Does the prospect of transposing a melody or chords fill you with panic and dread? I keep wishing someone would build a capo that would work on the piano, but my piano tuner says that wouldn’t quite work. Sigh. After many years of teaching, I have come up with a simple way to transpose music easily.
Transpose music easily
In the meantime, I have created The Handy-Dandy Transposition Chart™ designed to make transposing your melodies and chords less painful and riddled with errors.
How to Transpose Notes:
1. Choose the line that is in the same key as your song and highlight it.
2. Choose the line that is in the key you want your song to be and highlight with a different color.
3. Write out your melody substituting the notes from the new key for the notes in the original key.
For example, if your song is in the key of C and the melody goes E, D, C and you are transposing to the key of Eb, then the melody would become G, F, Eb.
How to Transpose Chords:
Follow the same exact same protocol for notes, remembering to copy the chord quality exactly as it is written.
For example, if you are in the key of Bb and the chords are Cmi7, F7, Bbma7, and you are transposing to the key of G, the chords become Ami7, D7, Gma7. Just transpose the notes and copy down the rest of the chord symbol exactly as they appear.
Now, before you go all crazy and start transposing Stephen Sondheim and Igor Stravinsky, I strongly recommend that you start at the shallow end of the pool – maybe a folk song or a simple jazz standard. Take it a few measures at a time and make sure to test it out on the piano every so often to make sure it sounds right.