ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Music theory Transposing Chart

Updated on April 3, 2020

Major scales and music theory

Let's face it, some aspects of music theory are tedious. This chart will hopefully save you some time, and increase your understanding of music theory, if you play any instrument or sing.

What is transposing? - it's changing key, or the pitch of a song. More detailed info below.

The first note in bold is the name of the key and the major scale. So every major scale has 8 notes (making an octave) - but only seven different notes. They all sound the same, but start at a different pitch or frequency.

I've put a tick against the important scales, so learn these first, and forget about the ones you will almost never encounter. Db (D flat) is an example of a totally useless key, with nothing at all to recommend it! Discuss.

It really helps if you play through these on a keyboard, or on a virtual keyboard on your i-Pad. There are many free virtual keyboard resources on the net - though playing it on a real piano will probably help in the learning process.

Flats and sharps - This hint may save you a lot of problems!

  • There is no flat or sharp between B and C, E and F. All the other notes have them. You can check this by looking at a piano keyboard, or even a picture of one!

Transposing Chart (all instruments and voice)

Harmonised scales

This is how chords and harmony work - if you build a chord on each note of the scale, the chords will be in the following pattern:

I is major

ii, iii are minor

IV and V are major

vi is minor

vii is diminished or m7b5

In the key of C we would find

C Dm Em F G Am Bm7b5 C, otherwise known as the diatonic chords in C, the basis for all songs in any style.

Every other key works in same way, with the same pattern of chords.

Example in the key of D

If you wanted to know which minor chords are used in the key of D, just look up chords ii, iii, and vi.

  • The chords would be Em, F sharp minor and Bm.
  • Now look up the major chords - they would be the I, IV and V chords.
  • D, G and A.
  • By the way, if you are playing guitar solos you can safely use all the notes in the chords as well as any scale containing the major or pentatonic scale notes.

Key signatures

Key signatures are those little squiggles at the beginning of music scores. Of course, it could just say which key the music was in, but that would be too easy. Far better to make you do some codebreaking first!

The key of G for example only has one sharp note, so the key signature is one sharp.

The key of F only has one flat note, so the key signature would be one flat.

Cycle of fifths

Look up my hub on the cycle of fifths, as all the info here is linked strongly to that diagram.

Why do the keys of F sharp and G flat use the same notes, even though they have different names? - they are known as enharmonic equivalents.


Transposing is changing the key of music. Why would we want to do this?

  • Generally, it's to ensure that the pitch or key is right for a singer's voice. Male and female singers, for instance, generally like quite different keys.
  • In a similar way, different instruments will perform at their best, or will be easier to play, in different keys
  • Guitar will usually suit the sharp keys, such as G, D, A and E - partly because the open strings available make everything sustain better.
  • Wind instruments will often prefer the flat keys such as F, Bb, Eb.
  • Transposing can be done with a capo for guitar, or the transpose button on an electronic keyboard/ synth/ piano. It's important to understand what you're doing when transposing like this.

Pentatonic scales

Pentatonic scales are the most widely used scales almost everywhere around the world. From the Greek (penta = five) they are just the same as major scales, but with two of the notes left out. Omitting these two notes avoids clashes in chord harmony, and it's just generally easier to use them for improvising. They are also extremely common in all folk music, and especially in blues music.

  • To find the pentatonic scale, just use notes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 from the transposing chart. In the key of C, these would be the notes C D E G A.
  • From this you can also see the notes that are left out - the F and the B.
  • The notes of C pentatonic are the same as those in Am pentatonic, again it's that cosy relationship between a key and it's relative minor.

The capo and transposing

If you play guitar, the capo is one of the most useful (and cheapest!) things you can buy. If you study some of the great singer - songwriters like James Taylor and Paul Simon you will find that they use a capo extensively to perform their songs.

  • A capo in fret 2 will change chords in C to chords in D
  • In fret 3 from C to Eb
  • In fret 4 from C to E
  • In fret 5 from C to F
  • A capo in fret 7 will change chords in D to the key of A - as used by The Beatles in Here Comes The Sun
  • It's unlikely that the original recorded key of a song will be the best for your voice. When learning a new song, sing it in several different keys. A capo can speed up this selection process!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi bassist - you're welcome.You might enjoy this website -

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This made major scales and transposing all click for me. Thank you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)