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Making Notes (Part 5)

Making a piece in a new key

Most musicians start to play in the two keys of 'C' and 'F' Major and may feel that these two keys are adequate. They can be, but to the listener with a good musical ear the music can all sound the same, despite variations in the melody.

Transposition in relation to music simply means 'to change from one key of music to another'. Learning how to transpose a favourite well played tune into a new key can create new interest and a great sense of achievement.

Professional musicians can often transpose on sight but unless gifted musically this can take quite a while to achieve.

There are various ways of transposing music. One method is to establish the Tone and Semitone distances between the original Key and the new Key and move every note accordingly. For example, when transposing from the Key of 'F' Major to 'E' Major there is a One Tone distance in a downward movement. Every note on the original manuscript must be moved down by a Tone distance on the new manuscript. This can be a complicated exercise if every note has to be moved by greater Tone and Semitone distances which can occur between other Major Keys.

Find time to experiment with my simple method. The only requirements are a clean sheet of paper, a page of manuscript, a pen, 'Making Notes' article 3 (on Key Signatures) and your favourite arrangement in the Key of 'C' Major which is going to be transposed into the Key of 'G' Major. After learning a few simple rules it is possible to transpose music to and from any Major Key.

From C to G

(1) Write down and number 1 to 8 the note names of the 'C' Major Scale and underneath it write down the scale of 'G' Major:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
'C' Major Scale C D E F G A B C
G' Major Scale G A B C D E F# G

(2) On the new manuscript write the Treble Clef and the new Key Signature for the Key of 'G' Major and the Time Signature of the music.

(3) Identify the melody note on the original manuscript as note numbers of the 'C' Major Scale and transpose them into the same note numbers of the 'G' Major Scale. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

In the first bar of Figure 1, the note of 'E' in the original Key of 'C' Major, becomes 'B' in the new Key of 'G' Major. The second note of 'G' becomes 'D' and the third note of 'E' goes back to 'B'. In the second bar the original notes of 'F', 'A' & 'C' become 'C', 'E' & 'G' in the new key. Now alter the third and fourth bars, ensuring that note values and any Rests in the music are transferred correctly to maintain the timing of the music.

Figure 2

The Bass Stave can now be transposed in exactly the same way, remembering to place the Key Signature and Time Signature first. See Figure 2.

Figure 3.

Music can now be transposed into any Key of your choice. Using this method transpose the Key of 'F' Major into the Key of 'Eb' Major. The note numbers of the 'F' Major Scale will be transposed to the same note numbers of the 'Eb' Major Scale. Remember to write in the new Key Signature and the original Time Signature first (Figure 3).

If you are one of the many musicians using 'Chord Symbols', their transposition to the new 'Key' is very simple. As with the melody notes, a Chord Symbol of 'C' (note No. 1 of the 'C' Major Scale) on the original manuscript becomes a Chord Symbol of 'G' (note No. 1 of the 'G' Major Scale) on the new manuscript. The transposed Chord Symbols and Pedal Notes are included on Figures 1 and 2. Any additional chord information '7', '6', 'm' etc. must always be included with the transposed chord.

Further chords for L.H.

ADVANCED LEFT HAND CHORD FORMATION requires an understanding of Major Scale sequences. As each note of a Major Scale is numbered 1 to 8, note No. 8 is also note No. 1 in a continuing sequence of the scale. Note No. 2 is also note No. 9, note No. 3 is also note No. 10 etc., to a maximum of 13 notes. The scale sequence of the 'C' Major Scale is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4

In the following chord formations the chord name appears first, then the note numbers of the Major Scale, with the 'C' Major Scale as an example, then the Chord Symbol and the notes which feature in the chord. See Figure 5.

Figure 5

The Root Note is not included as part of the Left Hand Chord in formations higher than major Seventh. When playing an instrument with a pedal board, the Root Note is the Bass Pedal Note, leaving the left hand to accommodate the three or four notes of the chord. The chords of 'Cmaj7', 'Cmaj9' and 'C9' need to be inverted to be played between the octave 'F' to 'F'. The Eleventh and Thirteenth chords are in their playing positions.

