Musical instruments are manufactured in different keys, for example C, Bb, or Eb. In order for different instruments to play together, they either must be in the same key, or they must play notes transposed by an appropriate number of musical steps.
An instrument sounds its key name when it plays C. For example, a Bb trumpet sounds the pitch Bb when it plays a C note. Therefore, in order for a Bb trumpet to play together with a piano (without transposing on-the-fly), the trumpet would need to play from music transposed to Bb, while the piano would play from the C edition.
Sheet Music is available for instruments in three different keys—C (hymnal key), Bb, and Eb. These three keys cover a broad range of musical instruments. The information below lists the usual key for some common musical instruments.
- Key of C: piano, organ, guitar, violin, flute and others (hymnal key)
- Key of Bb: trumpet, cornet, clarinet and others
- Key of Eb: saxaphone and others