List of musical instruments by transposition

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Transposing instruments are most commonly found in C, E-flat, F, G, A, and B-flat.

Instruments in D-flat, D, E, A-flat, and B do or did exist but are uncommon or obsolete.

Instruments in G-flat/F-sharp are completely lacking (leaving aside French horns with crooks which come in any key).

The instruments that are available nowadays in the greatest number of keys (again leaving aside historical French horns with crooks) are trumpets and clarinets.

Contents

Instruments in C (Concert Pitch +0)[edit]

Authorities disagree on whether instruments in this category are properly called "transposing", but they are included here for completeness.

Very high (sounding a perfect fifteenth (two octaves) higher than written)[edit]

High (sounding an octave higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding the same as written; non-transposing)[edit]

Note: This section is only for instruments which are non-transposing members of families of transposing instruments. This section should not become a list of all instruments in existence which happen to be non-transposing.

Low (sounding an octave lower than written)[edit]

Very low (CC; sounding a perfect fifteenth (two octaves) lower than written)[edit]

Super low (CCC; sounding three octaves lower than written)[edit]

Extremely low (CCCC; sounding four octaves lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in D (+1)[edit]

Very high (sounding a minor ninth (an octave and a minor second) higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a minor second higher than written)[edit]

Instruments in D (+2)[edit]

High (sounding a major second higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a minor seventh lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in E (+3)[edit]

High (sounding a minor third higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a major sixth lower than written)[edit]

Low (sounding a major thirteenth (an octave and a major sixth) lower than written)[edit]

Very low (EE; sounding two octaves and a major sixth lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in E (+4)[edit]

High (sounding a major third higher than written)[edit]

Instruments in F (+5)[edit]

High (sounding a perfect fourth higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a perfect fifth lower than written)[edit]

  • Cor anglais (English horn)
  • Horn. There are two complications with horn transposition. First, some older editions write for valved horns as if they still had crooks, and thus may change the transposition several times within a piece or movement. Second, when horn parts are written in bass clef, they may be written an octave lower than expected, transposing up, rather than down as in treble clef. In today's scores, horns always transpose down, even in bass clef; but the other notation was standard well into the 20th century.[1]
  • Mellophone
  • Bass Wagner tuba (new notation)
  • Basset horn (F Clarinet)
  • F alto saxophone (rare)

Low (sounding a perfect twelfth (an octave and a perfect fifth) lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in G (-5)[edit]

High (sounding a perfect fifth higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a perfect fourth lower than written)[edit]

Low (sounding a perfect eleventh (an octave and a perfect fourth) lower than written)[edit]

Very low (GG; sounding two octaves and a perfect fourth lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in A (-4)[edit]

High (sounding a minor sixth higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a major third lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in A (-3)[edit]

High (sounding a major sixth higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a minor third lower than written)[edit]

Low (sounding a minor tenth (an octave and a minor third) lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in B (-2)[edit]

High (sounding a minor seventh higher than written)[edit]

Regular (sounding a major second lower than written)[edit]

Low (sounding a major ninth (an octave and a major second) lower than written)[edit]

Very low (BB; sounding two octaves and a major second lower than written)[edit]

Super low (BBB; sounding three octaves and a major second lower than written)[edit]

Instruments in B (-1)[edit]

Regular (sounding a minor second lower than written)[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Written Vs. Sounding Pitch" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-22. 

References[edit]

  • Kennan, Kent Wheeler. The Technique of Orchestration, Second Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970, 1952; ISBN 0-13-900316-9
  • Del Mar, Norman. The Anatomy of the Orchestra. University of California Press, 1981