A music question for @AshG (or anyone with the knowin')

#1

SpaceCoastVol

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#1
OK Ash…. (and anybody else that wants to chime in) I am asking a non political question of you since you are in the music teaching game. I have been playing guitar now for about 7 or 8 years, but I have a little bit of a jazz saxophone background. I played Bari sax in stage band in HS and afterwards in a couple of bands here and there. One thing I could never get my head around was how instruments could have ‘keys’. I always just accepted it and rolled with the flow. For example, an Eb Bari or Alto would play a Gmajor scale when warming up in concert C, whereas the Bb Tenor plays a Cmajor. There doesn’t seem to be any formula for determining this, and the relationship doesn’t have any pattern that I can discern. (G is a fifth away from C, whereas Eb is a minor third, and the Bb is a minor second). So here’s where my question rolls in: If I am going to pick my sax back up and play with a band again, let’s say the tune is a 12 bar blues in A. A7-D7-C7…. If I am playing my guitar, the most simple scale you can work around would be Am pentatonic. But what if I am playing the Bari? Since Am is the relative minor of Cmajor, it would seem to me that I should be playing the relative minor of Gmajor (concert C for the Bari)…. Eminor.

But isn’t an A an A an A? Notes are mathematically derived in a sense. If you look at a guitar tuner, it is essentially computing the number of vibrations of the string. Middle C (concert C?) has a frequency of 256 Hz. Wouldn’t that be the same regardless of the instrument? In order to play that note, you would have to vibrate the – sound I guess – at a freq of 256 Hz. So wouldn't an A on a BAri be the same as an A on the guitar/piano? But from the previous paragraph, we can see that it isn't. Concert C on the piano is a G on the (Eb) Bari/Alto or C on the (Bb) Tenor.

 
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#8

VolNExile

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#8
OK Ash…. (and anybody else that wants to chime in) I am asking a non political question of you since you are in the music teaching game. I have been playing guitar now for about 7 or 8 years, but I have a little bit of a jazz saxophone background. I played Bari sax in stage band in HS and afterwards in a couple of bands here and there. One thing I could never get my head around was how instruments could have ‘keys’. I always just accepted it and rolled with the flow. For example, an Eb Bari or Alto would play a Gmajor scale when warming up in concert C, whereas the Bb Tenor plays a Cmajor. There doesn’t seem to be any formula for determining this, and the relationship doesn’t have any pattern that I can discern. (G is a fifth away from C, whereas Eb is a minor third, and the Bb is a minor second). So here’s where my question rolls in: If I am going to pick my sax back up and play with a band again, let’s say the tune is a 12 bar blues in A. A7-D7-C7…. If I am playing my guitar, the most simple scale you can work around would be Am pentatonic. But what if I am playing the Bari? Since Am is the relative minor of Cmajor, it would seem to me that I should be playing the relative minor of Gmajor (concert C for the Bari)…. Eminor.

But isn’t an A an A an A? Notes are mathematically derived in a sense. If you look at a guitar tuner, it is essentially computing the number of vibrations of the string. Middle C (concert C?) has a frequency of 256 Hz. Wouldn’t that be the same regardless of the instrument? In order to play that note, you would have to vibrate the – sound I guess – at a freq of 256 Hz. So wouldn't an A on a BAri be the same as an A on the guitar/piano? But from the previous paragraph, we can see that it isn't. Concert C on the piano is a G on the (Eb) Bari/Alto or C on the (Bb) Tenor.

Does it have anything to do with *waves hands in air* the most basic open note on that instrument? By open, I mean a note that isn’t fretted or valved (is that what you call it on trumpets etc?)

Since I have no clue what pitches are produced when a brass or reed instrument is played, I’m completely spitballing here.

I play piano, but mainly I sing. We singers are fretless instruments! Vocal cords produce an infinite number of pitches along a scale, and when a choir or chorus is tired, all these different attempts at a Db, say, makes this pretty obvious! 🤓
 
#9

SpaceCoastVol

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#9
Does it have anything to do with *waves hands in air* the most basic open note on that instrument? By open, I mean a note that isn’t fretted or valved (is that what you call it on trumpets etc?)

Since I have no clue what pitches are produced when a brass or reed instrument is played, I’m completely spitballing here.

I play piano, but mainly I sing. We singers are fretless instruments! Vocal cords produce an infinite number of pitches along a scale, and when a choir or chorus is tired, all these different attempts at a Db, say, makes this pretty obvious! 🤓
A saxophone (matters not which variant) completely open is a C#. But I guess that particular flavor of C# is not a CONCERT C# and that is why it seems so confusing to me... thus the need for transposition.
 
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#10

VolNExile

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#10
A saxophone (matters not which variant) completely open is a C#. But I guess that particular flavor of C# is not a CONCERT C# and that is why it seems so confusing to me... thus the need for transposition.
It would drive me nuts. As a singer (an OLD singer) I instinctively sing whatever note is indicated on the music, without having to think about it or hunt for the pitch. Having to transpose would make me nuts. It’s bad enough when I sing with the tenors and their notes are written on the treble staff but an octave down. I always come in an octave high after I turn the page.
 
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