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Yet another transposition question

Colin the Bear

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Easy way to transpose key is to remember an Eb instrument starts with 3 flats so to convert to concert add three sharps to however many the concert piece has.

The saxophone is very easy to play in sharp keys. F# is just a finger change, C# is no fingers, G# is park and leave. So only D# to think about.

The best scale to practice is a chromatic scale imo. Nothing like knowing how all the notes finger.

For complicated band parts I used to type them into a sequencer and listen how the machine played it.

hmm interesting way of viewing it... I've always been taught to assign the note name that's relevant to the context, so in B major, it's an A# etc.
Yes...but you're a proper musician. There's lots of us busking and bluffing ;)
 

tenorviol

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Easy way to transpose key is to remember an Eb instrument starts with 3 flats so to convert to concert add three sharps to however many the concert piece has.

The saxophone is very easy to play in sharp keys. F# is just a finger change, C# is no fingers, G# is park and leave. So only D# to think about.

The best scale to practice is a chromatic scale imo. Nothing like knowing how all the notes finger.

For complicated band parts I used to type them into a sequencer and listen how the machine played it.



Yes...but you're a proper musician. There's lots of us busking and bluffing ;)
lol :rofl:
 

jbtsax

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The saxophone is very easy to play in sharp keys. F# is just a finger change, C# is no fingers, G# is park and leave. So only D# to think about.

The best scale to practice is a chromatic scale imo. Nothing like knowing how all the notes finger.
I've never heard of this before. I don't think my left hand fingers would work very well with the pinky anchored on the G# key, but I'm willing to give it a try. After all, flute players do that with the right hand pinky on the Eb key as part of the holding position of the instrument---except for when they play D of course.
 

Zugzwang

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So you did get yourself an alto…?
My 2p’s worth is: let the circle of 5ths be your friend:
from Concert one tone up gets you to the key for Bb Instruments;
then one step clockwise takes you to the key for Ebs - if you’re used to moving round the Circle, that feels less threatening.
(Have occasionally been given Eb parts, so do this - partway - in reverse)
 

MandyH

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I've never heard of this before. I don't think my left hand fingers would work very well with the pinky anchored on the G# key, but I'm willing to give it a try. After all, flute players do that with the right hand pinky on the Eb key as part of the holding position of the instrument---except for when they play D of course.
I find that if my key signature has 3 sharps or more, then I always put down my LH pinky for G# and all lower notes - usually it goes down into the C# key, so it’s ready to play whatever is needed.
 

thomsax

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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. :)
I started with songs in concert E and A. So C# and F# on alto. I didn't go to a music teacher. My "teacher" was John Fogerty, CCR. I dont like concert Bb, F and Eb, Theses keys sounds so weird in my ears.
 

Dibbs

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hmm interesting way of viewing it... I've always been taught to assign the note name that's relevant to the context, so in B major, it's an A# etc.
I know the theory well enough and I would always write the notes correctly but I must confess that what goes on my head when improvising and especially when playing chords on the piano is another matter, I can't really convince myself that the b9 in a Bb7b9 isn't a B natural for example even though I know it doesn't make any sense logically.
 

Pete Thomas

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Good to hear. I thought it was just me - 4/5/6 sharps, no problem, but anything with more than 2 flats just doesn't come that naturally. Anyone got any theories why that would be?
I always tend to think of the open C#2 as C# not Db. I think it is because it is in the same register as C2 hence one up from that rather than one down from D2

I also prefer the key of C# to Db - easier to think every note sharp than most notes flat I suppose.
 

jbtsax

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Good to hear. I thought it was just me - 4/5/6 sharps, no problem, but anything with more than 2 flats just doesn't come that naturally. Anyone got any theories why that would be?
The answer is simply that we play in sharp keys more often and are more familiar reading notes in those keys. The most common keys that concert band and and jazz ensemble music is written in are concert C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab. The most common keys for orchestras are C, G, D, A, E. These band keys put alto sax players and tenor sax players in the keys from 3 sharps to 1 flat, and 2 sharps to 2 flats respectively. Players of instruments in concert pitch such as flute, oboe, bassoon, trombone, and tuba are far more comfortable playing in flat keys since the common keys for them go from 0 flats to 4 flats. Show a trombone player a part that has B naturals and you will see what I mean. :)

I had a teacher once who said we all would be better off if we had started learning to play our instrument in the key 7 flats and 7/4 time. I think his point was well taken.
 

jbtsax

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hmm interesting way of viewing it... I've always been taught to assign the note name that's relevant to the context, so in B major, it's an A# etc.
That's exactly correct in music theory, but in reality it is not that simple. I have tried explaining to a middle school band class why the note must be written B# instead of C natural only to watch their eyes glaze over. Even when I showed them that in a major scale the notes need to go line space line space, they couldn't understand why two notes couldn't be on the same line.
 

Colin the Bear

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Well to be fair...music theory isn't logical or intuitive. It's about the same as any written version of a spoken or aural medium. You just have to learn the rules to avoid misunderstandings. Innit bro like?
 

C.ward

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This is very informative as I've recently started to improvise on my alto sax and I've been a bit unsure whether I'm transposing the Keys correctly as I keep ending with 4 or 5 sharps alternatively 4/5 sharps and 1/2 of the sharps in natural too. To give an example when I was transposing A major from concert pitch to Eb I got F# C# G# D# and also F natural. Is this correct? I want to work out all transpositions for all the keys (instead of note by note) so then for example when my bass guitar player says 'I'm going to play in A Minor' I can quickly refer to a chart that tells me what sharps and flats/what key I should be playing in. Could anyone please help me with that? Charlotte
 

Veggie Dave

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When I want to double check myself (always with the alto for some reason - probably because it isn't my main instrument) I use this simple image:


This image is from Beginning Sax.com

Of course, you need to know your scales
 

nigeld

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To give an example when I was transposing A major from concert pitch to Eb I got F# C# G# D# and also F natural. Is this correct?
When transposing for an Eb instrument, you add three more sharps.
A-major concert has 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
The Eb sax equivalent is F# major with 6 sharps - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, and E#

So the "F natural" you are talking about is strictly speaking an E#, but this is just a different name for the same note.
 

MandyH

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As said above to transpose from Concert pitch to an Eb instrument, you add 3 sharps. then shift notes accordingly, but the key signature always should have 3 extra sharps.

But I look at it this way - if my instrument is an Eb pitched instrument, when I play a written C, it sounds Eb, so I write out the scale of C major and call this "written Sax in Eb", then immediately underneath it, I write out the scale of Eb major and call this "sound like, Concert pitch"

then I use this "ready reckoner" as my crib for transposing from C to Eb.

I use this method for any transposing instrument.
You might need to check a little more as to exactly where you need to pitch your new note (eg is it a D under the stave or a D on the 4th line) but it should be fairly self- obvious anyway.
 

C.ward

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When transposing for an Eb instrument, you add three more sharps.
A-major concert has 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
The Eb sax equivalent is F# major with 6 sharps - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, and E#

So the "F natural" you are talking about is strictly speaking an E#, but this is just a different name for the same note.
Amazing! Thank you so much for clearing that up for me :)
 
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