Rules of Transposition for Music Composition

By Scott Jarrett, Holly Day

Part of Music Composition For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you’re composing music for more than one instrument, you know that writing for transposing instruments can get confusing. The following list offers some easy ways to approach each kind:

  • E flat instruments: Find the relative minor, make it major, and then write in that key. Notes are therefore moved up a sixth, or down a minor third.

  • F instruments: Just add one sharp or subtract a flat from the key signature and write the music in the resulting key. Therefore, notation is moved up one perfect fifth from where originally written.

  • B flat instruments: Move everything up one whole tone. E flat becomes F, F becomes G, and so on.