Changing The Key Of A Song: Things To Consider

When should we change they key of a song? Is it better to use our falsetto or sing an octave lower? There are many variables when it comes to changing the key of a song, and it can be hard to know what the right choice is. This article will go through the main things to consider behind when changing the key of a song!

If you are unsure what it means to change the key of a song, check out our earlier article here! 

When is using falsetto appropriate? 

Falsetto is a vocal technique characterized by its high pitch and airy, disconnected tone. Though falsetto is more popular with male singers it can be heard by many female artists as well.

For the advanced singer, falsetto should be considered an artistic choice for certain notes or songs rather than a necessity. The technique is fantastic for conveying certain emotions and can also be used to create “hooks” thanks to is timbre being radically different than the rest of the voice. However, singers who solely achieve their high notes in falsetto can lack power and fullness. 

Singing in falsetto is a great artistic choice in moderation, but it should be a choice rather than the only option available to hit higher notes! 

Should A Key Change Move Up Or Down? 

Changing the key of a song is always an interesting endeavour. It is not only the range of notes that is altered but also the emotion and style of the song. Imagine an old jazz standard being performed in a rock high tenor! Or a song by The Weeknd being performed by someone with the voice of Johnny Cash! A dramatic change in range can alter the style and meaning of a song completely!

Also, songs that have notes hovering around a singer’s vocal break can be interesting as well! Due to the nature of the break sometimes moving a song a semitone or two higher can actually make the piece easier than moving it down!

So, when changing the key of a song it is a good idea to experiment and try out a few different options. This way, you will be guaranteed to find the best fit for your own voice. 

Tonal Shifts To Consider When Changing the Key Of A Song

Changing the range of notes used in a song will change the tone of the music. In general, most voices have a “darker” sound quality in their lower ranges and a “brighter” sound in their higher ranges.

This is why experimenting with different keys is so important! Since no two voices are the same, what works for one may not be the best choice for another. 

Take a listen to the original higher Soundgarden song Rusty Cage. Afterwards, put on Johnny Cash’s version to hear an example of how key change can dramatically alter how a song feels!

Experiment with key changes and see what works for you! 

Finding The Sweet Spot In Your Voice 

One of the most common questions students have is “what keys do I sound best in?”. While this is a fantastic question, it doesn’t have an answer! This is because each song is different, so there is no way to say what the best key for someone will be. 

However, everyone’s voice does have a “sweet spot”. This is the range in your voice where your tone, cord closure and resonance sound effortless and clear. For a more in depth article on range and sweet spots check out this article here! As a general rule, you want to choose keys where the majority of the song is placed in this “sweet spot”.

This keeps the voice healthy and sounding its strongest! 

Forget The Ego! 

It is common for students to not want to change the key of a song as they think of it as “cheating”! This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

At the end of the day, the performance of the song is the most important thing. Trust us, the majority of listeners will not be able to tell the key of a song has been changed from the original. 

Beyond this, even pop stars like Adele and Ed Sheeran change the keys of songs they cover. Sometimes they even change the key of their own songs when they perform live! 

So leave the ego at the door, and do what’s best for your own voice! 

Closing Notes

If you’d like to learn more about changing the key of a song, and your voice in general with an experienced vocal coach contact us today and we’d be happy to help!