Transpose Bari Sax to Bass Clarinet: A Music Theory Guide

By Jade Bultitude
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Whether you play multiple instrument, or you are composing music for an ensemble, transposition is a vital skill to have as a musician. In this article, we will guide you through the techniques, tips, and challenges involved to successfully transpose Bari sax to clarinet. Let’s dive in and learn how to transpose Bari sax to bass clarinet!

The Baritone Saxophone in E flat

The Baritone saxophone is a transposing instrument in the key of E flat. This means that when the musician plays a C, we hear an E flat. In fact, we hear the Eb an octave lower as shown in the image below.

baritone sax to hearing pitch

The Bass Clarinet in B Flat

The bass clarinet is a transposing instrument in the key of B flat. This means that when the clarinettist plays a C, we hear a B flat. As it’s the bass clarinet we actually hear the B flat an octave below.

bass clarinet to hearing pitch
Yamaha Corporation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Transpose Bari Sax to Bass Clarinet

To transpose between both instruments we need to move from B flat to E flat. This is an interval of a perfect 4th, as E flat is the 4th note of the B flat major scale.

transpose bari sax to bass clarinet
Yamaha Corporation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here is a handy transposition chart to help you transpose Bari sax to bass clarinet.

Transposition Chart (columns)- C, Bb and Eb

How To Transpose Up A Perfect 4th

This method has three steps:

  1. Transpose the key signature up a perfect 4th
  2. Move all the notes up a 4th
  3. Deal with the accidentals

(If you thought we could transpose each note one at a time, click here to see why NOT to do this)

Let’s try an example. Have a look at the melody below and let’s transpose it up a perfect 4th.

B flat major melody

That’s correct, we are in B flat Major!

Step 1- Transpose The Key Signature

First let’s transpose the key signature. Can you transpose up a perfect 4th from Bb?

b flat up a perfect 4th transposition

The 4th note of the B flat major scale is E flat. This means we now need the key signature of E flat major. Eb major has three flats – Bb, Eb and Ab.

C natural minor scale key signature

Here is the new key signature at the start of our melody. 

E flat major melody

Step 2- Move The Notes Up A 4th

Now we have changed the key signature, simply move all of your notes up a 4th. 

e flat major melody moved notes up

As you can see, we have not moved the F sharp note yet. This is because it is not in the notes of the original key signature and so will need to be treated differently.

Step 3- Accidentals

In our original melody we have a F#. This note is not in the key of Bb major and so it will not be transposed correctly by the first 2 steps.

To transpose this note we treat it on its own. We can ask: what is a perfect 4th above F#? F# major actually has 6 sharps in it (F#, C#, G#, D#, A# and E#). The 4th note of this scale is B natural. Here is the final transposition alongside the original melody.

transposition up a perfect 4th Bb to Eb

Suppose we didn’t know that F# major had six sharps, is there another way to make transposing this note easier?

The easiest method in this case would be to lower the F# a half-step to an F. Finding a Perfect 4th above F is much easier: it is B flat. Then we raise the Bb up a half-step to correct it to B natural.

f to Bb and F# to B natural perfect 4th examples

Using Software to Transpose Automatically

You can transpose automatically by using notation software such as Sibelius and Musescore.

What’s next…?

Photo of author
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.