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What are the best and worst keys to write in for horns?

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marxskimarxski Frets: 21
Hi what are the most sympathetic keys to write in for horns - specifically trumpet? Tuning flat or using a capo not being a problem for me on guitar I just would like to know what they would thank me for.
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Comments

  • WhistlerWhistler Frets: 173
    You will need to know whether you have Eb or Bb horn players.

    The trumpet player in our band usually plays his Bb trumpet so we try not to play too often in A or E (which is difficult as the guitar player likes the keys of A and E) as the trumpeter will have to play in B (5 sharps) or F# (6 sharps) respectively.

    If any of your horn players play an Eb instrument then steer clear of playing songs in D or A so that they can avoid the keys of B and F#.
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  • marxskimarxski Frets: 21
    That’s super helpful and really well explained. Thank you!
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  • merlinmerlin Frets: 5106
    edited August 3
    I play Bb and Eb instruments, clarinets and saxes (as well as G clarinet) a lot of the time. 

    If I'm improvising and reading, certain keys "fall under the fingers" more easily than others, as on any instrument. 
    Fewer sharps is helpful. 

    A Bb instrument has two more sharps (or two fewer flats) than a concert instrument ie concert C plays as D, concert Bb plays as C. An Eb instrument has three, ie concert C plays as A. Concert Eb plays as C.


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  • TanninTannin Frets: 2255
    Just for the sake of curiosity, does the difficulty for horn players asked to play in a nasty key (let's say A) lie in 

    * difficult fingerings? 
    * awkward range? (Similar to playing a guitar in Eb where you lose almost an octave out of your useful range and are either forced to use a lot of inversions or essentially play tenor guitar. Worse on a bass guitar, of course.)
    * awkward sight-reading with all those sharps?

    Or some combination of those. (Not sure why I want to know, I've never yet played with a brass player and probably never will. I'm just curious.)

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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 10518
    tFB Trader
    My dad was a sax player and hated playing with guitar based bands, playing songs in A or E - as others have said above, to many sharp notes - In away it is easier for a guitarist to move from say F to F#, but less so for a tenor sax player
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  • TheMadMickTheMadMick Frets: 138
    Simple, try and stick to flat keys.
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