If i have a piece written in the bass clef and I need to transpose it for baritone saxophone in EFlat how can I do it? The first note is an F, would this become an A when trasposed? Does the clef change?

  • What was it originally written for: an instrument in C? – Tim H Oct 11 '18 at 11:56
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    Possible duplicate of Music theory - transposing – Carl Witthoft Oct 11 '18 at 12:48
  • I would say this is not a duplicate of the linked question, this is about transposing to a transposing instrument, the other is about transposing between 2 instruments pitched in C but with different registers. – Some_Guy Oct 30 '18 at 7:46

I play bari sax too, and there is a nice trick you can use to sightread bass parts without mucking about transposing.

Ignore the clef, add three sharps to the key signature, and otherwise play it as written. That first space note is an A in bass clef, but we're ignoring the clef (in other words, replacing it with treble) so we play an F instead, adding accidentals according to the new key signature.

Accidentals are where this gets interesting, especially "advisory" accidentals, which are supposed to be written in brackets but often aren't. For example if a piece is in Eb and you have a bar with an E natural in it, an Eb in a later bar might be written as Eb instead of E(b). Otherwise flats and sharps work normally, except if you're already on a flat or sharp note, in which case you double it - if the original piece is in C then we're in three sharps (A), so an A on the bass part is an F# for us, so an A# on the bass part would become F##. The natural sign then means sharp or flat depending on (a) if it's "advisory" and (b) if the key signature is flats or sharps respectively.

  • I've played this game between Eb and Bb parts too. Not as easy when transposing from Bb to A (symphonic clarinet) :-) – Carl Witthoft Oct 11 '18 at 12:49

Baritone sax (and all the saxes) read treble clef (in most circumstances there are exceptions). So you want the 'Eb transposition' PLUS an octave up.

'In Eb' means that when the player sees C, the note that comes out is Eb. So if you want to hear F, write D.

This printout clearly demonstrates the dodge that Baritone Sax (and Brass Band Eb tuba) players can use to directly read bass clef concert pitch. Switch clef, add three sharps!

enter image description here


Yes, it'll need to be a D note for the sax player to read to produce an F concert note. Be aware of which octave it's written in, and you will need a key sig. change - even if it's to no #/b - C. Let's say the piece is in concert F (could be, starting on F), then the key sig. would be 2#.

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    Wanna check that, @Tim? :-) – Laurence Payne Oct 11 '18 at 13:32
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    @LaurencePayne - thanks, did I go the wrong way? – Tim Oct 11 '18 at 13:46
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    Years ago, I believe! – Laurence Payne Oct 11 '18 at 14:18
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    Probably in the days of Crossroads, with no satnav...you are one of few who may understand... – Tim Oct 11 '18 at 14:20
  • Benny?......... – Laurence Payne Oct 11 '18 at 18:57

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