In order to transpose piano music into clarinet music, you’ll need to change notes written for a C instrument into notes written for a B flat instrument. The piano is a C instrument, which means that it plays notes at concert pitch. The clarinet is a B flat instrument, which plays notes a full step lower than concert pitch. When notes are written in the key of C for a B flat instrument, it will play a B flat pitch instead. This means that music for a clarinet must be written a full step higher than it is for C instruments.
Discern the melody in the piano music. Piano music is generally written in a grand staff, with both a treble line that usually contains the melody and/or harmony and a line written in bass clef that contains the bass or rhythmic part. Because of this, you’ll need to choose which line of the music you want to transpose for the clarinet. If you’re arranging a full piece for a clarinet duet or trio, you’ll need to choose which piano line you want to assign for each clarinet.
Identify the notes in the piano score. It may be helpful to write the note name (such as A flat or C sharp) under the notes.
Raise each note by two half steps. For example, an A flat would be raised to a B flat, and a C sharp would be raised to a D sharp.
It’s best to keep your transposed notes in the same key signature as the original piece was written in, so if the piece was written in the key of E flat, your transposed B flat should be written as B flat and not A sharp.
Double check your work to catch any transposition mistakes.
- International Clarinet Association.
- “Music Theory: A Practical Guide for All Musicians”; Barrett Tagliarino; 2006.
- Fountain pen on music sheet image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com