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Yet another transposition question

MikeM70

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I play mandolin and fiddle in a community folk orchestra, but at some point (possibly in the autumn) I'd like to start taking my clarinet (or possibly sax) but the issue I have is that most of the tunes we play are in G or D. Now, the orchestra leader is a full on proper educated muso and she provides the dots for Bb and Eb, but looking at them, they look insanely complicated to play. For example, the sheet music for a tune in G for Eb has 5 sharps! It may be the program she uses to print off the dots, and when I get a chance I will ask her about it, but is there an easier way to think about how to play these pieces?
 

Veggie Dave

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I've found that looking at a sheet with 5 sharps to be more than a little intimidating, but after a little practice you'll find the song sits happily under your fingers and all those sharp notes are just notes like any other.

You'll probably find getting the song under your fingers takes a little more time than it would if the piece was in a more sax friendly key but as long as it's not overly complex then you should be fine. Overcoming the 'Oh my god, it's got 5 sharps!' reaction is probably harder than actually playing it.
 
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MikeM70

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thanks Dave, glad I'm not the only one. The tunes themselves are not overly complicated, I guess I just need to sit down and work out what notes are in that key and do a bit of scale practise.
 

Ivan

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thanks Dave, glad I'm not the only one. The tunes themselves are not overly complicated, I guess I just need to sit down and work out what notes are in that key and do a bit of scale practise.
I agree that being calm and methodical will pay dividends

I had a sharps panic before Xmas with some horn section parts... But actually as @Veggie Dave says, the notes sit well under the fingers
 
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MikeM70

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G on Alto is E which only has 4 sharps. Sounds like she's transposed a 3rd up instead of a 3rd down
B has 5 sharps. :confused2:
or do I need another cup of coffee?
hmmm, interesting. I have yet to speak to her, but I do know her musical knowledge is top notch. I'm 99% certain she uses an app/program to print off the dots, so I'm assuming this is something the software has done.
Annoyingly, I won't see her for about a month now, so I may bung her an email, see if she can clarify.

But this is the sort of answer I was hoping for, someone more knowledgable than I who is able to see the thing more clearly.
 

Veggie Dave

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I guess I just need to sit down and work out what notes are in that key and do a bit of scale practise.
I'm probably about to admit a cardinal sin but if my only input to a song is to play the notes on the page then that's all I do. I don't think about what key it's in, I check which notes I should sharpen or flatten and when that note appears on the stave I sharpen or flatten it.

Strangely I find this approach far less stressful or overwhelming.

Obviously, ignoring keys isn't generally a good idea but when your job is only to play what's written, it doesn't really matter.
 

thomsax

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A song in concert G: The Eb saxes alto and baritone are in E (4 sharps). The Bb saxes; soprano and tenor are in A (3 sharps). If you a song in play concert E the Eb saxes plays in C# (7 sharps). The sheet mucic can then be written out in Db (5 flats) beacause it 's easier to read. It sounds the same. The same goes for Bb saxes when a song is in concert B.
 

tenorviol

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Agree, concert G (one sharp) will be E (4 sharps) for Eb.

Concert D, 2 sharps, will be B (5 sharps) for Eb.

Since you're playing a sax, key signatures aren't too big an issue, compared to strings like cello... since the notes are all there. The usual challenge is remembering the most recently added sharp, such as A# in B major.

When I started playing in a community orchestra, I got used to 3/4/5 sharps because orchestras tend to play in keys friendly to strings such as C, G, or D. Conversely, as a cellist, when you get music that's been geared to wind bands you get the opposite problem and mountains of flats.
 
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MikeM70

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thanks all, this has been very useful to me, I was slightly hesitant to ask as I've been feeling a bit dense over this but the responses have really helped.

Tenorviol, I get what you say about music with lots of flats for violin family, generally my easy solution to that is reach for the mandolin. Frets make playing flat notes so much easier.
 

tenorviol

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To be honest @MikeM70 it's not really the frets or lack of them, lots of sharps/flats make little difference - once you get to 4 sharps/5 flats you've no open strings left in either case. The main challenge with flats on strings is that a particular flat can be on a different string. For example on cello, the top open string is the A below middle C, which means that Ab is on the D string etc.
 

jbtsax

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The path to playing in the key of E is to first work on scales and exercises in the key of G - 1 sharp. Next work on scales and exercises in the key of D -2 sharps. Then go to A - 3 sharps, and finally you are at the key of E - 4 sharps. The keys are much less formidable when you add one sharp or flat at a time which is the way most method books are organized. Once you go around the circle of 5ths both directions you have eaten the entire elephant. :)
 
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MikeM70

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The path to playing in the key of E is to first work on scales and exercises in the key of G - 1 sharp. Next work on scales and exercises in the key of D -2 sharps. Then go to A - 3 sharps, and finally you are at the key of E - 4 sharps. The keys are much less formidable when you add one sharp or flat at a time which is the way most method books are organized. Once you go around the circle of 5ths both directions you have eaten the entire elephant. :)
that is both a really simple and really elegant solution, thanks. I think I've been guilty of trying to run before I could walk, of looking too far ahead.
 

MandyH

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A song in concert G: The Eb saxes alto and baritone are in E (4 sharps). The Bb saxes; soprano and tenor are in A (3 sharps). If you a song in play concert E the Eb saxes plays in C# (7 sharps). The sheet mucic can then be written out in Db (5 flats) beacause it 's easier to read. It sounds the same. The same goes for Bb saxes when a song is in concert B.
correct!
when transposing on the fly on bari sax from Bass clef in C, I add 3 sharps and pretend its a treble clef! Therefore concert pitch to Eb is "add 3 sharps" to get the correct key signature for starters (then transpose the notes!). Bb instruments are "one step back" on the circle of fifths from Eb instruments (so have one less sharp or one more flat)

Personally, I would leave 7 sharps as 7 sharps - I find it way easier to read and process sharp key signatures (unfortunately Sibelius first also transposes as 5 flats rather than 7 sharps). But that is just a personal thing.

4 sharps isn't especially challenging for a sax player. and it will become much easier with practice.
 
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spike

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I don't read very well mainly because I play mostly by ear. Once I've read it I know it.
With time you'll become fluent with all the intervals associated with any note on the saxophone keyboard.
You no longer have to think about it, it'll become automatic/intuitive.
When I play the black notes on the piano keyboard for me there are two flat notes, Eb and Bb the other three are sharps: C# F# G# but most of the time I don't even think in terms of note names. I intuitively recognize the respective patterns and intervals.
You just got put the time in and with time you'll begin to just play without having to think about it.
 
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