When to respell enharmonically?

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Joined: 19 Sep 2018, 08:20

When to respell enharmonically?

Post by bicinium »

Dear Notatio,

I am arranging Robert Fuchs' double bass sonata whereby the piano becomes a woodwind quintet. It likes to modulate a lot and the piano already has double sharps, and this is exacerbated in the transposing parts. There are also instances where the piano transitions from sharps to flats but it causes a repeating pattern to be spelled in two different ways.

So my question is, how do I improve this for the wind parts? I have some rules in mind:

[*] Leave the solo bass part alone. Respelling pitches may cause it to be subconsciously practiced and played differently from the original.
[*] Make it so that identical, (almost) adjacent notes and patterns aren't spelled differently, perhaps causing different moments of transition from sharps to flats for each part
[*] For harmony analysis, one can refer to the original, but I should leave respelling to passages that are complex and fast-moving harmonically so as not to obfuscate simple cadences and progressions

Any thoughts?

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David Ward
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Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 19:50
Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Re: When to respell enharmonically?

Post by David Ward »

I suspect you're probably thinking along the right lines.

Enharmonics can be a quagmire. As it happens just two or three minutes ago I was noticing a vocal line I wrote in 2012 which has (in order) D sharp, F natural, F sharp. From the point of view of the vocal line alone E sharp would be better, but there is a theoretical harmonic reason for the F natural. I'll probably change it before the next printing as most singers I know read linearly not harmonically if the music is rather chromatic.

It's probably the same for most wind players.
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