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Discussion Starter #1
hey everyone!
so a little confused still about playing a transposing instrument.

can an alto sax play regular piano sheet music? I mean, if I have a song that let's say is in G major for the piano, do I need to transpose the piece to Bflat or is that only important if playing with backing track or other instruments?
 

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You got it right. As long as the notation is within the range of the sax and you're just playing it on your own, you don't have to transpose it unless you just want to put it into a friendlier range. Just play it as written.
 

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What did you do when you were playing trumpet?

If you care about playing it on the right (written) key or if you're going to be playing with other people then you need to either transpose it or buy a copy that's already transposed. And as Mike kind of mentioned, from concert key to Eb you need to transpose DOWN a minor third, not up. If you're transposing from alto to piano, that's when you transpose up a minor 3rd.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
LOL when I played the trumpet I only ever learned the songs that were given to me to learn and hence always had music written for the trumpet. I've got some piano music though that has some simple melodies I'd like to give a shot.
 

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You can just play them as written for fun. You mention that they are simple melodies, however, so they would be perfect for practicing your transposing chops. Most sax players learn at some point to transpose as they read from a concert piece. Start by transposing the key signature. From there, you can either transpose the notes by interval, or by their relationship to the scale of the key signature. For example, the first 7 notes of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" are 3-2-1-2-3-3-3 regardless of the scale/key signature you are playing in.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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oh man... people can actually transpose-sight-read? that's insane...
Necessary skill for the working musician. I do a jazz gig where the book is in C. I could already transpose the notes at sight but I had to learn how to transpose the chord changes at sight as well. Transposing C to Bb (tenor/trumpet) is fairly easy. So is reading bass clef while playing bari. C to Eb (Alto) is a bit harder. So is reading tenor charts on alto and vice versa.
 

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oh man... people can actually transpose-sight-read? that's insane...
As a saxophone player, you would do yourself a big favor to start learning how to read music in C right away. These days, more and more often in the world of professional bands and recording studios, transposition is being seen as obsolete and inconvenient. If you learn how to sightread in C on Bb and Eb instruments, you will thank yourself many times over later on down the road.

Also, I've heard that Joe Henderson made a point never to read transposed music, only concert. If you can start thinking of open C# on your tenor as a B, three fingers down in your left hand as an F, six fingers down as a C, and so on, you'll be on the right track.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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It's not that hard for tenor
I'm very lucky in that for me it's not hard for alto, as I originally learnt the alto as a C instrument, I didn't know about transposing. It's now second nature for me to read concert pitch and it has been very useful for me in my career.
 

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I'm in the possession of the legendary piano tuned in B, but most of the times I'm just playing Concert key stuff on it
 

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when it's simple and slow it shouldn't be too hard.
The last time I had to transpose was when I played tenor of a bass chart. Calculating both the clef AND the notes proved to be too much for me, I couldn't do it fast enough..bit of a disaster...If at the time I had an alto present it would have been a lot easier, just adjust the sharps and flats (key) and you'll do fine..
 

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here in Germany B is Bb and H is B !!!!!!
 

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oh man... people can actually transpose-sight-read? that's insane...
i was required to do it at age 8...so that was a good start!!!
you start slow,and then it comes quicker

..but the first desire is to WANT to do it at all
 

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...i suppose it would be helpful to you to know as well that you can read trombone or any bass clef music straight off the page and that you will actually be playing the right notes!(on an Eb instrument,that is)
 

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...i suppose it would be helpful to you to know as well that you can read trombone or any bass clef music straight off the page and that you will actually be playing the right notes!(on an Eb instrument,that is)
which is correct if you take care of the accidentals which might be slightly different, adjust the key.
 

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oh man... people can actually transpose-sight-read? that's insane...
This may be a little bit down the road for you, but a great way to practice in general is to learn to play things in all twelve keys. If you relate melodies and changes numerically to the key of the tune, you can learn to do it. It's like pulling teeth at first, but it helps develop both your ear and your understanding of chordal and melodic relationships. Plus, you never have to worry about what key a band is going to call a tune in.


Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's it... I'm going out and getting one of those music theory work books and I'll spend the hours where it's too late to play but I want to practise working on my theory. lol

So a Eb alto is a minor 3rd down from concert pitch. that means 3 semi-tones down. So does it work to change which notes are sharps/flats and then play one note below the one that is written?

Randy I hear what you're saying with the numbers and also hear what you're saying about pulling teeth. I think I've failed to excel at a lot of the instruments I play because I got lazy on the theory and just wanted to play songs the minute I figured out how. When i chose to learn the saxophone I told myself I'd give it a real shot and work on my scales, keys, theory, etc so I guess I'll have to bear with some teeth pulling.

In the end, it makes sense... there's so much sheet music around for the piano and although I've seen a lot for alto sax, there's a couple of tunes I can only find in piano.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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So a Eb alto is a minor 3rd down from concert pitch. that means 3 semi-tones down. So does it work to change which notes are sharps/flats and then play one note below the one that is written?
No, it's actually a major 6th up from what's written.

So middle C on the piano (one ledger line below the staff with treble clef) is A on the second space up on the staff.
 
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