TonalityGUIDE - basic tonal music theory and analysis for undergraduates
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Introduction to tonality More about the TonalityGUIDE analysis tool kit Clefs, note labels, intervals and transposition
chord identification understanding voice-leading style awareness

The ToolKIT, which is accessible from all pages of the site, outlines the three main analytical skills that aims to develop. It also links to a short introduction to the study of tonality as well as a reminder of some basics (note and interval labels, clefs and transpositions).

Basic Music Literacy
introduction note names intervals clefs transposition

transposing instruments | how to transpose

A written C in the score sounds the note that appears in the name of the transposing instrument

Parts for transposing instruments are therefore written to to compensate - otherwise the wrong notes would come out. Here is an example:

Instrument Clarinet in Bb
If you wrote a C, the instrument would play ... a Bb
So, to compensate the part is written ... up a tone
Err ... that's it

The only complication is that, generally speaking, while instruments in Bb, F and A transpose up (because they sound lower than the written pitch), those in D and Eb generally transpose down (because they sound higher than the written pitch).

The following example shows what you would have to write to make a c2 come out on various transposing instruments. Notice that key signatures are transposed as well (key signatures are often not written in horn parts):

The Tonality GUIDE tonal music analysis tool kit
information and orientation as you browse around
chord identification
understanding voice-leading
style awareness

© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst

TonalityGUIDE - Tonal Harmony and Voiceleading - Table of Contents