Transposing

Transposing is used to change the chords of a song or progression from one key to another.

Transposing is for example needed when a singer (maybe yourself), need to change the key of a song to be able to sing it.

Song transposing technique

There are of course different approaches to transpose the chord progression of a song.

Here we describe how to transpose a song using a transposing chart.

Determine the key of a song.

If you have the sheet music of the song you can look for the number of sharps (#) or flats (b) at the beginning of the song to determine the key.

Otherwise the first chord of the song, or even better, the last, tells you about the key of the song. Most songs begin with the I chord and even more ends with it. So if a song starts or ends with a C chord then it’s very likely that the key of the song is C major.

When the key of the song is determined we can use the roman numerals chord table to transpose it.

Transposing example

Let’s transpose the progression A-F#m-Bm-E.

The progression starts with the A major chord so we can assume that the key is A major. Let’s transpose the progression to the key of D.

  1. Localizes the row for the key of A in the roman numerals chord table below.
  2. Find the A major chord (column I) and follow the column to the row for the key of D. We get the D major chord.
  3. Next find the F# (column VI) of the key of D row. Follow the column to the row for key of D. We get the B major chord. In this case we had a F# minor (F#m) so what we get is a B minor (Bm).
  4. In the same way we get an Em for the Bm and an A for the E.

Result: A-F#m-Bm-E becomes D-Bm-Em-A.

KeyIIIIIIIVVVIVII
CCDEFGAB
C#C#D#FF#G#A#C
DbDbEbFGbAbBbC
DDEF#GABC#
D#D#FGG#A#CD
EbEbFGAbBbCD
EEF#G#ABC#D#
FFGABbCDE
F#F#G#A#BC#D#F
GbGbAbBbBDbEbF
AABC#DEF#G#
A#A#CDD#FGA
BbBbCDEbFGA
BBC#D#EF#G#A#