Franck Symphony in D Minor

In 2011 my wife got roped into playing English Horn on this piece with the local community college orchestra. They were short a lot of winds, and since she was going to do it (there's a rather tasty EH part) I thought I'd join her; the second trumpet part was open and they were calling for volunteers.

Great. Except this thing is written for the old orchestral trumpet in F (the first valved trumpet in common use, and which pretty much disappeared a hundred years ago or more) and not for the ubiquitous B♭ trumpet! I guess orchestra players all know how to transpose this on demand. Well, I don't! I might be able to muddle through it eventually, slowly, but not reliably, and I'm not going to invest vast amounts of time learning this skill now. Not for this one-off (and unpaid!) gig.

Initially I was excited because I thought I could maybe use my Alto trumpet project, in F, which has never yet seen duty, but it turns out that the slightly-more-modern alto trumpet, though the same length, is generally played an octave below the called-for orchestral trumpet and is a poor fit indeed to the intended timbre. Nuts. Somebody had penciled in the B♭ transcription, but that petered out on the second page, of ten! A quick survey of the internet turned up nothing more than what I already had.

Enter Lilypond. (Another free choice is Musescore, which is WYSIWYG.)

I spent several days entering this piece of music from the copy I'd been given, most of the time was spent (as usual) learning how to use the tools. The actual entry was pretty easy, but every time I wanted a new thing (like cues) there was a major delay.

One of the things I like about Lilypond, besides the fact that it is free, is the compactness of the sources. The entire source for the trumpet parts, excluding PDF files, fits in a compressed tar file of only 8,403 bytes! I also very much like that it's programmatic in nature, rather than WYSIWYG. Once you take that steep first step on the learning curve things go pretty smoothly and quickly thereafter. And there's great power in that form of expression.

One of the things I dis-like about Lilypond is that you can't use numerics in identifiers. You can't use "M1T2" for example, as all digits are forbidden in identifiers. You have to spell it out as "MoneTtwo". Ugh.

Anyway, eventually I prevailed, and once the thing is in the computer you can print it out any number of ways. Mostly I formatted it so that the line breaks matched the original. This helped the proofreading. Other than the line breaks the formatting is Lilypond's default; I did no tweaking as I was thoroughly sick of the project by then and this was really for my own use only. Mostly it looks great, that is Lilypond's raison d'être after all, it's only the textual marks that come out a bit poorly-spaced sometimes.

I have posted the music (which is in the public domain) here so that the next hack trumpet player that gets sucked into this piece maybe has an easier time of it than I did. I used a source code structure that has worked well for me when transcribing church music from the hymnal, which explains the separate notes and title files, and the Makefile. (These really help eliminate grotesque mistakes, such as the wrong notes or titles on a piece of music, or forgetting to make all revised parts after a change. Yes, I've made both those mistakes before I adopted this scheme. It's embarrassing, and well worth going through a little bit of extra trouble to avoid.)

The printable music:
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 213854 Jun  5 21:32
trumpet1.pdf.gz Trumpet 1 in B♭
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 235101 Jun  5 21:46
trumpet12.pdf.gz Trumpet 1 & 2 in B♭, together on a single staff
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 165761 Jun  5 21:35
trumpet2.pdf.gz Trumpet 2 in B♭
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 303601 Jun  5 21:41
trumpets.pdf.gz Trumpets in B♭
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 298042 Jun  5 21:20
trumpetsc.pdf.gz Trumpets in C
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff 303704 Jun  5 21:29
trumpetsf.pdf.gz Trumpets in F (for comparison with original)

These are standard printable PDF files, compressed with Gnu's gzip utility. Macintosh, Windows, and Linux systems all know how to deal with these.

The Lilypond sources:
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff   1304 May 23 06:08
Makefile Makes all of the above.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    449 May 27 06:43 Movement 1 only, for testing.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    449 May 31 20:32 Movement 2 only, for testing.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    456 May 31 20:32 Movement 3 only, for testing.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff  14129 Jun  5 21:16 All notes for Movement 1.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff   7028 May 31 21:58 All notes for Movement 2.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff  10893 Jun  5 21:15 All notes for Movement 3.
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    178 May 22 13:59 The title, shared so as to avoid mistakes
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    621 May 22 16:00 All movements, Trumpet 1 in B♭
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    893 May 23 06:08 All movements, Trumpets 1 & 2 in B♭, one staff
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff    621 May 22 16:01 All movements, Trumpet 2 in B♭
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff   1213 May 22 16:01 All movements, Trumpets in B♭, two staves
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff   1205 May 22 17:25 All movements, Trumpets in C, two staves
-rw-r--r-- 1 jimc staff   1207 May 31 21:21 All movements, Trumpets in F (for comparison with original), two staves

Oh, and those penciled-in transcriptions? Some of them were wrong!

In the end I decided to use my C trumpet because that is commonly what is used in orchestras, and the first trumpet player was using a C trumpet. This might help us blend a little easier, or if not at least gives me an excuse to play this little-used (by me) horn. Also, we can share music if necessary.

From this little episode, though, came the realization that I probably do want a better C trumpet. (Which I have begun looking for.) Even later it helped contribute to the motivation to purchase an actual orchestral trumpet in F, though I would not choose to use this particular horn for any kind of public performance.

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