Feb 16, 2017

Transposing Music, Changing the key a song is in for ukulele

This is an advanced lesson and for those that have completed the Play Ukulele NOW Method and Songbook or have a good understand of the basics.

Feel free to post any questions you might have about it.

You will Learn More and Play More with Play Ukulele NOW.

Find out for yourself why teachers and students have depended on Play Ukulele NOW Methods and Songbooks since 2009


Why would you need to change the key?

1. You found the song you'd like to play but it's in the wrong key:

You may find a song on the internet you'd like to play but it's not in the right key. It could be a song that's normally in G but the only example showing all of the chords is in C, and you've found it doesn't sound right in C

2. It's a songs that you found in piano music so it has the chords but it's not in a good key for the ukulele:

You may find something in some piano music and it's in Bb and you'd like to play it in a more suitable key for the ukulele like C or A. Or, it may be that you need to play the song in a key that's easier for you to play or sing.

3. The song is too high or low for you to sing:

Perhaps you found that the song is too low for you to sing and you need to play it just a little bit higher.

If you run into any of these problems you can still play the song using the sheet music or any version you found, you'll just need to know how to change the key so that you can play it in a more suitable key.

Here's how you can change the key of any song

​If a song is too high, too low or in a key you don’t want to play it in, you can change the key of the song, so that it is easier to play or in a key that you know better! To do this change all of the chords using the chart below.

Most songs for the ukulele are transposed into the keys of C or G.

Songs that are in Minor Keys are usually in Am or Em. The relative minor keys of C and G.

This is because those are some of the easiest key to play

click on the chart to see it up close

Down in the Valley and Skip to my Lou are in the Play Ukulele NOW Method and Songbook and in the Free eBook and are great easy songs that can be used to try new things.

When trying new accompaniments or techniques, it's a good idea to use easy songs you are already familiar with.

Down in the Valley and Skip to my Lou appear in the key of C in the Play Ukulele NOW Method, If you would like to play Down in the Valley or Skip to my Lou it a little higher, transpose it to D, the C becomes a D and the G7 becomes an A7.

Songs in C can be transposed to D if you would like to play them a little higher. Songs in G can be transposed to A, etc… 

Let's try it!

Take a few songs and transpose them to different keys. Don’t move too far up or down the chart away from the original key, the song could easily get too be high or too low.

First try some songs that are in C and have only 2 chords, (typically, for a song in the key of C with  2 chords, the chords would be C and G7). You'll find some songs like that here in our FREE eBook, click here to get yours.

1. First transpose them to D, the C becomes a D and the G7 becomes an A7.

2. Then try them in A, the C becomes an A and the G7 becomes an E7.

This covers just the basics of using the transposition chart. There is allot to this chart and we can have quite a few future lessons on using it.

For teachers, future lessons may include: 

How about minor keys?

What if the chord is not on the chart.

What if the chord is a little bit different than a chord on the chart?

This chart can also be used to study the principal and relative minor chords.

Stay tuned for more!

Don't have the Play ukulele NOW Method and Songbook yet? Click here to get yours.

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