Beginner Keys and transposing?

saxyman

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I know this has been asked before, but I am still struggling to get my head around the concepts of keys and transposition. I have read advice after advice on the web and still the advice seems to be conflicting.
I appreciate the difference between Tenor and Alto and Concert and that one has to rewrite music so as to be in harmony each other i.e Concert F is or should be D for an Alto and G for a Tenor, but when I try and do a chart for the remaining keys and what they should be for each instrument I hit a bit of a brick wall.
i.e if a piece of music is written in the key of A Major for an Alto, what is the correct key for a Tenor to accompany it. I also appreciate that some talk about down a fifth and up one but it is not always appear to be consistent with the advice given online. or? is it my lack of understanding. A bit of guidance (in layman's term would be appreciated even more).
 

half diminished

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saxyman

In essence, if you start with a piece in Concert pitch, for any given note to 'sound the same' on a transposing instrument you have to play a different note on that instrument. Check out this thread for an explanation. As for your reference to a 'fifth' I surmise you are referring to the cycle of 5ths? A search under that here will illicit numerous explanations including a diagram that you might find of use.
 
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rudjarl

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Hi saxyman,
it's just about doing a bit of counting.

A Bb instrument is tuned 2 semitones lower than a C instrument. (The distance from Bb to C on the scale). For a Bb instrument to play the same note as the C instrument, it needs to play 2 semitones higher. That goes for any note (or key).

An Eb instrument is tuned 3 semitones higher than a C instrument so you would need to play 3 semitones lower than a C instrument to play the same tone.

A Bb instrument is tuned 5 semitones lower than an Eb instrument so it needs to play 5 semitones higher to play the same note.

It's all about math actually :)

Happy counting
Rune
 
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Pete Thomas

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And if in doubt, refer back to the concert pitch

I keep forgetting whether it's up 5 or down 5 so this is what I do

ie you work out that A on alto is C on piano.

You then go up a tone for tenor to D
 
OP
saxyman

saxyman

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Hi Guys thanks for the replies, I appreciate them very much but just to make sure I am understanding the concept correctly can you just confirm that the correct key for a Tenor to accompany an alto in Key A is ???.
I ask this because I can see that the Alto as it is in key of A, then the Tenor must be in key of D?? is that correct.??
 

O.C.V.

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A simple rule of thumb when copying music for different instruments is; Going from concert pitch, eg flute or piano, to B flat instruments the key signature goes two keys sharper. eg from C to D or E flat to F. Then from B flat to E flat go another key sharper.
E flat instruments always play in keys with one more sharp or one less flats than the B flat instuments, and three more sharps or three less flats than concert instruments.
It may seem a bit basic but it depends theoretically on what rudjari has written.
The easiest way is to copy it into something like Allegro Print Music, then click, click, and its done for you.
Best wishes
O.C.V.
 
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saxyman

saxyman

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OCV I thought I was getting there but I have just transposed (up 2) from A Major and I guess its now FSharp major but it does not sound correct, is this because there were sharps etc in the score which now will need to be removed. This is where it does not fall in line with the general rule of Up 2 etc.
 

Justin Chune

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I always work from concert pitch to the Bb and then do the alto part, up three lines or three spaces and adjust the key sig. as explained above. Transpose your alto part down three lines or spaces and you are there. A to F# to D.

Jim.
 

kevgermany

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OCV I thought I was getting there but I have just transposed (up 2) from A Major and I guess its now FSharp major but it does not sound correct, is this because there were sharps etc in the score which now will need to be removed. This is where it does not fall in line with the general rule of Up 2 etc.
You're going the wrong way - subtract the sharps - so 3 (A) -3 = 0 (C).

Trouble with all the transpositions is what Pete's said - remembering direction. And there are posts in the thread giving all sort of different starting points, which doesn't exactly help. Easiest way I found was to get a spreadsheet like excel. And write a couple of octaves out note by note in the left column. e.g. A A# B C C#..... Put a label over the column of Concert. Then you just need one note for the next instrument, let's say it's alto. In Eb. So against the C in the concert column, put an Eb in the next column, which will be for Eb instruments. Fill in the other notes going up/down. Then do the same for Bb Where Brb is the same row as concert C and Alto Eb. To transpose, you can then read between the columns.

I'd post mine, but I think you'll get a better feel by doing it yourself.
 

rudjarl

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Hi again saxyman.

OCV I thought I was getting there but I have just transposed (up 2) from A Major and I guess its now FSharp major but it does not sound correct, is this because there were sharps etc in the score which now will need to be removed. This is where it does not fall in line with the general rule of Up 2 etc.
2 up from A major is B major:
A major, 1 up = Bb major, 2 up = B major.

What you have done is going down 3:
A, 1 down = G sharp, 2 down = G, 3 down = F sharp.

