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Beginner Having one of those thought provoking days......

akame

New Member
Messages
15
Hello all

I was transposing some music today from Bb to Eb (Alto). So what, I hear you say! Well, I sort of got round to thinking.....

Why, when a clarinet/and I believe a tenor sax, is in Bb, do you have to play a B when concert A is played to tune? Surely, as Bb is a semitone under C, you would play a G#. I'm obviously being thick, but I just can't get my head around it.

When I transpose from Bb to Eb, I use the circle of 5ths. Is there an easy method for transposing from a C instrument (a flute??) to Eb?

And just to finish off, why is it that when I play the bottom D on my alto, my note often starts an octave higher before lowering to the correct pitch? Am I over blowing, my embouchure, both?

Why, oh why!

Numpty question over for today. >:) I feel better now already.

Miranda
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
879
In my head (admittedly a strange place), I see it like this.

Visualise the circle of fifths, C is at the top (12 o'clock). If that C is in concert pitch, what I need for my Alto is at 3 o'clock (A), what I need for Tenor is at 2 o'clock (D).

So whatever I am asked for in concert pitch, then the alto needs to be 3 hours ahead :) and the Tenor 2 hrs ahead.

Concert asks for Bb (10 o'clock)? Alto must play G (1 o'clock) and Tenor (surprise) must play C (12 o'clock).

Well, it works for me ....
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
Hi Miranda,
C instruments are tuned 2 semitones above Bb instruments. That is why a Bb instrument have to play 2 semitones above the C instrument to produce the same tone.
C instrument plays A -> Bb instrument plays B (rise by 2 semitones)

Why, when a clarinet/and I believe a tenor sax, is in Bb, do you have to play a B when concert A is played to tune? Surely, as Bb is a semitone under C, you would play a G#. I'm obviously being thick, but I just can't get my head around it.
This is how it is when you compare A instruments with Bb instruments.

When I transpose from Bb to Eb, I use the circle of 5ths. Is there an easy method for transposing from a C instrument (a flute??) to Eb?
Easier, I do not know. But a different way is to transpose down 3 semitones. As Eb instruments are tuned 3 semitones higher that C instruments. 3 semitones down should be fairly correct.

And just to finish off, why is it that when I play the bottom D on my alto, my note often starts an octave higher before lowering to the correct pitch? Am I over blowing, my embouchure, both?
That, or it could be your reed. Generally you will find that with a softer reed it's easier to play the low notes.

Happy playing
Rune
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Just to add, you could be too tight on the reed for the lower notes.

There are some short cuts for transposing, but I don't know them. I'm sure someone will chip in.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,944
Hello all

I was transposing some music today from Bb to Eb (Alto). So what, I hear you say! Well, I sort of got round to thinking.....

Why, when a clarinet/and I believe a tenor sax, is in Bb, do you have to play a B when concert A is played to tune? Surely, as Bb is a semitone under C, you would play a G#. I'm obviously being thick, but I just can't get my head around it.

When I transpose from Bb to Eb, I use the circle of 5ths. Is there an easy method for transposing from a C instrument (a flute??) to Eb?

And just to finish off, why is it that when I play the bottom D on my alto, my note often starts an octave higher before lowering to the correct pitch? Am I over blowing, my embouchure, both?

Why, oh why!

Numpty question over for today. >:) I feel better now already.

Miranda
Bb is a whole tone below C, not a semi-tone.

As noted in other replies, if transposing for an Eb instrument from a piece in concert pitch (i.e. "C") it is probably easiest to think of it as needing to go up a minor third (as opposed to down a sixth) that is "up" three semi-tones.

You will need to change the key signature. Going from concert pitch to Eb means that in effect you need to compensate for the three flats of the alto sax by what amount to adding three sharps to the concert pitch key.

- You need the key which is a minor third below the concert key

- C concert (0 sharps/flats) becomes A - 3 #
- D concert (2 #) => B - 5#
- E concert (4#) => C# - 7# (ouch, but enharmonically, this is Db which is 5b)
- F concert (1b) => D - 2#
- G concert (1#) => E - 4#
- A concert (3#) => F# - 6#

Flat keys are easier than the sharp ones: Bb=>G, Eb=>C, Ab=>F etc

I found this table after a quick search.

EDIT: what I wrote about key signature changes originally was utter tosh and I must have been out of my mind (yesterday wasn't a good day). Hopefully the above is slightly more accurate (transposition warps the brain)
 
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Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Bb is two semitones under C. When I transpose Bb to Eb parts I write out the the clef signature at the start of the line, followed by the new key signature, and then the time signature. After that I take line notes up two more lines, and space notes up two more spaces and that's it. To get the new key signature from a Bb part add one more sharp to a sharp key or take away one flat from a flat key.

If I wanted to transpose a C part for alto I would figure the new key signature by adding three more sharps to a sharp key, or take away three flats. For example a tune in Eb would move to C for the alto. I would then move the whole song up a sixth by taking a line note up two more lines and a space, and a space note up two more spaces and a line. Most of the tunes I write out need to go up rather than down as they would run out range.

Jim.
 

muzza

Member
Messages
109
Once you understand what's happening, you can write the score into something like Musescore (free software) and use the transpose function. Murray
 

akame

New Member
Messages
15
Thank you for all the responses.

Bb is two semitones under C.
So it is! I think I was getting confused with my sharps and flats. Justin - that method is brilliant. I'm going to type that out on a piece of paper and file it, if you don't mind.

muzza - I have got Musescore, but couldn't work out by how much I needed to transpose. I thought I could change the instrument from Bb one (eg clarinet) to Eb (Sax), but it doesn't work that way! Why is music notation so confusing?? :(

tenorviol - good link! I'll print them out as well. The tables I can put underneath the info that Justin has given.

One of these days, I'll work out how to Reply with Quote from various postings. I only seem to be able to do one at a time! I must be getting old......

Regarding my lower D problem, I'm using a Rico 2. I think, having played the clarinet, my embouchure is possibly too tight. I need to chill out more!
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Is there an easy method for transposing from a C instrument (a flute??) to Eb?
Miranda
Rough answer: write the whole thing in bass clef and add 3 sharps (or remove three flats). If it helps....
Slightly better answer: move every note down a space (if the note is on a space) or a line (if it is on a line) and add three sharps.

Of course be careful of octaves, you might need to transpose an octave up or down, according with the instruments you are dealing with.
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
muzza - I have got Musescore, but couldn't work out by how much I needed to transpose. I thought I could change the instrument from Bb one (eg clarinet) to Eb (Sax), but it doesn't work that way! Why is music notation so confusing?? :(
even better - add an empty alto sax part to an existing musescore score. Then copy/paste the other instrument part to it.
 
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