October 5, 2010

Transcribing a Sousa march

Last night I started the real work of my latest transcription: Sousa's George Washington Bicentennial March. This is my second Sousa, after The Liberty Bell. I really like this march; I heard it on a tape in childhood, and the themes popped up in my head from time to time. Recently I rediscovered it. It seems to be a relatively obscure one; I'm excited to work on it.

I started a thread about transcription on PIPORG-L. This piece has some tricky texture with multiple prominent lines, which apparently is a typical issue in the theater-organ/transcription world. Thumbing down is one possible technique; I see Cameron Carpenter doing a fair bit of this in Stars and Stripes Forever. Second touch is also a possibility. The technology is an issue, though: real second touch hardware is extremely expensive. It can be emulated with aftertouch, but even this is only available on higher-end keyboards. I believe it's also possible to use velocity values for this, but without having tried it, it sounds like it would be intolerably sloppy.

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