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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I am well on my way to learning scales on my Alto Sax. I am attempting to learn them in Concert C as opposed to the key of A. I am just wondering if this is good for a beginner. I have plans in the future to become so good at transposing music that this question will not matter. But, for now, it matters... thanks,
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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Re: Learning in Concert C vs. Eb Pitch

I don't totally understand. You mean you're learning alto "C major" as Eb major?

Seems like a bad idea, on the face of it.
 

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Re: Learning in Concert C vs. Eb Pitch

I would hope that what you mean is: that you are 1) learning your scales on the horn (a G major scale is a G major scale), and then 2) being knowledgeable about keys in so far as to be able to know what key that is in concert pitch.
Anything else is convoluted.
 

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Re: Learning in Concert C vs. Eb Pitch

Sorry for the confusion... for example, I am learning the Key of A is actually a Concert C. I am just wondering if its better to remember the scales in the Concert pitch... it just seems like twice the work to learn its in the key of A but to play with other musicians, I really need to know it as Concert C. Somewhat confusing to learn but maybe its just me...
 

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I learnt like that. Not on purpose, I just had no idea the saxophone was a transposing instrument. It wasn't until I went to music college that I found out!

It was very hard for me to then unlearn this, though it now means I'm very good at reading concert pitch on alto.

This would be no problem if you never, ever, intended to do any playing that involved reading saxophone music.
 

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I learnt like that. Not on purpose, I just had no idea the saxophone was a transposing instrument.
You and Ornette Coleman! Gunther Schuller recounts Coleman wanting to take some informal theory lessons with him. In the first lesson, while Schuller explained how the sax was a transposing instrument and how it related to concert pitch, Coleman became "violently ill" (threw up?!): he thought of his pitches in concert, and until that moment had no idea just how far "off the beaten path" was his understanding of theory! Coleman never returned for lessons...

To the OP: don't think of your alto as a C instrument; it overly complicates the learning curve, makes it a wee bit harder to double with impunity on tenor and soprano, and really complicates your life if you ever want to read conventional sax music (and you probably will at some point, especially if you start to get good).

(Unless, of course, you're a towering genius like Ornette Coleman. If that's the case, you can blaze any trail you want, and eventually the world may catch up to you. But there'd be a tough slog for a long while...)
 

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Hi,

I am well on my way to learning scales on my Alto Sax. I am attempting to learn them in Concert C as opposed to Eb. I am just wondering if this is good for a beginner. I have plans in the future to become so good at transposing music that this question will not matter. But, for now, it matters... thanks,
Depends on what kind of music you plan on playing.

If you're working in the pop/rock field, it could be a plus.

If you're going to play jazz in a small group with no paper in front of you, not bad.

If you're going to play in a big band with charts, concert or community band, orchestra or classical playing, it's a bad idea.

Likewise, if you plan on doubling on other saxes - bad idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you. I understand your point and it sounds like there is no getting around it and I think I already knew this intuitively. Its best to learn the various keys and the corresponding concert pitches simultaneously so I can play sheet music in Concert C or the key of A. I guess a true master can pick up any sheet music or hear any pitch and play any sax in tune! Thanks all for your time.
 

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Re: Learning in Concert C vs. Eb Pitch

... it just seems like twice the work to learn its in the key of A but to play with other musicians, I really need to know it as Concert C. ...
No, it's not twice the work. What you need to do is learn all 12 keys, period. Once you've done that, it will be easy to play your sax in A or C and transpose from one to the other. When you play an alto in C concert, you simply "think and play" in A on the alto. Simple as that.
 
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