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victoria Williams Music Theory

Victoria Williams

LmusTCL BA Mus (Hons) MISM

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Next UK ABRSM Paper-based Theory Exams Grades 6-8:
Tue 16th November 2021 [Grades 1-5 available online on demand from Aug 2021]
Next UK Trinity Paper-based Theory Exams Grades 1-8:
Sat 6th November 2021

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Transposition - Grade 7 Music Theory Score Reading

One question which is highly likely to come up in the grade 7 music theory exam is French horn transposition – make sure you know exactly how to do it! You might also get a transposition question for clarinet, cor Anglais or trumpet, or you may be asked to transpose into a different clef, as in earlier grades.


Cors Anglais and most French Horns are pitched in F. To transpose into concert pitch, transpose down a perfect 5th. You may need to transpose from treble to bass clef at the same time – make sure you keep the exact pitch of the notes, relative to middle C. French horns can occasionally appear in keys other than F – so be vigilant!


Clarinets are pitched in Bb or A. Remember that the Italian terms are si and la, and the German word for Bb is “B”! (There is no such thing as a clarinet in B). Clarinets should also be transposed down – a major 2nd for Bb clarinets, or a minor 3rd for clarinets in A. (The small-sized clarinet in Eb transposes up a minor 3rd into concert pitch – I’ve never seen this instrument required for transposition at grade 7 though).


Trumpets are usually pitched in Bb, and work the same way as clarinets in Bb.


At this grade, the transposition questions are normally a bit more convoluted than in earlier grades, and you will need to make sure your notation is 100% correct, as well as the pitches. This includes:

  • aligning multiple parts correctly on the vertical axis
  • putting stems, slurs and ties the correct way round according to the normal principles
  • noticing whether there is a key signature to take into account, or not


Can you see one mistake the in following French horn transposition? Hover you mouse over the score to reveal the answer (tap on mobile devices):


 french horn transposition grade 7 music theory



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