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Be Willing To Change Your Song's Key

Sep 04, 2021

 Don’t just settle on the initial key you write your song in. You’ve come so far to write an entire song, don’t settle on a key now. Be willing to change your song’s key.

Let’s say you need a new car. Your car just died despite all your prayers that it not be so. You need a new car.

So, you start doing your research. You figure out what your budget is for your car. Then you figure out what make, model, and year you want.

You’re a true every-man and want a 2015 Honda Civic.

This process to figure out exactly what you want took about 2 months of researching off and on. You looked up reviews everywhere, from some car magazines to Kelley Blue Book. You poured in hours and hours into figuring out the car for you.

But then you go to the dealership and buy the first 2015 Honda Civic you see, not even bothering to look up that car’s history. For all you know, that car was in 3 accidents and was nearly totaled.

Not only that, you don’t even bother to try to talk down the salesman another $500 or so.

Why, after all the time you spent to figure out what car you want, would you just blow past the last bit of work? You were so close to guaranteeing you get the right car at the right price. But then you got lazy at the end and may have gotten a horrible deal on a vehicle that is a Frankenstein monster of a car at too-high of a price.

That’s what it’s like to get lazy about choosing the key. You’ve written this great song. You’ve spent hours upon hours getting the melody, lyrics, and chords just right. But then you don’t take the time to make sure the key is the ideal key for you to perform the song in.

Maybe the high note is a tad too high for you to sing consistently.

Maybe a half step up is just more comfortable for you to sing.

Maybe the whole song and arrangement just sounds better a whole step down.

Whatever it might be, it doesn’t take much time to make sure you pick the right key. If you’ve already spent over 50 hours on your song, what’s another 30 minutes to make sure it’s in your perfect vocal range and sounds its very best?

There are 2 easy ways to quickly test out different keys for your song before committing.


Easy Guitar Method – Capo

This is the easiest method of all. If you simply use a capo on your guitar, you can quickly test out how it feels and sounds to perform the song in different keys.

Let’s say you wrote the song in the key of G Major. Pretty reasonable for a guitarist, as the key of G is an easy one to play on guitar. 

But just because it’s easy to play on the guitar doesn’t mean it’s the right key. In fact, how your voice sounds in the key will end up being much more important than pretty much anything about the guitar.

But, thanks to the all-powerful capo, you don’t even need to compromise that easy play-ability in order to get the song in the right key. 

Just slap that capo on the first fret, play one fret up, and playing the exact same thing will result in the song being in the key of Ab Major. 

Put it a fret higher and you have A Major.

Keep doing this until you find the right key. If you were using power chords, barre chords, or any other non-open chord, you probably won’t even need a capo to easily change keys while playing virtually the same way!


Easy Piano Method – Recorded MIDI 

There’s an easy hack for transposing piano as well. 

Of course you could just learn the song in different keys. This shouldn’t be hard, but might take some time to get used to how the new key feels. And, after all that, it may be the wrong key still.

Good thing for this hack. If you have a keyboard, there may be a transpose function for you to use. If so, you can play the exact same, and transpose the key up and down.  

If your keyboard doesn’t have that, but has a MIDI output, you have another option. If you also have an audio interface or some other way to plug the MIDI into your computer, you can record the piano and then just shift up or down all the midi notes at once.

This option is especially easy and practical if you have a home recording setup. All you need to do is record your keyboard, select all the notes, and drag them all up or down at once.

Now, you can sing along to your song in different keys without even having to play it in different keys! Couldn’t get much quicker and easier than that!

Do you try out different keys after you write your songs, or do you just stick with the key you write it in? Do you have a different way you test out different keys? Let us know in the comments!

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