Skip to main content

Home Alt Forums General Questions Sax is a transposing instrument ?

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
  • #108615
    Frank Scott

      I am having difficulty wrapping my mind around this.J Especially since the alto sax is tuned to Eb. Just a few quick questions?

      If I play the first finger key left hand B
      1. What note does it represent in relation to a piano?
      2. If I was looking at a piece of sheet music what note on the staff would it represent if the music is not written specifically for an alto sax?

      Thanks for any info.


      Keith Davidson

        Frank, the alto sax is tuned to Eb which is up a minor 3rd from concert C. A piano is tuned to concert C.

        When you play a B on your alto sax you are playing a minor 3rd down from the concert pitch which would be D.

        If you are familiar with what a relative minor is then you are playing in the major key of the relative minor to sound the same pitch as concert.

        For example if the piano is playing in C major, the concert pitch, the alto sax would need to play in the key of A major. The relative minor of C is A minor.

        So if the concert pitch is G you would play in E, if concert is pitch is Eb you would play in C and so on.

        What you are doing is playing in your key to bring the sax to the concert pitch.

        Hope this makes a little sense.



          well said Keith…I would just add (in case you’re not immediately familiar with what the minor 3rd would be)…
          count up 3 semi-tones from your alto note; so from B count up the next 3 notes (not including the B); C, C#, D

          that’s your easy and fool-proof way to figure it out

          there is a more detailed explanation on the blog here:

          Saxophone Keys Explained

        Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
        • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.