How to play this on the violin?
March 5, 2009 9:17 PM   Subscribe

How to transpose cello music for violin?

I have been asked to accompany the groom when he sings this song to his new wife. Bonus points for free download of the sheet music with violin arrangements.
posted by sconbie to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
oops... forgot to mention the song is by Damien Rice!
posted by sconbie at 9:18 PM on March 5, 2009

Just play it on your violin! You have D, G, and A strings at the same intervals as a cello, so everything (positions and fingerings) should translate directly as long as you are aware of the tonality to account for flats or sharps. Granted, this is the most ridiculous way I've ever seen to transcribe music, but you shouldn't have any trouble figuring it out with the help of the groom.

Playing in 4th position on a violin isn't really convenient for something as simple on a violin, but once you get the melody down you should be able to come up with your own fingerings very easily.
posted by halogen at 9:22 PM on March 5, 2009

I'm not sure you need to transpose. String instruments play in concert pitch don't they?. I know guitar and electric bass do, so I assume violins, violas, and cellos do too. If you can find a list of the chords played on the guitar in the song you could just play the root notes of those chords and be good.

Is it just you accompanying? Are their other string players playing along?
posted by tylerfulltilt at 9:25 PM on March 5, 2009

Violin and cello both play in concert pitch, so making the violin music into cello music is as simple as changing the clef and keeping the notes the same. A is still A, etc, they just need to be moved to their proper lines and spaces from the treble clef in the violin music to the bass clef for cello music.
posted by Chan at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2009

Depends if you want to play it in the same postion or the same key. If you just want to play in the same position then halogen's suggestion is fine.

However the groom will probably be expecting to sing the song in the same key that Damien Rice does. In which case all you need to do is take the cello music (if you have it) and transcribe it to the treble clef. Take the lowest note on the cello (C) and make that C on the Violin's G string and you should be fine. Remember to preserve your intervals. You will be playing the same thing, just two octaves higher, albeit with completely different fingering.
posted by awfurby at 9:51 PM on March 5, 2009

use this page to figure out what the cello positions correspond to.
posted by Bistle at 10:20 PM on March 5, 2009

Honestly, since that transcription you've linked is in some sort of godawful cello TAB format... I'd try to find a cello player who'll play it and suss out what the actual notes are. They can then transcribe it into actual musical notation.

(It really, really drives me crazy that people can play music but refuse to learn to read it. I'll forgive somebody who really, literally plays by ear. But, in about the time it takes to learn a single song by TAB you can learn to read music. Seriously. Learn the note of one line and fucking count up and down from there. Then spend another twenty minutes learning what the different note durations look like. I learned this shit in two piano lessons when I was five.)

I know guitar and electric bass do, so I assume violins, violas, and cellos do too.

Uh... no? Or maybe, but one of us is confused about what "concert pitch" means.

I admit my music theory is pretty rusty, but... my upright and electric basses are strung E-A-D-G (from low to high), so it's in 4ths. A violin is strung the opposite way (GDAE, from low to high), so it's in 5ths. That is not equivalent.

However, a cello is strung like a violin.
posted by Netzapper at 12:06 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I played the cello for nine years and had to develop a familiarity with all three commonly used clefs. I might be able to transpose that. Memail me.
posted by kldickson at 4:38 AM on March 6, 2009

... oh cripes, i can't transpose this.
posted by kldickson at 5:07 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Netzapper, I was always told that concert pitch meant that there was no transposition required to play written music. So if the Double bass were required to place a C then the sheet music would only have to have C written on the page. But this is not the case for all instruments. Brass instruments require transposition.

Take a Bb trumpet for example. If a trumpeter would need to play a C on his Bb trumpet, then he would have to have written on the page an Eb. If he were to play a C on his instrument it would play as a Bb, his instuments natural sounding pitch. My notes may be off but you get the idea.

The OP asked for help transposing, which she doesn't need to do. If the cello music calls for a C then she needs to play a C as well, just in a different octave and in a different place on the neck.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 6:11 AM on March 6, 2009

(pssst--tylerfulltiltto play a concert C on a Bb trumpet, you play a D)
posted by plinth at 7:32 AM on March 6, 2009

I was also a cellist for something like nine years, so even thought that "tab" thing is the most bass-ackward way I've ever seen of doing it, I could probably write it out in standard notation for you.
posted by Madamina at 7:39 AM on March 6, 2009

However, a cello is strung like a violin.

No... Violins are GDAE, cello and viola are CGDA. Still fifths, but tuned a fifth lower.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2009

I know guitar and electric bass do, so I assume violins, violas, and cellos do too.

Uh... no? Or maybe, but one of us is confused about what "concert pitch" means.

It's you. Concert pitch means the written note is the same note that sounds. A violin plays a C and it sounds as a C -- a Bb trumpet plays a C and it sounds as a Bb. All string instruments play at concert pitch, more or less -- guitar and bass actually sound an octave lower than they're written, but they aren't generally considered transposing instruments.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:59 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Someone's done a violin solo on it here. You might be able to copy it, it doesn't sound too technical.
posted by Not Supplied at 11:56 AM on March 6, 2009

After trying to transpose the cello tabs, I evetually ended up listening to the Youtube link suggested by Not Supplied and just copying that. Thanks all for your ideas.
posted by sconbie at 7:09 PM on March 9, 2009

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