Skip to main content

Home Alt Forums Music Theory Transposing- help?!

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #23434

      Hi All,
      I am very new to any kind of music and have got an Alto recently so I am a beginner.
      I’m having serious trouble with understanding transposing.
      So if I want to play a a c major scale along with my partner (who plays guitar) does that mean one of us has to change our scale for it to sound the same?? And if not then how does transposing come into the equation when playing together?
      Thank you,


        Hey Lauren. I read your post and quickly remembered how frustrating and confusing it was when I started my sax journey less than two years ago. It will come just stick with it. I now comfortably understand the relationship between instruments and have most scales and their notes imbedded in my brain and most under my fingers without thinking. I got all my theory knowledge off the internet and by scrolling through forums like this. Hope this helps….

        Original Key ____________Key for Alto Sax (Eb)

        G ————————– E (4 sharps)
        G# (Ab) ——————- F (1 flat)
        A ————————– F# (6 sharps)
        A# (Bb) ——————- G (1 sharp)
        B ————————– Ab (3 flats)
        C ————————– A (3 sharps)
        C# (Db) ——————- Bb (2 flats)
        D ————————– B (5 sharps)
        D# (Eb) ——————- C (nothing)
        E ————————– C# (7 sharps)
        F ————————– D (2 sharps)
        F# (Gb) ——————- Eb (3 flats)


          Thank you for your help Dazza. So does this mean that for example if I’m playing in the key of C major then a guitar player would have to play in the key of Eb major to match?

          paddy jordan

            Hi Lauren

            this shows you the transpositions.
            i use my own simple way to transpose say you wanted to play along on your alto with some one on guitar or piano and they were in the key of eb always count 4 down including the first note of that key so Eb D Db C so now when you play C Scale your both in tune. also to use this form you must be familiar with the chromatic scale if you look at them 4 notes there Db is also The same C .sharp hope this helps


              Thanks so much Paddy that is a really helpful way to remember x


                Hi Lauren

                Download this table as a handy reference. Music table

                You will see that instruments in C are in the 1st column, Tenor sax Bb 2nd column and Alto sax Eb in 6th column.
                See how many sharps or flats the music has and lookup the key in the first column.

                Then to transpose to Eb you just use the corresponding notes in the 6th column.
                The alto sax plays 9 notes lower, and the Tenor sax plays 14 notes lower when we play a C on the Sax.
                Therefore all our music has to be moved up so we play the same note as instruments in other keys.
                I have transposed quite a bit of Tenor sax music for my Alto and use a handy free program from
       which makes the task much easier.

                Michael Bishop

                  Hi Lauren, I posted a video for you that Johnny made on this very subject. That’s great you see the need to transpose your own music…there’s no getting around it on the Saxophone…don’t you just love this beast and everything we have to deal with on it? 🙂 Transposing is very simple….in short, to transpose sheet music you find for Bb Sax, count UP 2 semi tones. For Eb Sax, count DOWN 3 semi tones. So, for example, if you have piano sheet music in the key of C, count up 2 semi tones for the Tenor…that means we’re now in the key of D. Same goes for every single note, count up 2 semi tones. If you’re playing on Alto, count down 3 semi-tones, which is a minor 3rd. So if someone is playing in C on the Piano, that brings us to A on the Alto. Again, same thing applies for every single note…count down 3 semi tones. Just to take it one little step further for you, the difference between Tenor and Alto sheet music is 5 semi-tones–so if you see sheet music that’s written in Tenor Sax and you wanna transpose it to Alto, count DOWN 5 semi-tones. If your in Alto sheet music and you wanna play/transpose that sheet music on Tenor, COUNT UP 5-semi-tones. It’s pretty simple/straight forward and with a little practice it will become 2nd nature to you.


                    Thank you all so much. All these posts have been really helpful and I really understand it much more now. It’s so nice to have found a forum with a great sax community 😀
                    I was even able to have a good jam with my partner playing guitar which was awesome!
                    Thanks again!!

                  Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
                  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.