Transposing a piece of music involves moving the existing music either up or down a set intervallic distance. For example, the following two bars


can be moved (transposed) down an octave,


or, up an octave.

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Note: the melodic intervals between the notes remain the same; it is the distance which you move the melody up or down which dictates the type of transposition; in these examples the transposition is at the distance of an octave.

Transposition can occur at any interval. For example our melody can be moved up a minor third,

Example 1:

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or, down a perfect fifth.

Example 2:

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In example 1, our example which was originally in the key of C major is now in the key of E flat major.

In example 2, our example is now in the key of F major. Note the change of key signature in the transposed examples.

If there are additional accidentals (sharps or flats) included in the original piece of music, for example, if we included a D sharp  in our original.

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These accidentals need to be included in our transposed version also.

Our F major version would look like this:

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And our E flat major version would look like this:

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Things to remember when transposing:

  • The shape of the melody (the intervals between notes) needs to remain the same in both original and transposed versions
  • Transposition can occur at any interval
  • Remember to change key signature when you transpose