I am practicing on a song which is on A minor key.. The chords for song are Am, G, F, E.. But it feels difficult for me to sing on that scale as it goes further high even over my upper limits. So, I want to transpose it little down to sing that more comfortably..I have searched and found some charts for transposition, and they were all for major key scale so I am not sure about the minor key scale that how they should be transposed.. Please tell me if they can be done in the same way or not. And, what would be the new chords after scaling them down.. Thanks for your Answers.

4 Answers 4


There is no difference between transposing major, minor or any other sort of scale from one key to another. In standard western musical theory, every scale has a formula/algorithm - a discreet, clearly defined series of intervals. That formula is applicable to any/all keys.

If you are transposing A Minor to G Minor, use the minor scale formula:

Root->Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step-Whole Step==Octave

A min: A->B-C-D-E-F-G->Octave A
G min: G->A-Bb-C-D-Eb-F->Octave G

If you are transposing A Major to G Major use the major scale formula:

Root->Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step==Octave

A Maj: A->B-C#-D-E-F#-G#->Octave A
G Maj: G->A-B-C-D-E-F#->Octave G

This same method is used when transposing any scale: Apply the formula of your desired scale - major or minor (or any scale you like) - using the tonic (first note) as the first note in the formula, and just follow the formula through.

As you learn more about scales and modes, you will learn other formulas that are applicable to any key. For example, Mixolydian mode, from which the ubiquitous dominant 7th chords are derived, is built on the 5th degree of the C major scale, and looks like this:

Root:G->A-B-C-D-E-F->Octave G. (F being the m7/b7 - the Dominant 7th)

So the formula for Mixolydian mode is

Root->Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step-Whole Step-Half Step-Whole Step==Octave

That formula can be applied to any key, to give you Mixolydian mode in that key. Here's A Mixolydian:

Root:A->B-C#-D-E-F#-G>Octave A. (In this case, G being the m7/b7 - the Dominant 7th)

Regarding chords, it's the same: Simply transpose the relative chord relationships of the progression from the tonic chord in the new key. Every structured chord progression also has a formula that is applicable to any key.

For example: In a diatonic G Major progression, the II chord is A Minor. Correspondingly, in F Major, one step down, the II chord is G minor.

In your progression, if you move from A to G that's one step down. Now your first chord will be Gm, and your second chord is a major chord one step lower. Your progression now begins on Gm instead of Am, and so your second chord will be F, on step lower than the new tonic, G; third chord will be Eb; fourth chord will be D, etc.

Larry Dunlop - The II-V-I Progression

Using Roman Numerals [ I-IV-V; II-V-I ] makes it easier to transfer [transpose] the indication of the scale tone to any other other scale. In the key of G, the II would indicate a chord built on A the second note of the G Major Scale. Any scale can be thought of in this way.

The 'Rosettta Stone' of all transposition is deriving the mathematical algorithm of the chords and scales involved: Notes are not portable to different keys, numbers and intervals are.

The Nashville System (one of countless links) has evolved into a formalized method for using this efficient, mathematical approach to working with chords and scales.

  • 1
    This answer would look scary to a beginner (although well written), Todd's answer is likely better suited for this question.
    – user43681
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 22:18
  • @YeDawg - I agree it might "look scary". But if you read it, I don't think, it's scary at all - I think it's very straightforward and goes step by step, although it does assume knowledge of certain very basic concepts.
    – Stinkfoot
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 19:46

Every minor key has a relative major key which uses the same key signature, and every major key has a relative minor. They go in pairs. The relative major of a minor key has a tonic that is a minor third above the tonic of the minor key. And the relative minor of a major key has a tonic a minor third below the tonic of the major key. So A minor has a relative major of C major. And C major has a relative minor of A minor.

So you can use your transposition charts for minor keys by transposing the relative major of the key that you are transposing from, and then using the relative minor of the major key that you got from the chart.

Ok that probably doesn't make a lot of sense so let's use an example.

Suppose you want to transpose A minor down four half steps. First, we find the relative major, which is C major as detailed above. Then we transpose C major down four half steps to Ab major. Then we find the relative minor of Ab major, which has a tonic a minor third below Ab, which is F. So F minor is the relative minor of Ab major and F minor is the minor key four half steps below A minor.

  • Sounds like the OP is a beginner using open chords. Hope he doesn't use this example !! Although Em, D, C, B(7) may take it too far down whilst using open chords. Ah, the Spanish sequence!
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 23:28

The OP doesn't mention that this is being played on guitar, but acoustic guitar is one of the associated tags. I'm also assuming from the nature of the OP that the guitarist is a beginner. So I'm answering the question in that light.

The other answers are good, but they come from a theory perspective. This is not the only way. It's also possible to learn particular songs in new keys, and by practical examples gradually grow in our theoretical understanding. With that approach, the three easiest minor keys to play in are usually Am, Dm and Em. For the chord progression in the OP the related chords in each key are as follows:

Am - G - F - E
Dm - C - Bb - A
Em - D - C - B

What this means is that if say you are transposing from Am to Dm, then every time there is an Am in the original key you will play a Dm; instead of the G you will play a C; and so on.

So in this particular case I would transpose the music using a capo. The musical gap between Em and Am is five half steps, which is 5 frets on a guitar. So I would put my capo on fret 5 and play the song using the Em chords. This is equivalent to playing the song in the original Am key. (E plus 5 equals A, as we know from the standard tuning of strings 6 and 5.) Then I would move the capo down one fret at a time (4th fret, 3rd fret and so on). Each time I would sing the song until I found the fret which was best for my singing range.

If the vocal range is uncomfortable for all these keys, you can approach this from the opposite end. You can retain the original key with its Am based chords, and then transpose with your capo going up one fret at a time. When you get to the 7th fret you are back to the key of Em.

So in total you have twelve keys. Seven of them can be covered with the Am chord shapes (frets 1 to 7). The other five keys are covered with the Em chord shapes (frets 1-5).

This process enable you to play your song in any key. What I would then do is use other resources to help me learn the names of the new actual chords I am playing. For example, suppose my comfort key turns out to be the Em chord shapes with the capo on fret 2. The question then is, what chords am I really playing? The answer is:

Em - D - C - B
F#m - E - D - C#

This is because F# is 2 frets higher than E, so that any chord type in the key of E will become the same chord in hte key of F#. (Em becomes F#m; E7 becomes F#7; Esus4 becomes F#sus4, and so on.)


One thing worth knowing is that chords are named without any regard of the current scale.

That means that when transposing a named chord, all you ever need to look at is the root name of the chord. That's what you transpose and are done. Well, ok, chords with a named rather than numbered bass note have to transpose the bass note as well, so transposing C/G a minor third down gives A/E. But modifiers like "maj" or "7" or "m" stay just the way they are.

Now that's regarding the chord names. When playing them on a guitar, the chord patterns and voicings will usually change, and sometimes the result does not sound and/or play nice. You can sometimes improve things by using a capo. For example, if your transposition causes you to have to play E♭ a lot, putting a capo on first fret will turn this into D (and its relatives) which more often than not is nicer to finger and to sound.

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