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The discussion below is taken from a thread launched by "rhumba" on the Synth Zone General Arranger forum.

How useful is the Transpose button on your keyboard?

rhumba -- 11-12-2002 08:33 AM

How useful is the transpose button on your arranger? I am sure you encounter situations when you know your song very well and which key you like to play in, then all of a sudden, your special guest decided to sing in a different key. So what do you do? Hit the transpose button or play in the correct key? With my PA80, it's right there. But with my new, second board, I have to hit three buttons and two screen pages back before I can transpose! And it's a Yamaha!

-- rb

squeak_D -- 11-12-2002 08:47 AM

I strongly rely on my transpose button. I can play my butt off, but I'm one of those self-taught players.. I can't read music, so trying to figure out different key signatures is like pulling teeth. One of these days I may learn to read music, but every time I try, I just lose interest.. I wonder why that is. Can't seem to get myself focused on learning that. I'll get a ways into the lesson and all I want to do is just play the keys.. That's why I had to drop lessons when I was a kid.. I never like to play music the way it was My teacher hated me for that. I'd always change something. smile
-- Squeak

trtjazz -- 11-12-2002 09:01 AM

I find transposition quite useful to vary a tune, somewhere in the middle, then go back to the original key, makes quite a nice variety in a piece if not over used.
Jam on, -- Terry

SBPC -- 11-12-2002 09:20 AM

I generally have my transpose on most of the time. I've found that many of the voices on my keyboard (a now archaic Ketron MS60) sound richer and more mellow when transposed down a couple of half tones or more. When, at times, I play with a trio, the guy who usually books those gigs and who plays trumpet with us has us all use "C Concert" fake books. So I make my keyboard a B-flat instrument, like the trumpet and the sax, so we all read off he same music and all play in the same key. (The horn players don't use B-flat books in this case). The tenor sax player doesn't like that too much, because it is not the best sounding range for the sax, but the trumpet guy finds he doesn't have to hit those real high notes, which are a challenge for him.

When I'm playing solo and doing some vocals, I find most of the tunes are written in keys that are a bit too high for my voice. I've found that transposing down four half tones suits my vocal range much better, so that's what I generally do. -- Paul C.

sk880user -- 11-12-2002 10:54 AM

I try my best not to use the transpose button and play the C# minor scale as is.

tony mads usa -- 11-12-2002 11:00 AM

I use the transposer button (on a KN6000) quite a bit -- for midis not originally done in my vocal key, for guest singers who don't sing in the key I play the tune in (I really admire those of you who can play a tune in "any" key -- if I'm doing a tune with a guest vocalist, I want to concentrate on what they are doing, and not on the transposition of the tune), and for myself on those really busy weekends, and nights when the voice isn't quite where it should be -- just drop the key down a notch and everything's fine. -- t.

btweengigs -- Junior 11-12-2002 11:07 AM

Squeak, like you, I am self taught. I even got kicked out of piano lessons as a kid. I just couldn't relate to the stuff the teacher wanted me to learn. On top of that, I think I am "keyboard dyslexic" in that I could never tell one white note from another. So I play everything in black keys, mostly F#. It was a real hassle when I started trying to figure this stuff out.

C, for instance is +or-6 from F#. Bb up 4 half steps, etc. But once I got all the steps from F# memorized it was a piece of cake.

Seems like every singer, horn or guitar player I work with has different keys. The transpose is a must. Couldn't play without it. Thank God for buttons like transpose, registrations and freeze.
-- Eddie

Tom Cavanaugh -- 11-12-2002 11:28 AM

I have a trio that includes a trumpet, guitar/trombone or tenor sax and me. I set my x1 to turn on 1 whole step down. That way both the trumpet and sax player can play out of the same fake books that I used when I learned the song. Once I learn a song I don't need the music anymore.
I also use the transposer to put songs into my vocal range. 1 whole step down works for me for a lot of songs. If I do a Beatles tune I usually dial it down two whole steps. I play "Yesterday" in F, but sing it in D. The transposer is a great invention! -- Tom

danb -- 11-12-2002 11:34 AM

Use it! But don't forget to bring it back to a standard key. You might forget it if you fall in love with the song and the female singer. It happened to me. I was using two keyboards I transposed the bottom one but not the top one because I will not use the top one for that particular song. When you do the second song, ouch!! figure it out how it sounds. Then you have to hurry going to the keyboard menu to transpose it back to a regular key.

rolandfan -- 11-12-2002 11:57 AM

Well EMj is my favorite level to play songs at and, yes, I can only achieve this with transpose as I only know the C F G chords and Am, Dm, Em. It's just sooo hard to play chords. C F G is sooo Also, its easy to place your fingers in C F G than say an E chord..

svpworld -- 11-12-2002 12:17 PM

I have to admit that I make a lot of use of my transpose button! Actually, although I played all the chords of My Sweet Lord (see recent tyros upload mp3) without transposition, I didn't have the patience to figure out the melody (especially as it changes key twice going up in two semitone steps!). So, I transposed four semitones up and played the first bit in C (I set the tyros so that I only transposed the melody I was playing and not the song which I had already recorded the chords). Then, and here's where I cheated, when it got to the first key change, I transposed up another 2 semitones and again during the second key change... I don't think anyone spotted it, but it saved me a lot of time recording it! Regards, -- Simon

