How to Transpose a Piano to a Trumpet

Written by steven j. miller
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How to Transpose a Piano to a Trumpet
Trumpets play in a key that is different from the piano. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

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.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Study and memorise 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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

Tips and warnings

  • 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.

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