How to Transpose the Clarinet

The clarinet is built in the key of B flat. But, other instruments like the flute and piano are in the key of C. That means that the clarinetist can not simply play the same sheet music as a pianist. They will be off key. Instead, either the clarinet player or the pianist has to know how to transpose or change the key of music to make it more playable.


    • 1

      Know that if a pianist or flutist is playing a B flat, the clarinetist must play a C note to match. The clarinet is an entire step lower than the other instruments so you need to transpose it higher.

    • 2

      Use a transposition chart if you're playing with several different types of instruments.

    • 3

      Go through the music you need to transpose. Re-write the notes so that they are an entire step or two half steps higher than the current notes. Use pencil and write the new notes above the printed ones.

    • 4

      Try playing through the music a few times on your own. It'll get easier as you go on to move everything up a step.

    • 5

      Look for sheet music that's already transposed. If you're planning a duet with a piano, it will make it easier if you don't need to transpose everything. It's relatively common for companies to make the music in a transposed form.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take time to read over the music thoroughly before playing it.
  • Don't forget to put in sharps and flats.
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