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I would love to be able to learn the flute by playing more popular music. However, all the free sheet music that I can find for a flute in the key of C is lame stuff like "Jingle Bells."

In my search for songs that I would like to play on the flute, I find music for clarinets, saxophones, etc... all written in different keys. Is there some sort of software I can run sheet music through that would transpose it into another key (preferably the key of C, high enough for the flute?)

Furthermore, I understand that transpose means to move the notes according to the pitch. What is called to move it up or down according to the octave? The flute is a really high instrument and, in learning, it's frustrating to find sheet music written in the key of C, but too low for the flute. A more experienced player could just read the note and play it, but I'm brand new to the flute (and sheet music in general) so it would make playing and learning significantly easier if I could have sheet music written specifically for the octave and key my flute is in. Is there software that can both transpose it and/or move it up an octave or two?

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Not software, but give The Session a look. Many tunes are available with a listing of several artists who play a version of that tune. – iarwain01 Apr 27 '11 at 8:13
This doesn't answer the question, but if you just want to play it an octave higher it's very easy to do on the fly. Many notes (E - C) are the same fingering in the second octave as the first. – Michael Apr 27 '11 at 14:32
@Michael it's not easy to read notes below ledger line C in treble cleff. I think that's the problem Melaine is experiencing – 8128 May 1 '11 at 20:41
Note that you don't really need to transpose anything at all if you intend to play alone. – J B Sep 16 '11 at 11:14
This isn't what you asked, but you might want to consider that doing the transposition yourself (on paper or in your head) is good practice and a way of becoming a better musician. If you want to learn a song really well, it pays to learn it in multiple keys. – Brian Slesinsky Nov 6 '11 at 20:31
up vote 14 down vote accepted

It depends on the source of the music, but I can think of two ways to do this. If I remember correctly, they can both be accomplished with Finale and Sibelius.

If the source is Sheet Music:

  • You are going to need to scan the music and use OCR software meant for music. Sibelius has a program called Photoscore that will do this.

If the music is available as Midi file:

  • Music notations can generally import the music and then you can use a transpose function.

With either of these, there will probably be some mistakes and cleaning up that needs to be done (Manually adjusting sections if they are out of the range of your instrument, incorrect notes, etc). But once you get into a program like Finale or Sibelius there are Transpose functions in the menu.

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The full version of Finale also comes packaged with Musitek Smartscore Lite. Of course, there are many other utilities that one can use to convert from PDF and/or image file to MIDI. Keep in mind that the best is often not the cheapest. – ksoo Jan 21 '14 at 13:47

You should definitely check out the open source notation software It has many features related to transposing.

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You would have to manually enter the music, though. I've never heard of a scanner program that could convert sheet music to the right file format. – Michael Apr 27 '11 at 14:34
Sibelius PhotoScore does it, but it's not free. – Ben Alpert Apr 27 '11 at 23:57
Use and then feed the MusicXML file into Musescore. – Turion May 3 '11 at 20:33
pdftomusicpro works only with an original PDF scoresheet generated by a music program (such as Finale, Sibelius) for which you do not have the source. It works by looking for the font changes and characters codes that these softwares use for printing into a PDF. It cannot work with scanned sheetmusic (this is the province of Photoscore). – ogerard May 4 '11 at 13:00
@Turion the pdftomusicpro tip is great. Maybe add that to the answer? – ryanjdillon Sep 20 '15 at 10:17

There's lots of composition software that you can use to grab groups of notes and transpose them all up. (Finale comes to mind). However, you do this within a specific file format. "Sheet music" doesn't have a specific file format. It's often PDF, but PDF is designed for graphical layout and not for being read by music software. So you can't do this in general with any sheet music. You could manually copy it into Finale or other software and edit it there, though.

Transposing up an octave is still just transposing.

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If transposing in full octaves is the problem, I would spend a little more time on learning to read music. This is the easiest transposition to do and does not require a lot of training and in the long run it'll be required and save you a lot of running to the computer for simple problems. – andy Apr 27 '11 at 6:05

I suggest doing it by means of Finale and Sibelius. Also Musescore is useful, but... If You're not acquainted with the programs, You may and will have troubles with any of them.

This is why, You shouldn't do it by Yourself, just order scores and get it back in PDF, print them and play flute or else. I suggest this service. My friends suggested me and now I save my time.

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TuxGuitar (Free) probably has that feature.
Guitar Pro ($60 / 60€) surely has it.

With both you'll have to manually enter the music in the software. But if the music is a well-known song, you may find already existing tabs in the Guitar Pro format (that TuxGuitar can read), like on

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Melanie -- many people have given you answers to the first part of your question (I might also add which lets you move the music up a bit and will let you download the music in a form you can load into free Finale Notepad to transpose) but I didn't see an answer to the second part:

Transposing can refer to either changing the key of the piece, moving it within an octave, or shifting the octave of a piece, or both.

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whoops, didn't see that Matthew had answered the second part also. I'll leave the answer for the first part instead. – Michael Scott Cuthbert Feb 25 '13 at 4:54

Scanning sheet music, transposing, reprinting. Look at "Music Publisher"

There are two versions, the scanning version and the standard version. In the second you have to enter the software first by pressing names of notes (eg A C E etc). In the second you scan-in from sheet music or direct from PDF files.

Bernard Hill

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