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Sheet Music Sheet Music Question....

TripleB

Member
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32
I'm sure this a dumb question but I thought I would ask anyway.

How do you know if sheet music is specifically made for a Tenor Saxophone?

ie: can the songs found in books such as this one be played on any instrument (specifically the tenor sax) http://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Stone...TF8&colid=3MKPTD4TB6A20&coliid=I1XAAA356ZJT6Y

Most of the books I find like this typically say 'Piano' on the somewhere...didn't know if they could be played with the tenor sax by reading the notes exactly as they are or not.

Thanks for your help.

TripleB
 
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rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
The precise answer is: perhaps, maybe, could be... but preferably not...

Piano is a C-instrument whereas the Tenor sax is a Bb-instrument. That means if the tenor sax is playing piano notes with other C-instruments it will be wrong. The same with backing tracks. Then you'll need to transpose the notes. Luckily it's quite easy. A Bb instrument is 2 semitones lower than a C instrument. To compensate you play 2 semitones higher. That means if the C instrument is playing in F you play in G. 2 semitones up.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,946
A "general" music book will be at "concert" pitch - i.e. the note you see on the page, is the same as the note that is heard / played. Such music is for non-transposing instruments such as piano, violin, guitar etc (and singers).

For a transposing instrument such as a saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, horn etc, you need music where the INSTRUMENTAL part is transposed for your instrument (so, for tenor sax, standard trumpet, Bb clarinet, we are talking about Bb). Music like this usually has two booklets - one for the piano/keyboard accompaniment and a transposed instrumental part in the correct key.

The description will include something like "Tenor Sax", "Sax in Bb", "For Bb instruments".

If not, you will need to learn to transpose at sight as suggested by rudjarl. Feasible (horn players do it a lot with older music) but brain-warping.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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8,898
A difficulty that you would have with a book of this type is that there are only four lines per page and the song will be on several pages so you have to keep stopping to turn over.
Although you could scan, cut and paste, print.
 
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TripleB

Member
Messages
32
I'll just be playing the music solo...mostly at home. My mom played the piano when I was growing up and I thought I just grabbed her music and played it on my sax. No wonder I didn't sound too good :)

So how do I go about playing 'popular' music? Do I just have to buy it and transcribe it for the tenor because I can't seem to find a book of pop music specifically for the tenor sax.

I appreciate all your input.

TripleB
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
TripleB...you don't need transposing - since you have a similar experience as mine (i.e. restarting after a long gap) do the clever thing and ditch transposition for good - think in C all the time and keep using the same scores used by your mum (and use a chromatic tuner).
There is a very interesting thread I've started years ago in this forum:
http://cafesaxophone.com/showthread.php?5469-transposition-please-do-justify-it-(once-and-for-all)
In my case - ditching transposition and thinking in C is it the best achievement of my "born again" sax experience - there are so many advantages to be gain and very little to lose (mainly you'll get a bit of stick from those who can't change their ways - that's all).

(send me a PM if you need some guidance).
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,079
If you're playing on your own just play what's written.

The only problem you'll have with a transposing instrument is when playing with non transposing instruments.

If you intend at some time to play with others then being able to read a tone up is handy.

Some books are written with different band instruments in mind. There'll be a C part an Eb part and a Bb part.

If you learn your arpeggios and can read these a tone up to you can crib off the guitarists or bassists book.

I have a 1940 fake book where all the tunes are written in key of C. It's handy for familiarising oneself with a tune then play it in any key you like.

Have a look at the 100 tunes for buskers series. A single line melody with some chords noted above. One or two of them are paired with a Bb edition.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,904
(mainly you'll get a bit of stick from those who can't change their ways - that's all).
I don't know about stick, but you'll get some advice from those of us who have taken the relatively small amount of trouble to learn to sight-transpose. It's much easier to do that than to learn a different (and rather unnatural) set of names for saxophone fingerings, and then have to learn another set of names when you switch tenor for alto or C-melody or when you start playing the flute. It also has the advantage that you can talk to your fellow sax-players without causing confusion.

