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Play in a different key? Transposing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by btrag, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. btrag


    Mar 7, 2005
    I'm self taught on theory, so, I second-guess a lot of things I read in theory books. So, I understand that for something to be in the key of A, it will contain chords from the A maj. scale: A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim.

    Let's say a song is in A, and it's chord progression is: I, V, II, V, VII, I.

    Someone says, play this tune in the key of C now. Would the chord prog. now be: C, G, Dm, G, Bdim, C ?

    Is that right? Is this what it means to transpose a song?
  2. Its chord progression in C would be: I, V, II, V, VII, I.

    Just kidding, you're correct. C G Dmin G Bdim C

  3. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I don't think so. If the chords are really "I, V, II, V, VII, I" then that would be A major, E major, B major, E major, G# major, A major" in the key of "A" and "C major, G major, D major, G major, B major, C major" in the key of C.

    If the chords are "I, V, ii, V, vii*, I," Then the chords in C would be C major, G major, D minor, G major, B diminished. In A: "A major, E major, B minor, E major, G# diminished, A major."

    (* = degree sign)
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The V should be a dominant 7th ....?
  5. btrag


    Mar 7, 2005
    Will, that seems to be what I posted. How am I incorrect? And, should the fifth be a dominant? I read that it was a staight minor chord.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

  7. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    will is introducing another factor: the notation of the roman numbers.

    if a roman number is written in capital letters, it refers to a major chord -> III (relative to C) = E major.
    "iii" on the other hand refers to E minor in that context.

    it is however very common to use all capital letters to refer to the degrees of the scale.

    i think will should have explained his post a bit better, because currently it's more confusing than helpful to a theory "beginner". especially since there's no "B major in the key of C" (only Bm7b5 or B half-diminished). in fact, following will's logic, the chord progression wouldn't have a certain key center at all.

    i hope that helps a bit, sorry if it confuses even more.
  8. btrag


    Mar 7, 2005
    Let me try to summarize what I've read: In any major key the "seventh" chord will always take on a minor, diminished quality. So, in the key of Amaj, the seventh will be G#mb5 (right?)

    I see on that piece of notation that every chord is a seventh chord. This is found mostly in jazz and blues right? Making every chord a seventh chord in a given key?
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Don't say "seventh chord", say "chord built on the seventh degree".

    In any major key, the chord built off the 7th degree of the scale will be a "half diminished" (or minor 7th flat 5) chord.

    As far as "making every chord a seventh chord" well, no. Sort of. If you want a triad (3 notes) you can just write or play those 3 notes. You only add the (appropriate) tension when that is the SOUND you want. Just like you can have a V7b9#9b13 if that's the sound you want. Or a Imaj7(#11).

    The other thing nobody seems to be talking about is that all of this is just DIATONIC harmony. Even if you have a key signature of C major, that doesn't mean that the whole song stays in C major. Most popular music tends to have a lot of SECONDARY key centers. So just because you are in Cmajor DOESN'T MEAN that you won't see/can't write or play a D7.

    You're generally right about transposition; whatever you do to the key signature, you do to all of the notation in the song. So if you move from A major to C major, you've transposed UP a minor 3rd (or down a major 6th). So if the 3rd note in the second bar is an Eb in the original key, you move that up a minor third.

    It IS easier to think of transposition by thinking in terms of function of the chord rather than moving specific notes up and down by a certain interval. You just want to make sure that you understand function when you do; is that a II7 or a V7 of V?
  10. Right on!

    Also don't forget to use your ears when transposing... they can be immensely helpful (as they always are).