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Is alto saxophone music written for ordinary treble and bass clefs?

  • If this question is just about clefs and not about the transposing of the Sax then it could have very easily just been answered with a google search. – Neil Meyer Jul 28 '15 at 15:38
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Most saxophones, and all the “usual” saxophones, are transposing instruments. This means that when they read and play a C on their sheets, the sound that comes out is not a piano C.

Saxophone music is thus always written in treble clef, but they don’t sound like a piano treble clef when played.

Sopraninos, altos, baritones and contrebass saxophones are in E♭, meaning that their C is a piano E♭.

Soprillos, sopranos, tenors and bass saxophones are in B♭.

There are also a few rare saxophones in C (i.e., non-transposing or, possibly, transposing by octaves) and in F1, but you probably can’t find music written from them readily in the commerce.


  1. Adolphe Sax designed a range of saxophones for the symphonic orchestra, in which instruments are mainly in C, and another one for wind bands and military orchestra, in which instruments are usually in B♭ and E♭. Wind bands readily adopted the instruments while symphonic orchestra did not, which lead to the disappearance of C and F instruments.
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    I don't see how this answers the question. The question as I understand it asks about what clefs the instrument's music is written in. Bass / Treble / Alt or Tenor. – Neil Meyer Jul 28 '15 at 15:29
  • It’s written in the text that music is written in treble clef but that it does not correspond to the piano treble clef as in an middle A written for saxophone is not 442Hz (or so). What would you add to that? – Édouard Jul 28 '15 at 15:37
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Saxophone is written in treble clef, transposed alternately in Bb and Eb (soprano is Bb, alto is Eb, tenor is Bb, etc.).

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