Transposing (changing the key)

In music, transposing, means moving notes or chords from one key to another. You could, for example, transpose from D major to G major or any other key. Notice the difference between a transposition and a key change: in the first case the whole song is transcribed to a fit another key and in the second case the key barely change in the song.

How to transpose

A transposition is done by changing all notes (or chords) a certain interval. If we want to go from the C Major to the D Major we change all related notes one whole step, which is the distance between C and D.

If we have the following chord progressions: C - F - Am - G -  F - C in the C Major and want to transpose it to the key of D Major we have to change every chord by two semi-steps. The result will be this: D - G - Bm - A - G - D.

Reference

The following table can be used as a reference every time you have to change to another key. Instructions can be found below the table.

  C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B
C C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B
Db Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C
D D Eb E F F# G Ab A Bb B C C#
Eb Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C Db D
E E F F# G G# A Bb B C C# D D#
F F Gb G Ab A Bb Cb C Db D Eb E
Gb Gb G Ab A Bb Cb C Db D Eb E F
G G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F F#
Ab Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G
A A Bb B C C# D Eb E F F# G G#
Bb Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A
B B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A Bb

Db = C# | Eb = D# | Gb = F# | Ab = G# | Bb = A# (to reduce space in the table only one of these are written out)

The table is without doubt complicated and dense in information. Here are some instructions how to use it.

Change the tone E in the key of C to the key of Eb: In the second row and fifth column you find E in the key of C. Go to the fifth row and the fifth column and you find G.
Change the tone G# in the key of E to the key of D: In the fifth row and fifth column you find G# in the key of E. Go to the third row and the fifth column and you find F#.
Change the tone C# in the key of A to the same tone in the key of F: In the third row from the bottom and sixth column you find C# in the key of A. Go to the seventh row and the sixth column and you find A.

Transposing chords

Concerning chords, the table doesn’t show major and minor. Although you could interpret the notes to major chords. Some examples of how major chords changes between keys:

F in the key of C = C in the key of G
G in the key of C = D in the key of G
C in the key of G = G in the key of D
A in the key of D = B in the key of E
Eb in the key of Bb = Bb in the key of F
C in the key of F = Eb in the key of Ab


If you want to transpose minor chords between keys, you simply have to add minor to the note. Some examples of how minor chords changes between keys:

Am in the key of C = Em in the key of G
Dm in the key of C = F#m in the key of G
Bm in the key of G = Em in the key of C
Am in the key of C = Cm in the key of Eb
C#m in the key of E = Gm in the key of Bb
Ebm in the key of Db = Bm in the key of A