AT ONE TIME a composer wrote the trumpet part out in C major, and indicated the key in which he wanted the music played. This meant the player had to transpose the part from one key to another. Transposing is still part of a trumpet-players training, and is needed especially if he decides to use a different trumpet from the one for which his part is written out.
However, some trumpet-players are happier transposing than others. On one occasion, in a new brass quintet, the two trumpet-players asked for different things. The top trumpet, a more experienced player, asked for the trumpet part to be written out at sounding pitch so he could then transpose it. The second trumpet asked for the part to be written in B flat. The piece was in C major – at any rate for some of the time!
Tony Cross explains what he does when faced with transposition, and why it is a highly necessary skill.