Transposing musical arrangements is a common task undertaken by musicians of all types in the industry. Band leaders will often need to alter the key of a song when new vocalists come into the group, producers may need to change keys for other instruments during a recording session – it all depends upon the musical context. One thing’s for sure, transposing happens and it happens often. This lesson covers the basics of how to transpose a triad chord progression from one key to another…
TRANSPOSING CHORD PROGRESSIONS:
Q: I was wondering if you could take the triad Harmonic Analysis lesson you had done a step further and cover the concept of Transposing chord progressions into other keys?
A: Transposing chord progressions requires some background knowledge.
Step (1). You must know your musical key signatures.
Step (2). There will be a background knowledge necessary of being able to do harmonic analysis. This training of chord and key analysis is vital to fully understanding the process of transposing a chord progression from one key to another.
WHAT IS HARMONIC ANALYSIS?:
Harmonic analysis relates to knowing which chord quality is found upon each step of the major scale (or minor scale). Once you understand which chord types are located upon those scale steps you can use that harmonic knowledge to change the key of any chord progression (or melody line).
Once you learn the background for the music theory of Harmonic Analysis, and it is well established for you, then you will be ready to start transposing music you learn to other keys.
CHORD PROGRESSION ANALYSIS:
We will begin by analyzing a typical chord progression.
Standard Format (Chord Changes Indicated – Key of “F” Major)
In the example above, our chord progression is located within the key signature of “F Major,” (take note of the single flat shown within the key signature area of the staff, along with the fact that the first chord is “F” Major).
CONDUCTING HARMONIC ANALYSIS:
The first step of transposing any progression is to conduct a “Harmonic Analysis” of the chord progressions chord movements and chord qualities, (major or minor chord types).
This means that prior to changing the key, we will need to convert all of the chords of the progression into a series of numeric degrees. In music theory we apply Roman Numerals for this process.
Harmonic Analysis Format (Roman Numerals Indicated)
TRANSPOSE THE PROGRESSION:
Next, we will transpose the key of “F Major” chord progression into a new key from off of the Roman Numeral breakdown. For our example, we will transpose the key of “F” chord progression into the new key of, “D” Major.
Transposed Chord Changes (NEW Key of “D” Major)
As you can tell from the examples shown above, transposing requires an awareness of key signatures, chart reading ability, and a formal knowledge of conducting Harmonic Analysis.
These topics are all covered in great detail across all of the Creative Guitar Studio core curriculum.
The Creative Guitar Studio core curriculum, (the, “Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced,” guitar courses), contain detailed step-by-step explanations.
The core curriculum is a comprehensive outline of all guitar education topics and provides guitarists with exactly what they will need to know for becoming proficient at all of the procedures of transposing chord progressions and melody from one key over to any other key required.