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Re: Concert Pitch (a second try)

From: Anthony W. Youngman
Subject: Re: Concert Pitch (a second try)
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 10:51:25 +0100
User-agent: Turnpike/6.05-U (<0sW6TxP4PTi8i3mvamc+2+8CNr>)

In message <address@hidden>, Peter Chubb <address@hidden> writes
I reckon it'd be better to split the whole thing  into three entries.
Whether an instrument transposes or not has nothing to do with concert pitch.

I'm reasonably happy with this, and am happy to wait for Kurt to chime in, with the following proviso - I think many of these entries should lead the reader towards further research if they need it. I'll comment by each entry.

Here's my rough try at the three entries:

Concert Pitch:
Notes like a, b, c etc., describe a relationship between themselves,
not an absolute pitch.  The nature of the relationship is the
so-called temperament (q.v.).  To be in tune, a group instruments must agree
on the relationship between pitches *and* the absolute pitch of one of
the notes.  In recent times that pitch, `concert pitch' has been
defined as 440Hz for the A above middle C, with other notes arranged
according to the temperament being used.

Mention that concert pitch is often taken to mean "an agreed standard" rather than the official definition, and that there are other standards around.

Temperament: the relationship between different pitches in a scale.
In the simplest case, an *equal-tempered* system has notes whose
frequencies are in the ratio of the twelfth root of two.  Such a
system always sounds out-of-tune, because thirds, fourths and fifths
are not exact ratios.  However it is widely used because all notes are
equally spaced, regardless of the starting note of a scale.

Transposing Instrument:  If an instrument is usually notated at a
pitch other than its sounding pitch (whether out of tradition, or for
the convenience of the player) it is said to be a *transposing
instrument.*  Bes and A Clarinets, many brass instruments, and some saxophones
are transposing instruments.

Where do we put stuff about the meaning of "Bb Trombone in Bb". That ought to be in a lilypond manual somewhere. Maybe we should have a "Basic Elements of Notation"? But so many people get it wrong (me included :-) my colleagues moan at me for marking music as "Bb Trombone" when it's in C!), and while I know lilypond makes fixing it dead easy, it's a bit of a disaster to plonk some music in front of a player and then the rehearsal goes all wonky because the person who laid out the music got all the conventions wrong and the player's reading it in the wrong pitch!

The other comment I'd make is that my rewrite attempted not to stray too far from what is currently in the glossary.

Dr Peter Chubb  peterc AT           ERTOS within National ICT Australia
A university is a non-profit organisation only in the sense that it
spends everything it gets  ... Luca Turin.

Anthony W. Youngman - address@hidden

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