Transposing

Transposing – the ability to change the key of music in your head and play it higher or lower than the original – is one of the skills that defines a really proficient musician. Most professional musicians, both popular and classical, can transpose – some astonishingly well.

You can really only say you know a chord sequence – or a tune or a riff – when you can transpose it. This works the other way round – if you really want to know a song or a piece of music, try transposing it. You soon start to see its pattern features, and this makes it a lot easier to remember.

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The Musicarta
BEAT AND RHYTHM WORKBOOK

Popular music has a strong rhythmic component – and the modern-styles keyboard player needs well-developed beat and rhythm skills just as much as any other instrumentalist.

The Musicarta Beat and Rhythm Workbook includes three full lesson series that will give you absolutely the best chance to get over the hump and master pro two-handed syncopation!



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(and back to transposing...)

Transposing is easier than you might think, and younger pupils’ ability to learn to transpose is generally underestimated. The benefit of regular practise in transposing in in terms of general musicality is significant.

(We can all transpose, of course. Whenever we sing or hum or whistle a familiar tune, we probably transpose it from its original key into whatever sounds or feels comfortable, without knowing it.)

The familiar and well-loved Canon chord sequence offers an ideal opportunity for learning to transpose, and Musicarta’s transposing material currently focuses on the Canon chord sequence. The Roman numeral system of naming chords is central to learning to transpose, and is also covered in the Musicarta Canon Project ‘Transposing’ mini-series. Click through here to see the material.

You can also transpose ‘mechanically’ by raising or lowering written music on the lines of the stave, by counting scale tones in the key of the piece, and by using hand position and fingering. The first two of these methods are mentioned briefly in the Canon transposing material.

You can learn transposing quite successfully by just 'going through the motions' – playing short pieces of music first in one key and then in another. A section called 'Playing in other keys', in the Musicarta Blues Piano series Module Seven, Supplement B, shows how you can use MidiPiano to play a MIDI file in another key to develop your transposing skills.

Further advice on transposing and opportunities to exercise your skill will become available as new Musicarta material is posted online. Keep up to date by bookmarking the Musicarta blog page and checking in regularly, or get the Musicarta RSS feed (subscribe here or use the orange RSS button below the navbar, top left) for no-hassle updates. (Not sure about RSS? Click here for a short explanation.)


Musicarta has a variety of digital home study packs designed to structure your efforts and maximise your progress. Each package comprises:

  • An illustration-rich PDF workbook of around 150 pages;
  • The audio and MIDI files for all the musical examples;
  • The MidiPiano application; and
  • Drum and instrumental backing tracks to support you practicing and inspire your improvisations. (See individual product specs for variations.)

The Musicarta keyboard creativity downloads are:

The MUSICARTA 12-BAR PIANO STYLES WORKBOOK

Blues, boogie-woogie, rock’n’roll – twelve-bar music comes in many forms, and a working knowledge of the basics is essential for the modern keyboard player. The Musicarta Twelve-bar Piano Styles workbook puts dozens of real 12-bar riffs and grooves into your repertoire and walks you through the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic building blocks of the 12-bar style.



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KEY CHORDS Vol. 1

Musicarta Key Chords builds your chord vocabulary by introducing the chords you are most likely to come across in any song. You practice the chord changes in contemporary riffs (drum backing tracks are included), with easy step-by-step rhythmic build-up of impressive keyboard syncopation.

Key Chords Vol.1
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The CANON PROJECT

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is perhaps the most famous chord sequence of all time, and the basis of dozens of popular hits. If you can play and understand the Canon chord sequence there isn’t much in popular music harmony you won’t be able to figure out. Its regular structure also make it a great springboard for improvising and composition.

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The PYRAMIDS VARIATIONS

The Musicarta Pyramids Variations aims to exceed expectations by coaching beginners and re-starters to an impressive ‘Concert Performance’ in just eight lessons. After that, you learn a set of variations which model all the contemporary keyboard player’s knowledge and skills.

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Once a solid foundation has been laid, the Canon Project and Musicarta Key Chords place particular emphasis on transposing.

Click through to the series home pages using the ‘LEARN MORE’ links. There are sample content pages to help you decide which home study pack you would enjoy most.


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