I am transposing for guitar a trumpet jazz piece. I know I have to move all the notes one step down, but I am not familiar with the rest of the trumpet world.

Above some of the notes on the music sheet is written "H.V." which means "Half-valve". In a different question here (What does H.V. mean in music notation?), someone answered:

Half - valve:

the opening of stops or valves on instruments like the trumpet, French horn, cornet and tuba, used by jazz musicians when they are approaching a glissando, attempting to change the pitch of a tone without hitting the note or its closest interval, and in the process of highlighting blue notes, for vibrato effects and tremolos

This description is too technical for me. I am not sure how to translate that on the guitar. I imagine it's a bend, a pull off or a trill, but I'm only guessing. If someone here is familiar with both guitar and valve instruments, as well as the above terminology, could you please explain it to me in simple guitar terms? Thanks!

  • Can you add a scan of the music you're adapting? – Brian THOMAS Dec 12 '17 at 12:54
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    Technically, if you want the guitar to sound at pitch with the trumpet, you need to move all of the music up a minor-7th. (Guitar is a transposing instrument). – jjmusicnotes Dec 13 '17 at 5:51
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    The trumpet part sounds a tone lower than written because the trumpet is a transposing instrument. So to get the guitar part to sound the same pitches as the trumpet part, the guitar part will need to be written a tone lower (not higher) than the trumpet part. – Brian THOMAS Dec 13 '17 at 12:54
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    Video that demonstrates the technique (in the abstract): youtu.be/u9fnlRF56lM – Dave Dec 13 '17 at 18:20

On trumpet, the way a 'half valve' is done varies widely between players and can also depend upon if the note is held in place, or moves up/down to another note. The genre of music also is a variable. It's often used in various forms of jazz playing, almost never in classical or 'concert band' repertoire.

The term 'glissando' is what happens when you slide between two notes, but you want the transition to happen slowly, instead of instantly like in a normal 'slur' where it happens quickly, without using the tongue to articulate the note sharply. Sometimes that is done with a half-valve approach as well, occasionally players will finger rapidly through the intervening notes on the way, like a fast chromatic scale. The closest thing on a string instrument like the guitar is probably sliding the hand noticeably up/down the neck between notes to draw out the transitions. Stevie Ray Vaughan (and many other blues guitarists) use(d) that technique quite often.

Some trumpet players use just one valve slightly depressed (usually the third) and not even quite half way for a simple effect on a note. Perhaps one of the most famous uses of the technique is for the 'horse whinny' at the end of the Christmas song "Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson. It's an extended version of it, where the trumpet player tries to sound like an actual horse. There are also percussion instruments used to sound likes whips cracking, hooves clacking on the ground, etc.

In jazz music it's done in a lot of different situations, which may alter the pitch, or may only be used to make the note much less loud relative to those around it. Some players even use it while 'ghosting' notes so the note is there, but almost inaudible.

When you're transcribing to a new instrument, you do not have to keep every articulation mark if it doesn't make sense for the new one. Listen to a recording of the original, if possible, and come up with something on the guitar that would give a similarly interesting effect, and use that instead if necessary.


I would compare this to a bend in the guitarr world.

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    On the other hand I realize that a bend changes very much the pitch. That is not necessarily so in a H.V. case. If you listen to some of Carl Saunders work - trumpet player - you will hear the H.V. things he does. – Lasse Dec 12 '17 at 13:38
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    I am a trumpet player and would agree that this is comparable with a guitar bend. – Ben Hughes Dec 12 '17 at 20:38

Half-valving destroys the resonance of the trumpet and allows you to play any continuous pitch (with a thin, pinched tone). The technique can be used for several different gestures. It can be used for a long glissando that doesn't "snap" into discrete pitches along the way, or it can be used to add all sorts of bends onto notes.

If it's the long glissando, you're just gonna have to write a guitar glissando, which will sound a little different. For the note bends, those might be done on guitar with bends, or if they're large enough they might work better as hammer-ons/pull-offs. It's really up to you as the arranger to figure out what's best. I usually prefer to write music in an open way and let the guitarist figure out what he wants to do with it.

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    Good answer however perhaps not suitable. The asker had to ask this question as was unsure of technical terminology in a previous question... your answer is just as technically confusing. – Ben Hughes Dec 12 '17 at 20:37

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