Can you just transpose particular sections of a song as opposed to the transposition being applied to the whole song? For example, let's say I had a song where the lowest note was A2 and the highest note was D5. Let's say the song starts to get higher in pitch during the chorus, and the D5 occurs in the chorus as well. Could I just transpose the chorus to fit more comfortably in my range as opposed to the transposition being applied to the whole song?

4 Answers 4


It is possible, but quite unusual, to change key in that way. As @xerotolerant suggests, there might be a few easier options.

That being said, I have used a key change in this manner before. The song in question has a verse that is sung up the octave. It's quite important to the emotional feel of the song, but it was too high for the group of untrained singers.

In this case, there was an instrumental before the verse in question. So, during that instrumental, we changed the key from Bb to F. At the end of the verse, we changed back into Bb. It was actually pretty subtle, because of the chord progression at those points. So we still got the register change, but only by a fifth, not an octave.

I can post the actual progressions if anyone is interested, but it's highly specific to the song in question.

So it is possible to change key got a specific portion of a song. That being said, just choosing a different note might be easier. I've used that trick as well.


Yes you can do it by transposing an octave down for a short section. You would be singing the same melody but an octave below or above.

What is typically done is the notes that are out of the range are replaced with harmonically appropriate notes.

So if same song you mentioned is in D major. When the singer gets to that D5 if the chord is a D major chord they could sing A4 instead or some other note from the chord. This is less obvious depending on the genre and how it is executed. If it were an opera then that would be considered blasphemy and you just wouldn't be selected to sing the part. Jazz or gospel the transposition would probably be interpreted as embellishment.


To transpose sections of a song would take away from the original song as written. Second, if you change keys in the song, that has to be done properly as you really shouldn't just jump to a new key in a section of a song. That can play some havoc with the listening especially if there are experienced singers/musicians. Key changes are structured properly just like you change chords in a section of a song. It's not that you can't do it, it is that it needs to be done properly. At the end of the day, the old rule applies, "If it sounds good, it is good!" since while we have rules to composition, harmony, counterpoint, we do break them.


You can, but you probably shouldn't. A song has a melodic and harmonic shape, you're asking to distort it. But it happens. Check out the various tricks arrangers use in 'New York (start spreading the news...' to make the last verse sound like it's going up a key when in fact it stays put, or even goes down a key to facilitate the big last note!

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