violinist feels by touching the instrument where to play the note accurately. Once the instrument is tuned, this doesn't need to hear any note, neither an empty note nor a fingered one. On high positions, empty strings often don't serve at all.

    This was my case from about the 6th learning year, so consider that any mean amateur needs no empty strings.

    Except if targeting beginners, you can write the violin with any combination of accidentals. It changes zilch to the left hand difficulty. Beginners may have difficulties reading the score.

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    The harp... well.

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    I heard from an uncle playing the tuba that accidentals play no role at all. I have no opinion about this. It should be the same for all brass instrument, at least logically.

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    The French bassoon is very sensitive to accidentals, the German system supposedly too. Fewer are far better.
    The flute is quite sensitive too, but professional flautists bring extreme virtuosity. C major is bad, 4 flats are easier.
    I suspect the oboe is sensitive but have no opinion.
    The Boehm clarinet is little sensitive to accidentals, the Oehler more so.
    The saxophone tolerates accidentals. Only the low notes below D can become difficult.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    ...another thing. String players will actually avoid open strings in the course a line if they can because the timbral differences between them and stopped notes is too much and negates the consistency in tone.
    Obviously stopped notes have their place too in the course of a piece and are an excellent compositional, idiomatic and at times, practical (from the players pov), resource.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Dec-09-2020 at 10:33.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

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