Sunday, March 13, 2016

How to Transpose a Piano to a Trumpet

Trumpets play in the key of Bb, which is different from the piano.

The piano plays in concert pitch while the trumpet plays in the key of Bb. This means that when a trumpet player plays a C they are actually playing a Bb. Transposing from the piano creates additional practical problems as well. Since the trumpet has a limited range in relation to the piano, some notes on the piano may need to transpose up an octave or two into the range of the trumpet.

Study and memorize the chromatic scale. This scale consists of 12 pitches and five enharmonic pitches. Enharmonic pitches are pitches that sound the same but are written differently. C#, D#, F#, G# and A# are enharmonic equivalents to Db, Eb, Gb, Ab and Bb.

Transpose the notes in the piano part up a major second. A major second consists of two half-steps and one note name. This means that an Ab is written as a Bb in trumpet music. Check the range of the transposed part. If the transposed music goes lower than F# below middle C or higher than two octaves above middle C, you should change the notes by an octave to fit the trumpet register.


Correct transpositions involve changing the pitch by one note name and two half steps. While a Gb transposed to a G# would be correct aurally, it is the wrong pitch and should be notated as Ab.