What is transposition?
An extremely important, and useful, tool to have when songwriting is transposition. What is transposition? Simply put, it is changing the key of a song to another key. As long as the distance between the notes is the same, it doesn’t matter which key it is in, it will be the same song. Upon transposing a song it will simply sound higher or lower.
Transposing can make your life a lot easier when writing or playing. Vocalists will frequently transpose songs in order to sing it in a more comfortable range. For example, a male singer tends to transpose songs written for a female voice so that they can make the most out of their vocal range.
When playing a song on an instrument you might find that the chords are a bit difficult to play at your skill level, or the key has a daunting amount of sharps or flats. You’re going to find it a lot easier to play a song in written in B flat major if you transpose it to C.
Other methods of transposing
Sometimes you’ll find that the song is in an ideal key for you to play in, but not an ideal key for you to sing. In these situations there are ways to circumvent the need to manually transpose the song. . . Some more uppity music professionals may frown upon such methods. . . but that’s just dumb. whichever way is most comfortable for you to play is the way you should play.
For guitars they have created the glorious capo. On various string instruments a capo can be placed on the neck in order to raise the songs key. The higher placed on the fret board the higher the key. This way you can play the song as you normally would, but in a range more comfortable for you.
It’s safe to say that pretty much all electric keyboards have a built in transposition function which allows you to raise the key without changing the way you play.
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How to tranpose
Manually transposing might be a bit difficult if you aren’t familiar with reading music or how keys work, and it might take some time to accomplish. You’ll have to adjust the key signature, as well as every single note in the song. However, now a days where you are probably finding all of your music online, there are usually ways to transpose it. Sheet music purchased online has options to alter it, both in key and tempo. Check out websites such as SheetMusicPlus or SheetMusicDirect for fully adjustable sheet music. Notation software such as MuseScore can be used to transpose the music you write.
You can also use methods online to easily transpose the chords written in a document. I frequently use TabTuner to transpose the music I write.
That’s transposing in a nutshell. I mean it used to be pretty difficult to transpose music manually, and required quite a bit of musical knowledge. Fortunately we have plenty of online tools at our disposal to do the job for us. That means a whole lot more songs available to you, even as a novice player.
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