How To Transpose Notes For An Alto Saxophone

Sometimes it is necessary for a musician to learn how to transpose notes for an alto saxophone because the notes they are reading are written in another key. While there is a lot of music available for the alto saxophone player, perhaps the musician found a sheet of music that they would like to play, but it was written for an instrument that uses another key like a trumpet or flute. Transposing only takes a little bit of work and the benefits are well worth it.

The simple tools when learning how to transpose notes for an alto saxophone include:

  • Pencil
  • Blank sheet music paper
  • Scale charts
  1. Find a piece of music to transpose. Music can be purchased new from a music store and older more unusual pieces can be found in places like used book stores, garage sales or a grandmother's piano bench.
  2. Determine what key the sheet music is in. This can be accomplished by noting what instrument the music was written for. Where the instrument is named in the front of the book, there should also be a key i.e.: Trumpet, B Flat.
  3. Find the note chart for that key. Books are available at music stores and libraries that contain charts for every instrument.
  4. Transpose the notes. For instance if using piano music, the alto sax note is moved up a Major sixth. That means that when learning how to transpose notes for an alto saxophone and the piano music calls for a c, the sax would play an A.

Tip: While some accomplished musicians know how to transpose notes for an alto saxophone in their mind as they are playing it, it is much less stressful to write the transposed notes down before hand.

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