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Discussion Starter #1
So as someone who is not a great reader of sheet music, who plays both alto and tenor, I am wondering if its easier to read alto off tenor sheet music or to read tenor off alto music ? To me it makes more sense to buy sheet music as tenor and read it as alto because as it gets above the top of the staff your trying to imagine notes up above where there are no lines which seems more difficult as opposed to imagining the notes for alto being below the tenor note where you have lines most of the time to help guide you.
Either way If anyone has any tips on transposing Id love to hear them and you opinions on which you buy and why.
 

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It honestly depends what type of music you're playing. And depending on the song, if you're transposing by looking at the notes on the page and mentally picturing them in their transposed position (IE, if you see an A on the tenor piece, you picture it as a D on the staff instead) you may not be able to keep up.

IMO you're better off learning the song on one instrument first. Determine the key, and then look at a few key notes (IE the first and last note of the phrase, the highest note, etc.) and determine what scale degree they are in relation to the key. Then determine the degrees or intervals of the subsequent notes. Does it move chromatically? In minor thirds? Perfect fourths? For example:

I learned Summertime on alto. The melodic line enters on the 5th, and for the most part it stays on the root, 3rd, or 5th of the key (as opposed to the changes). From that, it took no time at all to transpose it into soprano. All I needed to do was transpose the key, (I learned it in D minor Concert, so B from minor on alto to E minor on soprano) and remember that I come in on the 5th (F# on alto, B on sprano). The other intervals more or less fall into place quite naturally after that.

This also works for simply learning the tune in a new key (which transposing from alto to tenor is doing anyway).

In fact here's a fun exercise you can do:

Learn the tune on either alto or tenor. Transpose it to the other horn under the same concert pitch. IE, how to play it in Bb concert on both horns.

Now... You've actually learned fingerings for TWO transposed keys: GMaj and CMaj. Which means on alto you can play that song in concert Bb and Eb, and the tenor in Bb and A.

So, why not learn to play it in A concert on alto? That gives you F#. And learning Eb on tenor gives you F. Keep it going, and in no time you'll be able to play that song in all 12 keys on both horns.
 

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Actually I would buy the piano sheet if that was available. If your going to transpose anyway, more than likely the piano will always have something at a gig. If you could learn to transpose off the concert key you'll be better off in the long run.
 

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So as someone who is not a great reader of sheet music, who plays both alto and tenor, I am wondering if its easier to read alto off tenor sheet music or to read tenor off alto music ? To me it makes more sense to buy sheet music as tenor and read it as alto because as it gets above the top of the staff your trying to imagine notes up above where there are no lines which seems more difficult as opposed to imagining the notes for alto being below the tenor note where you have lines most of the time to help guide you.
Either way If anyone has any tips on transposing Id love to hear them and you opinions on which you buy and why.
Neither. I buy sheet music in concert notation, in the key that I'm most likely to play it in (not everyone may be aware that sheet music shops - and, yes, there are still a few of these - can subscribe to services where you can get piano reductions of a very large number of popular tunes, auto-transposed to any key). If I end up playing it on bass, flute, piano, guitar, or C soprano, I don't have to transpose. If I end up playing it on alto or baritone, that's one transposition that all saxophonists ought to master fairly early on in their playing lives. If I end up playing it on Bb soprano, tenor, or bassax, that's a different transposition that all saxophonists ought to master fairly early in their playing lives. If someone else wants to play violin, guitar, etc., etc., looking on, they can do so.

I readily admit that I cannot transpose the real finger-busters at sight, but the vast majority of simple tunes are not a problem. The biggest thing is doing enough of it that you keep it in practice. Stop reading in transposition, and after a while the skill will become rusty from disuse, just like sightreading.

The real question here is what is this sheet music you're buying? Piano reductions of popular Broadway tunes and the like? Exercise books? Lead sheets from fake books?
 

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Since I play tenor exclusively, I'd probably buy it for tenor, but it's also pretty easy to transpose sheet music in concert key to the tenor (just move everything up a whole step). I already have a bunch of fake books with every tune under the sun in them but I only use them as a guide if necessary and then memorize the tune anyway. So I don't buy sheet music. I prefer to play by ear.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the great tips. I never considered C music but its usually easier to find anyway.
I find myself relying more on the sheets as my memory seems to not be what it used to be......now where did I put my glasses...
 
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