42 votes
Accepted

Why do films sometimes transpose everything by a quarter step?

log (25 / 24) / log (2) * 1200 = 70.67, so the conversion of a standard movie (24 frames per second), to be broadcast on European TV (25 frames per second) will shift all pitches up 70 cents; that's ...
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  • 536
33 votes
Accepted

Which key are these notes and how to transpose it to the key of D?

(It's going to be tough to explain all of this in a single answer. If you're interested in this, I strongly recommend finding a music theory text, either online or in hard copy. But I'll do my best to ...
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  • 78.8k
30 votes
Accepted

Why do instruments have a key?

There are two concepts and ideas that happen in music which, when combined, explain why this happens. The first is that the way certain instruments are constructed affects what sounds they can ...
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  • 46.2k
27 votes

In a folk jam session, when asked which key my non-transposing chromatic instrument (like a violin) is in, what do I answer?

If someone is asking about the key of the instrument, I would answer "I play in concert pitch." If when jamming, someone asks "what key are you in?" I would say, "I am playing in (name a key) concert ...
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  • 5,484
27 votes
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C Trumpet in Beethoven's 5th symphony

Back in Beethoven’s days trumpets and horns were not in fact chromatic, which is also the reason why scores call for trumpets in different transpositions. It was possible to play horns chromatically ...
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  • 4,815
24 votes
Accepted

On a guitar, what keys correspond to different capo positions?

The capo allows you to play a song in a particular key using chord shapes and formations from a different key. For example if you like to use the open (first position) chords in the key of G major ...
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24 votes

Why are some instruments listed 'in F' or 'in B'?

IN orchestral (and other instrumental) music, the notation like "Clarinet in Bb" (or "Klarinette in B") means that the instrument is a "transposing instrument." When the clarinetist plays what his ...
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  • 23.1k
19 votes

Which key are these notes and how to transpose it to the key of D?

how do I determine which key they are in? A) Recognise that those notes are the start of the overture to Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, but two semitones higher. B) Note that that piece is in D ...
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  • 1,262
19 votes

What is the formal definition of 'transpose'?

To transpose a piece of music is to change the pitch of all notes by the same interval. The intervals between adjacent notes in the piece will remain the same. Major keys can only be transposed to ...
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18 votes

Treble Clef with optional 8 va bassa?

This is used in vocal music where the line can be sung either at normal treble-clef pitch (usually by a soprano), or at a pitch an octave below that (usually by a tenor or baritone). It's very often ...
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17 votes

Why do films sometimes transpose everything by a quarter step?

It's probably not transposed, but speeded up or slowed down by a little bit. Sometimes to fit exactly into a sequence, sometimes changed to fit better with the mood of the film at that point. With ...
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  • 174k
15 votes

On a guitar, what keys correspond to different capo positions?

It doesn't quite work like that. The guitar doesn't exactly have a single key that its "in". Instead it has chords that are easier and more difficult to play. Some relatively easy ones (sticking with ...
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  • 20.2k
14 votes
Accepted

What is the idea of "transposing by perfect unison"?

You're right. There's no effect when transposing by a perfect unison. But it does make sense to have the option of transposing by an augmented unison (eg. Ab major to A Major) or a diminished unison (...
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  • 20.9k
14 votes
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Lowering the key of a song by a semitone

Yes, that is what lowering the key of a song by a semi-tone means. You transpose every note down one half-step. Changing from the key of F major to the key of Bb major would actually be raising the ...
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  • 51.5k
13 votes

Can the guitar be a "non-C" transposing instrument?

Ok, let's clear up some confusion. First: The guitar is a transposing instrument. It sounds one octave below written pitch. Second: The guitar is a "C instrument". What this means is that the ...
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  • 25.1k
12 votes

Why do films sometimes transpose everything by a quarter step?

What user12864 said, it's the PAL speedup. Luckily, these days it's easy to reverse by telling your movie player to play at 96% (24/25) speed. THX films correct the pitch, by the way.
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12 votes
Accepted

Meaning of diamond-shape notes on guitar staff

p-i-m-a indicate which finger to pluck with (thumb, index, middle and ring, the letters come from the Spanish names), and thus are guitar specific. Similarly the small numbers to the left of the ...
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  • 17.5k
12 votes

Why do instruments have a key?

Transposing instruments are so due to convention, not by a technical property. The main advantage is, that different instruments of the same family can share the same mapping of (printed) note → ...
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  • 10k
11 votes
Accepted

Is there a simple way to transpose a song from one key to another? What is the methodology?

Once a melody is composed and written in one key using the notes from said key's corresponding scale, that same melody can then be "transposed" (converted) to any other key that exist in Western music....
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11 votes

Is it possible to transpose samples (in cents) from minor to major?

You can't just transpose a minor key into a major key, because a minor scale has a different structure than a major scale. Natural minor scale in steps: whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole ...
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  • 2,881
11 votes

Acoustic guitar chords' positions vs those of a Bass guitar

The standard tuning of the bass strings are the same as the bottom four of standard guitar tuning - E, A, D, G - but one octave lower. The tones of chords are the same between the instruments except ...
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11 votes

Transposing from C to Cm?

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 ...
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11 votes

In a folk jam session, when asked which key my non-transposing chromatic instrument (like a violin) is in, what do I answer?

If someone asks you what key you play in, I take it as meaning "name a key". You say what you want, and the others will follow. If you want to jam in F#, you'll tell them "let's play in F#". Each ...
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11 votes

How to simplify difficult barred chords in a song

If you're happy playing open chords as opposed to the barres involved here, take the song up by a semitone - most likely not going to strain any tonsils - and substitute as follows. G for F♯, D ...
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  • 174k
11 votes
Accepted

Note-naming when transposing by semitone

In the 12-tone system, A sharp and B flat are "enharmonically equivalent," meaning that they are somewhere between being essentially the same and being literally the same. In any given ...
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  • 13.8k
11 votes
Accepted

Can you explain the transposing convention in this Jean Sibelius's score?

The English horn (in F) and the A clarinets have the expected transposed key signatures: concert B minor (two sharps) is written F♯ minor for the English horn (three sharps) and written D minor for ...
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  • 13.8k
10 votes

Which fret do I place a capo on, to play Eb music using C chords?

This depends upon what you mean by "music is in the key of…" and "I want to play it in the key of…". If you mean that you want to play chords written in the key of C and have them sound in the key of ...
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  • 20.9k
9 votes
Accepted

Why are there transposing instruments that transpose by octave?

In practice there is little difference between using an octave clef and a normal clef for these "octave-transposing" instruments. An instrumentalist playing these instruments need not even think about ...
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  • 20.9k
9 votes

What key is correct when guitars are half step down?

When it comes to choosing a key signature, there is no standard. Except that most players are loathe to read music in keys with more than 7 sharps or flats. Aside from a few diehards who insist that F#...
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  • 3,707
9 votes

Lowering the key of a song by a semitone

You're on the right track, but adding to Todd's answers each note gets dropped down by a semitone, it puts the song into key E. Thus each new note must belong to that key, and that key contains one of ...
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  • 174k

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