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An Explanation of Transposition in Music

Not all musical instruments play in the same key. That means that when musicians play together, some of the instruments will need to play music that has been transposed to match their key. Many instruments produce pitches in “concert key” which is the standard we use for playing music. When concert key instruments are playing together, no transposition is necessary. Here is a list of some of the instruments that play in concert key: piano, guitar, bass, cello, viola, violin, flute, oboe, bassoon, trombone, accordion, harmonica, and pitched percussion like marimba and xylophone.



Instruments that do not play in concert key include clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet. The clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, and trumpet are all B flat instruments, meaning that when they play their written note C, a concert B flat is produced. Therefore, if a clarinet player is playing Jingle Bells in their key of C, the piano or any other concert pitch instrument will need to play in the key of B flat. See the chart below for a list of which keys to use for B flat instruments.

The alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, and E flat clarinet all play in the key of E flat. That means that when they play their written note C, a concert E flat is produced. See the chart below for all transpositions for E flat instruments.

The French horn in F produces a Concert B flat when it plays its written F. See the chart below for all transpositions for French horn in F.

 

B flat transposition chart

Use this chart to determine which keys to use when B flat instruments are playing with Concert pitch instruments.

Written note for B flat instruments = The concert pitch it produces
C = B flat
C sharp = B
D = C
E flat = D flat (C sharp)
E = D
F = E flat
F sharp = E
G = F
G sharp or A flat = F sharp
A = G
B flat = A flat
B = A



E flat transposition chart

Use this chart to determine which keys to use when E flat instruments are playing with Concert pitch instruments.

Written note for E flat instruments = The concert pitch it produces
C = E flat
C sharp = E
D = F
E flat = G flat (F sharp)
E = G
F = A flat
F sharp = A
G = B flat
G sharp or A flat = B
A = C
B flat = D flat (C sharp)
B = D

 

B flat to E flat transposition chart

Use this chart to determine which keys to use when B flat instruments are playing with E flat instruments.

Written note for B flat instruments = Written note for E flat instruments
C = G
C sharp = G sharp
D = A
E flat = B flat
E = B
F = C
F sharp = C sharp
G = D
G sharp or A flat = D sharp or E flat
A = E
B flat = F
B = F sharp



French horn in F transposition chart

Use this chart to determine which keys to use when French horn in F is playing with Concert pitch instruments.

Written note for French horn in F = The concert pitch it produces
C = F
C sharp = F sharp
D = G
E flat = A flat
E = A
F = B flat
F sharp = B
G = C
G sharp or A flat = C sharp or D flat
A = D
B flat = E flat
B = E

 

Christmas music for selected instruments

Select an image below to view and print Christmas songs written for each instrument.

Christmas music for violin
Violin
Christmas music for viola
Viola
Christmas music for cello
Cello
Christmas music for bass
Bass
Christmas music for flute
Flute
Christmas music for oboe
Oboe
Christmas music for clarinet
Clarinet
Christmas music for bassoon
Bassoon
Christmas music for alto saxophone
Alto Saxophone
Christmas music for tenor saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Christmas music for trumpet
Trumpet
Christmas music for trombone
Trombone
Christmas music for French horn
French Horn
Christmas music for tuba
Tuba
Christmas music for recorder
Recorder
Christmas music for piano
Piano
Christmas music lyrics
Lyrics

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Table of Contents for the Christmas Song Lead Sheets:

Angels We Have Heard on High
Auld Lang Syne
Away In a Manger
Deck the Hall
Ding Dong! Merrily on High
The First Noel
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Good King Wenceslas
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Here We Come A-Wassailing
The Holly and the Ivy
I Saw Three Ships
In Dulci Jubilo
In the Bleak Midwinter
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Jingle Bells (short easy version)
Jingle Bells (full version)
Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Joy to the World
O Christmas Tree
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agréable
Silent Night
Toyland
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Up on the Housetop
We Three Kings
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
What Child Is This?

More Music and Educational Materials by Kyle Coughlin:

Learn about rhythm and improve your skills: Rhythm-In-Music.com

Free online metronomes that speak the beat: MetronomeBot.com

Sleigh Bell Metronome

Free blank sheet music paper: Music-Paper.com

Clarinet fingering charts and instruction: TheClarinet.net

Kyle Coughlin’s Publications: SkyLeapMusic.com