I play the saxophone (E flat instrument) and we got sheet music to play in the key of B natural minor or concert D natural minor. I want to practice that key signature so I want to change another song that I have (Watermelon Man in the key of G) to that key signature.

Can anyone help me?

  • Nit: you clearly are playing alto or maybe bari sax, as tenor and soprano are in Bb and "C-melody" sax is in C. Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


I don't think we have to worry about the sax being a transposing instrument in this case.

So it is in G major or E minor, and you want it it D major or B minor. Either way, it's going to have to be transposed down a perfect 4th. So move every note three steps down on the stave, three letter names down (four if you count the top and bottom notes - that's what we call a fourth). G will become D. F# will become C.

The "black notes" will take care of themselves via the new key signature, unless there are accidentals. Then just make sure you add one that has the same effect - raising or lowering the note by a half step. This will sometimes mean that e.g. a flat will be replaced by a natural (was it perhaps a sharp to start with?)


Okay, take your tune, figure out what degree of the scale it begins on. (You can do this by comparing the tune with the scale that fits it.)

Let's say the tune begins on the fifth degree of the scale (i.e. the fifth note of the scale). Let's say you want to write it down in the key of B minor (as you would see it written for your E flat instrument). Well, the scale of B natural minor (as you would see it in one of your saxophone books) is:

B C# D E F# G A B

and the fifth note of the scale is F#. So that's the first note of the piece (in the imaginary case we started with, that the tune begins on the fifth degree of the scale).

You can keep going by looking at the intervals between the notes in the melody. Just walk yourself through it, note by note. It helps if you know the tune well enough to sing it while you're notating.

It will also help if you check the original sheet music to see if there are any accidentals to watch out for. If it's an accidental in the original, it will be some sort of accidental in your transposed version.

You can ignore the concert key for your purposes.


When you play a 'C' note written on alto sax music, you produce Eb concert.So concert Eb key is written in C. Concert Dm is written in Bm, with 2# on the sax music. You want to play in 2#, but major. That's D on your music. Watermelon man is G concert, so needs for you to be in F concert so your sax music will have to be written in D, 2#. That's if I've understood the question properly !

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