Being able to transpose Eb to Bb is a great skill to have for any musician. It will allow you to play pieces written for transposing instruments, like the clarinet and trumpet, and piece together ensembles so that everyone is playing in the same key!
Transposition is a tricky subject and it is really easy to make a mistake. But don’t worry, I have your back, so let’s look at how to transpose from E flat to B flat.
When we say we want to transpose Eb to Bb most people do not mean that they literally have a piece of music in E flat major that then want written in B flat Major. They are referring to transposing instruments that play the E flat and B flat.
Common instruments in E flat are:
- Clarinet in Eb
- Alto Clarinet
- Alto Saxophone
- Baritone Saxophone
For these instruments, when the player reads a C on the staff and play a C, we hear an E flat. In other words, their written pitch is a perfect 5th above their sounding pitch.
Common instruments in B flat are:
- Clarinet in Bb
- Tenor Saxophone
For these instruments, when the player reads a C on the staff and play a C, we hear a B flat. In other words, their written pitch is a major 2nd above their sounding pitch.
If you play in an ensemble and there are instruments in both Eb and Bb then you can use transposition to help you. Or you may play alto saxophone but you want to play a piece written for the clarinet in Bb. By transposing the music you can play in the same key as the original music. This would allow you to harmonise with other parts written around the original clarinet part.
Another use would be if you are a trumpet player and you wanted to play a part written for the alto saxophone. This would then involve lower the music, from B flat to E flat, or to say it another way, to lower the music by a perfect 5th.
How to Transpose Eb to Bb?
Transposing from E flat to B flat involves up moving the notes up 7 half-steps (semitones) or 3½ whole-step (tone). This is the same as moving up an interval of a Perfect 5th as B flat is the 5th note in the E flat major scale.
There are two different methods to transpose Eb to Bb.
Method 1- Move notes up one at a time
Have a look at the melody below.
The melody is written in key of D major. We could move all the notes up a 7 semitones, making sure that we take into account the F# and C# notes in the original key.
Here is the new melody. As you can see, we now have three sharps, so we are in the key of A Major.
Method 2 – Transpose the key signature
- We could move up all the notes up a 5th
- Transpose the key signature up a perfect 5th
- Deal with any notes outside the original key
Look at the melody below.
It is in Ab major so we have Bb, Eb, Ab and Db. First let’s move all the notes up a 5th. Intervals always include the starting note so in effect, this means moving up four positions on the staff.
Now we can transpose our key signature. A perfect 5th above Ab is Eb. Another way to put this is that Eb is the 5th note of the A flat major scale. So our new key signature is for E flat Major, which has a B flat, E flat and A flat.
Here is our transposed melody with the new key signature.
If there were any accidentals that were outside the original key of Ab, we would not use this method. Instead we would treat these as individual notes and transpose them on their own. So if we had a C# then this would move up to a G# (7 half-steps above).
Both these methods work when either transposing up or down by a perfect 5th.
Transposition chart for Eb to Bb
Here is a handy chart for helping you transpose Eb to Bb. You can use it to transpose a single note, for example C to G, or you can use it to transpose the key signature of a piece. For example a piece in D Major would transpose up to A Major.
Using computer software
A far quicker method of transposition is to use software to do it for you! Apps like Musescore, Sibelius and Finale will transpose whole pieces with the press of a few buttons. You can then export, print and share your new transposed sheet music.