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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to reconcile the actual notes coming from my alto against this chart from SOTW... and my instruction book/CD "Absolute Beginners Alto".

When I play the written B note, I get the same tone as on the book's CD which according to my tuner is actually D. When I play written A, I get the same sound as on the books CD, which is actually E on the tuner.

So, I'm getting the right notes out of my alto... according to the sounds on the book's CD.

However, I don't understand how this relates to this transposition chart found on SOTW...



As far as I can make out, according to this chart, written B should sound A flat and written A should sound G flat - or am I completely misunderstanding the chart?

Or... is there some other chart that corresponds to what I'm playing i.e.

B = D
A = E
etc...


Thanks...
 

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This chart corresponds to that. Your alto is in E-flat. Look at the very bottom row: B on the alto = D on piano (or flute or other instrument in the key of C) = E on the tenor sax or trumpet, which are in B-flat. The e-flat row is your point of reference for the alto.

However, A on the alto = C on the piano. Think about it: if B=D, how can A=E? Alto B = piano D; Alto C = piano E-flat (D#); alto C# = piano E.


Make sense?:D
 

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zaxroots said:
So when I play written A, why am I getting actual E? Shouldn't it be C?
If you are fingering the note properly (first two fingers of the left hand down) then that should be concert c (c on the piano).

If you go from B (=D you say) to A, does the pitch go down or up? It should go down a step.

Is your tuner properly adjusted?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, just going by the tones on the CD... I measured them on my Peterson Strobe tuner and this is what I get...

B = D (one finger)
A = C (two fingers)
G = A flat (three fingers)

Any idea what's going on?

For instance, if the tuner is off - then why is the first line correct?

Thanks
 

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Search me. But now you're getting the right result for A, so that has changed! Why? G however is not right. Alto G should be concert B-flat.

Three possibilities:

Something's wrong with the tuner.
Something's wrong with the horn.
Something's off with your technique.

Do you have a teacher? It's not possible to diagnose this further without actually being there to see/hear what's going on.

But: the transposition chart in your first post is absolutely correct. Make that your point of reference for the notes you should be producing.
 

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zaxroots said:
Okay, just going by the tones on the CD... I measured them on my Peterson Strobe tuner and this is what I get...

B = D (one finger)
A = C (two fingers)
G = A flat (three fingers)

Any idea what's going on?

For instance, if the tuner is off - then why is the first line correct?

Thanks
That almost makes sense

B = D - good
A = C - good
G = A flat - not good, should be B flat.


If you look at your chart, you see that B in the E flat instruments column is equivalent to D in the C instruments coulumn, and likewise A is equivalent to C.

Unless you have some way of telling your tuner that it is hearing an E flat transposing instrument, this is what you should expect to get.

If the tuner says A flat, that suggests that you are not playing a G on the alto, but an F instead.

Just remember that the tuner will give you the C instrument equivalent note to the one you play on the sax.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Reedsplinter & Stefank - sorry - I was getting A# readout on the tuner (not A flat)... for alto G - my mistake... I misread the tuner...

I was playing and matching the CD quite well - I just needed to get my head around this chart and make sure I understood how the actual notes related to the tuner.

Thanks for all your help.
 

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zaxroots said:
Reedsplinter & Stefank - sorry - I was getting A# readout on the tuner (not A flat)... for alto G - my mistake... I misread the tuner...

I was playing and matching the CD quite well - I just needed to get my head around this chart and make sure I understood how it related to the actual notes on the tuner.

Thanks for all your help.
Cool! Glad all is well then.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, another question... I play all instruments by ear... for me, since I only want to create my own music, not play other people's written music - would I be better off just marking up the sax instruction book with the actual alto note names so that I know what notes I'm playing?

It seems to me that it would be more beneficial for me to have the actual note names in my head as opposed to transposing from "concert" (?) I also play bass and keyboards... wouldn't it be better for me to memorise the actual note names - so that I know what I'm playing?

Thanks again...
 

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It's best to do both - especially if you want to play tenor as well later. If you just called the notes by their "concert pitch" name (what you call them on bass or keyboard) the one note name will have different fingerings on the different type of sax, which tends to lead to confusion. It also makes talking to other sax players about what you're doing more difficult!

After a whle applying the "offset" becomes more or less automatic - if the band are playing in G, the alto player needs to think in E, if they're in B flat he needs to think in G etc.
 

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zaxroots said:
So, another question... I play all instruments by ear... for me, since I only want to create my own music, not play other people's written music - would I be better off just marking up the sax instruction book with the actual alto note names so that I know what notes I'm playing?

It seems to me that it would be more beneficial for me to have the actual note names in my head as opposed to transposing from "concert" (?) I also play bass and keyboards... wouldn't it be better for me to memorise the actual note names - so that I know what I'm playing?

Thanks again...
I you only plan to play alone, do whatever you want. But if you EVER plan to play with other people, you need a shared language and a common set of concepts. Best to do what Stefank says: he's right.:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
hmmm... I'm pretty sure I'll never be playing in a typical band situation - all the playing I do will be in the studio, recording my own stuff...

Thanks guys - you've answered my questions...

Much appreciated!
 

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zaxroots said:
hmmm... I'm pretty sure I'll never be playing in a typical band situation - all the playing I do will be in the studio, recording my own stuff...

Thanks guys - you've answered my questions...

Much appreciated!
You know your own needs better than I do. However, one thing to keep in mind: transposing is confusing at first, but after awhile it just becomes automatic. Just takes some practice.
 
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