How to transpose the chords from this backing track from guitar to saxophone?

I tried the chords from the video, but they do not fit the alto sax. Do I just have to transpose them from guitar (C) to alto sax (Eb) by moving up by a minor third?

PS: I'm new to music theory


Other way. Alto sax being in E♭ means that a concert E♭ is written as C. So a concert C is written as A, and you need to move everything down a minor third.

My trick for remembering which way to go is to think about moving your instrument's key to the target key, and move the notes the same amount in the same direction. Think, "I'm in E♭, and need to go to C, so I go down a minor third." Another example, if you're reading off of a French horn part (in F): "I'm in E♭, and need to go to F, so I go up a whole step."

  • Or you could pretend the treble clef is actually bass clef and adjust accidentals like crazy :-) . No, I don't actually recommend this! – Carl Witthoft Apr 4 '18 at 13:44
  • So for CM7, which is C-Eb-G-Bb I go down a minor third resulting in A-C-E-G for the first chord. Is this correct? – user9564867 Apr 5 '18 at 8:54
  • Correct. But rather than move every note, I would suggest simply moving Cm7->Am7 and knowing that Am7 is ACEG. – MattPutnam Apr 5 '18 at 14:36
  • @CarlWitthoft again, wrong way. If the music is already in bass clef then you can just read it directly as treble clef + 3 sharps. This works perfectly fine as long as there are no accidentals. – MattPutnam Apr 5 '18 at 14:37
  • @MattPutnam correct for reading bass clef. I'm an old hand at transpositions -- it's really fun on clarinet, where Bb to Eb or the reverse involves thinking of the upper and lower registers being reversed! – Carl Witthoft Apr 5 '18 at 15:02

If it's a jam track, then that's the key it's in. Those are the chords the guitar plays, and the (alto) sax, in Eb, will have to do the transposing. It will be using notes basically from the Am scale if it was written for the sax to play. But it isn't written down, as it's for jamming to.

I suppose you could go the other way, so the sax was playing in Cm, in which case, the first chord on guitar would be Ebm. But then you couldn't use the backing track to play along to!

  • A reason for the downvote would be appreciated. That way, we all learn more. – Tim Apr 4 '18 at 11:29

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