Transposing For The Jazz Musician
In this lesson, we’ll learn the basics of quick transposition. Transposition is the process of taking a tune in a certain key such as Amin and transposing, or changing it to another, such as Cmin.
Let’s use Summertime to demonstrate since it’s wildly popular with singers.
We’ll break down the process into 6 easy steps. But before we do, let’s talk about why it’s an important skill to have, as an accompanying pianist.
Finding The Right Key For The Singer
It’s important to get the right key for any given song when working with the voice. While it’s preferred to sing a song in the original key, especially for jazz jams settings, the reality is that the original key will not work for every song.
It’s more professional to find where the song does fit better in a particular voice to bring out the best tone and interpretation possible. The melody must suit the range of the singer and so finding that right key is part of the art form that must be mastered as a singer.
Simplify The Chord Changes
The first step is to simplify the chord changes. Take the most simple version of the harmony and this will work fine for deciphering a key. And once the key is determined, and you are working with your singer, you can add back all the complexity you want.
Analyse The Chords Numerically
By analysing the chords numerically, you will get the ‘blue print’ to transpose into any key… considering that you know your major and minor scales! We work through the whole form to establish the functional harmony.
Transpose The Melody
When working with a singer, you only need to analyse the first few notes of the melody, to get the singer rolling in the new key. Always analyze the first few notes in relation to the starting chord, which is also my tonality in the case of Summertime. Keeping track of this is important as we try out different keys.
How To Transpose Jazz Standards File Type: pdf