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Transposing Music for NAF – Part 1

Christmas songs added at Easter? What’s going on? When we re-did the website in January, the Christmas songs were not ready to re-load. To explain why, involves explaining the process I use for transposing songs for the Native American Flute.
When I first began transposing music, I needed some method for printing and sharing the work I’d done. I began using Robert Gatliff’s program on flutetree.com. It’s a great program available for personal use if you have basic knowledge of music. Here are the steps involved if you’d like to try it for yourself.
1. I begin with sheet music of the song. Using a homemade slide-rule type of device, I transpose the notes to fit the flute. The names of each note are handwritten in a notebook.
2. I play through the song to be sure I have done the transposing correctly.
3. I transfer the handwritten notes into a computer document. Robert’s program uses upper case for the lower notes and lower case for the higher notes. I make sure that my word program doesn’t decide to “auto-correct” my work by capitalizing notes I need to have in lowercase.
4. Following Robert’s instructions, I add note values and rests to indicate rhythm.
5. I then add the lyrics using hyphens, underscores and backslashes where needed to make them line up with the correct notes.
6. When I believe I have it all prepared, I copy and paste it into Robert’s program, choose 6 hole or 5 hole fingering and let it draw the result.
7. I look for any obvious problems such as words that aren’t lining up correctly, correct and re-draw.
8. I play through the piece to check for any note issues. Correct and re-draw.
9. When I believe I have everything as correct as possible, I save as a web page for use on the website. I sometimes use my html editor to print the page for Byron to check my work. (Correct and re-draw.)
10. I upload the music and link to the web page.

All of the original music page had songs done in this manner. However, I decided to teach a course in reading tablature and wanted something a bit more flexible and suitable for the text-book I was preparing. I invested in Finale – a musical program – and downloaded NAF 6 hole and NAF 5 hole fonts developed by Clint Goss. Part 2 will describe the process of using these fonts and the new program and why it took so much time and effort to update the music offered on the site.

2 Responses to “Transposing Music for NAF – Part 1”

  1. Dick Sill Says:

    I need your help. I am keenly interested in transposing written music (piano-voice-guitar) to NAF. I have downloaded many of your songs but I am looking for new material. I use AutoCad to actually draw the new tabliture and fingering diagrams because that’s what I know and have available. I’ve done about 4 songs myself but my wife (who has a music background) cringes at certain high notes (I am using a Woodsounds mid-G flute) She is fine when I play your songs or something from the heart. So its something in the basic transposition, not the sound of the NAF. Call me if you can. 407-319-8449
    Dick Sill

  2. Dick Sill Says:

    Problem Solved!

    I was ignoring the flats and sharps and merely adding to the basic notes in the source material (+3 for PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER). I re-read your article on transposing and did another internet search. The missing link was the slide rule. Robert Gatliff provided one that incorporated the flats in the source material and the sharps of the NAF. And then (edit . . . redraw) presto! Well, a minor polishing later and I got my musically savvy wife to approve my rendition of Paul Anka’s PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER. The whole exercise made me appreciate the work you have put into NAF music. -Dick Sill

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