Transcription (music)

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Transcription (lat. Trans-scribere , literally "to write over") has different meanings in music:

The transformation of a piano piece into an orchestral version is called "instrumentation" or instrumentation or "orchestrating" or orchestration. In the areas of blues , jazz , rock and pop music as well as folk music , arrangements for other line-ups are called "arranging" and the result is called arrangement . The term arrangement is much broader and includes, for example, compositions in which a new work is put together from parts of different works.

Arrangements of musical works for a different line-up

Baroque music

In the music of the baroque - apart from in virtuoso solo parts - instrument-specific effects were not used so often; therefore it was usually easy to arrange a work for other instruments and so it was common. Johann Sebastian Bach already arranged his own and other works for new line-ups. His Sixteen Concerts for Harpsichord Solo ( BWV 972–987), for example, are works by foreign composers - six of these concerts are by Antonio Vivaldi , others by Benedetto Marcello and Georg Philipp Telemann .

Many transcriptions can also be found among Bach's Concerts for Harpsichord and Orchestra . The harpsichord concertos in D major and G minor are arrangements of his famous violin concertos . Conversely, thanks to these transfers, lost early versions could also be reconstructed - a well-known example is his Concerto for Violin and Oboe, which was reconstructed from a Concerto for two Harpsichords in C minor BWV 1060 .

In Leipzig, Bach initially had no opportunity to perform the instrumental concerts composed in Weimar and Köthen. This is how he used them in his cantatas: sometimes unchanged as instrumental introductions, but often he composed additional instrumental parts or vocal parts. This is the sinfonia of the cantata We thank you, God, we thank you BWV 29 a reworking of the Preludio from the Partita in E major for solo violin BWV 1006 . The organ takes on the violin part, and an extensive orchestral set of strings, oboes, three trumpets and timpani has been added.

Even George Frideric Handel edited his own works for new occupations. The best-known transcription is the Organ Concerto No. 13 “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale” (HWV 295). The two corner movements are based on the trio sonata for two violins and basso continuo op.5 No. 6 in F major. The second and third movements are based on the Concerto grosso op.6 No. 9 in F major. For the cuckoo parts in the second movement of the organ concert, Handel is said to have inspired the organ piece Capriccio sopra il cucu by Johann Caspar von Kerll .

Classical music

By Joseph Haydn an authentic piano version exists of the 2nd movement of the Emperor Quartet , titled Variations on the anthem " God Save " .

Already nine year old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart transferred sonatas by Johann Christian Bach concerts for piano, two violins and bass KV 107. Moreover Mozart Fugues from Bach's piano cycle directed The Well-Tempered Clavier for string trio (KV 404a) and string quartet one (KV 405).

Ludwig van Beethoven reworked his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, into a piano concerto for the pianist Muzio Clementi . He added a cadenza with a drum solo in the first movement and dedicated the concert to the wife of his friend Stephan von Breuning , the highly musical Julie, née Vering.

Transcriptions tend to play a subordinate role in classical music. In contrast, the composers very often resort to songs or opera melodies by foreign composers for their variations .

Romantic music

Carl Maria von Weber's invitation to dance is originally a piano piece in D flat major. However, Hector Berlioz and Felix von Weingartner 's translation of the piano piece into an orchestral piece is much more popular than Weber's original because of the splendor of the many timbres.

With Franz Liszt , not only a brilliant virtuoso, but also an arranger of many foreign and own works appeared in public. In 1830 he introduced the term transcription for piano transcriptions that “stand between a more or less strict arrangement and a free 'fantasy'” (Raabe, quoted from Brockhaus-Riemann). He arranged his transcriptions in a virtuoso manner in the spirit of romanticism. In Liszt's oeuvre, transcriptions are a separate group of works, whereby here he is between arrangements, fantasies, reminiscences; A distinction is made between illustrations, paraphrases, piano reductions and transcriptions. He transcribed organ works by Bach, the nine symphonies by Beethoven, songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy etc. and operatic melodies by Auber, Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner etc. for the piano. A particularly brilliant transcription is the first Mephisto waltz from his own orchestral score, Episodes from Lenau's Faust for a virtuoso piano piece.

