I've listed here a selection of scale scores (dots or music) which you can download and print out to help you on your way. Start by getting familiar with the major scales and then move on to the others...

The 12 major scales are the foundations or 'building blocks' that make up all western music.

You may have heard the term 'modes' of a scale. Quite simply, if you start a scale on any note other than the first note, and play up the same note to an octave above, you're playing a 'mode' of a scale.

For example if you play all the notes of C major, but start and finish on a D, you're playing the second mode of C. You'll hear how the sound of the scale changes from 'happy' to 'sad'. This is a minor scale and is called a dorian D. Here's the full list of modes:

First - Ionian (major)

Second - Dorian (minor)

Third - Phrygian

Fourth - Lydian

Fifth - Mixolydian

Sixth - Aeolian (minor)

Seventh - Locrian



You've hopefully realised by now that the saxophone is a transposing instrument. This means that when you play, for example, a 'G' on a sax, it won't sound the same as a 'G' on a piano. Frustrating I know, but sadly it's just something sax players have to get used to.

The standard tuning across an orchestra is know as 'concert pitch'. This is due to most instruments (oboes, violins, flutes, pianos, cellos, etc, etc) having the same sound for the same note. The saxophone does not tune to concert pitch (for reasons explained elsewhere on this site) so in order to play along with other instruments, you'll need to pick the correct key to play in. For example, if you want to play in the key of G on an alto, a pianist would need to play in the key of Bb...

Here's the key converter or transposition table...

Transposition table

Concert keyAlto sax keyTenor sax key
Cb (Db)Bb (A#)Eb (D#)
Eb (Db)CF
F#Eb (D#)Ab (G#)
Ab (G#)FBb (A#)
Bb (A#)GC
BAb (G#)C# (Db)

And as for the other members of the saxophone family, the alto (Eb) is in the same key as the sopranino, the baritone and contra-bass.

The tenor (Bb) is in the same key as the soprano and bass.