Michael Phils Music ebook

Difference between transpose and modulation


This is a popular quesion that beginner musicians usually ask.

transpose button on the piano
image credit: youtube.com

What is the difference between transpose and Modulation?

Most of the time beginner players of the piano ask this question.

Transpose is a feature on your musical instrument that enables you to be able to play on all keys even if you have learnt to only play one key.

How to transpose on the piano

Unfortunately this feature is limited to two musical instruments which are the piano and rhythm guitar.

For example, let us say you have just started learning to play the piano, you would be first taught to play on the key of C. Assuming that as you are still learning and somebody calls you to play for him or her on another key, let’s say the key of F#, and you don’t know how to play on that key yet; that is when the transpose function would come to your rescue.

Note that it is not good if you are totally reliant on the transpose button, because it shows that you are a lazy musician. You need to learn to play on all keys, it takes time; but you would be happy you did. A transposing pianist has lesser chances of being hired.

Now what is modulation?

Modulation is the intentional act or process of changing from one key to another.

This is common in most gospel songs that we listen to, they might change the key by going a semitone or tone higher.

Now, If you can only play one key on the piano, it is going to be difficult for you to modulate during the course of playing to a song. Why? Because you can only play one key..

When you modulate, you move from one key to another e.g C to C# or C to D. Don’t think that you might be able to use the transpose button here, because you might not be fast enough to press the transpose button to set it properly, which might not go well with the timing of the song.

In conclusion, it is not advisable to use the transpose button of your piano because it makes you a lazy pianst.

guitar transpose using a capo
image credit: Jumia

Guitarist also transpose using something we call a “Capo”; but its not convienient for them to use it to transpose to all keys.


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