Johannes Brahms arranged two pieces for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach for piano: The Presto from the Sonata in G minor and the Chaconne from the Partita in D minor. The Brahmian arrangement of a gavotte from Christoph Willibald Gluck's Paris and Helena once often served as an encore . As Opus 56b, Brahms published the orchestral variations on a theme by Haydn in a version for two pianos.

Even Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst , an admirer of the music of Franz Schubert , transcribed some of Schubert's works, so that they can perform well in small concert halls.

Edvard Grieg made piano reductions of his two Peer Gynt suites himself . He wrote the composition Hochzeitstag auf Troldhaugen as both a piano and an orchestral piece. Modest Mussorgsky wrote his pictures for an exhibition as a piano cycle. The orchestration of this composition by Maurice Ravel is very colorful and nuanced . Both versions can be heard in the concert hall these days.

20th century

At the turn of the century, Ferruccio Busoni was a major advocate of transcription. In his draft of a new aesthetic of music , he writes about it:

“Transcription: currently a rather misunderstood, almost shameful term. The frequent opposition, which often aroused unreasonable criticism in me, led me to try to gain clarity on this point. What I finally think about it is: every notation is already a transcription of an abstract idea. The moment the pen takes hold of it, the thought loses its original shape. The intention to write down the idea already requires the choice of time signature and key. The means of form and sound, which the composer has to choose, increasingly determine the path and the limits. It's similar to humans. Born naked and with as yet indeterminable inclinations, he makes up his mind or is driven to the decision at a given moment to choose a career. Some of the indestructible originals of the idea or of the human being may continue to exist: they are nevertheless depressed as a type of class. The idea becomes a sonata or a concert, the person becomes a soldier or priest. This is an arrangement of the original. The step from this first to a second transcription is relatively short and unimportant. But generally only the second fuss is made. One overlooks the fact that a transcription does not destroy the original version, i.e. that the original version does not lose it. Even the performance of a work is a transcription, and this too can - no matter how free it may be - never remove the original from the world. - Because the musical work of art is there, whole and intact, before it is heard and after it has passed. It is at once in and outside of time, and it is its essence that can give us a tangible idea of ​​the otherwise incomprehensible concept of the ideality of time. Incidentally, most of Beethoven's piano compositions appear like transcripts from the orchestra, most of Schumann's orchestral works like transcriptions from the piano - and in a certain way are. "

Busoni mainly transferred various works by Bach to the piano: the transfer of the Chaconne in D minor for solo violin to the piano is important. Most of the arrangements, however, are organ works: he transmitted chorale preludes, the prelude and fugue in D major BWV 532, and the organ toccatas in C major and D minor BWV 564/565. In these works, Busoni developed a great deal of inventive talent in transferring the organ sound to the piano and imitating organ registers. In addition to Bach, Busoni wrote piano transcriptions on compositions by Goldmark, Liszt, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Mozart and Offenbach.

Leopold Stokowski , organist for ten years, rewrote dozens of Bach's works for symphony orchestra, from the aria Es ist vollbracht from the St. John Passion and the song Come, sweet death to the cantata Wachet up, the voice calls us , the toccata in D minor to the Passacaglia in c minor , as well as La cathédrale engloutie from the first book of Preludes of Debussy .

The Trois mouvements de Petrouchka for piano by Igor Stravinsky are one of the most difficult and virtuoso works in piano literature. This transcription is based on the first conception of the work: Here Petrushka was originally intended as a concertante piece for piano and orchestra. The piano is supposed to "represent a puppet suddenly endowed with life, which teases the orchestra with diabolical fanfares, while the orchestra responds with threatening fanfares". Sergei Diaghilev took up this idea immediately and persuaded Stravinsky to turn it into a ballet. Only episodes remained for the piano as an orchestral solo instrument. Stravinsky composed the piano transcription in 1921 and dedicated it to the pianist Arthur Rubinstein . The first movement is the Russian dance . In the second movement, Chez Petrouchka , Stravinski's idea of ​​the keyboard instrument can be clearly recognized: C major versus F sharp major, white versus black keys. The third movement, La semaine grasse, places high demands on the player in terms of jumping and striking technique. Stravinsky uses up to four systems to notate the last movement.

