5 - Transposing Music and Printing It In A New Key
Music and Printing It In A New Key
I speak to a lot of musicians that want to know how they can transpose songs and print out the music in a new key. A very common source for this type of inquiry comes from church music ministers. It seems that a common bond is shared among music ministers -much of the music in their church library or hymnal is in the “wrong” key for the choir and/or congregation! It sure would be handy to be able to reprint these songs in any key, anytime, for any instrument or vocalist wouldn’t it? Indeed, this is certainly possible. This is one of the primary reasons why many musicians become involved with MIDI and music software in the first place -so they don’t have to write parts and transpositions by hand, time after time.
In this article, you will be able to “watch” me as I go through the steps involved in transposing an actual score (a church hymn), using music software and a MIDI-equipped PC.
Here is a list of the tools I will be using...
• Computer - Pentium 120mHz, 16MB RAM, running Windows™ ver. 3.1
• Software - Finale® Notation Software for Windows™
• MIDI Interface - SoundBlaster SB16 with a Gameport-to-MIDI adapter cable
• MIDI Keyboard...49-key Desktop MIDI keyboard controller
Here are the 5 main steps we will follow as we go through the process of transposing our score...
STEP 1 - SELECT THE MUSIC AND
CHOOSE A MUSIC ENTRY METHOD
You can see that it is written in the key of Eb and consists of four parts; two parts on the treble clef staff and two in the bass clef. This is typical of “hymnal style” because it is arranged as a four-part vocal (SATB) score, as well as a basic piano/organ score. I will stay with this format and input the music for each part, one at a time, keeping each in its own individual “voice”. In the Finale software, I can specify and “color code” each voice (part) I am working with. This makes it easy to keep track of the different layers of voices as I go. I will input the music exactly as written and let the software transpose it for me later. As with all notation software products, there are choices on how to “get the music into the computer”. Finale has the following 4 main methods of music entry. Here are some brief descriptions of the different methods.
1. SIMPLE NOTE ENTRY
2. SPEEDY NOTE ENTRY
Without MIDI...hold an alpha key on the computer keypad to assign the pitch, then press a numeric key to assign the note a duration value
3. HYPERSCRIBE ENTRY
4. MIDI FILE IMPORT
Personally, I normally use a combination of Hyperscribe and Speedy Note (with MIDI) to input music into Finale. However, today I’ll be using only Speedy Note Entry to input the music. This is the method most commonly used by Finale users who are “copying” existing music for the purpose of transposition or publishing a score. I think the main reason this method is so popular is that anyone (i.e.; non-keyboard players) can input music quickly and easily. By the way, the most recent edition of The Baptist Hymnal was published with Finale using the Speedy Note Entry method. NOTE: I timed myself as I re-published this score, with the time noted at each of the step headings.
STEP 2 - SETUP THE BLANK SCORE
and INPUT THE MUSIC “AS IS” INTO THE FINALE NOTATION SOFTWARE
Next, I add the appropriate number of measures using the Measure Tool (see Fig. 3).
This completes the blank score setup and we are now ready for note input. As we proceed, you will notice in the following illustrations, that the score is displayed in a continuous horizontal line from left to right. This is called “scroll view”. I will stay in this view as I work until the last step, when I will then go into “page view”.
I'll use a Desktop MIDI keyboard connected to the computer for Speedy Note input (see Fig. 5).
Starting with the soprano part, I'll select voice 1 then select the Speedy Note Entry Tool and click on the first measure to begin entering the music (see Fig. 6).
The first note of the soprano part is a quarter note Eb. To enter the note, I hold down Eb on the MIDI keyboard and press the number 5 on my computer keypad to give it a quarter note value (see Fig. 7).
I'll input each note in this way, holding the note pitch on the MIDI keyboard and assigning the note value with the computer's numeric keypad, until the entire soprano part (voice 1) is entered. This is an extremely efficient way of getting all the notes in, and once you get on a roll, it goes rather quickly. That's why it's called Speedy Note Entry! I repeat the process for each of the remaining three parts, voices 2, 3, and 4 (see Fig. 8).
STEP 3 - TRANSPOSE TO THE DESIRED
Now I select Change/Key from the Mass Edit Window (see Fig. 10).
I’ll choose my desired key transposition, in this case, I want to transpose down a half step to the Key of D (see Fig. 11).
The entire score is automatically transposed and re-notated automatically in a matter of seconds (see Fig. 12).
STEP 4 - ENTER LYRICS AND
This allows me to type in all the verses in a “mini” word processor from within Finale (see Fig. 14).
After all the verses have been typed in, I "click assign" each syllable of each verse to the appropriate note in the score (see Fig. 15).
The software will automatically re-space the music (to correct any syllable collisions) by using the Mass Mover Music Spacing Options (see Fig. 16).
I'll then select Update Layout from the edit menu to finalize the new note spacing allotment (see Fig. 17).
STEP 5 - PAGE LAYOUT AND DETAILS
Now I'll arrange the staffs until I am happy with the overall appearance of the score on the page (see Fig. 19).
Finally, I enter the title, credits, slurs, turn off the measure numbers, add the final barline, and proofread the score (see Fig. 20). Done! Now I can print the score in the new key and hand out the professional results to the Church Choir!
From start to finish, it took me just under 3/4 of an hour to enter all the musical elements (including lyrics), transpose, and print out this hymn. Many musicians may have been able to transpose and rewrite the music to this score faster by hand, although probably not by much if all four verses are written by hand also! Be that as it may, there are significant and distinct advantages to doing this with notation software instead...
Notation software has become an almost indispensable tool for thousands of musicians. It’s hard to remember what it was like being without it! The convenience of being able to publish and print your own musical scores “in house” is truly a blessing!
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