Transpose Alto Sax

One issue that all alto saxophone players are faced with is how to transpose alto sax to something more meaningful, like a piano or guitar.

What notes should you play on your alto saxophone, if you want to play along with a piano or guitar ?

How do you transpose alto sax ?

 

The Alto Sax is in the key of Eb (E flat).

The piano is in the key of C (often known as “Concert”).

This means that when you play a note on your alto sax, it sounds like a different note on other instruments.

So, for example, to transpose alto sax :

When you play an A on your alto sax, it sounds like a C on a piano.

When you play an A#/Bb on your alto sax, it sounds like a C#/Db (C sharp / D flat) on a piano.

When you play a B on your alto sax, it sounds like a D on a piano.

When you play a C on your alto sax, it sounds like an Eb/D# on a piano.

When you play a C#/Db on your alto sax, it sounds like an E on a piano.

When you play a D on your alto sax, it sounds like a F on a piano.

When you play a D#/Eb on your alto sax, it sounds like a F#/Gb on a piano.

When you play an E on your alto sax, it sounds like a G on a piano.

When you play a F on your alto sax, it sounds like a G#/Ab on a piano.

When you play a F#/Gb on your alto sax, it sounds like a A on a piano.

When you play a G on your alto sax, it sounds like a A#/Bb on a piano.

When you play a G#/Ab on your alto sax, it sounds like a B on a piano.

 

Metronomes and Tuning Apps

 

As already mentioned – saxophones are in a different key to many other instruments.  Alto saxophones and tenor saxophones are in different keys to each other.

There are some fantastic tuning gadgets out there – both physical and digital.

Guitarists often use a physical gadget to help them tune their guitars.  Wind players, such as saxophonists, often use an app on their phones to help tune up.

Transpose Alto Sax

Some of these built in tuners display the note names THEY THINK that you are playing.  Others have a moving needle or pointer that shows what note THEY THINK that you are playing.

Some of these tuners have settings that allow you to tell them what instrument you are playing – you can set it to piano, or cello, or trombone, or alto saxophone, or tenor saxophone, etc, etc.

These gadgets usually default to piano or guitar (both known as C or concert instruments).

Therefore, when you play a note on your alto sax, your metronome/tuner gadget may or may not know that you are actually playing an alto sax….it may be thinking that you are playing a piano and hence the note name it displays will be “incorrect”.

These gadgets may or may not know that you are trying to transpose alto sax.

Can the settings on your metronome/tuner gadget be changed to Alto Saxophone ?  If the settings can be changed, then your tuner gadget will transpose alto sax sounds into the correct display note name.

( If the settings cannot be changed, then it can all get a little confusing ! )

Would you like to download a handy Transpose Alto Sax chart ?

Thanks,

Matthew

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