INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Harmonium Forum: it's the "Alto" clef


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it's the "Alto" clef Sep 23, 2001 12:24 a.m.

Since i've started writing down a few of the accompaniments that i'm playing on harmonium, it's become apparent to me that i've come back home where i started out; that is, in Viola clef, or Alto clef, or C clef. The black sheep clef i call it too, just like the viola was called int the 19th century and the earlier part of this century too. The reason for that is because it is such a physically damanding instrument to play and the only ones who could Really play it well were the Great violinists. Thus it was rare for there to be an accomplished Violist who started from viola at the very beginning, instead of having started on the violin and then switched over later. It was a rare breed of determined players who just started on the viola to play it because it was such a beautiful singing sonorous dark rich sounding qualities. Getting sidetracked again i am here, here is the Harmonium and really most of the accompaniments that i play are centered around middle C, and rarely do i play anything say more than and octave above or an octave below. So it also seems that most people don'really know Alto clef, because all the schools mostly teach is treble or bass clef. It's so convenient and easy to write in because all the notes are in the middle of the staff as opposed to having to write by hand 2 or 3 ledger lines above or below the staff. So maybe i will rename this clef now, "the Harmonium" clef..... or the "HanumanBaba" clef... even better!
Re:it's the "Alto" clef Sep 23, 2001 12:51 a.m.

Who else is writing down what they're playing? And how are they writing it? i've heard that the players in ISHKON have their own system, it would be a nice thing to learn, but i'm trained in western notation style and prefer to do it this way. i also ask, who has seen any real music written for harmonium in western style? All of the song books i see have the translations written down and then you're on your own to figure out what to do. Okay, i play the Cosmic Chants by Yogananda. They are wonderful beautiful chants, many with Bengali tunes and translated to English from the Bengali. Also some songs in that book are in original Bengali. The songs are written in single line melodies, but these are like skeletons and you have to figure out the differnt harmonic tones to play along with them so that they really sound "right". I've spent a lot of time figuring thse things out and now i'm going to write them down...
Re:it's the "Alto" clef Sep 23, 2001 01:08 p.m.

Its now come down to the fact that instruments who are reading music 3 or 4 ledger lines above the staff are just to lazy or ttraditional to learn the viola clef, like lead trombones for instance, they read up to 6 lines above the staff. They coul be reading all their notes in the middle of the viola clef but that will never happen. Its just not somehting trombones would like to do. On guitar I can read all the clefs, mostly its written in treble clef.
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