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trying to transpose a song from C to Cm, is this possible? how many semitones?etc

My software is playing up and my theory isn't that great, thanks

marked as duplicate by user45266, Richard, Dom Aug 26 at 4:27

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This isn't a transposition job. Call it a 'transformation' if you like. The music stays at the same pitch, but some notes change. Your basic scale will be C minor rather than C major. (But it won't be quite as simple as that, unless the piece is a simple folk tune sort of melody.)

Show us sheet music for the song in question, we may be able to give more specific advice.

  • I like this answer because it doesn't introduce complications such as chord information (that wasn't requested). But I think it could be strengthened by explaining what the main difference is between a C major scale and a C minor scale, since OP feels shaky about theory and asked "How many semitones?". Also, you could suggest that OP try melodic minor first, and possibly experiment with natural or harmonic minor for different effects. You could provide a link to a page that lays out the intervals in the three types of minor scales in comparison with major. – aparente001 Aug 25 at 0:38
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Interesting question! Not a clue with software, but it's possible - most times probable.

No semitones to move from/to, because it's still in C - albeit C minor. Some of the notes will remain the same - those generally speaking being C F and G - which are the I IV and V of each major and its parallel minor. The note D will remain as such also.

The problem notes will be the E A and B from C major. They could well stay as they are (except the E which would always become E♭) as C minor could use A or A♭ and B or B♭.

This is where your ear comes in (or out to play..!), as it will decide which is more appropriate in each case.

That leads on to harmony. Usually in C minor, the chords will be those diatonic to key E♭, although the V is likely to be G major rather than Gm. Again, ears are the best judges.

And if the original song modulates at all, that in itself will cause problems that we can't attempt to solve without sight of it.

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From major to minor is not a transposition - as Lawrence says.

But you can with some software e.g. finale transpose a tune from C to a minor:

  • a minor 3rd down diatonic,

  • then adjust 6th and 7th degrees to the melodic minor scale, augmenting f to f# and g to g# in ascending movement (or to the harmonic if you want). Now you have transformed the tune into minor and we have the variation in the relative key.

  • finally you can transpose it chromatic up from Am to Cm. The dominant will be a major chord, the subdom. minor or major, depending of the augmentation of the 6th.

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Short answer

Not possible (it does not make sense actually).

Long answer

From Wikipedia:

Transposition or transposing in music means playing or writing music in a way that makes it sound higher or lower. This can be done by playing or writing the music in a different key, or by playing or writing it up or down an octave, without changing the key.

So if you want to transpose a song or parts of a song one tone up or down then all notes must also be transposed one tone up or down by the same number of semitones.

In other words, if a note goes from C to D (transposing one tone up), a A note should be transposed to B, E to F#, and so on.

For example, to transpose a C core chord from C to D (one tone up) you would go:

C chord: C-E-G
D chord: D-F#-A

NB: all notes differs by a full tone.

Notes are the building blocks for chords and the harmony. However, major and minor chords differ only by one semitone in their thirds, so intuitively it does not make sense to think about transposing then into one another:

C chord:  C-E-G
Cm chord: C-Eb-G

NB: only the third differs by a semitone.

Notice that for simplicity we are analyzing only core chord differences. When you factor in key signatures and scales, it becomes even more clear that it does not make sense to talk about transposition from major to minor scales vice-versa.

  • Not strictly true that only the third differs by a semitone. That's only when the melodic minor notes ascending are used. There's also the natural and harmonic minors to consider, both with differing notes other than the defining b3. And some of the modes. – Tim Aug 25 at 10:18
  • Sure. Read the last paragraph. – flaviovs Aug 25 at 18:59

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