I'm not getting back into that argument again, so this will be my one and only posting on the subject.
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
If you're playing solo, you can just play the notes in whatever book you have. The notes will sound a tone lower than those written for piano, but the tunes will sound perfectly good in themselves. I often use non-transposed music, or music for other transposed instruments, simply because it's available or easier in one key than another. If you were playing with other instruments, you'd need music transposed separately for Bb, Eb etc instruments.

I read zannad's thread and I think it's chiefly about playing by ear, from what I understand of it.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
Some good advice above.

To summarise:

The sax is a transposing instrument. Learn the keys on the sax as they compare to written music - e.g. G is 3 fingers down on the left hand, irrespective of which sax you're playing.

Playing music written in concert pitch is OK, as long as you play alone/without a backing track.

Sooner or later you'll need to tackle transposition, this can be done in advance (e.g. with a music program like Audacity) or on the fly(but many people never get this far).

A lot of sheet music is available for Bb and Eb instruments, including modern songs - e.g. the real books series. Take a look on Amazon at publishers Hal Leonard and Jamie Abersold for starters.

A lot of stuff can be downloaded from the web, although it often breaks copyright rules, so be aware of this and don't download things that are still in copyright. A good source is Wikifonia, which will let you download in concert/Bb/Eb or transposed to any key you want. You can also download a file in music xml format which will allow programs like audactiy to edit/transpose for you.

Some things to watch:

Copyright.

Tune key and concert pitch. There's a tendancy to refer to key by the key of the instrument, rather than the key it's written in. e.g. you may find a piece in G for C (non-transposing) instruments referred to as a C score. It's commonly done, but you need to make sure that you understand what the speaker meant.

Ease of playing - a tune in concert A major will be in B major for tenor sax, truly horrible to play.

Some people learn the concert pitch notes on the sax - e.g. on tenor they'll call the D key C. It's not a good way forward, as it limits you to Bb saxes unless you're prepared to learn different fingerings for the written music. AND it means that when you get a score for tenor, you then need to transpose back to concert pitch. This is not the same as playing by ear or transposing on the fly.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
So how do I go about playing 'popular' music? Do I just have to buy it and transcribe it for the tenor because I can't seem to find a book of pop music specifically for the tenor sax.

I appreciate all your input.

TripleB
I think there are lots of pop-/rock sax books for alto and tenor. Are you looking for any particular style? Pop, Rock, Soul, ballads, Blues. Some books have play-a-long CDs as well.

Thomas
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
I don't know about stick, but you'll get some advice from those of us who have taken the relatively small amount of trouble to learn to sight-transpose. It's much easier to do that than to learn a different (and rather unnatural) set of names for saxophone fingerings, and then have to learn another set of names when you switch tenor for alto or C-melody or when you start playing the flute. It also has the advantage that you can talk to your fellow sax-players without causing confusion.

I'm not getting back into that argument again, so this will be my one and only posting on the subject.

you don't really understand...I know transposition because I'd used in the past - and also I know how de-transposing works because I've adopted - so now I think in C all the time (while before I was switching between Eb and C as I was playing the Alto and guitar). So, I have a more broad view now....
The "stick" is relative to the kind of reactions I get for example in this forum - it is a sort of "ostracism", "obscurantism", and "pressure" for being a bit different than the majority.
I suggest to read that discussion again...
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
There are in fact lots of books out there for the tenor sax, or any Bb instrument, and you don't have to transpose anything. Check out the Bb fake books on Amazon for example.

Jim.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
If you're playing solo, you can just play the notes in whatever book you have. The notes will sound a tone lower than those written for piano, but the tunes will sound perfectly good in themselves. I often use non-transposed music, or music for other transposed instruments, simply because it's available or easier in one key than another. If you were playing with other instruments, you'd need music transposed separately for Bb, Eb etc instruments.

