Adolphe Sax invented the instrument that bears his name in 1838, and the saxophone has since become a familiar part of orchestras and bands in classical, jazz and popular music. Like many other wind instruments, the saxophone has its own key. The alto sax is in the key of E-flat, so it must make the appropriate adjustments to play music originally written for piano. To transpose piano music for the alto sax, observe some basic principles.
Make the key signature a major sixth above what is written in the piano music. A major sixth is five and a half tones: C to D (tone), D to E (tone), E to F (half-tone or semitone), F to G (tone), G to A (tone). For example, a piece in C major, with no sharps or flats becomes A major, with F-, C- and G-sharp. A piece in E-flat major, with B-, E- and A-flat, becomes C major, with no sharps or flats.
Play the notes a major sixth above what is written. Where the piano plays B, for example, play G-sharp, and where the piano plays G, play E.
Play notes a minor third below what is written, alternatively. A minor third is one and a half tones, as in E-flat to C: E-flat to D (half-tone or semitone), D to C (tone). This will sound an octave lower than the piano, but you may find it simpler to think in terms of a third below, rather than a sixth above. You may also think of it as transposing down a minor third and then up an octave, if you find the concept easier to understand.
- Photo Credit saxophone details image by Xavier MARCHANT from Fotolia.com
How to Transpose Music
Transposing music involves changing the key in which a musical piece is performed. To accomplish this, notes-or pitches-are moved up or down...
How to Transpose Notes on an Alto Sax
Transpose saxophone notes on an alto sax using the proper techniques and learn how from our expert sax player in this free...