Effects of changing the key of a song.

Registered User
Joined: 02/24/17
Posts: 214

I am in the process of learning the song 'Fields of Gold', Sting version.

The song is in the key of 'D'. but as the song includes D-Bm-G-A. and the changes are a bit haphazard for me, I transcribed the song to the key of 'C' ( C-Am-F-G.) Using open chords it is very easy to play.

However, when I listened to it again in 'D', I felt that it sounded better. I thought,"Why is that"?

I did a bit of research as to why some songs sound 'better' in one key to another.

One obvious conclusion was that the song will sound better when in the natural range of the singer. However I didn't think this was the case in my song as the keys of 'C and D' are faily close to each other.

Looking a bit deeper I found that, with the guitar, there is a mixture of convenience and chord voicings that come into play. Because of the tuning intervals between strings and the natural spacing of notes in guitar chords, the playing of a song in a different key often necessitates the use of chord fingerings which produce alternate voicings. ie,a different note will be on top or bottom and different notes will be next to each other. This results in a song sounding better or worse depending on the key.

So that seemed to go someway in answering my query and led me to learn 'Fields of Gold' in the key of 'D'.

My chord changes are improving, I've learnt something new and my song sounds better.

There are, of course, other factors involved in the 'feel' of a song or piece of music such as changes in timbre as string pitch changes and the harmonic overtones produced on different strings but I find it all very interesting. It helps me understand the making of music and how certain changes produce different effects.

I hope someone will find this of interest.


# 1
Registered User
Joined: 12/04/19
Posts: 318

Most songs are written by songwriters in a key that matches the color of that song and then they go search for a singer with the vocal range of that song.

If you play all the chords there are ( all 12 ) then you'll notice that some of them sound bright and some darl so actually you could think of it as a color chart for choosing paint, for instance the keys of E and A sound bright as in a bright yellow or green color whereas the key of Bb for instance sounds dark as in a black color.

So if you transpose a song into an other key you change the color and also the mood of that song and especially for good written songs like evergreens can destroy song entirely.


# 2
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Joined: 03/31/19
Posts: 5

Watched a reporter interview Andrew Lloyd Weber. The reporter asked Lloyd Weber how he determined what key for a composition. He sat down and played some of the composition in several keys, and then asked the reporter which one sounded better. The reporter picked the right one. Lloyd Weber said that is how you decide.

# 3