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OK, the band leader is playing keyboard. It's a "C" instrument. He holds up two fingers indicating a chord change to the key of "D". (Two sharps) What key would that be for a Bb tenor sax player or an Eb alto sax player? I get the concept of fingers pointing up indicating the number of sharps and fingers pointing down indicating the number of flats, ie. 3 fingers pointing down would be 3 flats or Key of Eb, one finger pointing up, one sharp or Key of "G".
How does one determine which key to play on their instrument? There is probably a simple answer but it's confusing to me.
Thank you very, very much, Randy
 

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Does anybody sell a book or chart where all this music theory is graphed out on staff paper so it's easier to study and understand?
Thanks again, Randy
 

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Thanks a lot, Vito. I have a couple "C" mel saxes but I'm trying to learn something here. Cheers, Randy
 

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You just have to learn the 'Circle of Fifths'. On a Tenor you're always 'two to the right' (clockwise); on an Alto you're 'three to the right'.
A google search will give you tons of sites; this is just one: http://cnx.org/content/m10865/latest/
 

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Just add two sharps to whatever key it is (or subtract two flats.)
 

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Tinorman said:
OK, the band leader is playing keyboard. It's a "C" instrument. He holds up two fingers indicating a chord change to the key of "D". (Two sharps) , Randy
Pgraves answered your specific question, but your statement above is confusing. Is your band leader indicating a chord change or a change of key? A chord change does not necessarily imply a key change--it's not the same thing. Do the two fingers mean a II minor chord, or do they mean two sharps? If the latter, I'd question that system--using numbers of sharps and flats to indicate key or chords is clumsy at best and misleading at worst. That's just my opinion and it may have no bearing here.

If he means a change to the II minor chord, the two fingers make total sense to me and they don't mean "2 sharps." The "2" would stand for the "II chord" in C, or the D minor chord, which in C major would mean no sharps or flats, assuming a diatonic progression.

Let me restate it: A chord change is not the same thing as a key change. I would ask for clarification on the meaning of the 2 fingers.
 

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vito said:
Allright, got it, you have melody C.
Now you need "Harmonic conversion wheel." (See attached file)
I found the Harmonic conversion wheel to be much too confusing untill I studied it while wearing my Deflector Beanie. (Easy to make!)
 

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Pgraves said:
Concert D:
Tenor = up a whole step = E
Alto = down a minor 3rd = B
The rule for any key is:
Tenor key = up a whole step from concert key
Alto key = down a minor 3rd from concert key
 

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What Key?

Tenor: Add two fingers
Alto: Add three fingers

Examples:
When keyboard player shows two fingers up,
Tenor: +2 + 2 = 4 sharps
Alto: +2 + 3 = 5 sharps

When keyboard player shows three fingers down.
Tenor: -3 + 2 = 1 flat
Alto: -3 +3 = no sharps or flats
 

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Tinorman said:
Key change was meant, sorry.
Got it, thanks. Sorry, I'm not familiar with the fingers in the air to indicate sharps or flats, which in turn will indicate key. I guess it would work pretty well if everyone were tuned into it. Being a wise***, I'd be way too temped to occasionally hold up a certain finger......

Anyway, to get serious for a minute, Tinorman, there are many good books available on music theory. Mark Levine's "Jazz Theory Book" is considered the bible these days and very clearly written. There are some more basic books out there also. Do a search here for such books and you'll get lots of suggestions.
 

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Let me be pedantic here;), For alto and TRUE tranposition its up a major 6th!.
 

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terjeo said:
You just have to learn the 'Circle of Fifths'. On a Tenor you're always 'two to the right' (clockwise); on an Alto you're 'three to the right'.
A google search will give you tons of sites; this is just one: http://cnx.org/content/m10865/latest/

Is it me or is this cycle wrong regarding minor keys? 'A' minor with no flats?
 

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A minor never had any flats ... at least when I went to school in the last millennium!
 

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There is an anecdote that I was told concerning transposition and Miles Davis.

When Miles was a young man he went to study at Julliard for a short time. The teacher asked him a convoluted transposition question, then asked him where it put his horn, to which he replied, 'in my case'.;)
 

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That's right, "A minor" is the relative minor to C major, which of course has no sharps or flats. In other words, play C major scale starting on A, and you have A minor. Technically A "aolian." Of course there are other minor scales for A, such as A "dorian" with F#, or A melodic minor with F# and G#.

If you actually want to look at it in terms of which notes are "flatted," A aolian does have three flatted notes: C# is flatted to C, F# to F, and G# to G. In this case you are starting with A major and making it minor. For A dorian, you flat the 3rd (C# to C) and the 7th (G# to G). I actually think that's the best way to look at it. But it's all relative.

Going back to transposition for a moment, you don't have to get bogged down with it at all, once you have established which key YOU are playing in. Just play and think in the key on your horn. Of course if you are trying to read some sheet music in concert pitch, that's a different matter.
 

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hakukani said:
There is an anecdote that I was told concerning transposition and Miles Davis.

When Miles was a young man he went to study at Julliard for a short time. The teacher asked him a convoluted transposition question, then asked him where it put his horn, to which he replied, 'in my case'.;)
Speaking of anecdotes....there's a book that I have (lent it out, so I'm unsure of the author and title) and in this book there's a funny anecdote which illustrates JL's remark regarding the practice of holding up fingers to indicate keys.
The bandleader, with his back to the band, would hold 1, 2, 3 etc fingers up or down, behind his back, to let the band know which key each tune was in. One of the band members took to making funny remarks each time, such as "so how many of the band are gonna make it with your old lady tonight boss?" The bandleader, unaware, would hold up 3 fingers. And so on...:D :D :D
 
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