How to Use abcExplorer to Change the Key of a Song or Tune

  1. Firstly you need to have abcExplorer installed (not available for Mac). You can download it from here and follow the installation instructions as usual. Note that the installer installs several programs that Explorer draws on.
  2. Once installed you are ready to download and save an abc file from my website (or anywhere else).
    1. For example: click on and then the file will appear like this

    1. Then to view the abc data click on and the abc file will appear like this
    2. Open abcExplorer to view the menu bar top left
      and select to start a new file and then to create a new empty tune.
      It will look like this.

    3. Go back to the browser and copy the text from the web page leaving out the X:value

    4. In abcExplorer select the code, again leaving out the X:value, and paste in the abc data from the web page.

    5. At this point it would be wise to accept the changes with or F5; and then to save the file with File->Save , Crtl-S or clicking .

    6. Now the song is stored ready for key changing or other editing.

  3. Now say, for example, that the song here given in G Major would be better for your voice in another key. To test what key suits your voice you can play the abc file and change the pitch until you find a suitable one.
    1. Use the play button to start (and the stop button to stop play when you need to). You can adjust the pitch by semitone steps while it is playing by clicking the up or down arrows as shown. The number tells you how many semitones it has changed (Here it is 2 up. Down is negative.)
      Let's say you decide that C Major is just right for you.

  4. So now, for example, you want the song in C Major, that is from so 5 semitones in all.

    1. With the song selected in abcExplorer click on or F5
    2. The midway on the right you'll see . Click on it to open tune tools. Then select the Transpose tab to see the transpose window.
    3. Select the options you need (here it is Transpose Up and 5 halftones (semitones) and I recommend No Checking because I always do nice abc code! Then Click on Transpose. Job done. Close the window and your song is magically transposed. (If it should go way off the top of the staff you can always repeat the transposition down an octave (12 semitones).
  5. Now Accept the changes and then Save the edited song and you are ready to print the song as a PDF using abcExplorer.
  6. If the words or melody require editing for your own nefarious purposes then researching the finer points of abc coding is recommended. There are resources online.