I have had a question on how to select the correct backing track when practising scales, as laid out in the 3 Steps To Scale Heaven course. And if one person is confused then I am certain that there will be others! Hopefully this blog post will help to clear the mist!

Here's How To Ensure That You're Using the Correct Backing Tracks

The backing tracks are in the "Useful Resources" section of the course. Each backing track is given in concert pitch (this is the key that pianos, guitars, bass etc are written in).

The saxophone is what's called a transposing instrument. Basically that means that if you play a "C" on a piano it will sound different to a "C" on a saxophone.

It is standard to talk about key signatures in concert pitch; this is why it can be confusing selecting the correct backing track, and this is why there are two methods provided to help you with transposition within the course.

Method #1

Firstly, for each backing track I have written the key in concert pitch, also what key it is in for each saxophone.

For example, in the backing track section for "All 12 Major Keys", for the concert pitch key of Eb major, it looks like this:

  • The concert pitch key is given in red.
  • If you play alto or baritone, then you will be in C major.
  • If you play soprano or tenor, then you will be in F major.

So, for each key you need to look at the relevant instrument name (alto, tenor etc) to find the key that you want.

Method #2

The other way available to help you is the very last part in the "Useful Resources" section, which is called "Transposition Chart".

This is a chart I have created showing how to transpose keys for the various saxophones.

You can download this to your computer/device for easy reference.


I hope that all makes sense and answers your questions. If it is still confusing, please don't worry and ask me as many questions as you like! I know this can be a confusing topic!

The reason that I have laid out the backing tracks in this way, i.e. in concert pitch is that when you are in a band situation, to avoid confusion with the rest of the band it is extremely useful to be able to talk about key signatures in concert pitch, that way you know that you are all talking about the same thing! This is what I always do professionally.