I read zannad's thread and I think it's chiefly about playing by ear, from what I understand of it.
playing by ear helps a lot if one want to de-transpose and I understand that people who've been reading scores for 30 years find it very difficult to change their ways.
Most importantly, that discussion isn't against reading music - if anything it is against reading TRANSPOSED music. My hint is that, reading transposed music is bad for your hear cos' you label a note with different names - this is particularly evident if one use solfeggio (I do).
 
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zannad

Member
Messages
410
There are in fact lots of books out there for the tenor sax, or any Bb instrument, and you don't have to transpose anything. Check out the Bb fake books on Amazon for example.

Jim.
It's getting confusing now....
When reading a score written in Bb for tenor one is actually transposing.
The guy would like to use some old scores written in C which aren't available in transposed form in the market - he has 2 options:
1) transpose that old scores using for example one of the many software available (or transpose by hand)
2) de-transpose his sax - i.e. thinking in C = re-mapping the fingering in his sax.
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
It's getting confusing now....
Yes

When reading a score written in Bb for tenor one is actually transposing.
Not really. The score isn't in Bb, it's been transposed for Bb instruments - as I said above, there's a distinction between the key sugnature of the music and the key of the instrument. So playing a sax one is always transposing, because the instrument is in a different key.

The guy would like to use some old scores written in C which aren't available in transposed form in the market - he has 2 options:
1) transpose that old scores using for example one of the many software available (or transpose by hand)
2) de-transpose his sax - i.e. thinking in C = re-mapping the fingering in his sax.
You can't de-transpose a sax, they're made that way. You can, as I said, rename the keys to concert pitch, but then you need to learn new fingerings/key names for Eb saxes, and again for C saxes (and F ones if you ever come across one). Bad way forward for most people.

Best to follow the convention for almost all transposing instruments and use a transposed score. Just like the orchestras. Or learn to transpose on the fly, but that's difficult for many people. And gets harder the longer you play, unless you start that way.
 

TripleB

Member
Messages
32
I appreciate all your help. After a bit more digging I found A LOT of music for the tenor sax.

TripleB
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
I appreciate all your help. After a bit more digging I found A LOT of music for the tenor sax.

TripleB
Excellent. There is a lot out there. But you can still play 'general' music written for C instruments as long as you understand that the sound coming out will be in a different key.

I would second kevgermany's suggestion of looking at the Wikifonia website. It is legal and you can play with the key to put it in to the correct key for your instrument (or a range and key that you're comfortable with) very easily.

If you just want the introduction to a piece of music, or the main part of it, you could also search for images for the tune. You often get an image of the sheet music that will get you started and allow you to decide whether or not the music is something you'd wish to purchase.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Yes



Not really. The score isn't in Bb, it's been transposed for Bb instruments - as I said above, there's a distinction between the key sugnature of the music and the key of the instrument. So playing a sax one is always transposing, because the instrument is in a different key.



You can't de-transpose a sax, they're made that way. You can, as I said, rename the keys to concert pitch, but then you need to learn new fingerings/key names for Eb saxes, and again for C saxes (and F ones if you ever come across one). Bad way forward for most people.

Best to follow the convention for almost all transposing instruments and use a transposed score. Just like the orchestras. Or learn to transpose on the fly, but that's difficult for many people. And gets harder the longer you play, unless you start that way.


Kev, you don't need to read my messages about de-transposing - it's just not meant for you - you can enjoy your music transposing and/or de-transposing, both ways works....the final choice is personal - hoping that choice is an informed one (often isn't).
Some understand immediately what I say some don't (as simple as that) - some understand and realize it won't work for them (respect)....sadly others are just too afraid to take the plunge....
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Kev, you don't need to read my messages about de-transposing - it's just not meant for you - you can enjoy your music transposing and/or de-transposing, both ways works....the final choice is personal - hoping that choice is an informed one (often isn't).
Some understand immediately what I say some don't (as simple as that) - some understand and realize it won't work for them (respect)....sadly others are just too afraid to take the plunge....
pm sent.
 
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