How to Transpose From Flute to Clarinet

If you try to play a flute piece on the clarinet, you will be playing the wrong notes. Flutes play in concert pitch, and as a result, written notes and the actual sound produced are the same. The clarinet is a transposing instrument; it sounds a major second lower than the notes that are written in the music. This means that a C on the flute would have to be written as a D on the clarinet to produce the same pitch. Learning to transcribe notes will make it possible to play both instruments in unison.


    • 1

      Learn the chromatic scale to determine the correct pitch to use. The chromatic scale is a series of 12 pitches that create half steps from one note to the next. A C chromatic scale is C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B. (Notes separated by a slash are called enharmonics; they are two ways to indicate the same note. For example, C# and Db will sound the same.)

    • 2

      Transpose the notes from the flute part into an appropriate part for clarinet by counting up two half-steps in the chromatic scale. The selected note should also be one note name higher. For example, if the flute part has a C#, you would write the clarinet part as a D# and not an Eb. This is because an Eb is actually two note names higher, even though both pitches sound the same.

    • 3

      Continue to transpose the entire piece note-by-note. With practice, transposing for the clarinet will become second nature.

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