• How to transpose stuff…

    in Transposing Keys

    To “transpose” a song, melody, chord, or progression is to play the same exact sequence of notes and intervals in another key.

    In other words, if I were to play a chord progression like “C major — F major — G major” in the key of C major, by transposing it, I can play the same exact chord progression in 11 other keys.

    Does that make sense to you?

    There are two steps to “transposing”:

    Step 1) Find out how many half steps separate the (a) key that you are currently playing the song in and the (b) key that you want to transpose the song to.

    For example, if I was playing a song in the key of C major and wanted to move the song to the key of D, I’d first have to find out how many half steps are in between “C” and “D”

    So by simply counting from C to C#, from C# to D, I come up with 2 half steps. So … 2 half steps (or 1 whole step) separate C major and D major.

    Step 2) Since, I’ve figured out that “D major” is 2 half steps higher than “C major,” I must move every single chord up 2 half steps.

    Are you still with me?

    In other words, if I were playing a:

    1a) C major chord
    1b) D major chord
    1c) E major chord

    … I’d have to move each of those chords up two half steps to create this chord progression:

    2a) D major
    2b) E major
    2c) F# major

    3a) Notice, the D major is no longer C major (it is moved up 2 half steps)

    3b) The E major replaces the previous D major (because “E” is two half steps higher than “D”).

    3c)… and lastly, the F# major chord replaces the previous “E major” chord because F# is 2 half steps from E (remember, E to F is 1 half step and F to F# is another half step so that equals a total of 2 half steps).

    This process is known as “transposition.” I’ve done one example for you … try it with one of the songs you already know! Try to transpose it to the next key (that is, 1 half step up). Let me know how you are doing.

    I’d love to hear from you – call 1-877-856-4187 to speak with a piano specialist if you need help!

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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    { 23 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Tyree

    Thanks. I Never Really Understood How That Until Now. Does this Metod Still Count If I Wanted To Go From C Major To C# Major?

    Reply

    2 Jermaine

    yes tyree… the distance between C and C# is one half step so just take everything up a half step, just like you would if the distance was further away.

    Reply

    3 lawrence

    thankz!!!

    Reply

    4 melony

    Hello Jermaine,
    Boy, This took me back when I was first learning how to play the piano. Never took learning how the whole/ half step seriously. It may help me a lot more in the long run. thanks again.

    Reply

    5 linda silver

    Greetings,
    Does the circle of fifths have anything to do with transposing? If so, how can I use it!
    Thanks
    PS, you are wonderful Jermaine

    Reply

    6 Fanfon

    Your lessons are very wonderful1!Thanks for generous heart to teach folks like us.your lessons have kindled some fire in my bones to start seeing the piano in new way.
    ps.Fanfon-Cameroon

    Reply

    7 Ebenezer

    Please help me out.my left hand cant work on the piano.i dont know what to play.i have tried the smallwood piano tutor but it didnt help.thank for your lectures.they are great

    Reply

    8 cemeng

    How to transpose stuff… | Hear and Play Music Learning Center Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Reply

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    11 Thulani

    What is wrong if i just press the tranposition button on the keyboard and keep on playing the same key?

    Reply

    12 Thulani

    Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.Mr Jermaine, i don’t know whether i undertood u well or not, to me it sounds as if you mean transposition is for someone who is still trying to learn all the 12keys, but modulation is for an expirienced person who can move to any key anyhow and anytime as he wishes whithout a problem.

    Reply

    13 John

    Thank you

    Reply

    14 Carl Meyer

    Jermaine,
    I just want to point out (through my own experiences) that learning to transpose songs doesn’t really do any good until one is comfortable with the other 11 scales of the keyboard, piano, etc. Until one knows the other keys available,

    Carl Meyer

    Reply

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    17 Donita Chaiken

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! “Life is a continual upgrade.” by J. Mark Wallace.

    Reply

    18 Sunday Godwin

    Thanks Sir. I’m really greatful.

    Reply

    19 LECIA BOYD

    Hi Germaine
    Thanks for all your good tutoring… I enjoy reading them and I try to put them into practise, but ONE thing I cannot get a grips on is trying to get my left hand to “acquire a brain” of it’s own….WHAT CAN I DO ASIDE FROM PRACTISE?? Please help!!

    Reply

    20 Bob

    How do I transpose a song in the key G minor? The song is (The Conversation ((gospel)) ? Thanks

    Reply

    21 Ezra

    If I want to play Fmajor on csharp, how should I do that?

    Reply

    22 sanjay

    Hello
    Thanks for your articles on e-tranpose vs m-transpose and the advantages of m-transpose to grow as a musician.

    I had 2 question about e-tranpose.
    Q1) I get it that if one is using e-tranpose then you play the melody in your chosen base key (say C) and can follow the music sheet if it is written in C. However if the sheet music is written in say B scale then e-tranpose will not help since you only know how to play in C-key. And this is one area where leaning to play in any key helps.

    Q2) Say the sheet music is written in C-scale. I want to play in say B because the vocalist prefer B. If I use e-tranpose then I can play the melody as written in sheet-music (which C) BUT what happens to the chords? Will e-tranpose take of the chords? i.e. I simply for the Cm chord in the sheet music and play Cm and the key board with e-tranpose will correct transpose the short also?

    Thanks

    Reply

    23 Kitty

    I easily transpose at least three ways: at least: by ear (singing or play it off the top of my head, and not writing it down): or by ear and writing it down; and writing it down without doing it by ear, but just knowing the original scale plus the scale of the new key.

    What I need to know is the term for the process of changing the key of a tune or song key when it’s moved from the original key to another key simply by ear (that is, without using written music, nor putting it into written music) Is the term for this action also called “transposing”? Everything I find online addresses “transposing” as written down.

    Reply

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