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Jazz Sax Lessons: Transposing to Eb

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Okay, I have a question for you.
How many times has this happened,
where you've gone to a jam session,
you've gone to a rehearsal, you've gone
to somebody's gig or something and
they've said hey,
I want to play this tune, and
they put the chart in front of you and
it's not transposed, it's in concert key.
And you said it's in concert key,
it's not transposed,
and suddenly fear rips your entire body.
[LAUGH] Well that used to
happen to me a lot, and
if it hasn't happened to you,
if you're not a good transposer, it will.
I can guarantee that because
I've had personal experience.
So, let's talk a little bit about
understanding transposition, and
sight transposition perhaps in particular,
but transposing in general.
So in this E flat transposing lesson,
you should know
that when you transpose for the alto,
the actual written transposition
is a major sixth above what it appears
on a C chart, on a piano chart.
Actually sounds a major sixth higher.
So, when I first started transposing,
I used to do this because when I went
to the Berkeley College of Music, and
back then there was one real book.
And we would have jam
sessions every night.
And we didn't have an e-flat real book,
we didn't have a b-flat real book, or
a bass clef real book,
there was just the real book, and
the fake book with all the standard
tunes we've used, we've learned.
And so either I needed to learn how to
transpose or I would never get to hang
with my friends at the jam sessions, and
even if I did I wouldn't sound very good.
So the way that I transpose for
Alto, it's obviously a lot
easier to transpose an octave.
If you're playing one F,
to play an F above it.
That's not a hard transposition, but
to transpose in an interval,
certainly is harder.
So, the far easier way I do it is
simply think of it as the notes I'm
playing on the alto are a minor
third down from the notes I'm
looking at on the C chart.
So I'm actually transposing
down a minor third.
So the first thing you want to do,
so I provided, you already have it,
but I'm providing it in this lesson too,
is this part on All The Things You Are.
And I'm leaving it in E flat here,
because I don't want it to be
a key that you're familiar with.
That's the whole point, you know,
of transposing something.
If you're transposing, you know, you want
to transpose if you already know it.
It's, you know,
you already kind of know it.
So, I want it to be something new for you.
So the first thing you look
at when you're transposing.
There's not a big secret to it.
What I've already
explained is what you do.
But it's a matter of wrote and
getting to know it.
So with this melody on
All the Things You Are,
it's not a hard melody in
terms of going by quickly.
But essentially,
you just want to look at each note and
think of it down a minor third.
And by doing it nice and
slow, you start to develop
another way of seeing the note
that you're actually playing.
So first thing is that you want
to look at the key signature.
It's written on this chart,
on all the things you are, on the E
flat part in the key of F one flat.
So if I go down a minor third from F,
we are in the key of, the key of,
[LAUGH] the key of D.
Hope you said that.
So that's going down to minor thirds.
So my first note of the melody on
the chart is that whole note F,
minor third down below that is a D.
Now be aware of the pitfall
of just suddenly,
you know, you just start playing a few of
these notes and you hear the new key and
you're familiar with the melody and
suddenly you've allowed your ear
to take over the transposing,
man that is a major, major pitfall.
Don't allow that to
happen because invariably
there may be some changes on the chart,
maybe something different.
Always be thinking,
this is a very cerebral exercise.
So as I'm playing this,
all I'm doing when I first
go through Is you know,
no brief short cut, I guess it wouldn't be
a bad idea to do it without your horn and
just look at each note so
that that F is going to actually,
I'm not looking at the changes right now,
I'm just looking at the notes.
So that F is going to now be a D,
the B flat is now going to play G,
because again we're going
down a minor third.
Now be aware that this
is not a piano part.
If this were a piano part and
I really wanted to play in unison,
in prime unison,
prime unison means that you're playing
the same note in the same octave as
who you're playing in unison with.
So prime unison is the same
note in the same octave.
So if I wanted to play in prime unison
with a piano and this first note
was the F written on the piano part,
I'd be playing the D two ledger lines up.
I'd be going up a minor six.
I'd actually be thinking down the minor
third, like I was saying, and
then transposing again an octave higher,
because the octave is much more automatic.
But this chart was written for
the saxophone, and
very often lead sheets are just sort
of written in the easiest way to read.
So it doesn't matter,
they wouldn't be paying attention to the
actual prime unison notes of the piano.
So that could be the case of this too.
But anyway, so
throughout this whole thing,
we're going to be just
transposing down a minor third.
So my first note is going to be D,
my next note is simply going to be G,
that's note's going to be D,
the four chord are all C sharps,
because again, in my minds eye
I am seeing two sharps here,
because we transpose from F down
to D major and so on, C sharp,
F sharp, C sharp, B natural,
B natural, B natural up to F natural,
because that is minor third below G
sharp and B and A sharp and so on.
So I got to a point for me, almost,
where I would read,
I was playing in so many bands, and
nobody was transcribing
parts where I could
sight transpose, not only well, but I was
almost getting to the point where I sight
transposed better than I sight read notes
that were actually written in my own key.
And just be aware,
you've gotten to this point in my school,
you're doing a lot of playing now, and
if you haven't come across a situation,
you probably have, but if you haven't,
it's going to happen soon.
So to have to be able to transpose
is just a real necessity of
you want to move forward.
Also, can't tell you how many times I've
been asked to come play on a record and
you know won't mention any names, because
I don't want to indict any famous leaders
as people who didn't bother to
transpose their parts for me, but
it has happened on a lot of major,
major records where I'd show up and
I was site transposing on the record,
and over the years
hundreds of performances of mine
are recorded from that situation.
So it's an important tool to have.
So as
I'm playing
through this,
I'm just
looking at
it, I'm
thinking of D and
I'm going
I'm transposing away.
So just start slow.
One note at a time and
you know, nice thing about transposing is
that the rhythms don't change at least.
Also with chords.
You guessed it, obviously you're
going down in the same interval,
so you're dropping each one down a minor
third, so our first chord is going to now,
if this were a concert chart, that would
be B minor seven to an E minor seven,
to an A dominant to a D major,
to a you know, you guessed at all
the rest, G major and so forth.
So running through this just mentally,
it's kind of a nice, it's always cool
where you've got cool things to practice
where you don't actually need your horn.
This could be one of them.
But, you know,
just take this first few bars and
go through it and
you know just keep adding more bars to it.
And eventually, you'll get there.
The purpose of this lesson is to
show you what I do when I transpose.
Also to instill the importance of
transposing, because, you know what?
A lot of students that I've had one
on one don't have the foggiest.
And I've had students that have come
back from having just graduated
with a music degree, and
they've done all kinds of things,
and the teachers were remiss.
I won't mention any names, but there was
one guy who came back after graduating
school in,
in a prominent jazz music school.
And he hadn't transposed one chart and
he, he, could,
you know, it took him a while just to sort
of figure out what that first note was.
And I said, you got to be kidding me.
You know, you spent all that
money on that education and
they never even went through transposing?
I can guarantee you the first, you know,
rehearsal or jam session or record or
gig or whatever, you know this is going to
happen and so you've got to be prepared.
So make sure that you're, you know if
you're serious about your playing,
make sure that you're including
this in your arsenal.
All right so
there's transposing to E flat.
Good luck with that.