As a pianist, knowing how to change the pitch of a song is important. We do this so that the people can sing the higher or lower notes in the normal voice range. This technique is called transposition. Transposition is changing the key of a music piece from one key to another. Once the key is transposed, it will sound either higher or lower than its original key. Transposition is often used by piano accompanists, arrangers, composers and performers. For some musical instruments, transposition is easy. A guitar can use a capo to change keys. An electronic keyboard has button features to change tones. But in an acoustic piano, transposition is done manually.
There are several methods to transpose music.
1. Transposing By Interval
Interval is the distance between two notes. If you are transposing from the Key of C to the Key of D, the interval between these keys is two intervals or a whole step. You will then need to shift all your notes two intervals higher or a whole step higher.
2. Transposing By Scale
This method requires that you master all scales and the corresponding numbers of each note on a scale.
3. Transposing By Chord
While the first two methods are used by most sight readers, this third method is used by most pianists who play by chords. Following is the Chord Transposition Chart.
Each column represents a key and its chords. For example, the first column contains the chords for the key of C. First locate the columns for your song's original key and desired key. For each chord in your song, find the chord in the column corresponding with the original key, and note what column it is in. Then find the chord in that same row in the column corresponding with the new key. Replace the original chord with that chord.
The hymn My Tribute is loved by many Christians to sing at church worship services. However, many find the song too high in pitch, and they would request to lower the pitch of the song. My Tribute is originally played in the key of Bb.
Let us transpose the hymn from the Key of Bb to the Key of A to lower the pitch of the song.
- Locate the Keys of Bb and A on the top row.
- Substitute the original chords of the hymn with the chords of the Key of A. For example, when you come across F maj chord, the new chord after transposition will be E maj chord.
- For minor, major and seventh chords, just change the chord name and retain the minor, major and seventh (Bb7 > A7, Ebm > Dm)
Do this process in all songs you would like to transpose. Locate the original key in the chart, find the next key you would like the song to be transposed, and change all chords from the original key to the next key.
Related Piano Courses:
Definitive Piano Improvisation
Essentials of Great Hymn Arrangement