When the chord of Major Seventh is played as an inversion, a semitone discord occurs between the 7th and Root Note of the chord. Because the Root Note is duplicated as the pedal note it is a personal choice if the Root Note is omitted from the chord. The Major Ninth Chord consists of four notes and starts its formation upon the 3rd Note of scale 3 - 5 - 7 - 9, with the Root Note as the Pedal Note. The Ninth Chords are similar to Major Ninth Chords apart from the '7th' Note of scale which is flattened to '7b'. The Eleventh Chords start their formation upon the 5th Note of scale, the 3rd Note is omitted and the Thirteenth Chords start their formation upon the '7b' Note of scale, with the 3rd and 5th Notes omitted.

With the exception of the 'Maj9' Chords, their logical build up highlights that in any chord above 'Eighth' such as Ninth, Eleventh and Thirteenths the '7b' Note of the scale will always be included.

The musical rule is now established for the formation of some of the advanced chords, which can simply be found by writing any Major Scale Sequence (1 to 13) and using the appropriate note numbers. Create Inversions of Chords, if in their formation position they are too high or too low on the manual to be played between the notes of 'F' either side of Middle 'C'.

Thirteenth Chords are not usually played as an inversion, as a semitone discord occurs between the '7b' Note and the 13th (6th) notes in the chord. They can be played an octave lower if their formation position is too high on the manual, or to cheat a little, a 7th Chord is adequate when the 13th Note is the melody note.

When playing advanced chords, you will be using the same notes as the simple chords you have already played. For example, the 'C9' Chord (1st Inversion) G - Bb - D E played with a 'C' pedal is a 'Gm6' Chord when played with a 'G' pedal. The 'Cmaj9' Chord (1st Inversion) G - B - DE played with a 'C' pedal note becomes a 'G6' Chord when played with a 'G' pedal note. An 'Eleventh' Chord uses the same notes as a Minor Seventh Chord. A 'G11' Chord D-F-A-C is a 'Dm7' Chord when played with a 'D' pedal note. Therefore the only difference is in the pedal note which gives the chord its name. This exercise also shows that every Left Hand Chord, with the exception of 'Thirteenths', can be played between the octave 'F' to 'F' on the lower manual and advanced chords are no more difficult to play than easy ones.

Playing pedals

As this month I have included Bass Pedal Notes with the Left Hand Chord formations, a few hints on Bass Pedal techniques may be useful. It is not necessary to remove shoes when playing the pedals. Apart from being definitely anti-social, it does not really help to achieve the smooth movement of coaxing the pedal down rather than hitting them sharply. A lighter shoe or slipper may help to get the feel of the pedals initially. Try to keep the left foot hovering above the pedal notes rather than lifting the foot in the air, to create a similar technique to 'Crawling' over the melody notes on the manual.

If you are reading the Bass Stave, you will obviously be shown the pedal notes to play with each chord. If you are reading single stave music, the Chord Symbols tell you that the pedal note is the ROOT NOTE of each Left Hand Chord and also the Root Note of the Scale from which the chord was formed. I am using the Major Scales once more, (what would we do without them!) to extend the basic knowledge contained in the Chord Symbols.

Initially, one pedal beat in each bar is sufficient whether playing in 3/4 or 4/4 time (Figure 6A). When playing to a semiquaver rhythm, the single pedal note may seem inadequate and the foot will want to move in time. Sustain the Left Hand Chords while a second pedal note is played on the 3rd Beat in each Bar - the same pedal note as played on the 1st Beat in each Bar (Figure 6B). When proficient on the 'same note double beat' pedal technique, adopt a 'Root & 5th' pedal rhythm (Figure 6C). On the 1st Beat of the bar play the Root Note of the scale and on the 3rd Beat play the 5th Note of scale. For example, 'C' Chord Symbol: 'C' Pedal Note 1st Beat - 'G' Pedal Note 3rd Beat. The first and fifth notes of the 'C' Major Scale.

Figure 6

When the Left Hand Chord changes, the pedal notes are the Root and 5th of the scale from which the new chord was formed. In the second bar the 'F' Chord Symbol indicates the 'F' and 'C' Notes, the Root & 5th Notes from the 'F' Major Scale.

The pedal notes in Bar 3 are 'G' & 'D', the Root and 5th from the 'G' Major Scale. This rule will apply for all Root and 5th Pedal playing. The oblique lines represent the 4 Beats in each bar.

In the next Making Notes, I will be gathering together some of the information from my previous articles to begin an explanation of 'Harmony'.


Read the next part in this series:
Making Notes (Part 6)

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A History Of Electronic Music

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Electronics & Music Maker - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Electronics & Music Maker - May 1982


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Music Theory


Making Notes

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Feature by Brenda Hayward

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