I have a famous song written for piano that I want to transpose for tenor sax. Is that the correct term? It will be put on a piece of art as a gift so its very important I do this correctly. I am very new to music (I'm learning the flute) but know nothing of transposing. I could just put the piano music as is and let him transpose it himself (right?), but I want to show my thought and effort. Any advice would be great!
Transposing (yes, that's the right word) from piano to tenor sax means moving each piano note up one whole step. For example, if middle C is written for the piano, a D should be written for the tenor.
The tenor will sound one octave lower than the actual written note. For instance, the D mentioned above would be written on the space above middle C, but the actual sound is the C in the second space of the bass clef. That's how the tenor is written, and you need not make adjustments for it — it's expected.
There are a few things to be careful of:
- The lowest note the tenor can play is the Ab below middle C (Bb when written for the tenor). (The highest note — F above the treble staff — shouldn't be a concern.)
- Sharps, flats, and naturals can get confusing when transposing from piano to tenor, because they can change depending on what key you're in.
- Piano part is in F major. This means the tenor part will be in G major. So in the key signature, the piano part will have one flat, but the tenor part will have one sharp. Any written Bbs in the piano part will become C naturals in the tenor part. Similarly, Es in the piano part will become F#s in the tenor part. If the piano part happens to have an Eb in it, that will become an F natural in the tenor part (because Eb is a half-step lower than E, and F natural is a half-step lower than F#).