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How Do You Make A Violin Music Score From A Voice Score?


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Hi all,

I am trying to play some songs from some popular hymns but they are written in voice or piano.

To me, the notes are too low (in pitch) and I feel uncomfortale to play it on my violin.

How one can transcribe it (right word?) into a violin score? If I play my violin by heart that

would be an easy thing to do, but I am the kind of persons who see a note on paper play a note

on the instrument.

The question is this: I have a music score written in 2 flats, (most notes below

middle lines) can one write it in one sharp # with notes mostly in upper lines (of the five lines)?

Still preserve the melody.

I remember when I was in school, my music teacher told us that the line where the last flat is located

sing "Fa" as in C major, then you sing it like " Do, Re, Me "FA", So, La, Che, Do" for

the rest of the notes. I don't have to worry about the flats. Does this method work?

In short, it is only one semi tone below C scale.

I don't know all these make sense to you? ( I don't have problem if the music is a violin music)

Thank you in advance. Any helps will be appreciated.

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if you want to transpose from Bb major to G major going a sixth up (that´s what you want to do):

a Bb under the first line ( or a flat 2nd finger on your g - string) becomes a G on the second line (your 3rd finger on the d - string). the major key changes from bb (Bb major) to # (G major).

then take it from there. alterations in the original melody must be followed of course (additional b´s, #´s or resolutions).

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As you seem to be a novice at music theory issues, and apparantly do not have a music notation program, I suggest you transpose the music exactly one fifth upward (to the key of F or D minor, with 1 flat). You can then play the notes on the next string higher than they would be played in the original key. In other words, 2nd finger F on the D string becomes 2nd finger C on the A string. You may be able to do this in your head (without writing out the music.) Writing it out should be easy, however. Just imagine the note which would sound if you used the same finger on the next higher string.


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Typically you'd look at the range of your piece and decide where you want it to fall on your instrument, then figure out the key it needs to be in based on that range, and how many steps you need to move the notes to get there from the original key. A key wheel like this one might help you with figuring out the individual notes. A lot of the music publishing software programs will do this for you. I use BarFly for working with tunes in abc code and Sibelius for more complicated music projects, and both of those handle transposition with the click of a button. Sibelius goes further and alerts you if anything in your tune is outside of the range of the instrument you've specified. for your score! I hope this helps -Steve

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I just finished the RCM theory course and I am itching to transcribe something - it was so much fun. Do you have a smallish piece? If you could copy it and send it to me (PM me) I could see what I can do with it and also let you know how I did it. Since I'm an adult learning at home who passes the theory questions on to her violin teacher occasionally - but not taking any formal course - this would give me some extra practice.

Otherwise, to put what the others are saying in clear terms:

Supposing you have music with two flats. That is the key of Bb (if it's major). It means the tonic (do, in do re mi) is Bb.

Now you want to make it go into the key with one sharp. That is the key of G major. The tonic (do) is G.

If you transpose from Bb major (two flats) to G major (one sharp), then you have transposed it UP a sixth. It means that you are raising all the notes by six notes. (You know this by counting: Bb to G is six, because you count 1B 2C 3D 4E 5F 6G = 6).

So to transpose, you take your new staff paper, put in a treble clef, and then add the sharp on F. Then look at the original. Supposing your first note is E on the bottom line. You raise it by 6. EFGABC: your note is in the space for C. Your next note is an F in the space. You raise it by 6. FGABCD. Your next note is D, on a line. You do that for every note. Raise each note by 6. It does not matter if your original E was an Eb. Your new key signature takes care of that.

NEXT STEP: Look for accidentals: sharps, flats, naturals. A sharp raises a note by a half step, a flat lowers a note by a half step. If there is a natural coming after a sharp (in the key signature, or because of an accidental before) then the natural is lowering the note, becuase it is undoing the raising that the sharp did. If there is a natural coming after a flat (in key signature, or after an accidental)a then the natural is raising a note, because it is undoing what the flat is.

So when you see an accidental you have to ask yourself "Is this raising or lowering a note?" Then you want to raise or lower the corresponding note in the same way. This part is more tricky, because you don't always use the same accidental.

Example: Supposing that your original note was Eb, because the key signature has a flat for E. But beside that E you see a natural sign. That means the natural sign is raising the note. You will have to raise the note in your new transposed music also. But you are in the key of G. There is no flat beside that note. How do you raise a note by a semitone if there is no flat? You add a sharp.

In our example, the Eb in the old music is C in the new music, because if you raise E 6 steps, you end up with C. The Eb has a natural sign, so it has been raised by a semitone. You want to raise the new note, C, by a semitone. So put a sharp beside the C. Now the C, which corresponds to the old raised E, is raised in the same way as the old note.

When you finish transcribing, try playing what you transcribed. If something sounds funny, you probably made a mistake. The you just go back to what you did and try to figure out what you did wrong. It's almost a brainless job - just keep counting up the same number of notes over and over.


