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Why are recordings sometimes in different keys than the scores?

Sep 10, 2017

One of the questions that pops up quite often about site content is, “Why is this vocal demo in a different key than the score?”

One reason is simply the way the vocal demos are produced. I write a song and send it off to a vocalist, and then the conversation tends to go like this:

Vocalist: Can I have this 3 semitones lower?
 
Me: Um, sure, but that puts the last verse in 7 sharps, and every pianist in the world is going to hate me.
 
Vocalist: Oh, no problem.
 
Me: Right.

 

So I change the key, and the vocalist records the demo beeeautifully and I am thankful that I caved. But alas, when I go to publish the score, I proof it at the piano and realize that yes, every pianist in the world is going to hate me. And since I truly cannot brave the wrath of every pianist in the world, I publish the score in the original key.

If, knowing this, you want the score in the key used in the demo track regardless of its billion sharps or flats, it’s because you have to brave the wrath of only one pianist. In this case, just download the .pc file and transpose to your heart’s content.

When I hear the explosion from over your way, I will plug my ears and smile in smug satisfaction, knowing I did my best and that this meltdown is, for once, not my fault.

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