• Who Else Wants To Learn The Octave Transposition Technique?

    in Beginners,Piano,Theory

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    You want to learn about the octave transposition technique, and that’s why you arrived at this page.

    In today’s lesson, we’re focusing on the octave transposition technique, an important tool that has helped a vast majority of musicians in diverse ways. Anyone who has mastered the octave transposition technique will find it relatively easy to invert chords to say the least.

    Right before we get into our focus for the day, let’s review the concept of the octave.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of The Octave

    There are twelve musical notes:

    Although there are several notes (aka – “pitches”) on the piano, all of them:

    …can be considered as the repetition of a collection of these twelve notes. Therefore, the entire keyboard layout consists of several sets of these twelve notes.

    “Check Them Out…”

    The first set:

    …the second set:

    …the third set:

    …the fourth set:


    The twelve notes can be classified according to their respective colors – seven white notes:

    …and five black notes:

    If you do the math, 7 white notes + 5 black notes = 12 notes

    “Now Let’s Focus On The 7 White Notes”

    These 7 white notes on the piano can be organized into modes or scales. In Jermaine Griggs’ words, “…notes create scales.”

    For example, playing all the white notes on the keyboard from C to B:

    …produces the C major scale. However, while playing the C major scale, stopping at the seventh tone (which is B):

    …does not give the scale a satisfactory end because the seventh tone of the scale is an active tone and has the tendency to move up to the eighth white note (which is C):

    “Did I Just Say The Eighth Note?”

    It is a common practice to add an eighth note to the regular seven tones in a scale, not just because it’s a stable tone, but because it is a duplicate of the first scale tone.

    In the case of the C major scale, the first scale tone is C:

    …and is duplicated as the eighth scale tone which is also C:

    In a nutshell, the number eight is important in music because of the relationship between the first and eighth tones of the scale.

    The Octave Transposition Technique

    The term octave transposition consists of two words – octave and transposition. Due to the fact that we’ve already covered the term octave in a previous segment, we’ll just breakdown the term transposition before we continue.

    So, what is transposition?

    Transposition literally means a transfer of the position of an idea [be it a note, scale, interval, chord, chord progression, or song.]

    The term octave transposition has to do with the transfer of a musical idea from its position to a higher or lower octave and here are common examples of octave transposition…

    • The Octave Transposition Of Notes
    • The Octave Transposition Of Scales
    • The Octave Transposition Of Chords

    “Here’s A Quick Explanation To Each Of Them…”

    The Octave Transposition Of Notes

    The octave transposition of any given note moves it from its position on the keyboard to a higher or lower octave. If the note E:

    …is given, octave transposition can either transfer it from its position:

    …to a higher position:


    …from its position:

    …to a lower position:

    When the given note (which is E):

    …has either been transposed to a lower E:

    …or a higher E:

    …then octave transposition of the note has been applied.

    The Octave Transposition Of Scales

    A scale can be played on a position higher or lower than given, using the octave transposition concept. Let’s use the F natural minor scale:

    …as a reference. It is only through octave transposition that the F minor scale:

    …can either be transferred from its position to this position:


    …from its position:

    …to this position:

    Hence, when the given scale (just like the F natural minor scale):

    …has been transferred from its position to either a lower:

    …or higher:

    …position, then octave transposition of the scale has been applied.

    The Octave Transposition Of Chords

    Chords can also be transferred from one position on the keyboard to another using the octave transposition concept. Given the G major triad:

    …it is through octave transposition that it can either be transferred from its position to this position:


    …from its position:
    …to this position:

    It is the application of the concept of octave transposition that can transfer a given chord (which is the G major triad in this case):

    …to a lower octave:

    …or to a higher octave:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    The octave transposition technique can also be used to transfer intervals, chord progressions, and songs from one position on the keyboard to another.

    Final Words

    There are situations where a chord can be given in the wrong keyboard position (aka – “register”.) For example, the C major seventh chord if given in this manner:

    …can be said to be in the wrong register because, notwithstanding that the bass note (C):

    …is in the right register, the chord:

    …is higher than normal.

    However, with a knowledge of the octave transposition technique, the root (C):

    …can be transposed an octave higher to this C:

    …also, the chord can be transposed an octave lower from it’s position:

    …to this octave:

    In a nutshell, the chord given:

    …can be enhanced into this:

    …by the octave transposition of the chord and bass note to their appropriate keyboard registers.

    There are so many uses of the octave transposition technique but we’re not focusing on them in this introductory lesson. The most common use of the octave transposition technique can be seen in the inversion of chords and we’ll be covering all that and more in subsequent lessons.

    Until then!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Esther

    The octave transposition is easy and extends to chords, etc. nice.
    I was mixed up abit with the flat/sharps, bu.nt with the help of the hp of 4steps to the next got it straightened out.
    Very informative and helpful. Thanks again.
    I want to look at my emails again I and get my song tuto r put onto my computer.
    Again many thanks.


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