Obviously, going from an orchestral score to a piano duet score is hard in general. But I am running into some difficulties with transposition. 2 instruments I am transposing are Bb clarinet and A trumpet. Usually, this isn't hard. But I have run into a spot where it differs a lot depending on whether or not it is down a third or down 3 notes on the scale. The Bb clarinet note looks like a D so I know it is C. The A trumpet note looks like a D as well. Usually, I would transpose it to B, down a third. But this leads to a minor second. This isn't so bad in an orchestral texture. But in a piano duet, it is quite noticeable and quite dissonant.

Here is the chord I am going to get if I go with my usual transposition:






As you can see, the bottom 4 notes are a B major chord. But it has a C mixed in with it. This not only makes there be a second interval between the C and the B, but also between the C and the D#(thankfully, these notes are several octaves away so the second won't be noticeably dissonant, the top B though is only 1 octave away so it will be noticeably dissonant), and a tritone between the C and the F#. I think that the tritone will be very noticeably dissonant, even with the F# being 3 octaves away from the C.

If I go with a 3 notes down the scale transposition, the top B becomes an A. Same dissonance level but with different notes(2 seconds and 1 tritone). I don't think I want this level of dissonance in a piano duet. But if I change the top note, it won't go to F# as it is supposed to before the A section starting with the G major chord comes back.

Now what? If changing the transposition of the A trumpet line won't work and I can't change the notes in the Bb clarinet line, how am I going to avoid the mixed major/diminished sound from the tritone with the top note and the major chord? How else can I make it not so dissonant, especially since the chord has 2 seconds along with the tritone? Or will the tritone not be noticeably dissonant with the F# being 3 octaves away from the C and thus I won't get much of a diminished sound?

Here is the score I am transcribing. Measure 22 on page 26 is where I am getting trouble related to dissonance.


1 Answer 1


How does it come that you encounter this problem of dissonnance only in bar 22? How did you transcribe the first bars at the beginning of the secound part?

The solution is very simple: in the 1st movement the clarinet parts are set for Bb clarinet, in the 2nd movement they have to use A clarinets. That means: in the 2nd movement both instruments (clar. & trp.) play the same voice.

Comment to your answers below: Are you doing the transcription with a computer program a) or by hand b) ? In the first case it must have sounded the same dissonant as in bar 22 if you did it correct (considering there were Bb clarinets, as the clar, and trp). Play in unison from the beginning ... and as you transposed the Bb clar. a secound up and the A trp. a small third up there must always have been a small second. the C played by a Bb clarinet doesn‘t sound as a B it is actually a Bb (flat)

I‘ve googled this site in imslp: you‘ll find several arrangements for four hands or 2 pianos and also for only 1 piano:https://imslp.org/wiki/The_Nutcracker_(suite),Op.71a(Tchaikovsky,_Pyotr) I‘ve downloaded now the transcription for four hands from imslp. I think they are both useful.

  • By the way: Why transcribe this piece again for 4hands piano? The excerpts for piano surely exist already in ismlp, probably in the same site ( see transcriptions and arrangements). If you are not doing this job as a task for reading and understanding partition scores, you could also download the midifile in classical music archives or any chaikowsky midi site and look at it in a notation program like note worthy ore mus score. Some grograms like finale of klemm contain a tool where you can choose a piano extract. Dec 29, 2018 at 7:14
  • I did look at the transcriptions and arrangements and only saw 1 piano duet transcription. I also know that not every transcription is the same. And, wait a second, you're saying that what I think is a C in concert pitch in the clarinet line is actually a B? Also, yes, I was able to transcribe the first bars of the second section of the march using the Bb transposition without any dissonance issues. The score I'm looking at just says Clarinet 1 and Clarinet 2 so I assumed it was Bb clarinet throughout because usually when I just see Clarinet with no key indication, it is a Bb clarinet.
    – Caters
    Dec 29, 2018 at 8:43
  • Now that I look over the score again, I see that the march section that I am starting my transcription with(I will get the overture in there at some point but it is the hardest movement to transcribe I think out of the entire suite) does indeed use the A clarinet. So that means that I have to bring all the notes I transcribed using the Bb transposition down 1 more step in the scale. How come I didn't notice this problem until bar 22? How come it sounded so consonant right until I reached bar 22?
    – Caters
    Dec 29, 2018 at 8:59
  • Are you doing the transcriptio with a computer program a) or by hand b) ? Dec 29, 2018 at 9:15
  • Kind of both? I mean I input the transcription into musescore and use it for playback but I don't directly use musescore to transcribe it. I transcribe it first in my head(because I have a great memory and am good at doing some tasks mentally including transcription). Then I input those transcribed notes into musescore which I can then listen to.
    – Caters
    Dec 29, 2018 at 10:17

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