[Harp-L] New to me method to transpose instantaneously while reading music

Michael Rubin michaelrubinharmonica@xxxxx
Fri May 4 12:41:18 EDT 2018

I have tried many methods to be able to transpose to any key while reading
in another.  ALthough theoretically sound, all of the methods I have tried
have been so much work that I put them on the far back burner of maybe

Last night, just before bed, I had a vision.  I wanted to sleep and am a
bit of an insomniac, so one thing I do is write it down and that enables me
to sleep, trusting that my notes will be clear enough for me to make sense
of it the next day.

I tried it this morning.  Not only does it work, it is super easy.  This
does not mean I don't have a year's worth of practice before I am all
there,but I can do this.

Now, when I say it is super easy, it relies on a base of prior theory.

The C major scale is C D E F G A B C.

If you were to number these notes,

1  2  3 4 5 6  7  8

But these aren't all the notes on the keyboard.  The C chromatic scale is:

C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C
1 b2  2  b3 3 4   b5 5  b6 6 b7 7   8

Notice there is no flat one, four or eight.  That is because when you flat
these notes, you get the seven, three and seven, respectively.

You could learn the scale numbers for any key simply by writing the
chromatic scale of the key and cutting and pasting the chromatic number
line written underneath the C chromatic scale above.

For example:

G  Ab  A  Bb  B  C  Db  D  Eb  E  F  F#  G
1   b2  2  b3  3    4  b5  5   b6  6  b7  7   8

This enables you to transpose one kye to another.  If you play an E in the
key of C,  E is the three in the C chromatic scale.  What is the three in
the G chromatic scale?  B.  Every time you play an E in the key of C, play
the B in the key of G.

Take either the C diatonic or chromatic layout.

Let's do the chromatic:

Blow buttonC#/Db F/E# G#/Ab C#/Db
Blow            C          E        G         C
Holes           1           2        3           4
Draw            D          F        A           B
Draw button D#/Eb  F#/Gb A#/Bb   C/B#

This pattern repeats for three octaves.  To find a repeated note, add or
subtract four holes or multiples of four holes.  In the final hole on some
models, the draw button note is D.

If you substitute the scale numbers based on the C chromatic scale you get:

Blow button  b2    4     b6     b2
Blow              1     3     5        1
Holes             1     2     3        1
Draw              2     4     6        7
Draw button   b3   b5   b7      1

But if you substitute the sale numbers based on the G chromatic scale you

Blow button    b5     b7     b2     b5
Blow                4       6       1      4
Holes               1       2       3      4
Draw                5      b7      2      3
Draw button     b6      7      b3    4

Each key has its own numbers template.  Memorize all 12.

Then I base the actual reading of the music on a system similar to
immovable do.

In movable Do, in the key of C, the note C is Do, the note D is re.

In movable Do, in the key of G,  the note G is Do,  the note A is Re.

In immovable Do, in the key of C, the note C is Do.

In immovable Do, in the key of G, the note C is Do.  The note G is Sol.
(So, depending on how you spell it)

Treat the written music as though it is always in the key of C.  If you see
a C, think one.  If you see a Db, think flat two.  If you see a D, think 2.

Look at the key signature.  For example, the keys of G major and E minor
have an F#.  Another name for F# is Gb.  In the key of C, that is the flat
5th (or sharp fourth).  Whenever you see an F on the staff, barring
accidentals, think of it as a flat five.

For this argument, let's say the song is written in G major.

Decide what key you want to play in.  Let's say  A.

Since you are reading "in" the key of C in order to sound in the concert
pitch of G, you have to account for how much higher C is from G.  In the G
chromatic scale, C is a four.

Therefore, in order to play in the key of A, you must use the numbers
template that has the root that is the same note as the four in the A
chromatic scale.  This is the note D.

Another way to think of it is the key of G major is to the key of C the
same way the key of A major is to the key of D.

Read the notes on the page as if you were in the key of C.  Transpose them
in to the numbers representing those notes from the C chromatic scale.
Find the location of those numbers for the key of D's numbers template,
allowing for the ascending and descending nature of the song.

Play the song in the concert pitch of A major.

I am not saying I invented this.  I just discovered it.  I hope this helps.

Michael Rubin

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