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Transposing

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
Hi guys

Nice simple one for some of you more knowledgeable players. If i have music books arranged for the Alto how do I transpose it for the Tenor.

Similar, i have many bits of music in my bag for piano, how do i transpose to Alto or Tenor.

I've tried to read about this but the information seems to contradict, can anyone offer a foolproof way, or do you know of a free program that can do it..

Hoping to buy a cheap Tenor soon and i would like to avoid re-buying loads of music that i may already have.

Thanks
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
If you have music for piano, or any C tuned instrument:
For Tenor, go up 1-1/2 tones
For Alto, go up 5 whole tones.
Or buy 'The Amazing Transpo Gizmo Instant Key Finder'.
Think, if I remember right, I got it from Musicroom.
But, as you seem to have discovered, there's been plenty of discussion on this subject here already;}
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,997
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Just north of Munich
Something wrong here:

Tenor's in Bb, which is one tone below C, so you'd transpose piano music UP 1 Tone for the tenor - i.e. C would be written as D for Tenor, and when you play a D on the tenor, you play a real C. However you also need to remember that the tenor sounds one full octave and one tone below where it's written, not just one tone. So a written middle C for tenor/played on tenor is the Bb below the C below middle C in concert pitch - or on the piano.

So to reiterate, transcribe piano music up 1 tone for tenor and it'll be sounding 1 octave below the piano.

Alto is in Eb, ie. the written middle C played on the alto is the Eb below middle C. This is 4 1/2 tones lower than written. So to play a real C on the Alto, you play the note 4 1/2 tones higher (or 1 1/2 tones lower) - the G. Transcribing piano music up 4 1/2 tones will put the Alto into the same pitch as the piano. Transcribing piano music down 1 1/2 tones will put the Alto an octave below the piano.

You can play all your existing alto music on the tenor, but it will sound lower - the difference beween the tenor and the alto. i.e. from Eb down to Bb or 2 1/2 tones lower. Only really an issue if you're playing with others. So to transpose music written for alto, pitch it 2 1/2 tones higher (i.e. move C up to F) to sound the same note in concert pitch as the alto.

Or you could buy a C Melody Tenor which plays in C, but an octave below the piano..... But these instruments were rather maligned, probably unfailry in many cases.
 
OP
MartinL

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
Something wrong here:

Tenor's in Bb, which is one tone below C, so you'd transpose piano music UP 1 Tone for the tenor - i.e. C would be written as D for Tenor, and when you play a D on the tenor, you play a real C. However you also need to remember that the tenor sounds one full octave and one tone below where it's written, not just one tone. So a written middle C for tenor/played on tenor is the Bb below the C below middle C in concert pitch - or on the piano.

So to reiterate, transcribe piano music up 1 tone for tenor and it'll be sounding 1 octave below the piano.

Alto is in Eb, ie. the written middle C played on the alto is the Eb below middle C. This is 4 1/2 tones lower than written. So to play a real C on the Alto, you play the note 4 1/2 tones higher (or 1 1/2 tones lower) - the G. Transcribing piano music up 4 1/2 tones will put the Alto into the same pitch as the piano. Transcribing piano music down 1 1/2 tones will put the Alto an octave below the piano.

You can play all your existing alto music on the tenor, but it will sound lower - the difference beween the tenor and the alto. i.e. from Eb down to Bb or 2 1/2 tones lower. Only really an issue if you're playing with others. So to transpose music written for alto, pitch it 2 1/2 tones higher (i.e. move C up to F) to sound the same note in concert pitch as the alto.

Or you could buy a C Melody Tenor which plays in C, but an octave below the piano..... But these instruments were rather maligned, probably unfailry in many cases.
Thanks so much for this, it makes the issue completely clear, the only snag I see is, I think, a typo because if I go up one tone from C to Bb and up 4 1/2 tones from C to Eb then to go from Bb to Eb must be 3 1/2 tones, not 2 1/2.

Or have I missed something?
 
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Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
Thanks so much for this, it makes the issue completely clear, the only snag I see is, I think, a typo because if I go up one tone from C to Bb and up 4 1/2 tones from C to Eb then to go from Bb to Eb must be 3 1/2 tones, not 2 1/2.

Or have I missed something?
I'm out:shocked:
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
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2,981
Location
The Athens of The North
I always start by writing out the tune for the tenor. To do this I take every note up two half steps. So, C to C# to D. D to D# to E. E to F to F# etc. Add two sharps to the key signature. If we were transposing a song in C major, we are now in D.

To write this tenor part out for the alto, add one more sharp to the key signature. and count each line note up two lines and each space note up two spaces. D F# A. E G# B etc.

Jim.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,997
Location
Just north of Munich
Thanks so much for this, it makes the issue completely clear, the only snag I see is, I think, a typo because if I go up one tone from C to Bb and up 4 1/2 tones from C to Eb then to go from Bb to Eb must be 3 1/2 tones, not 2 1/2.

Or have I missed something?


