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brass instruments

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Trusted Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 45
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Hello All,
I have a book for tenor saxaphone with backing tracks. The thing is the tune may be in C major but the melody is written in D major. I understand this to be the case with brass and possibly woodwind instruments at times (possibly always) but I don't understand why.
Basically I need to know how to arrange a piece of music for guitar and an Eb trumpet. The guitar part would just be strummed chords in a given key, say C major. What key would I have to write the trumpet part in?
That's all I need to know for now but if anyone could shed light on the whole principle behind this I would be very happy indeed.
thanks in advance.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

The principal is pretty easy to grasp. Saxes (and other instruments) come in different sizes. The size changes the pitch, but it doesn't change the fingering. So if you've learned note 'C' on one, and you go to the next size, it's easiest to play if that fingering is still written as C - that way you don't need to learn to read all over again for each instrument.

Whatever key an instrument is in, that's the pitch they get when they play the 'C' note on the page. When a Bb sax plays a C note, they get a Bb pitch. So you write it a whole tone higher - to get C to come out of the sax's bell, you write D. Same thing for Eb - you'd write A when you want C played, because the pitch will be a minor third higher than written.

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