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Weststarx

Changing Keys

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Hi All,

As I'm back on the market for another band I thought I should probably learn how to change key on the fly if I needed to.

I've had a look at a few articles on the web but they all seem poorly explained and all seemed very complicated.

Does anyone know of a simple guide or can someone perhaps explain it?

Is it just a case of playing the same shapes/pattern but just sliding it up or down one/two/three frets?

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Pretty much...one of the luxuries of stringed instruments...now if it were a saxophone you'd need to learn a whole new list of notes..

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[quote name='Weststarx' timestamp='1425917945' post='2712186']
Hi All,

As I'm back on the market for another band I thought I should probably learn how to change key on the fly if I needed to.

I've had a look at a few articles on the web but they all seem poorly explained and all seemed very complicated.

Does anyone know of a simple guide or can someone perhaps explain it?

Is it just a case of playing the same shapes/pattern but just sliding it up or down one/two/three frets?
[/quote]

Capo. Job done. :)

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1425918656' post='2712202']
Capo. Job done. :)
[/quote]
... and before anyone moans about capos ... if you can use frets then you can use a capo.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1425918656' post='2712202']
Capo. Job done. :)
[/quote]

Or down-tuning.

The sliding-it-up-or-down thing only works if you don't use open strings.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1425918656' post='2712202']
Capo. Job done. :)
[/quote]

Tell that to Boris Johnson!

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Or just move your and up or down the neck or just play it in a different position.

And if you do play it in a different position, then just like a guitarist playing different inversions of the chords, you can change the feel by playing different inversions of the chord tones.

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[quote name='EssentialTension' timestamp='1425918977' post='2712211']
Or just move your and up or down the neck or just play it in a different position.

And if you do play it in a different position, then just like a guitarist playing different inversions of the chords, you can change the feel by playing different inversions of the chord tones.
[/quote]

whut?

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[quote name='Weststarx' timestamp='1425917945' post='2712186']
Hi All,

As I'm back on the market for another band I thought I should probably learn how to change key on the fly if I needed to.

I've had a look at a few articles on the web but they all seem poorly explained and all seemed very complicated.

Does anyone know of a simple guide or can someone perhaps explain it?

Is it just a case of playing the same shapes/pattern but just sliding it up or down one/two/three frets?
[/quote]
Basically, yes.

The principle reason for my use of 5 string basses is that the singers I work with have preferences for transposing popular covers into their preferred range. This opens up an extended low range and usually facilitates my ability to rescue the "bottom end".

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In theory, if one knows where the notes are, it's simply a matter of playing the new, transposed, notes. That's how pianists, horn players et al do it. In practice, however, many (most..?) bassists seem to play by memorising 'shapes' on the fingerboard. This can work, and quite well, if you're going up in pitch, but could fall apart if you need to go down beyond the nut. It's a choice, really, related to the way one has learnt the instrument. The simple way is just to go up or down a fret or two, but it won't always work out. Better to know the fingerboard in its entirety.

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1425927333' post='2712392']
I now purposefully learn new songs all fretted on the five string as it makes key changes easy as pie!
[/quote]

To think you were a diehard 4 player...

At least you got there in the end! :P

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[quote name='Oopsdabassist' timestamp='1425925377' post='2712360']
whut?
[/quote]
Like instead of playing chord tones 1-3-5-7, play it 1-7-5-3 or whatever .. even add in 9th or 11th or 13th.

E.g. root-fifth sounds different down to the fifth than up to the fifth and if you are changing key one might fall under the fingers easier than the other.

So a key change can be an opportunity to play melodically different lines instead of just moving shapes around.

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[quote name='EssentialTension' timestamp='1425927501' post='2712401']
Like instead of playing chord tones 1-3-5-7, play it 1-7-5-3 or whatever .. even add in 9th or 11th or 13th.

E.g. root-fifth sounds different down to the fifth than up to the fifth and if you are changing key one might fall under the fingers easier than the other.

So a key change can be an opportunity to play melodically different lines instead of just moving shapes around.
[/quote]
Wot 'E Said

I'll add: sometimes I'm playing a hymm that goes below the bottom E as the bass clef would have originally been written for organ or keyboard. In that case I would have to transpose up an octave compared to the keys. If you know your chord tones, then there is scope to use an inverted chord by playing the Major/Minor 3rd or the 5th (which might happen to be above the low E). I can see the need for a fiver if you are regularly playing music that requires you to go lower than a standard-tuned four-string bass.

Anyway, YMMV

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[quote name='Weststarx' timestamp='1425917945' post='2712186']
Hi All,

As I'm back on the market for another band I thought I should probably learn how to change key on the fly if I needed to.

I've had a look at a few articles on the web but they all seem poorly explained and all seemed very complicated.

Does anyone know of a simple guide or can someone perhaps explain it?

Is it just a case of playing the same shapes/pattern but just sliding it up or down one/two/three frets?
[/quote]

If you play a C Major scale then shift that same scale down three frets to A (i.e. play the exact same note pattern), you're playing an A Major scale. You have just changed key from C Maj to A Maj.

If you play a C Major scale, then shift down three frets and play an A Minor scale, you are still in the key of C Major (A Minor is the Relative Minor scale of the key of C Major, it starts on the sixth note of the C Major Scale).

Does that help a bit?

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[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1425926511' post='2712376']
In theory, if one knows where the notes are, it's simply a matter of playing the new, transposed, notes. That's how pianists, horn players et al do it. In practice, however, many (most..?) bassists seem to play by memorising 'shapes' on the fingerboard. This can work, and quite well, if you're going up in pitch, but could fall apart if you need to go down beyond the nut. It's a choice, really, related to the way one has learnt the instrument. The simple way is just to go up or down a fret or two, but it won't always work out. Better to know the fingerboard in its entirety.
[/quote]

Bass players should always know what is underneath the starting position as well as what is on top...
and then you wont have any concerns about what key you transpose to as all the notes will fall to hand
either over the octave or under it. It couldn't be much easier and it will teach you your fretboard if you don't
know it already.

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[quote name='steantval' timestamp='1425935269' post='2712569']
Easy - find a band with a quality vocalist that can sing the songs in the original keys :D
[/quote]

Dangerous ground, our Jenny often asks us to try going up half a semitone....

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I hope this makes sense, it uses the I ii iii IV V vi vii


Say you have a tune in A major, but that's too high for you to sing comfortably; you can "translate" it note for note and chord for chord in another key (e.g. D major):

A Major Scale A B C# D E F# G#
A Major Harmonisation A Bm C#m D E F#m G#m(b5)
D Major Scale D E F G A B C#
D Major Harmonisation D Em F#m G A Bm C#m(b5)


So, each C#m chord in the key of A becomes an F#m chord in the key of D, and so on.

Edited by DeeC16

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[quote name='steantval' timestamp='1425935269' post='2712569']
Easy - find a band with a quality vocalist that can sing the songs in the original keys :D
[/quote]

Or perhaps write some original bloody songs! :)

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I'm no theory guy, but if you know all the notes on the fretboard and the notes and shapes in your songs , you can move any song around. Some will need rearranging as you'll run out of neck and some won't sound right when going high instead of low.

I'm also discovering the joys of 5 strings, even for songs which work on a 4 , I find myself using the B 5th fret upward a lot instead of going down for the lower notes on the E

Edited by lojo

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Don't listen to them, they're just making it harder than it needs to be!

Buy yourself a pitch shifter & then you can play in any key with a simple turn of a knob.
Or better still, give the pitch shifter to the vocalist. :P

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Learn the fretboard. Learn the scales. Play any scale or pattern starting with your known root note which gives you the key (pretty much).

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