How to transpose in the tenor clef, an overview!

By Jade Bultitude
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As before, make sure you check out the previous blog posts to this! This post will be discussing how to transpose in the tenor clef.

Part 1 and Part 2 can be found here. 

We have so far covered three different clefs, including treble, bass and alto clef. However, there is one more to look at! Can you guess what it is?

tenor clef, transpose, transposition

The tenor clef

As you can see, the tenor clef is very similar to the Alto Clef and can also be referred to as a C clef. This is because middle C is directly in the middle of the clef, the same as alto. However, there is one small difference, the tenor clef sits one line above the alto clef. 

alto clef, tenor clef, transpose, C clef

Alto Clef

Tenor Clef

This can be quite confusing and if you are planning on taking your ABRSM Grade 5 theory (or any other theory exam for that matter!) it is important to really remember the difference between the two as often we can be asked to write extracts or examples in the different clefs. 

What is great about this clef is that if you have managed to master the alto clef, you can use this knowledge and apply it to the tenor clef. 

what is the most important thing to remember?

Again, the most important thing to remember is where middle C is. Pictured below is middle C in all four clefs. Each of these notes sounds exactly the same, even though they all look different. 

middle C, treble clef, bass clef, alto clef, tenor clef

how To Transpose In the tenor clef?

Now, let’s see if we can write different notes in each of these clefs so that they sound the same. Which bass clef note do we have in the example below?

Bass clef, G below middle C

That’s correct, we have a G below middle C. 

transpose, Middle C, G below Middle C, bass clef
G below Middle C

Can we now write this same note in the tenor clef? 

First find your middle C. Now see if you can find the G below this. You just need to go down by the same number of notes! Simple!

tenor clef, bass clef, comparison, middle C, G below middle C

Tenor Clef – G below Middle C

Bass Clef – G below Middle C

Let’s use the knowledge we have learnt previously and see if we can put this note into our other two clefs, alto and treble. 

alto clef, treble clef, comparison, middle C, G below middle C, transpose

Alto Clef – G below Middle C

Treble Clef – G below Middle C

Can we do this question the opposite way?

Let’s try this question the other way around. Can we put the below Tenor Clef note into the other clefs? Which note do we have?

F above middle C, tenor clef, transpose

That’s correct, we have the F above middle C. 

Now find Middle C in whichever clef you would like to transpose this into and count up to the F

treble clef, bass clef, alto clef, F above middle C, transpose

I hope you now feel that you can move easily between the four main clefs. Much less complicated than it first appears! Watch out on the website where I will begin adding free worksheets so you can practice this. 

Next week we will look at how we can move up an octave in these different clefs. 

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Jade is a flute player and music educator with a passion for educating the next generation of musicians. She is a Masters Graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Jade has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.