Transposing at the Octave

We can make a melody sound mostly the same, but higher or lower, if we transpose it by one octave.

low melody

This melody begins on the note G – but which G? Is it a high or low register G? The easiest way to explain exactly which G, is to say whether it is above or below middle C, and by how much. 

This G is the first G below middle C

G and middle C

We can change it to the first G above middle C, and write it on the 2nd line of the stave. It’s still the same basic note, but now it is an octave higher in pitch.

G and high G

Using this as the starting point, we can copy over all the notes of the melody, so that the whole thing is one octave higher:

melody transposed up one octave

Notice that we have to change the stem direction on some of the notes.

Being able to transpose by an octave is a useful skill. Let’s say you have a song written for a very high-pitched voice and want to make it singable for someone with a lower voice – you could transpose it one octave down and the problem is solved!

In the Trinity grade 2 exam, you may be asked to transpose a tune so that a different pitched voice can sing it. 

Voices are divided into four main groups – two for women, and two for men.

High-pitched women’s voices are called soprano, and low-pitched women’s voices are called alto.

High-pitched men’s voices are called tenor, and low-pitched men’s voices are called bass