Starkeeper -- 11-12-2002 12:33 PM

Yes, I use the transpose button. I'm trying to teach myself accompaniment and I have to play the same song in six different keys, but I can only sing in F. The transpose is great. -- Starkeeper

rhumba -- 11-12-2002 01:02 PM

Now that I got everyone to believe in the transpose button, I hope some of the Yamaha folks are reading this also. Are they? I purchased a Yamaha S90 to go along with my PA80. It's one of the greatest keyboards I have (keyboard, not arranger!) How do I get to the transpose button on the S90? I can't -- there isn't a transpose button!!! And no, I'm not kidding! To transpose, you have to hit the "Utility" button, which bring up a, well, utility screen, then [F1] to take you to another screen, then [SF2] to bring you to the KB transpose screen, turn a dial (or hit the DEC" button) to transpose by half steps. When you're on the transpose screen, there's nothing else but transposed information. And so, to play, I need to get back to the main screen. Then what? Oh yes, I need to get back to the transpose screen to reset the transposed key, and, yes, we have to do this while our left hand is busy keeping the PA80 playing! GRRRRRRRR!!! -- .rb

Bluezplayer -- 11-12-2002 01:25 PM

There is no transpose button on the Motif either. I have to go to the utility menu if I want to transpose the keys. I don't use it very often so it doesn't really bother me, but still I wonder why they didn't include an accessible transposition button. -- AJ

KN_Fan -- 11-12-2002 02:16 PM

Can't live without them. On my KN6k, it's right there almost in the center of the keyboard (the transpose buttons). On my newly bought Triton Studio, I have to go to the "global" setting then edit the key from there.

Yes, I'm also one of those (like Squeak) who can play my butt off, but when I don't play in my favorite key (which is C of course), I can still pretty much play, with the condition that the audience will need to prepare for a discounted quality.

There was one time, I was playing in church accompanying a group of three singers, only using the church's acoustic piano. (I think I did that for a few weeks.) Boy, oh, boy. At least I could play (somewhat) in F, G, A. I think that's about it (perhaps B flat also).

Roel -- 11-12-2002 02:39 PM

Yep! me, too. I use the transposer a lot. Works very quickly on my SD1 with two (multifunction) dedicated buttons. -- Roel

svpworld -- 11-12-2002 04:25 PM

So does this reinforce the fact that manufacturers regard "synths" and "workstations" for the professional market, players who can play in any key without the need for a transpose button? Perhaps they regard arranger players as requiring a transpose button because we can't always play in awkward keys? Maybe the arranger keyboard, given its nature puts more emphasis on the transpose buttons because of its appeal to "karaoke" type performances or to make white note players sound better? An interesting point. -- Simon

Luis.Santos -- 11-12-2002 04:29 PM

I have a Roland XV-88, it's a professional Synth, and it also has the transpose button.

Gord -- 11-12-2002 04:49 PM

I use 'sharp eye' to scan music, then 'Music ease' to 'set up' and print the music in a key that's right for me. If it's early in the morning, or I've got a bit of a cold, I find that transpose button on my SD1 is a great tool. I also use it to find a comfortable key when I'm looking at a new song.

DonM -- 11-12-2002 06:27 PM

I can play in most all keys, but some are easier than others. Also certain "licks" as needed to emulate guitars, pianos or other instruments are much easier in some keys than others. -- DonM

s330synth -- 11-13-2002 04:19 AM

The transposer button is not just for people who can only play in C, F or G. Certain keyboard styles and riffs such as Jazz close harmony, or blues / rock lend themselves to certain key configurations. Some of the solos and techniques you use may get pretty complicated, and so if a singer wants to do the number in a different key, the transpose button is a god send. -- Ron

KFingers -- 11-13-2002 06:11 AM

Rhumba, Another approach is to use a master keyboard and modules. That way you can "save" different keys (transpositions) into various programs. You also get the added benefit of whatever length of keyboard you prefer and whether it's weighted or not. It is also much easier and quicker to layer, mute and zone sounds from all your instruments. It works great for me as I gig with an MS40 (will be the XD3 when I have mastered it), an EMU B3 Tonewheel organ module and a Roland JV1080. When you set up each program, you can set values for transposition (I set up several programs with different transposition values - make sure all the zones have the same value though). I can also change my registrations and sounds from the master keyboard as well and use just one sustain pedal/pitchbend/mod wheel. It's not for everyone as I need separate amplification, but this modular approach allows me to take only what is required for whichever gig I am doing but gives (me) most flexibility. The only thing it can't do is to play in the "cracks," which is where most of my guest singers aim for -- Keith

Pilot -- 11-14-2002 04:44 PM

Unlike most people, I don't much like playing in C, F or G so I transpose at sight or from memory up a semitone into Db, Gb or Ab and hit the transpose button to go down a semitone. I'm in good company here. My music copy of "Indiana" is in G but on my Louis Armstrong LP, they jack it up to Ab (which makes sense considering the instruments).

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