How do I accompany... ?
There always comes a day when a friend says "Oh, I play the xxx - let's do duets"
And sometimes the duets are a disaster because their instrument is a transposing instrument.
A transposing instrument sounds a different note to the note on the page. Strictly, some instruments transpose a whole octave (descant recorder is one, guitar is another), but we call them non-transposing to make this page easier to read!
Here's a pocket guide to help you out.
Instruments that play at pitch (C instruments) include ...
Piano, recorder, strings, flute, oboe, guitar
Instruments that play 3 semitones sharp (Eb instruments) include ...
Tenor horn, alto sax, alto saxhorn, Eb Tuba, baritone sax
Instruments that play 2 semitones flat (Bb instruments) include ...
Trumpet, cornet, clarinet, baritone horn, euphonium, flugelhorn
Instruments that play 3 semitones flat (A instruments) ...
Clarinet in A
Sources of music
Music for an orchestral solo instrument often comes with a piano accompaniment that is already transposed, so it will suit any non-key-changing instrument.
The only problem for a guitarist is playing from piano score - the treble part will seem gruff because the guitar actually sounds an octave below the piano, and without the bass part, the music will be harmonically unsatisfying.
Better then, to play music in which the accompaniment is written for guitar.
Excellent sources include guitar and voice, guitar and flute and guitar ensemble.
Even Lead Sheet music with guitar chords will work - read on, but you'll need a capo to play with a transposing instrument...
|Family of instrument||Accompany on|
|C instruments||Prime guitar|
|Eb instruments||Prime guitar Capo 3
Terz guitar at pitch
|Bb instruments||Bass or alto guitar Capo 3
Treble or baritone Capo 5
|A instruments||Bass or alto guitar Capo 2
Treble or baritone Capo 4