Editing, Timing & Pitch

How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]

Written By : Andrew Siemon

To change the key in Melodyne
1) Transfer the recording
2) Click on the Sharps icon at the bottom
3) Click a note on the Pitch Grid
4) Select “Notes Reflect Scale Changes” > “Tuning and Mode”
5) Select the key on the Pitch Grid
6) Choose the corresponding scale in major or minor

How to Change the Key in Melodyne [Step-By-Step]

How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
I’m using Melodyne 5 – Editor, which is the one I recommend to everyone. The Studio version is the best, but it’s a steep price if you’re first starting out.

So the first thing I’ll say is that you should get the Editor version of Melodyne, at least, because I find it’s the most bang for your buck.

As I’ve explained in my review of the software, the Essential and Assistant versions are solid introductions but I find they lack all of the awesome features that make Melodyne special in the first place (Celemony has a great comparison chart on their site).

Editions of Melodyne Compared - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
The Melodyne Editions chart from Celemony’s website. You can upgrade your version on Plugin Boutique, Plugin Fox, Thomann, or even their website.

And if I’m not mistaken, I believe that you actually have to use the Editor version in order to snap all the notes according to a different scale.

1) Transfer the Recording Into Melodyne First

Press 'Transfer' and Then Hit Play - How to Add Vibrato in Melodyne [SUPER SIMPLE]
Hit the Transfer button as what’s shown in the image above, and then press Play on the Project. If your DAW has ARA, on the other hand, you can just import the whole thing super fast by pressing Play, then Stop, and it’ll do it automatically.

2) Click on the Sharps Icon at the Bottom

Sharps Icon - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
The Scale Editor Depth icon. It makes more sense to me to just call it the sharps icon because that’s what it looks like

Using the Scale Editor Depth icon, you can open up the Pitch Grid a bit more and get more nuanced and specific in your pitch and key changes, even going all the way to cents and hertz if you want. For this tutorial though, we just need the note names.

3) Click on a Note on the Pitch Grid

Click on the Note - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
At this step, simply press on any note in the pitch grid, because we’re just trying to get to the menu item that says, “Notes Reflect Scale Changes.”

We don’t have to select the actual key and tonality until the 5th step.

4) Select “Notes Reflect Scale Changes” > “Tuning and Mode”

Tuning and Mode - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
Selecting “Notes Reflect Scale Changes” and then “Tuning and Mode” is how you get Melodyne to snap the notes to a new key or scale.

Melodyne is probably the best way to snap the notes to a new scale or key signature automatically without having a huge impact on how the notes actually sound.

5) Select the Key on the Pitch Grid then Choose the Corresponding Scale in Major or Minor

Ab Minor - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
Choose the note on the Pitch Grid on the left-hand side and then choose whether you want it in Major or Minor.

After you’ve selected your key and scale, you’ll notice how Melodyne will shift all of the notes around so they fit within that key, but without moving everything up or down an octave, or really any other drastic movements. From there, you could go into each note individually and move things around and change everything to how you’d like it.

And that’s pretty much it for changing the key in Melodyne. Another point worth mentioning is you can do the same thing for other modes and more exotic scales. For instance, you could adjust the scale to be in Ab Phyrgian or perhaps Ab Lydian, if you wanted.

It’s a really cool tool that I enjoy using just for fun, but there are all kinds of applications for it. That all said, what if you just want to find the key of a song, sample, or recording with Melodyne? How would we go about that? Well, for the most part, you just have to drag the audio into Melodyne. I’ll show you a bit more about this now.

How Do You Get The Melodyne Key?

The Key in Melodyne - How to Change Key in Melodyne [SIMPLE]
The key signature in Melodyne

To get the key in Melodyne, you just have to click Transfer and then press play on your DAW to imprint the recording into the plugin. In the stand-alone version, you can drag and drop the audio recording into the interface. Melodyne will automatically detect the key for you.

If you plan on using Melodyne a lot for vocals and other monophonic sounds, it would be best to set the default algorithm to “Melodic,” over any other algorithm. If it’s set to Polyphonic Decay or something like that, you’ll get a mess of a recording.

I find Melodyne is just as good if not better at any other software for finding the key, but I’ve noticed that people in the past would say it wasn’t too great. For instance, in this Reddit thread from 2018, people argued that it wasn’t capable of finding or manually changing the key, which is obviously untrue as I’ve shown in this article.

As I said earlier though, this could be because of a previous iteration of Melodyne, ie, Melodyne 4, or some other limitation they were unaware of. Ultimately, if you find Melodyne isn’t getting the right key, you can set it yourself manually using the tools I’ve shown in this article. For clarity’s sake, I should go through it quickly one more time.

How to Fix the Key Manually in Melodyne If It’s Wrong?

To fix an incorrect key signature transfer in Melodyne, click on the sharps icon at the bottom of the interface, select a note on the PItch Grid, then choose “Notes Reflect Scale Changes” followed by “Tuning and Mode.” Select the proper major or minor key after by clicking on the corresponding note.

More Melodyne Articles

Important Things to Note About Changing the Key In Melodyne

1) Large Changes in Pitch Will Begin to Make Your Recordings Sound Weird

For fun, you can go ahead and change the pitch of your recordings up a perfect fifth, or maybe even an octave, just to see how everything sounds. Melodyne is certainly the best at doing this compared to all of the software out there because it can make big pitch changes without the “chipmunk effect.”

That said, I find Melodyne does the best job for small, specific, and nuanced changes to many different notes, rather than sweeping changes across the board to all notes. For example, using the pitch modulation, pitch drift, timing, and amplitude tools just a little bit is often how you get the best sound.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator of ProducerSociety.com, a website dedicated to all things music, including music production, music theory, recording, and how to use the most popular DAWs. Starting out as a metal guitarist, Andrew has since moved into other areas of music production including hip-hop and fusion

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