So I am trying to pick up my violin again after years of neglect and learning to read sheet music. Look at examples of the the same music, one for piano and one for violin, the notes even on the treble clef are different. The piano seems to be set one note lower, just comparing note for note. Is this usually the case?

I have sheet music explicitly for my violin, but looking at sheet music for piano, I started playing and hitting the same notes. It didn't seem right, and then I compared it with the sheet music for the violin and noticed the difference. Am I imagining things?

Example piano sheet music

Example violin sheet music for same song.

Notice the first note is a G on the violin, but an F on the piano?

  • I dont think thats the issue, I have a digital tuner. Its when I played the piano music "as-is" when I noticed the actual notes were different. See the linked examples. – bitshift May 2 '17 at 2:05
  • Sorry about the misfire, @bitshift, I've deleted – lauir May 2 '17 at 2:14

The two arrangements of the hymn are in different keys - one in B flat, the other in C.

The two different arrangements, presumably made by different people, were never intended to be used together.

If you set the drop-down "Instrument/Format" menu on the hymnary.org site to "violin", you will see an arrangement (for three violins, not one!) that is in the same key of B flat.

It is quite common for vocal music to be printed in different keys, because different singers' voices have different ranges. In hymn books, you sometimes find the same tune used for different hymns but printed in different keys, so that musicians who can't transpose "at sight" can choose which key they want to use.

  • I wonder if my 19 second lead will do my answer any good. :-) – Todd Wilcox May 2 '17 at 2:18
  • Well, I had typed most of mine before yours was posted, so I hit "send" anyway. Who cares about a few rep points either way ;) – user19146 May 2 '17 at 2:20
  • 1
    Easy for us 10k+ users to say! ;-) – Todd Wilcox May 2 '17 at 2:41
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    Don't worry, I've voted both of you up! – Tim May 2 '17 at 7:26

The two different scores are in two different keys.

The "piano" score is actually for SATB chorus/choir, and is notated in the key of Bb major most likely because it is more comfortable for most singers and/or the original version of it was written in that key.

The violin score is written in C major, probably because it's an easy key to read, write, play, and transpose from.

An excellent exercise for learning more about music would be to transcribe the violin part a whole step down (into the key of Bb major) to match the piano. And/or you could practice transposing on the fly, playing the violin part a whole step lower than written.

  • +1 for suggesting reasons why the arrangements might be in the stated keys. – Rosie F Sep 22 '19 at 18:28

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