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#2212914 - 01/11/14 03:25 PM Do you ever transpose pieces that you know?
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 823
Loc: New England, USA
Do you ever transpose piece that you know? All the sheet music versions of the piece I am working now (that I have looked at) are in G Major (including an early advanced version). However, the professional recordings are all in Ab Major as that is the original key. I am almost done learning the piece in G Major and I am considering transposing it to the original key. I have already taken the time to transpose the arrangement to Ab Major. To re-learn the piece should be easier but it will still take time. Is re-learning a piece that you know already something that you do too or do you consider that a "waste of time"?

Edited by Amaruk (01/11/14 03:26 PM)
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#2212963 - 01/11/14 04:41 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
Saranoya Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 968
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Hi Amaruk,

I do this from time to time. It comes relatively easy to me, probably because I tend to just play "what's in my head" regardless of whether I have a (correct) score or not. I have good musical memory, but lack perfect pitch, so "what's in my head" might be in one key today, and in another one tomorrow.

I don't find it a waste of time. In fact, it's fun to me. But then, I'm also the kind of person who has to set explicit limits on the amount of time she can spend playing familiar pieces, because otherwise I might never actually learn anything new.

Would it be fun to you? If so, go for it. If not, well ... why would you want to do it? wink
Plodding through piano music at a frustratingly slow pace since 9/2012.

Standard disclaimer: I teach many things. Piano is not one of them.

#2212964 - 01/11/14 04:43 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012

Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1275
Loc: Portland, OR
I often transpose pieces, as I get to know them better, to see how well I know what scale degree or chord progression everything is, or perhaps to explore how the tune's chord progression or voicings in feel in different keys.

I also transpose when I'm sight reading, to make me read the harmony and intervals, instead of just seeing the notes on the page.

Aside from increasing my familiarity with different keys, I think it also serves as a way of stretching how much musical data I can hold in my mind, adding another mental ball to juggle real-time.
Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.

intermittent piano blog

#2212980 - 01/11/14 05:09 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
peterws Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 6096
Loc: Northern England.
I often write music down from hearing it, or memory in which case the key isn`t often as originally laid down. Don`t care, either . . . .as long as it sounds right on the ole jo-anna
"I am not a man. I am a free number"


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#2213002 - 01/11/14 05:48 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 798
Loc: Northern, Northern California
I like to transpose a jazz piece up or down a minor third. Then I'll switch from one key to the other, and it sounds good.
- Al

My Book: Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not!
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#2213255 - 01/12/14 07:12 AM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
JohnSprung Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3970
Loc: Reseda, California
I'm not that good at transposing. I use the free MuseScore notation program to write down what I play by ear, and it can instantly transpose to any key. So, if I want something transposed, I just let the computer do it for me.

-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

#2213307 - 01/12/14 10:07 AM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1353
Loc: Southern California
It is a valuable skill. Transposing is an opt in section on some of the exams. I don't do it. However, I have a friend who transposes on the fly, seemingly without any effort. Mind you this friend was a concert pianist and also did the piano bar circuit.

The common usage is to accompany singers so they reach the wide ranging notes in the song. Many pro pianists can transpose at request, on the fly. It does show another of the incredibly wide gaps between beginners and some professionals. A beginner might be able to transpose, but take weeks or months to get to performance ready. Many pros that work with singers can do it at the drop of a hat, and be ready to go live with a new singer after one brief walk through.
my piano uploads

#2213404 - 01/12/14 01:56 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1845
Loc: Sweden
Amaruk, you are transposing from an easy key to a more difficult one. If I transpose, it's usually the opposite, to have the piece in a more manageable key. blush
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Casio PX-5S. Native Instruments Giant. Galaxy II 1929 Blüthner Baby Grand.

#2213427 - 01/12/14 02:41 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Sand Tiger]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014

Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2199
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
It is a valuable skill.

I agree. I've wanted to. I'm just not at the theory level to be able to attempt that yet. But someday.

If you talk to these people who have great knowledge in music theory. As well as great knowledge in practical application...playing instruments. Like Conductors, Band Leaders, really good instrument players. They'll tell you it's really simple. It isn't as hard as you might think it is. You just need to learn and understand.

You, Amaruk. You are at a level of artistry. I hope that you learn the expertise to transcribe. Not only different keys. But transcribe from hearing something. Next step is composing. You have "The Right Stuff". Yes, I think a lot of your talent. You should shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll land among the stars.
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

#2213510 - 01/12/14 04:52 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
Michael Martinez Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 516
Loc: California
Transposing is a very good thing to do. If you ever play with other people, like in a band, you will need this skill.
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors

#2213643 - 01/12/14 09:04 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 823
Loc: New England, USA
Thank you all for your inputs regarding whether it is worth spending time on transposing a piece that you know!! Ron, thank you for your kind words. That means a lot to me!!

It seems very clear to me now that it is not considered a waste of time to transpose pieces that you know! When I was reading your responses I realized it is actually more about the transposing process than the end result. It might sound obvious in a way, but the last time I transposed a larger piece I immediately “lost” the version I knew before I started. Thus, after I was done I could only play the transposed version and I almost felt that it was not worth it. But to avoid this problem this time around I will try and learn small pieces at the time and make sure I keep the old version active during the process. Perhaps doing it this way will help me to see the music as intervals rather than absolute notes on the staff! Great! Thank you all for your heads up on this!
My piano channel on YouTube: Link

#2213651 - 01/12/14 09:15 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Amaruk]
mr_super-hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4289
My digital Roland can transpose a piece for me. Just play something and it will write down the score for you. [I'm WAY oversimplifying this by leaving out the MIDI software needed etc, but it can do it].

The only problem is I cannot read what I play so in reality I paid for a feature I do not use. hmmm.

Anyway, what would be much more effective (for me) is to have a very small digital recorder to humm or sing a new or unique melody into that pops into your mind but you end up forgetting later. This happens to me all the time.....and I DO have a small Sandisc mp3 player that can record but I never have it on me when I need it. And then later when I see the recorder/player, I forgot the tune/melody I wanted to record on it in the first place.

Now I'm all mad!

#2214114 - 01/13/14 05:46 PM Re: Do you ever transpose pieces that you know? [Re: Sand Tiger]
JohnSprung Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3970
Loc: Reseda, California
Yes, transposing is a nice thing to be able to do. But it's also a matter of priorities. I need to get a lot better at just plain old playing before I work on transposition.
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690


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