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blakemasnor's avatar

Guitar to Piano Transposition?

Asked by blakemasnor (312 points ) December 24th, 2008

What is the rule for transposing guitar chords or even the key to piano

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20 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Give me a couple of examples of chords and I can tell you. Do you know the piano keyboard (middle C, names of notes in the octave, etc? That does make things easier. Can you read piano music?)

blakemasnor's avatar

I can read music and I know the notes on the piano with a little thinking. I don’t want specific transposition but rather to learn how transpose the notes or chords myself.

A Major

Eb Major

90s_kid's avatar

I don’t exactly get what you mean. all I can tell you is that the 1st string (lowest) is E, then A, D, G, B, E

The frets———-|.1..|.2..|.3..|.4..|.5..|.6..|
E——————-|:F::|G b|:C:|A b|:A::|B b|
A——————-|:E::|B b|:B:|:C::|D b|:D::|
D——————-|E b|::E:|:F:|G b|:G::|A b|
G——————-|A b|:A:|B b|:B::|:C::|D b|
B——————-|::C:|D b|:D:|E b|:E::|::F:|
E——————-|:F::|G b|:G:|A b|::A:|B b|

I’ve only been playing the guitar for two years but I am working on getting better.

Spargett's avatar

Notes are notes. All you have to do is reference the same note on both the piano and the guitar and… play.

There really isn’t any trick to it.

You might find some difficulty playing transposing piano to guitar, due to the range and rhythmic/melodic capabilities that come with a piano and the ability to use both hands to individually control both aspects. Basically, there’s usually alot going on with the piano.

gailcalled's avatar

For example, the A major triad is A C# E on both the guitar and piano. (You would use middle C to get the same register as on the guitar.) On the right hand, thumb on A below middle C, middle finger on C# (the black note to the right of C) and pinkie on E.

E♭major (pause while I run to piano upstairs, which, I note, needs tuning badly.)
E♭ G B♭. Again, above middle C, right thumb on black note to the left of E, middle finger on G and pinkie on black note to left of B. But simply transposing the chords, as Spargett so wisely states, gives you a boring series of chords.

Typically you play the chords and some embellishments with the left hand in the bass clef and a melody and variations with the right in the treble. You might want to take a few lessons to learn the tricks.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

I think you’re thinking of the kind of “shapes” that you see on guitar. There is no comparable “rule” for piano, you just have to learn the scales and chords.

Noah_D's avatar

As the kind folks before me have stated, there really is no rule or trick to transposing, especially from guitar to piano). But as a music nerd and someone who transposes music regularly, if you let me know the chords you’ve got i can transpose them to whatever key your heart desires (since theres only so many)
but if you were to go from A to Eb, the easiest way would be to look at the A note on your guitar (2nd fret G string) now find the Eb on your guitar (1st fret D string) the easiest was for transposing on guitar is to find the shape you’re heading to. (makes no sense i know) in this case it would be a backwards L

e – - – - -
b – - – - -
G – X – - –
D X – - – -
A – - – - -
E – - – - -

So if you had a D (5th fret A String) it would transpose to a G# (4th fret E string). and so on. after you have your root then you have to decide wether its major or minor or diminished (chances are thats all you’ll bother with unless you get into more serious music)
But feel free to drop me a note and i’ll be glad to help you out further.

cyndyh's avatar

Usually when someone talks about transposing from one instrument to piano, they’re talking about any key changes you need to make so the instruments can play together. If someone is playing a tenor sax along with a piano, a C note on the sax is not a C on the piano since a tenor sax is a B-flat instrument. So, a C on the tenor sax is a B-flat on the piano if both are tuned properly.

Guitar and piano are both C instruments, so when you play a C note on one it should be a C note on the other. The same is true for chords. So, unless you’re using a capo you should just be able to play together without transposing.

If you use a capo, the piano player needs to transpose their music up by a half step per fret in order to play with you.

