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How to Change the Key of MP3s

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
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I used to be afraid to deviate from the original key. After all, how would the musicians practice along with the track on their own? Then, I discovered a free tool that will transpose (change the key) of MP3s.

Generally, I only change the key a half or whole step. Maybe the lead vocal can't quite sing as high as the original, or the original is in a weird key (such as Ab). If you need to go beyond a whole step, this tool will do it, but it ends up sounding rather odd.

Step 1: Convert Track to MP3 Format

When you buy music, it rarely comes in MP3 format. Technology has moved beyond MP3s and into higher quality audio using M4A or AAC format. So, to use the MP3 transposing tool, you first have to convert the track to an MP3. I like to use the MP3 Converter Mac App. Although this is a paid app, I find it well worth the few dollars it costs.

Step 2: Transpose the MP3

Transposing the MP3 is simple. Open Planning Center's Transposr tool by visiting transposr.com. Upload your MP3, choose the original key and new key, then click 'Transpose Now'. Give it a few minutes and then your new transposed MP3 will be ready for download.

If you are using Planning Center Online, this can be done right within the song. Simply click the song, then the arrangement. Upload the original MP3, attaching it to the original key.

Now, hover over the MP3 file name, click the music icon . This will let you transpose into any key right in Planning Center.

What I Do When Key Change is More than a Whole Step

There are definitely times when you will need to change the key more than a whole step. A good example is when you want to transition a song from male to female lead.

Recently, I wanted to try We Believe by Newsboys as a female-led song. So, we needed to go from the original key of D to the key of G. If you try to use the MP3 Transposr tool for this type of jump, the vocal ends up sounding like a chipmunk and audio quality is horrendous.

So, I had the band learn the song in the original key so they could practice at home to get the roadmap and basics down. At rehearsal, we played it a few times through in the original key and then started working in the new key. The first few times through were rough, but it eventually came together.

I hope you find this tool as useful as I do.

Considering I expect my team to show up to rehearsal prepared, I always felt I was doing them a disservice when changing the key, considering they could no longer practice along with the track.  This tool removed that issue and helped me to provide my team with the resources they need to come prepared.

To learn more about my process for leading productive rehearsals, check out: How to Increase Productivity During Worship Team Practice.

14 Comments

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14 comments on “How to Change the Key of MP3s”

  1. Hey Kade,

    Great thoughts. I really need to look into planning center online. Our youth director keeps telling me to check it out.

    Quick question though. What do you suggest for a leader like me that likes to find specific instrument covers of the songs we're weekly playing via Youtube for our worship team? I often find that the lesser talented musicians really prefer these step-by-step videos (for good reason!), and changing the keys of these don't really help because of the visual learning aspect.

    Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. That's a tough one, Adam. The only think I can think of is for them to learn it in the original key and then transpose it on their own. If nothing else, this would definitely improve their skills as a musician.

  2. Hi Adam,
    the link to the transposer is dead. Are you able to find a new link please? Thanks!

  3. Audacity is a better tool. It's also free. The draw back to planning centers would be it only moves the keys up.
    Audacity can transpose down to G form D as well as up. Sometimes a lower G transposed from the key of D. Is a little easier to hear the parts.

    Great tools like multi tracks. Let's you pick a song exactly how the recording artist created it. You can also transpose the keys as well. The main difference is it won't sound distorted.

    Hope that helps

    Freddy

  4. I was going to recommend Multitracks as well as you can choose any key you
    Need. It's a bit spends but avoids the distorted tracks of Audacity

  5. I'm a big fan of Audacity (free program). Also, it can be time consuming to learn in one key and switch to another, especially for newer musicians... So, when I change the key more than a step or so, I typically include the original mp3 AND the high and low versions, so each player/singer can reference what they need to do in the new key, and choose if the high or low mp3 is more helpful for them. "Barry White or Chipmunk, you choose!" 🙂

  6. Hi Kade!

    Wanted to try Planning Center Online, but is it by invitation only? or it needs a certain church account? I can't seem to find a registration button. We really need to transpose some of our church songs as they're "Audio Only" in Worship Team app 🙁

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