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"If you transpose from Bb major (two flats) to G major (one sharp), then you have transposed it UP a sixth. It means that you are raising all the notes by six notes. (You know this by counting: Bb to G is six, because you count 1B 2C 3D 4E 5F 6G = 6). "

Don't forget, when transposing you can either go up or down! I like to go the direction with the smallest interval then adjust by an octave later if needed.

Maybe because I originally learned to read music on the piano rather than the violin, I find it simpler to think in terms of 11 semitones to an octave rather than 8 notes to a scale, so that Bb to G is either 8 semitones up or 3 down. This way you don't have to worry about intervals between notes, modes, or anything else; you just count the same number of semitones up or down for every note you're transposing.

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The low note of a flute is generally middle C, the first ledger line below the staff, or 3rd finger on the G string). The music ranges about 2 1/2 to 3 octaves above that. This is a pretty good match for the violin range.

In many chamber works (e.g., several Mozart string quartets) the 1st violin part is playable by flute, and works written for flute quartet are often quite playable by string quartet.

Problems occur when the composer is trying to achieve special flutey effects, or when the music contains double stops or other characteristically stringy things, but for the normal run of tunes, I would say that flutes and violins can play pretty much the same music, unless it goes below middle C.


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I perform transcription and editing to violin and viola

for our small music group here using Finale/Allegro. This product

costs about 200 dollars however they have a free version, Notepad:


which I looked over a while back and it seems pretty reasonable

for simple note editing on single line instruments. It has a

transpose feature which can quickly perform your desired task.

I find that when transposing from flute, oboe or

keyboard, to violin, you sometimes are inclined  to adjust

your target key  to make more comfortable string crossings on

tricky passages. Also, some of us find that certain keys "sing"

better, especially on lower quality violins, thus I may, for

example, opt for A as opposed to B-flat as I personally feel that

the former key resonates better with the open strings.


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These days such transpositions are done by most people using computer software, but 60 years ago I bought a "music slide rule" made of wood that served me well for such things. There is a circular, plastic rule of more limited, but similar function available on e-bay right now, but you can see what it is all about on this PDF writeup: http://leewm.freeshell.org/origami/chord-ruler.pdf


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Hi Yuen

I use noteworthy composer - there is a free trial copy on the net for you to down load. The only problem is that the free trial copy only allows you to save the file 8 or 9 times and then that is the final product. Also when you print, there is a "trial copy" (or something like that) printed on the page. It is relatively cheap and I finally bought a proper copy.



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A transposition is defined as moving a group of notes

up or down in pitch by a constant amount. You probably see this in

your scale books: A scale is written out in  C. Then it is

"transposed" up a step to D, moving all the notes up a step, and so


 Usually scores are transposed to fit

them to another instrument, to put the instrument in a range that

sounds better, or to accommodate a singer in a more comfortable

 range. I sometimes transpose a violin work down 5 or

so steps to make it play nicely on the viola.

There is a weaker definition of transposition wherein

the key is moved or "transposed" from the major to minor key

 or visa versa. In this case the major key has the 3rd 6th and

7th notes of the scale flattened in the key signature to

"transpose" the piece in the minor mode.

Hope this helps


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If you're serious enough about it you could always practice transposing at sight.

We were taught and encouraged to do this at conservatory anyway.

More an issue for accompanists when a singer suddenly says

"by the way I sing this in A, not C!"

We classical string palyers can get lazy

Most other musicians worth their salt do it every day.

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Previous posters have given you a lot of ideas and descriptions of how you can transpose (change the key) of the hymns.

I personally don't find hymns too low for the violin - the soprano line is in the normal range of a violin in first position. When I play hymns for weddings, I don't usually transpose them to a higher key - I usually play one verse at normal pitch, and the next one an octave higher. I don't write it out, just do it. Playing things 8va at sight is pretty normal, even for us classical geeks. It gives you a chance to play in a couple of registers of the violin, and makes it a little more interesting.

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More an issue for accompanists when a singer suddenly says

"by the way I sing this in A, not C!"

I once watched an accompanist do some fancy fingerwork at a graduate recital. One of the vocalists slipped down a semitone and could not find his way up. The accompanist part sounded fast and tricky. First the accompanist subtly left out some of the harmonizing parts so that the melody could be heard more clearly by the singer and slightly emphasized the melody. The vocalist still could not find his way into the key and remained a semitone below where he should be. The accompanist then paused in a logical place for one or two bars, and resumed playing the rest of the piece transposed down one semitone.

Shouldn't transposing be easier on violin than piano since we have no black and white keys to content with?

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I have the greatest respect for accompanists. Their parts usually look harder than the soloist, often an arrangement which tries to compensate for the lack of an entire orchestra, and yes some can accommodate key changes, dropped sections of music, missed repeats, last minute tempo changes, not to mention numerous page turns, without a grunt. Then, at the end, the soloist bows, smiles, wipes his/her forehead, taking most of the credit while the accompanist quietly waits in the background as though his/her talent is just a given.

I say let's hear it for the accompanists.

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