Transposing claviers?

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Transposing claviers?

Postby TerryMcGee on Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:10 pm

In the harpsichord world, it's quite common these days to have transposing keyboards. This enables you to deal with playing in modern pitch, A440, "baroque pitch" A415 (really G#), and sometimes even "old French pitch", A390 (really G). The transposition process is quite quick and easy. Typically, you drop the keyboard, leaving the jacks hanging from the strings by their dampers, slide the keyboard in the desired direction, and lift the keyboard again. Voila, convenient transposition, and no need to touch the tuning.

I wondered if this has ever been attempted on carillon? I could see this being useful to carillons that are already transposed when playing with other instruments. Anyone aware of such a feature?

Terry
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Re: Transposing claviers?

Postby JohnGouwens on Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:32 pm

I believe the Eijsbouts carillon in Alverca, Portugal has some sort of adjustable transposition. I don't know the details. Since the action must be held under tension, it does entail (as I understand it) detaching and re-attaching the key from every single note.
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Re: Transposing claviers?

Postby TerryMcGee on Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:30 pm

Urk, that would be tedious!

I could envisage some sort of transposing box, at the bottom of the bellchamber. Maybe clamping bars would temporarily come into play, taking the tension of the down-wires, and the weight of the batons and adjustors. (That would be the equivalent of dropping the keyboard in the harpsichord.)

Then some lateral shift would take place, shunting the pull from the batons to the left-next down wire, instead of the right-next down wire. (The equivalent of shifting the harpsichord keyboard sideways.) Then the clamping bars would release, freeing the system for use.

The changeover system could be entirely mechanical, activated by one or more levers. Or electromechanical - just press a button on whichever end of the clavier you want to head towards. A faint whir, a clunk, and all over in a few seconds. Obviously, the transposition box should add no perceptible drag or uncertainty into the normal operation of the batons.

Terry
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Re: Transposing claviers?

Postby JohnGouwens on Sat Oct 25, 2014 2:53 am

Why go to all the trouble and expense of doing all this? Basically, most carillons are keyed so the lowest note is "C," whatever the actual pitch might be. If you have an instrument with a wildly extended bass range, I could sort of see having a choice in transposition, but otherwise, what's the point? If the carillon is at or above concert pitch, transposing down means you don't have low C. Who would want that?
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