My wind band is playing Saint-Saens' Pas Redouble, using the Josneau arrangement published by Evette & Schaeffer. It's on IMSLP. The bassoon part is mostly in bass clef, but occasionally uses a clef I've never seen before. I assume it's a variation of a C (tenor) clef. You can see it after the 8 bar rest below.

First line of Pas Redouble Bassoon part showing unusual clef

Stanford and Forsyth showed the historical evolution of the tenor clef in this image (found here). Evolution of tenor clef

Does anyone have a more authoritative source confirming that this is a tenor clef?

It would be conclusive if there were a key signature shown in that clef, but in this piece, the key signature is shown in bass clef only. Tenor clef would mean e-natural and f-sharp accidentals, which seems quite reasonable.

"pas redouble", second appearance of bassoon clef

  • 2
    One way to confirm your hypothesis would be to check the score (if you have access to it, of course) to see whether the part makes sense if you assume that the clef is a tenor clef. But also note that this clef is shown fourth from the end on the first line of Stanford and Forsyth, and second on the second line.
    – phoog
    Feb 19, 2023 at 16:51
  • I find the given reference lacking; in my opinion it does not convey, that the C clef is called a tenor clef only, when sitting on the fourth line (counted from below).
    – guidot
    Feb 20, 2023 at 12:11

3 Answers 3


Preface: Tenor clef (nor any other clef) does not change the key signature, only the lines and/or spaces on which the key signature appears.

Yes, it's a tenor clef. The "authoritative source" is the score itself.

The clef appears at m. 15.

Looking at the conductor's score (transposed to Bb — i.e., one whole step above concert pitch), the band at that moment is playing a C major chord: first as C3 C4 E4 then as G2 C4 E4.

"Pas redouble" m. 15, conductor's score

Thus, at concert pitch, the band is playing a Bb major chord, and the bassoon, being a non-transposing instrument — should be playing a pitch within the chord: Bb or D. Looking only at that single measure, the clef could be tenor or alto, and the bassoon would be "in the chord".

The clef appears again at m. 55. The conductor's score at that point shows an F major chord followed by F# diminished. Note in particular the "bass" part (in treble clef) moving chromatically from F to F# (Eb to E natural in concert pitch).

"Pas redouble" m. 55, conductor's score

The bassoon part only makes sense if it is also Eb to E natural. So the clef must be a tenor clef. (In alto clef, it would be G to G#, which would clash horribly with the rest of the band.)

This is further confirmed by Saint-Saens's own arrangement for piano, 4 hands. Between the secondo and primo parts, there are an Eb major chord Eb3 G5 Bb5 followed by an E diminished chord E3 G5 Bb5. The only moving part being Eb to E means that the wind-band bassoon part also can only be Eb to E.


It looks like one of those old style C-clefs, and is centred about the 4th line — it's a tenor clef.

Except of the above score, with clef and 4th line highlighted


This is the Bariton clef: c clef on the 5th line.

Because it is equivalent to the F-clef on the third line, the C-clef on the fifth line version of the baritone clef is a rarity.



  • 1
    Thanks for your reply, but I couldn't follow how the source related to my question.
    – John
    Feb 19, 2023 at 7:58
  • 6
    In the example given in the question it's on the fourth line and not the fifth.
    – PiedPiper
    Feb 19, 2023 at 9:45

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