Transposing minor keys
Found in: Accompaniment
Do songs written in a minor key always have to be transposed to other minor keys? i.e. Night Storm
If I move my hands to say Dreams position and play the song, do I need to flat the E? And would that mean that I’m playing the song in Cm, not C? Do minor keys only transpose to minor keys and major keys only transpose to major keys. Is this correct?
Mark M., New York
Strictly speaking, a song only remains the same song if you move it to the same kind of key. Major to major, minor to minor, etc.
But you know that you can move Dreams up one white note and play it the same way. You didn’t “have to” sharp the F to make it stay major. But then we technically say, keeping F natural, it’s a variation, because it’s not really the same song. We’ve moved it from a major to a minor key.
Likewise with Storm. Move it to C, you only “have to” flat the E if you want it to remain fully identified as Night Storm. You’re certainly welcome to keep all white notes, though, in which case you’ve then got a little sun shower in a major key instead a minor key Night Storm.
Rebecca S., Australia
I use this to demonstrate changing the position on the keyboard can change the sound of the song. Just like the variation of Dreams Come True, going from major to minor (Happy to Sad), I have my students to go from sad to happy, moving to C position with Night Storm. I also use this opportunity to challenge them to make up their own lyrics which suit the happy sound of the song. I have quite a few alternative lyrics now, and is a great way of introducing composition.
Cheryl W., Pennsylvania
By definition, transposition means that you change every note by a given pitch, say up a fourth or down a third. This way, the song will sound exactly the same.
If you transpose Night Storm up a minor 3rd, the melody will begin G E-flat G E-flat. You will be in the key of C minor which is up a minor 3rd from A minor, the original key.
If you play E-natural instead of E-flat, then you have not transposed the song – you have created a variation of the song.