90s_kid's avatar

That is what I was thinking saying that I play all 3 instruments I was wondering because alto sax isn’t the same as the piano, (and in this case guitar because I have never wondered to see the difference) but maybe I am totally wrong.

cyndyh's avatar

An alto sax is an E-flat instrument, so an E-flat on the alto is a C on the piano.

I played in band and jazz band in school—flute and tenor sax- and flute in a folk group. (Flute’s a C instrument, too.) Sometimes in jazz band, we’d get the music for one instrument and then want to add a solo for the other instrument. In the folk group the guitarists would throw on a capo to make the range more comfortable for the singers. I got pretty good at transposing quickly. That came in handy since they don’t make a capo for the flute. :^>

Edit: I’m currently learning the guitar as well, and I love it. It’s nice to be able to sing along.

gailcalled's avatar

It also helps to tune both the guitar and piano to each other.

cyndyh's avatar

I’d tune a guitar to a piano, but not a piano to a guitar. :^>

gailcalled's avatar

MY piano is always out of tune.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Tune the guitar to the piano, using the 1st E below middle C for the first string. It might be a little problematic tuning the piano to the guitar. the guitar has only 6, while the piano usually has more than 230 strings.

fathippo's avatar

When i put things from guitar to piano with chords, if it’s power chords on guitar then follow the root, 5th and then root an octave higher, and with other chords like major, do the root and 3rd and 5th etc etc…
Basically exactly the same notes you can work out you’re playing on the guitar, you play/ put together on keyboards kinda thing…
hmm, i am explaining very badly, but if you have the guitar chords to a song, that you put on the piano by using the same notes, its pretty easy to put the melody on top of it anyway i suppose…
sorry i guess i told you a load of rubbish you didnt need to be told! =)

babselli's avatar

Change to Piano: “People Get Ready” (Curtis Mayfield) Intro (w/wordless vocal, 2X):
Db Bbm Gb/Ab Db
/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /
Verse 1:
Db Bbm Gb/Ab Db
People get ready, there’s a train a comin’
Db Bbm Gb/Ab Db
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board
Db Bbm Gb/Ab Db
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
Fm Ebm Gb Db
Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

Guitar break #1:
(Db) (Bbm) (Ebm) (Db6)

Verse 2:
People get ready for the train to Jordan
It’s picking up passengers from coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board ‘em
There’s hope for all among those loved the most.

Guitar break #2 (w/key change to D):
(Db) (Bbm) (Gb) (Db)
(D) (Bm) (G/D) (D)
(Db) (Bbm) (Gb) (Db)

Verse 3:
D Bm G/A D
There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner
D Bm G/A D
Who would hurt all mankind just to save his own
D Bm G/A D
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
F#m Em G D
For there’s no hiding place against the Kingdom’s throne

[repeat verse 1 in D]:
So people get ready, there’s a train a comin’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
F#m Em [N.C.]
Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

Coda (string tag): D Bm G/A D6/9

28lorelei's avatar

An easy way is to figure out what key the piece or chord you want to transpose is in in the first place. After you’ve done that, figure out the interval between the two keys, e,g, if the piece is in Db and you want it in F#, the distance between Db and F# is a 4th. Then transpose every note up or down by this interval. At least that’s how I do it. Not so tedious as it sounds, if you listen to the piece in your head and then think of it in the other key.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@cyndyh I thought if you were playing an Eb instrument (like an alto sax) than meant C on the instrument is Eb on the piano

28lorelei's avatar

well yes it does

28lorelei's avatar

Of course, the other way to transpose is to learn all the clefs (soprano, mezzo-soprano, treble, alto, tenor, baritone, bass) and learn how to superimpose them along with learning how to superimpose key signatures, e.g. if you have a Bb instrument and you have to read the music on the piano, you just pretend you are reading in tenor clef and add two flats to whatever the key signature is, then deal with all the accidentals. Of course this takes time and patience, but the rewards are great.

But if you are doing guitar, guitar is c-pitched, so unless you are using a capo or have tuned the instrument to anything else than the basic EADGBE, you should be able to just read the sheet music on the piano and have it sound exactly as played on the guitar.

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