Why are pianos so hard to open?…..the keys are inside.
I love this joke!
On a more serious note I’m often asked the question of how i transpose music into different keys.
My answer, i listen and move with them, transposition is moving from one key to another.
Why do we transpose?
When a song is in a specific key and the key does not suit the soloists range you either raise or lower the key to match the voice.
From an early age I loved when i heard a song i liked, I would sit at the piano and play it back. This was a natural thing for me to do and coming from a musical household music surrounded my every day life. Although my natural ear is a precious gift I realised i had to learn to read music and study it. What? study? i’m fine!, but in order to nuture my natural ear I needed to study the fundamentals of music to become a better musician and gain the ability to work with other musicians reading music.I had a wonderful piano teacher who insisted i practised my piano pieces in all twelve keys to improve the flow of transposition and not have to think about it to much. This technique has greatly stood by me today!
What i learned from studying the keys and chord progressions and knowing them very well i can transpose a piece of music into another key. By knowing your key signatures the sharps and flats will come very natural to you as you play. When i have no access to the piano to practise a song in a different key i visualise the keyboard and imagine I’m playing in the preferred key and i can hear the notes in my head. In a melody think of the key you are trying to play in and because you know the key signature of your key the sharps and flats will follow.
Another question i am often asked: Can I transpose at sight?
Yes, but to be honest, if a piece proves difficult i will take time to play it through once and then transpose it into the preferred key. I also have to acknowledge how my ear guides me of how the piece should sound and also my knowledge of key signatures and chord progressions.
Some say it is brain power, others say it’s magic, in my experience i’d say it is having a good ear, practice, listen and learn, oh and a good sense of humour!