If you write down the 12 semitones of the scale it is easier to visualize:
(This, of cause, repeats itself for every octave.)
12 = B - Cb
11 = Bb - A#
10 = A
9 = Ab - G#
8 = G
7 = Gb - F#
6 = F
5 = E - Fb
4 = Eb - D#
3 = D
2 = Db - C#
1 = C - B#
Where ever you start from, just move up or down the number of steps you need.

Hope this does not contribute to even further confusion.
Good luck
Rune
 

O.C.V.

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I think Kev's method is a good one when you first start transposing. I used it myself when I was writing by hand, but you still need to have the key signature correct to avoid having accidentals all over, it just looks tidier but doesn't affect the way the tune comes out.
O.C.V.
 
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saxyman

saxyman

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Hi again saxyman.



2 up from A major is B major:
A major, 1 up = Bb major, 2 up = B major.

What you have done is going down 3:
A, 1 down = G sharp, 2 down = G, 3 down = F sharp.

If you write down the 12 semitones of the scale it is easier to visualize:
(This, of cause, repeats itself for every octave.)
12 = B - Cb
11 = Bb - A#
10 = A
9 = Ab - G#
8 = G
7 = Gb - F#
6 = F
5 = E - Fb
4 = Eb - D#
3 = D
2 = Db - C#
1 = C - B#
Where ever you start from, just move up or down the number of steps you need.

Hope this does not contribute to even further confusion.
Good luck
Rune
Spoke too soon.

Applying your advice I make Alto playing in Key of D become E?
But according to an aide memoir I have from my teacher its should be G.
Am I still looking at something the wrong way.
This should be straight forward but I seem to get conflicting advice. And I also believe that I have to do something about incidentials.
I think I will change my name to Totallyconfused. I suppose that comes with age.
 

rudjarl

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Løten, Norway
Spoke too soon.

Applying your advice I make Alto playing in Key of D become E?
But according to an aide memoir I have from my teacher its should be G.
Am I still looking at something the wrong way.
This should be straight forward but I seem to get conflicting advice. And I also believe that I have to do something about incidentials.
I think I will change my name to Totallyconfused. I suppose that comes with age.
I think you might have forgotten to take into account the (transposing) key of your saxophones. A Bb saxophone is 5 semitones lower than an Eb saxophone (or 7 higher if you like to see it that way). That means the Bb instrument have to play 5 semitones higher (or 7 lower) to match the tone of an Eb instrument.

From Eb instrument:
If alto is playing in D then (5 up) tenor is playing in G. Piano (3 up), is playing in F.

From Bb instrument:
If tenor is playing in D then (5 down) alto is playing in A. Piano (2 down), is playing in C.

From C instrument:
If piano is playing in D then (2 up) tenor is playing in E. Alto (3 down), is playing in B.
 

Rogerb

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Whenever I see the words "you just......" or "simply....", or...worst of all..."Obviously.....", I know that what follows will be complicated and only 'simple' and 'obvious' to those who already understood it :rolleyes:

I formed that opinion when I started working with microcomputers in the early 80s(although I had been a mainframe programmer), and have had no reason to change!

Music theory is about as 'obvious' as an Englishman learning Japanese.
 

Moz

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Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
I know this has been asked before, but I am still struggling to get my head around the concepts of keys and transposition. I have read advice after advice on the web and still the advice seems to be conflicting.
I appreciate the difference between Tenor and Alto and Concert and that one has to rewrite music so as to be in harmony each other i.e Concert F is or should be D for an Alto and G for a Tenor, but when I try and do a chart for the remaining keys and what they should be for each instrument I hit a bit of a brick wall.
i.e if a piece of music is written in the key of A Major for an Alto, what is the correct key for a Tenor to accompany it. I also appreciate that some talk about down a fifth and up one but it is not always appear to be consistent with the advice given online. or? is it my lack of understanding. A bit of guidance (in layman's term would be appreciated even more).
Here, try this. Just cross-reference anything you like...



(first time I've uploaded a file so might be a bit messy)

Martin
 

Attachments

Der Wikinger

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Silvis, IL USA
I arrange for alto and tenor with Finale all the time. In Notes, the tenor must be written a major second above concert, i.e. key of C for concert key of D for tenor, key of E flat Concert, Key of F Tenor. On the alto its a minor third down. Key of C concert, key of A Alto, Key of E flat, Key of C alto; key of B flat concert, Key of G alto; and on and on and on and on
 

Justin Chune

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The Athens of The North
Yes, you are looking at something the wrong way. You are treating your alto part as if it were the concert key, and that is where you are going wrong. F is the concert key of the tune you are looking at. So, up two semitones for the Bb gives us G, and down three semitones, from the F, gives us D for the alto. Imagine the treble clef with a D on the fourth line and a G on the second. That is the interval between Bb and Eb instruments.

Transposing really did my head in when I started out. Keep at it, you will get there.

Jim.
 
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