Tips For Changing Keys In A Song

Have you ever wondered how to go about changing keys in a song? Possibly in the last verse, or in a bridge, or something like that?

If you’ve ever tried changing keys in a song before, it’s possible you’ve run into the question of which chords to use while doing that.

The trick that I teach in today’s guitar lesson is quite simple, but requires a little bit of knowledge of guitar music theory. The basic idea is that you use the V chord of the key that you’re starting in as the “push” chord for going to the next key. Then you can change to the I chord from the next key, and you’ll notice that the old V chord has now become the new IV chord! It is because this chord is shared between the two keys that you can use it for changing keys in a song, and it will always sound great. You can use this in a lot of different chord progressions.

In my Unlocking I IV V course I dig into this concept a lot more, and if you’ve gone through that course before you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is just one example of how numbers can actually be very useful in transposing music, because the example I gave above doesn’t require any note names, and yet it is applicable to every single key. To make this more specific, we can give names to those chords….

In the key of G, your I IV V chords are G C and D. The key you would shift up to from G is A, and the I IV V chords there are A D and E. Immediately you can see that the only shared chord is the D… So if you use the D chord just before shifting to the A, your ear isn’t going to complain.

Try changing keys in a song by using one of the other chords and you’re likely to draw some very strange looks from your audience!

Watch the Changing Keys in a Song Lesson:

Watch Changing Keys In A Song on Youtube

Leave a Reply 5 comments

Michael - March 27, 2011 Reply

Why would I want to change keys to a song that I’m playing?

    Jonathan Boettcher - March 28, 2011 Reply

    Hi Michael – a couple reasons: going up a key is a great way to really build the song towards the end, and quite common. Some songs change keys for the chorus to give it a whole different flavor; also sometimes you might want to change keys to make the song more accessible for a particular type of vocals.

Joe - May 6, 2011 Reply

That is awesome I tried it right here now it sounds so smoothe you guys are great.

Douglas - September 19, 2014 Reply

It is amazining how the one,four,five comes into to focus when you keep your focus on it and playinf songs become more interesting the more you become you put it to use.

Thomas Knight - March 1, 2016 Reply

Yeah, being able to play a melody through the changing chorus of a song is something that is very unique. I’VE learned this technique a few years back and trust me its the most fun a person can have.

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