Home Alt Forums General Questions Sax is a transposing instrument ?

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  • #108615
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    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.

    franko

    #108617
    Keith Davidson
    Participant

    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.

    Keith

    #108641
    john
    Keymaster

    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

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