This week's assignment from my violin teacher is Dvorak's Humoresque No7. As I'm a "good beginner" (started playing 17 months ago) he gave me the easier G transposition rather than the original, more difficult version, in G♭. As usual I looked for some examples on YouTube and found this hauntingly beautiful rendition by Augustin Hadelich. Out of curiosity as to what the score he was playing looked like compared to what I would be learning I downloaded the score from IMSLP and was surprised at what I saw comparing the two scores.
Here is the start of my simpler score in G -
and here is the start of the "grown up" score in G♭ -
What I found remarkable was that apart from the different key signatures they appear musically identical. Exactly the same notes appear in exactly the same place on the staff. Surely, I thought, this cannot be. The tunes should be different because the key signatures are different. Then I started working out the differences between adjacent notes in half-note, full-note terms in the two pieces and realized that they are essentially identical apart from one being half a note lower than the other throughout. OK, the G♭ version has some tricky double-stop sections later on which don't appear in the G version, but most of the notes are the same apart from the half note difference.
This is basically because in G all the notes are natural apart from F which is sharp and in G♭ all the notes are flat apart from F which is natural.
Which begs the question - why write it in G♭ instead of G? Is this supposed to be "humorous", a joke on the name of the piece? The only other meaningful difference I can think of is that for the violin in G all the G's, D's, A's and E's will ring because their associated open strings will vibrate in sympathy whereas in G♭ all these notes will be flat and so won't ring and this may affect the mood.