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.

Instructions

    • 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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