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      What is the sensible thing to do when transposing a piece of music for the Alto, which is in Concert E Major?
      I don’t feel like contending with the seven sharps of C# Major or 5 flats of Db Major!
      Or in the event of any other transposed key which results in too many sharps or flats.

      Which key change would still give me a reasonable sounding transposed version?


        personal preference.

        i would pick the flats because you just hold down the bis key when playing all the other scale keys.


          Just go up or down a semi tone which would put your alto in C or D


            Thanks for the advice Johnny.

            I’ve been trying to transpose a version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement) for my Alto, but it has a huge note range and I’m probably on my fourth version already, which still doesn’t sound too good. Anyway I’ll keep at it!

            Sxpoet, I’m not sure what you mean regarding the Bis key approach, would you please explain this in more detail.


              Jeff – i was taught to play any major scales that have two or more flats, to always use the Bis key when playing Bb, but when you play all the other notes on the key scale, to keep the Bis key pressed down all the time, except for a few notes like mid C – a trick used to play faster and smoother, you don’t have to wait to play a Bb to press the Bis key, you keep the Bis key down all the time. A speeds up playing major scsles with all flats


                Sxpoet – Interesting idea! I only use the Bis key for the Bb/A# at this stage. I will have to investigate that option! That form of Bb fingering was quite difficult for me at first, but now it’s becoming second nature as my fingers feel more at home on the keys.

                I’ve completed V5 of the Moonlight Sonata for Alto in C Major. I will try it on the sax in an hour or so, I hope this one sounds better! Cheers


                  its not an idea its a fact passed on to me by a very experienced pro.

                  If you play the Bb major scale starting from Mid Bb going down to low Bb. You can play mid Bb with the bis key held down, at the same time you can play all the way down to Low Bb with the bis key held down and all the way back up to mid Bb flat.

                  by holding down the bis key you are not slowing down when going from A to Bb (you can also trill faster). The same logic applies to all the major scales with flats in. Having someone in front of you showing and in some cases holding the sax keys while you blow tge sax is more benificial.


                    Love the piece (moonlight sonata) haven’t done it yet but what I would try first is to play it in the original key…
                    meaning, transpose the piano part (I think the original is in C# minor?)
                    anyway, just transpose everything down a minor 3rd and this should be perfect for alto and keep you in the original key.
                    if you’re going to be playing those triplet parts just go up an octave and that should work.


                      Johnny – unfortunately for me I can only play from Bb to F (only 2.5 of the 4+ octaves required). So to play it properly one needs to be able to go up into the altissimo range too. I have managed to fit the music into the normal sax range, but it doesn’t sound as grand as the original. I would love to hear what you could do with this one. Perhaps after you have published ‘Mean Mr Senf’?


                        oh man, I’m working on a list of tunes right now and Mr Zenf isn’t even on it!
                        actually, the required sax range is the 2.5 octave range, it’s only in very advanced classical stuff and improvisation that you’d really need it….and of course when transposing music that was written for another instrument as you have found out.
                        but getting back to the moonlight sonata… how are you approaching it? from what I remember of it it’s a piano thing with the constant triplet figure in the left hand with the sparse melody on top. so for sax this wouldn’t even be possible so not sure how you’re transposing it for sax.

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