Frequently asked questions about
how to transpose a song to another key

Here links to the varios topics on this page:

Problems pasting into Key Switch

Question: I want to transpose music notation with Key Switch. I've selected a song, and copied it, and I attempted to paste it into Key Switch... but nothing appears in Key Switch's "Song" window. What's wrong?

Answer: Key Switch does not transpose standard music notation, it only only transposes the chords in text-based documents: chord/lyric song sheets. In other words, you can only paste in text documents—songs sheets or chord charts that are editable in a word processor or text editor.

Here's an example of a text-based chord/lyric song sheet that you can paste into Key Switch. You can even copy it from here:


    Key of Em
      Em      G         D     Bm
    A-las, my love, you do me wrong,

       C       (Am)    B7        |
    To cast me off dis-courteous-ly.

        Em     G         D        Bm
    For I have loved you well and long

       Em       B7      Em    |
    De-lighting in your compa-ny.

... After you paste into Key Switch you must set the base key, in other words, identify the current key of the song. Then Key Switch can transpose the chords to any other key. Here's an example of the prviouse verse transposed from E minor to A minor:

    Key of Am
      Am      C         G     Em
    A-las, my love, you do me wrong,

       F      (Dm)     E7        |
    To cast me off dis-courteous-ly.

        Am     C         G        Em
    For I have loved you well and long

       Am       E7      Am    |
    De-lighting in your compa-ny. 

That's the extent of what Key Switch does.

If you've copied another type of music notation to the clipboard, it won't paste into Key Switch, because Key Switch is not designed to operate with or transpose that type of data. Just text. Below we've provided a long list of what won't transpose in Key Switch.

NOTE: If you want to transpose a song sheet that's in PDF format, you must first copy the text. The PDF itself may place some restrictions on this ... if so, you'll know because you won't be able to copy the text. Try using the "text tool" in your PDF viewer/editor to select the text; if you can select the text you can probably copy and paste the lyrics and chords into Key Switch.

Saving your transposition

After transposing a song sheet or chord chart with Key Switch you can copy and paste the result into a word processing document and save. It's recommended that you use a monospaced font when creating, editing, saving, or printing song sheets, this will assure the proper alignment between chords and lyrics. You are free to use any mono-spaced (i.e. fixed-width) font.

If the song sheet was orginally created with a normal font (variable-width font) the chords  may fail to align to the proper lyric, unless you always use the orginal font.

Transposing Chord Charts. Making your own chord chart

If you want to transpose chords alone (for instance, from sheet music found in a fakebook) you can type a chord chart without lyrics, like this example in E minor:

      Key of Em
      Em      G        D       Bm
      C      (Am)      B7      |
      Em      G        D       Bm
      Em      B7       Em      |

... and you can transpose it, like this, to A minor ... or to any other minor key:

      Key of Am
      Am      C        G       Em
      F      (Dm)      E7      |
      Am      C        G       Em
      Am      E7       Am      |

Making and transposing your own Song Sheet

You can use sheet music as a guide for creating your own song sheet. Or if you have a good ear, you can listen to a song and figure out the chords. In either case, simply type in the lyrics and position the chords on the line above, in song sheet fashion. You can do this directly in Key Switch. Or you can work in a word processor, and upon completion, paste your song into Key Switch. It's recommended that you use a monospaced font for such endeavors.

What Key Switch won't transpose

Except for text-based song sheets, other forms of music and notation will not paste into Key Switch, and Key Switch can't transpose them.

Here's a partial list of image, notation, and audio file types that Key Switch does NOT transpose:

Image formats (such as scanned music notation):

Music notation file formats:

Audio file formats (compressed and uncompressed):

Transposing music notation

If you want to transpose standard music standard notation (western notation, such as treble clef, bass clef, or grand staff notation) you may need to use notation software, like Encore.

If you have a document from Encore, Sibelius, Finale, etc. you can definately transpose notes or chords symbols in those documents, but you must use the application that created them. In some cases you can import non-native formats. And you can export and import via MIDI or MusicXML. A MIDI export will not contain chord symbols, whereas a MusicXML document can.

Some notation applications will allow you to transpose notation and chord symbols independently; so for instance, you could have a Clarinet Bb part, and transpose the chords to concert pitch. This might be confusing for a clainetist who wants to refer to Bb chords for improvisation, but it makes a handy single sheet where the claninetist can read the melody and a pianist can read the concert pitched chords.

iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.)

Question:Will Key Switch run on my my iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch?

Answer: In a word, no. Not presently ... unless you have Adobe Flash Player installed and enabled, which may mean jailbreaking your device.

The music utilities on TheoreticallyCorrect require Flash Player. Apple has intentionally blocked Flash from running on all iOS devices: an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. This stance will continue until Apple and Adobe resolve their disputes. This means that Key Switch will not run on Apple's iOS devices until Apple supports Flash Player, or until Key Switch is rewritten.

However Android supports Flash. This means you can use KeySwitch on any Android phone or tablet.

Adobe is working hard to allow Flash developers to export to HTML5, or they will use Adobe Air in lieu of Flash Player. If they achieve a high level of success in this area, Theoretically Correct will most likely release a version for Apple's iOS devices. Until then, we wait.

Links on this page:

KeySwitch and iOS devices

What you can paste into KeySwitch


Try Sound Thinking — a Chord and Scale Encyclopedia for Stringed Instruments

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