• 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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