I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I'm guessing you're mixing up the intervals and the transpositions because you say up one tone from C to Bb. You'd transpose piano music up a tone to play the correct note on a Bb instrument.

Bear in mind there are 12 half tones, or 6 full tones in an octave.

Intervals:
C to Bb is down one tone.
C up to Eb is 2 1/2 tones
Bb to Eb is 3 1/2 tones - 1 tone from Bb to C and 2 1/2 tones from C to Eb.
C down to Eb is 4 1/2 tones


Two ways to transpose the piano music for an alto - up 4 1/2 tones to put it in the same pitch as the piano - or down 1 1/2 tones to put it an octave lower than the piano. And 4 1/2 + 1 1/2 is back to our 6 full tones for the octave.

And now having said all that, I see I made a mistake :shocked:
The tenor is 3 1/2 tones below the alto, so:
to play alto music on the tenor at the same pitch, raise the alto music by 3 1/2 tones,
to play an octave belwo the alto, lower it by 2 1/2 tones . Sorry for the confusion.
 
OP
MartinL

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I'm guessing you're mixing up the intervals and the transpositions because you say up one tone from C to Bb. You'd transpose piano music up a tone to play the correct note on a Bb instrument.

Bear in mind there are 12 half tones, or 6 full tones in an octave.

Intervals:
C to Bb is down one tone.
C up to Eb is 2 1/2 tones
Bb to Eb is 3 1/2 tones - 1 tone from Bb to C and 2 1/2 tones from C to Eb.
C down to Eb is 4 1/2 tones


Two ways to transpose the piano music for an alto - up 4 1/2 tones to put it in the same pitch as the piano - or down 1 1/2 tones to put it an octave lower than the piano. And 4 1/2 + 1 1/2 is back to our 6 full tones for the octave.

And now having said all that, I see I made a mistake :shocked:
The tenor is 3 1/2 tones below the alto, so:
to play alto music on the tenor at the same pitch, raise the alto music by 3 1/2 tones,
to play an octave belwo the alto, lower it by 2 1/2 tones . Sorry for the confusion.

No confusion, thanks again for a great explanation, yes you interpreted my post correctly and the only bit that seemed wrong was the 2 1/2 but we both agree it should be 3 1/2. Thanks again.
 

RSPINDY

New Member
Messages
19
Hi guys

Nice simple one for some of you more knowledgeable players. If i have music books arranged for the Alto how do I transpose it for the Tenor.

Similar, i have many bits of music in my bag for piano, how do i transpose to Alto or Tenor.

I've tried to read about this but the information seems to contradict, can anyone offer a foolproof way, or do you know of a free program that can do it..

Hoping to buy a cheap Tenor soon and i would like to avoid re-buying loads of music that i may already have.

Thanks
First lets talk about the piano music. Piano music and an C instrument plays in "Concert Pitch", in other words, the notes they play are the actual sound (ignoring octave transpositions in some cases).

On a Bb instrument, when it plays a C, it sounds the note Bb -- it sounds a Major 2nd (whole-step or 2 half-steps) lower than the written note. If you need to sound an Actual C, then you must transpose UP a Major 2nd to D. If the piano music is in the key of C major then you transpose to D major; in F major you transpose to G major, etc.

In real life, the tenor will sound an octave lower than the actual sound so if you need the actual pitch, then you need to play that transposition up an octave. If your improvising then you will go with the register that best suits your needs.

On an Eb instrument, when it plays a C, it sound the note Eb, a major 6th (or 9 half-steps) below. So to sound the note C, you play A, which is a major 6th (or 9 half-steps above). To be in Concert C major, you will paly in A major. To sound in Concert Bb, you will play in G major, etc.

Compare, Concert C major = Alto A major or Tenor D major. A up to D is a perfect 4th (5 half-steps). To transpose Alto sax music to Tenor sax you transpose UP a perfect 4th. The tenor will be in the same actual sound range as the alto.

To transpose Tenor sax music to Alto sax you transpose DOWN a perfect 4th. There is a problem to be aware of: If the Tenor is in its lower range, you will run out of notes on the Alto. To take care of this, transpose or play up an octave. This will make the Alto Sax sound an octave higher than the tenor.

The inversion of the perfect 4th Down is the perfect 5th UP (7 half-steps), so alternately you can transpose Tenor Sax music UP a perfect 5th.

I hope that this helps.

Scott
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
What I used to do when I first transposed was to write out the full chromatic scale (all 12 notes) a sheet of paper and then write it out again below each note in the new key which will either be shifted a tone in one direction or a minor third (3 semitones) in the other direction. Thus as you write each note you can simply look it up.
Now I'm just lazy - I use Sibelius (notation software). It's a bit pricey - there is another product called Harmony Assistant (Myriad Software) that is only about £40 that does the job just as well except that it is not as intuitive.
With these types of products you can transpose on the fly and have multiple parts in the same score so you could have scores with both Eb and Bb.
I usually just score it in the original concert key and then transpose and print for the required instrument as required.
Or I just display it on my Mac and read straight off the screen.
Steve
 
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