How To Change Keys: Transposing A Song To A Different Key
by Billboard top rated instructor Scott Morris of You Can Play Guitar
© September, 2002 Scott Morris. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.
Many musicians seem baffled on how to transpose a song to a different key. What does this mean? This means that you can take any song, and move it to a "higher" or "lower" pitch which will allow the vocalist to adjust his or her voice to accordingly fit the song in his or her "vocal range". If you have ever tried singing one of your favorite songs, and couldn't quite hit the proper notes, transposition is for you. For example, let's look at an easy classic, like the song "Wild Thing". This song is most commonly played in the key of G, consisting of the common 3 chord progression of the intervals 1,4 and 5. Derived from G diatonic major scale, this equivalent chord formula becomes the common chord progression of G major, C major and D major as taught in the basic demonstration, "example #1". For many vocalist who may attempt to sing the lyrics to this song, they may discover that it is either to "high" of a pitch, or possibly, to "low" of a pitch.
What To Do
Troubleshoot #1 If you find that the song your trying to sing is hard for you to hit the "low notes", try "moving up" a key. For example: Instead of playing the song in G, try moving up 2 frets to the key of A. It's as simple as moving all chords up by 2 frets. Now, instead of playing the chords G,C,D, you will be playing the chords A,D,E as shown in example #2.
Troubleshoot #2 If you find that the song your trying to sing is hard for you to hit the "high"notes try: "moving DOWN a key".
For example: Instead of playing the song in G, try moving down 2 frets to the key of F.
This is as simple as moving all chords "down" 2 frets.
Now, instead of playing the chords G,C,D, you will be playing the chords F,A#,and C, as shown in example #3.
Special Notes *
1) Remember when transposing songs to other keys: There are no sharps and or flats between E & F, and B &C.
2) It's also common to try songs in sharp(#) or Flat(b) keys, such as F#/Gb, G#/Ab, A#/Bb, C#/Db, D#/Eb.
3) Experiment! The terminology of the musical term "octave" means everything to every trained musician. In otherwords: Just because you can't sing in the lower octave of the key of G, doesn't mean that you may not be able to sing in the higher key of G. The one thing that a "true" musician will "NEVER DO"... Is "give up". Wether you are aiming twoard's becoming a live performer, or studio musician, or simply wish to have fun around the campfire... Take the time to understand this theory, and once again "experiment" with your voice and learn which "tonal key center" that you may sound best to sing in.
Encouraging Thought's This goes out to everyone from beginner player's to the best of Karoke singers. There's an old saying between all of the old musicians.
"Everyone and Anyone" can sing all of their favorite song's. They simply have to find the right key for their vocal range".
See the tablature examples link below which demonstrates the song "Wild Thing" played in 3 different keys.
This classic hit is taught using "easy to play" Guitar Powerchords for a quicker and easier understanding of this theory.
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See other songwriting reference books for more information.