September 24, 2021

Harmonium Lesson 5

Transposition: Changing Keys

Transposition, or changing the key of music or a scale, can be useful and is sometimes necessary to make music more sing able or playable. In other words the shifting of a melody, or an entire musical piece to another key, while maintaining the same tone structure is called transposing. Music is transposed by raising or lowering every note by the same interval. Changing the key of a scale in music is called transposing the music. There are many reasons why you might want a scale to be in a different key. There are also some ways to avoid having to do the transposition yourself, but learning to transpose can be very useful for performers/singers, composers, and arrangers. Note:- Transposing option in  keyboards and in scale changing harmonium is same.

Why to transpose?

The most common reason for changing the key of a scale is to put it in the right key for your vocalists. If your singer or singers are struggling with notes that are too high or low to sing, changing the key to put the music in their range will result in a much better performance. Instrumentalists may also find that a transposed scale is easier to play if it is in a different key. Players of both bowed and plucked strings generally find fingerings and tuning to be easier in sharp keys, while woodwind and brass players often find flat keys more comfortable and in tune. Instrumentalists with transposing instruments will usually need any part they play to be properly transposed before they can play it. 

A good electronic keyboard or scale changer harmonium will transpose for you. If your music is already stored as a computer file, there are several transpose programs that will transpose it for you and display, play and print it in the new key for your singing or listening.

Selecting  your new key or new scale

Before you can begin transposing, you must decide what your new key will be. This will depend on why you are transposing, and what kind of vocalists and instrumentalists you are working with.

1. Transposing scale beginning from first white key

Usually we start thaat bilawal with first black key which is ‘S’. Normally for thaat practice or playing songs as a beginner we start with first black key. When we become perfect keyboard or harmonium player we can use any key for playing thaat bilawal  but the arrangement of  achal, tiver and komal swar will remain according to system mentioned earlier. If we want to sing a song in bilawal but our voice do not synchronize with the first black note then we may try other notes according to our voice pitch. We can play thaat bilawal songs with any key with transpose option and still song will not effect. In the following diagram 7 we have transposed thaat bilawal from first black note to first white note and still thaat bilawal will remain bilawal thaat.

Diagram.7 Building Thaat Bilawal Sargam From First White Key

Note: – We can select any key as our Sa and from that position of Sa our key combination will change in each below given tables. Some person cannot sing in loud scale so; the musician will select suitable scale for them. Selecting scale means transposing or selecting first note. In madh saptak of diagram 7 above, notes with cross sign (X)  will be ignored and when we will play remaining  notes in madh saptak and  it will become sargam of thaat bilawal. Note that while playing sargam ascending and descending we also include next saptak note  S’.  Notes shown in red color are tiver notes.

Showing all 12 notes in madh saptak (here 13th note S’ is from taar saptak which is extra added)

 rRgGmMPdD nNS’
12345678910111213
SXRXGmXPXDXNS’
Table 4 Showing all notes of madh or middle saptak

Sargam notes extracted from above table

S R Gm P D S’
1 3 56 8 10 1213
Table 5 Showing complete madh saptak sargam

Or we can write whole sargam as S R G m P  D   N   S’
                                                           1  3  5 6  8  10 12 13

Thaat bilawal sargam in ascending and descending order

   Arohi :    S R G m P D N S’

Amrohi:   S’ N D P m G R S

2. Transposing scale beginning from first black key (default key)

Diagram.8 Building Thaat Bilawal Sargam From First Black Key

Diagram.2   Building Thaat Bilawal Sargam From First Black Key

We can select any key as our Sa and from that position of Sa our key combination will change. We have selected first black key as a default key to play harmonium. From now we will always select first black key as our starting point. Now our key combination will become as given below:

Note: Sa is always achal or qyme swar. The first  swar or key  attached just after Sa  is always komal ray  shown with cross (X) and with note no. 2, then  tiver ray with capital  R,  komal Ga, then tiver Ga,  komal  Ma then tiver Ma,  achal Pa, then  komal Dha, tiver Dha, komal Ni, tiver Ni,  then achal Sa as S’.

Showing all 12 notes in madh saptak (here 13th note S’ is from taar saptak which is extra added)

 rRgGmMPdD nNS’
12345678910111213
SXRXGmXPXDXNS’
Table 6

Sargam notes extracted from above table

S R Gm P D S’
1 3 56 8 10 1213
Table 7

Or we can write whole sargam as S R G m P  D   N   S’
                                                          1  3  5 6  8  10 12 13  

Thaat Bilawal sargam in ascending and descending order

Arohi :    S R G m P D N S’

Amrohi:   S’ N D P m G R S

3. Transposing scale beginning from second white key

Diagram.9

Now we have selected our first key from 2nd white key for playing a song or harmonium We can select any key as our Sa and from that position of Sa our key combination will change in each diagram.

Showing all 12 notes in madh saptak (here 13th note S’ is from taar saptak which is extra added)

 rRgGmMPdD nNS’
12345678910111213
SXRXGmXPXDXNS’
Table 8

Sargam notes extracted from above table

S R Gm P D S’
1 3 56 8 10 1213
Table 9

Note : Sa is always achal or qyme sur. The first  Sur or key  attached just after Sa  is always Komal Ray  shown with cross and with note no. 2 Then  Tewar Ray with Capital  R,  Komal Ga Then Tewar Ga,  Komal  Ma then Tewar Ma,  Achal Pa Then  Komal Dha, Tewar Dha, Komal Ni Tewar Ni,  Then Achal Sa as S’. If we do not play notes with cross sign in diagram 5 then it will also become another Thaat.

Or we can write whole sargam as S R G m P  D   N   S’
                                                          1  3  5 6  8  10 12 13  

Thaat Bilawal sargam in ascending and descending order

Arohi :    S R G m P D N S’

Amrohi:   S’ N D P m G R S

It is proved from above three examples that whatever  note is selected as initial note to play sargam, the corresponding notes will change according to a fixed system of achal, komal and tiver properties.

Transpose option of keyboard and harmonium:

For keyboard learners the option of transpose in keyboards have made it easy to change scale according to voice pitch of singer or song. Note that by default we have selected our Sa as first black key throughout this website. 

In scale changer harmonium use scale changing option. Now there is no need to learn playing from every white or black key. Only learn to play music from first black key and change your required scale by transpose option. You are required only to learn 10 thaat which begin with first black key therefore transpose option have made scale changing easy for singing.