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I am able to play chord progression in any key, but if I want to play by changing the KEY then it is difficult for me to play in the new key. So is there any easy technique to remember the chord conversion?

  • God sometimes I feel dyslexic. Did not see the difference between the word inversion and conversion til after the vote. Sorry for any inconvenience. – Neil Meyer Feb 13 '15 at 14:28
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All chord progressions can be labelled by the degree of the chord within the scale. Most chord progressions will contain the I, IV and V major chords. They also may contain a ii, iii, or vi minor chord or a diminished 7th. Some chord progressions will contain other variants but every key has only certain type chords that can be derived from the notes in that key. And the type and degree is consistent across all keys.

You can label a chord progression according to where these scale degree chords occur in the progression. For example, the verses might be a I V vi IV progression and the chorus might be a I IV V progression.

So in any key you can use this format to identify which chords are used. If in key of A the I chord is A and the IV chord is D and the V chord is E and the vi chord is F#m etc. In the key of G the I chord is G the IV chord is C and the V chord is D and the vi chord is Em.

So once you reduce the chords in one key to the corresponding degrees of I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, and diminished vii (or other variants which can occur), you can figure out which chords to play in any key.

There is a great and easy to read chart here Chord Progression Chart that shows all the chords for all the different keys. I keep this handy for transposing from one key to another without having to think about it.

Hope this helps.

  • It could be worth updating your chord sheets to only show the chord degree, not the chord name - then change key and you don't have to transpose. – Mr. Boy Feb 13 '15 at 9:09
  • The chart in the link shows both the chord degree (major or minor at the top) AND the chord name. Also shows Tone Tone Semitone etc. and one can pencil in the I, ii, iii. I can't take credit for creating the chart, it's just one I found that was easy to use. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 13 '15 at 9:15
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Check out the Nashville Number System. I won't describe it here, as I believe it's been featured in other answers, and readily available through Google.

If - you're talking about transposing on guitar, if the original is played using only barre chords, then they can all be moved up by the same number of frets. Gets tricky moving down, sometimes, though, as the frets run out at the bottom!

  • This numbering system is very similar to the one used in Indonesia. i actually have used it in great effect for learning to transpose. – mey Feb 14 '15 at 10:22
  • @mey - interesting. I need to find out the similarities and differences between yours and NNS. – Tim Feb 14 '15 at 10:55
  • we use 1 for do, 2 for re etc. Sharpened and flatted notes are indicated by slashed and back slashed numbers, respectively. i don't think there is a sign for double sharps and double flats though- our musicians tend to keep it simple. E.g rather than "2 double flat" they simply write "1". – mey Feb 14 '15 at 11:13
  • So yours is a movable do? I tend to use Roman numerals, which can't get mixed up with 6th ,7th, etc.Upper case maj., lower min., or just put 'm'.With hand-written, do the slashes get mixed up? What happens with slash chords, when you've already got slashes? – Tim Feb 14 '15 at 11:30
  • yes, it is a movable do. Sorry for being inadvertently misleading- i was referring to notes. For chords, we still use Roman numerals. We use absolute notes as well, though laypeople only know the solfege and it's associated numbers. But we call B flat "Bes", F sharp "Fis" like the Dutch (and similar to Germans). – mey Feb 14 '15 at 12:02
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Sure there's an easy way - you basically just use the alphabet! If your song is in A and you want to play in B - just "add 1" to each chord letter A->B, D->E, F#m -> G#m

It's not always so simple but in many cases this works just fine.

You'll also typically find you play in only a few keys - I rarely end up in anything other than C, G, A, or E and that you tend to use only a few chords (the famous 4 chords I IV V vi). I found I naturally learned to transpose these common chords so if a song in C is written C G Am F, and the band leader says "let's do it in E" I know that the minor chord is C#m "on autopilot.

  • This works fine until # or b become involved, then key signatures need to be known. As in C-F doesn't get changed to F-B. – Tim Feb 13 '15 at 8:43
  • Well sure, but it's surprising how often it does work if you're doing conventional 4-chord stuff - it's just a cheat. – Mr. Boy Feb 13 '15 at 9:08

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