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sw3119
05-22-2008, 01:09 AM
Hi,

I'm trying to write some charts out for 2 Saxes and a Trumpet and I need some help.

First, how do I write the trumpet part:

I've read that trumpet sounds and octave down from what is written. Is that right?

So if I want the trumpet to play a C in the middle of the staff I would write it above the staff?

Do I write it in the staff and say 8va to make it easier to read?

Second, what is the practical range of the trumpet:

not for a virtuoso, but just an average player.

What should I avoid going above and below when I write the parts.

Any other tips would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Agent27
05-22-2008, 01:15 AM
No, a trumpet sounds a Major 2nd below the written note. Therefore, you need to transpose Concert Pitch up a Major 2nd. If a trumpet wanted to play C in the staff , you'd write the D immediately above it (in the staff). Tenor sax is a Major 9th (or an Octave + Major 2nd) below concert pitch. If a tenor wanted to play C in the staff, you'd have to write the D above the staff (Octave + 2nd above the written C).

The practical range for a trumpet is Concert G below the staff (treble clef) to Ab above the staff. In Bb, that's A below the staff and Bb above the staff.

Of course, they "can" go both lower and higher.

sleepless
05-22-2008, 01:41 AM
Hi,

I'm trying to write some charts out for 2 Saxes and a Trumpet and I need some help.

First, how do I write the trumpet part:

I've read that trumpet sounds and octave down from what is written. Is that right?

So if I want the trumpet to play a C in the middle of the staff I would write it above the staff?

Do I write it in the staff and say 8va to make it easier to read?

Second, what is the practical range of the trumpet:

not for a virtuoso, but just an average player.

What should I avoid going above and below when I write the parts.

Any other tips would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Real quick - not an expert in trumpet but played with them and wrote charts several times for them to harmonize with tenor. If you write parts for tenor and use harmony in your range, you'll generally be fine.

The low end goes down to like low F# below staff, but practical low end would be probably no lower than A (below the trebel staff). Notes that low are very quiet on the horn, so use with care.

As for high notes, the sky's the limit - really depends on the player. The average player should be able to hit C two lines above staff no problem. Any much over that starts getting into "screamer" territory, really depends on the player how well they handle it.

Trumpets can do smooth spills/gliss that are unique to the brass horn - use these generously if it fits your music. Sax can't easily do those without the articulated notes coming out - requires much more skill.

Then there's always the tried and true method of "if it sounds too high, play it an octave lower" - That works pretty well too.

Be grateful you don't have to transpose this for concert instruments like trombone (yet). Haven't met too many of those who are good at transposing from Bb charts. At some point, if you want to add a bone, you'll probably be faced with the task of writing for that horn and there's a few important considerations for them.

Mal 2
05-22-2008, 02:09 AM
Trumpet parts are written the same as soprano sax or clarinet parts, but (as noted) with a different range. Written low F# is the limit as noted, but it is best to avoid G and F# except for special effects since they will be "mushy" at best. Ab is a little bit "mushy" but may be usable as a "normal" note.

Another thing to consider is that low C# and D will be sharp unless he makes an adjustment, and that's hard to do when going fast. Then again if you're going fast enough, it doesn't really matter. It's the range in the middle that's worrying -- long enough to detect as out of tune, but too short to correct.

For range at the top, the easiest way to find out is to ask the person you'll be writing for. C two lines above the staff is pretty safe as noted, but you can expect a good high school player to be able to hit E.

But consider these things as well:
* Playing in the upper range is tiring, much more so than on a woodwind. Even a good player may only have 10 minutes of high notes in him to spread out over the entire night.
* Give a fair amount of rest, particularly if the range is high.
* Don't write an interval bigger than an octave if you can possibly avoid it, especially upward. Octaves are OK, because they're easy to "pre-hear", but sevenths and major 6ths can be troublesome. Large differences in range after a couple beats of rest is usually fine, it gives time to "reset" (which is mostly a mental process). If it's enough time to grab a good breath, it's probably enough time to reset.
* Support! Don't leave the trumpet stranded all alone up high -- write the second horn an octave lower, or less. If writing three horns in "unison", where you have to split octaves, put two high and one low (unless there is a compelling reason not to).