The composers of the New Vienna School also wrote transcriptions of works by older composers. Arnold Schönberg transcribed waltzes by Johann Strauss (son) for interesting and unusual chamber music ensembles: Schönberg arranged the waltzes Lagunenwalzer und Rosen aus dem Süd for harmonium, piano and string quartet, and the Kaiserwalzer for flute, clarinet, piano and string quartet. Schönberg transcribed a serenade by Schubert for clarinet, mandolin, guitar and string quartet. He arranged the serenade D 889 for voice, clarinet, bassoon, mandolin, guitar and string quartet.

Anton von Webern performed the Ricercata a 6 voci from Johann Sebastian Bach's musical offering for orchestra. He viewed Bach's work from the perspective of his own style and on the basis of a strict thematic structure. So he split the nine-bar fugue theme into three instruments. During the total of twelve themed sessions, the grouping of instruments changes depending on the pitch of the voice, but not the structure of the fugue theme. This procedure is known as timbre melody , a term that Arnold Schönberg introduced in 1911 with his theory of harmony .

Transferring music into notation

Areas of application

The transfer of acoustically perceived music into musical notation is necessary, for example, in ethnomusical sound and music recordings, whereby the transfer of music from one cultural area into the standard musical notation of another can be problematic due to loss of information. But it is also needed in the field of jazz improvisation or for performances by artists who do not know notation themselves. For example, Anton Karas , the composer of the film music for The Third Man, could not notate music - the printed version of the music was transcribed from his zither game.

Automatic music transcription

Since the end of the 20th century, researchers around the world have been looking into ways of teaching computers to transcribe music. The automatic music transcription is an application of the music information retrieval . A variety of algorithms for instrument separation, beat detection, melody and harmony recognition are linked to one another.

Sub-problems to be solved represent the following areas:

  • Note initial recognition (Engl. Onset Detector )
  • Rhythmic analysis (time signature, beat , note types)
  • Pitch recognition (Engl. Pitch Estimation )
    • unanimous (monophonic)
    • polyphonic
  • Harmonic analysis (chords)
  • Instrument recognition

In Germany, various universities and colleges, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology and the AudioLabs of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits , deal with the research field.

In the meantime, commercial software is also available which extracts so-called metadata from recorded audio material and thus enables the user to perform semi-automatic transcription. Semi-automatic because manual corrections or additional information are often required.

software Manufacturer distribution
AudioScore Ultimate Neuratron M3C
capella wave kit capella software capella software
IntelliScore Innovative Music Systems Innovative Music Systems
Melodyne editor with DNA Celemony Celemony
WIDI ( W ave to M IDI ) Widisoft Midimaster
Songs2See Editor Fraunhofer IDMT Songquito UG

In addition to the stand-alone programs mentioned above, some sequencers , including Cubase ( Vari-Audio ), have functions for converting audio into MIDI . There are also VST plugins that focus on individual tasks, e.g. B. specialize in transcribing percussion.

Web links

Commons : Transcription (music)  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Leopold Stokowski Orchestrations (English)
  2. Doris Stockmann: The transcription in the music ethnology: history, problems, methods. In: Acta Musicologica. Volume 51, 1979, pp. 204-245.
  3. ^ Bruno Nettl : The Study of Ethnomusicology. Twenty-nine issues and concepts. University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago 1983, ISBN 0-252-01039-6 , pp. 65-68 and 77-81.
  4. ^ Gerd Castan: Audio to MIDI Programs. 2012, accessed April 15, 2012 .