Finally, see if you can find examples of what different mutes sound like. Sax players usually double on flute, but trumpets and trombones use mutes to get a dramatically different sound, and they are all quite a bit different. Trumpet players will also often double on flugelhorn, but you don't have to write any differently for that (except they don't sound so good up really high). You might not even have to ask for it -- if your trumpet player has one, he'll probably be able to figure out when to put it to use.

sleepless
05-22-2008, 05:09 AM
No, a trumpet sounds a Major 2nd below the written note. Therefore, you need to transpose Concert Pitch up a Major 2nd. If a trumpet wanted to play C in the staff , you'd write the D immediately above it (in the staff). Tenor sax is a Major 9th (or an Octave + Major 2nd) below concert pitch. If a tenor wanted to play C in the staff, you'd have to write the D above the staff (Octave + 2nd above the written C).


You know, I was about to say in my first post above to "think in piano tones, not tenor tones" but your approach is the more scientific way. To save time, if you're having to create your own harmonies, it might be faster to record the tenor part or have someone play it, then play along on the piano (transposed up a step of course) and just write the notes down that way. Unless you have perfect pitch. Then you can just do it all in your head, while thinking "Piano, Piano..."

gary
05-22-2008, 02:39 PM
...and two quick addendums. (addendae? :twisted:)

When you want to write the tenor sax and trpt in unison, often it is actually better to score them in octaves. That is, the written notes will be exactly the same, but they will actually be playing in octaves from one another.

Often when the trpt and ten sax are playing the same written notes, it gives an effect of their playing in unison rather than in octaves. If you write them exactly in unison, you will often have the tenor in a higher register and it will sound higher than the trpt even though they are playing the exact concert-pitch notes.

Regarding low C# and D they are, if fact, sharp but don't worry about writing around these notes -it's up to the trumpet player to compensate.

Martin Williams
05-23-2008, 12:01 AM
Regarding low C# and D they are, if fact, sharp but don't worry about writing around these notes -it's up to the trumpet player to compensate.

Yeah, if they are even half decent they should know to kick out that 3rd valve slide, problem fixed!

riojazz
05-23-2008, 02:51 AM
Lots of great advice here so far. Flugelhorn and trumpet are my main instruments. Couple of random thoughts:

I love to play unison with a tenor sax on the flugelhorn, but less so with trumpet, where the octave difference sounds better.

About the upper range, since you're writing charts, you might consider the Kendor model, where they market the chart with that information, about what the top note is for the lead trumpet. Concert high C, or a written D for trumpet, is pretty normal.

Finally, if I had three trumpet players playing in unison, I think I would prefer to have ONE on the upper octave rather than two. The intonation differences of two players up top will be greater. The players can always switch off, like two trumpets in a pit orchestra would do when the lead player needs a break.

Mal 2
05-23-2008, 04:24 AM
Finally, if I had three trumpet players playing in unison, I think I would prefer to have ONE on the upper octave rather than two. The intonation differences of two players up top will be greater. The players can always switch off, like two trumpets in a pit orchestra would do when the lead player needs a break.

True with three trumpets, but at the top of the thread he said one trumpet and two saxes, in which case two up and one down often works better (unless it drives the alto out-of-tune high). That's why I advised as I did -- I never get the luxury of writing for more than two trumpets.

riojazz
05-26-2008, 02:22 AM
Yes, for two saxes and a trumpet, you're absolutely correct.

gary
05-26-2008, 08:47 AM
...one trumpet and two saxes, in which case two up and one down often works better...

One can't argue against something that works, so I'll just put it this way. I would almost never double the upper voice in this case. I prefer to not have the trumpet worry about matching the intonation and phrasing with another instrument doubling him and would use the two saxes in lower voices either in octaves or harmony, which also give better support to the trumpet.

Pete Thomas
05-26-2008, 09:19 AM
In addition to the great advice above, you've also got the possibilities of two part and three part.

If you have tpt, alto and tnr:

Two Part
You'd have the trumpet and tenor in octaves and alto playing a harmony part in between. This could be a more traditional 3rds or 6ths harmony. You choose whether 3rd or 6th depending on (a) how it fits the chord and (b) how melodically the harmony line moves.

Three Part
Tpt on melody, alto and tenor on a chord note below (if chord notes need to be omitted they should be less important notes - e.g. roots and 5ths rather than 3rds and 7th - these can be freely left out if there is a bass player).

This gets more involved when the melody goes through passing notes which you can either treat as suspensins very often or else right passing chords for the harmony parts.

More info on my site in the arranging pages (http://www.petethomas.co.uk/jazz-theory.html) and orchestration pages. (http://www.petethomas.co.uk/composition-brass.html)