Automatically turn a major song into minor and hear how it sounds

Would a hit song written in a major key still be a hit song if it were written in a minor key instead? You can be the judge.

When an artist begins writing a new song, one of the first choices they must make is whether to write in a major or minor key. Songs in minor have a fundamentally different sound from songs in major.

Because of this fundamental difference, it can be fun/interesting to hear how your favorite songs sound when they are switched from major to minor or vice versa. For instance, “Hey Jude” by The Beatles is a happy song written in a major key. Take a listen to the first four bars:

“Hey Jude” by The Beatles

A re-mix produced by Kurt Hugo Schneider places “Hey Jude” in a minor key. Click play to hear the first four bars of “Hey Jude” in minor:

“Hey Jude (In Minor)” by Hugo Schneider

It’s quite a different sound, right ?

Hear (almost) any song in any tonality

If you want to hear how other songs sound when switched from major to minor, starting today, all 12000+ songs in Hooktheory’s Theorytab Library can now be played back in any key or mode. Theorytabs are tabs that show the theory behind popular songs; they remove the details of instrumentation/arrangement, allowing you to hear and understand the pure chords and melody that make up a song. Before you explore the library on your own, we’ve curated a couple cool examples for you.

Here is the Theorytab of “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, a song written in a major key:

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift (Original)


Click play below to see and hear how the chords and melody change when “Blank Space” is transposed to minor.

“Blank Space” in Minor


Major and minor are interesting, but the other less common modes have their own cool sound too. Here is “American Pie” by Don McLean, another major song:

“American Pie” by Don McLean

Now listen to how it sounds in the dorian mode.

“American Pie” transposed to dorian

Explore over 12000 songs on your own

Transposing any of the 12000+ songs in the Theorytab Library into new modes and keys is super easy: on a tab page, click the “key” button and select the key and mode you desire, as shown below:

how to transpose theorytab into new mode

Some songs sound amazing in different different keys/modes, while others… not so much. Explore the Theorytab library to find the ones that sounds that best and let us know what you find!

Hooktheory featured on WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

Last week, Ryan was called in as the resident popular music theory expert to discuss the “songs of the summer” with Marty Moss-Coane. Also part of the discussion was Bonnie McKee, the songwriter behind 8 #1 singles in the US, as well as Dan Deluca of the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Listen to the podcast and watch Ryan’s benind-the-scenes “TabCast”

Screenwriter John August’s Hooktheory Review

I recently stumbled across John August‘s podcast, ScriptNotes, and thought this was worth sharing. For those of you who don’t know who John is, he’s the screenwriter behind Charlie’s Angels, Go, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate factory (the one with Johnny Depp, not Gene Wilder) and bunch of stuff you’ve almost certainly heard of.

It turns out he’s a Hooktheory fan.

…And he wrote a really nice review that made me smile. Thanks John! (if you’re into screenwriting and movies check out his podcast).

Click Here To See An Excerpt From John’s Review →

I analyzed the chords to 1300 songs for patterns. This is what I found. (Part 3) Interactive Discovery

Last year, we discussed the first results of a long term effort to study the patterns found in the chords of popular songs. The reception that we got was incredibly positive, and we received a ton of great feedback.

The two most common questions we’ve gotten from people have been:

  1. “I really like the sound of chords X Y Z together. What other songs use this same progression?
  2. “After I’ve written a few chords that sound good together, I need help knowing what a good next chord might be. Can you show me what the next chord is likely to be given a starting set of chords?

Read about the amazing tool we built to answer these questions

A statistical study of inversions (slash chords) in popular music.

This article is Part 3 of a multipart series looking at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to some interesting questions about how popular music is structured. Click here to read Part 1.

In this article, we’ll continue our exploration into the patterns evident in the chords and melody of popular music. First we will look at the relative popularity of different inversions (e.g. a C/E chord vs. G/B, etc.) based on the frequency that they appear in chord progressions found in the Hooktheory Analysis Database. Then we will take a statistical look at how inversions are most often used. For example, if an inverted chord is found in a song, what can we say about the probability for what the next chord will be that comes after it? This will be compared with how the non-inverted counterpart of the chord is used (e.g. a C/E vs. a C).

Learn how inversions are used in popular music

In Defense of Popular Music: Why Reports of its Death are Greatly Exaggerated

The internet has been abuzz recently with reports of the deterioration in quality of music. Of particular note: a recent Spanish study which purportedly proved it, scientifically no less.

We want to set the record straight about pop. In this article we’ll respond to some of the common complaints that are being made about popular music and show that, in reality, things just aren’t all that bad.

Click Here To Find Out Why →

What do the chords of a patriotic classic have in common with some popular hits?

It’s the 4th of July, and, along with fireworks and flags, that means patriotic music (at least for our American readers). In that spirit, we will be analyzing a famous 4th of July tune and looking at how some of the chords it uses show up in modern music. The song we’ll be looking at is the beautiful Battle Hymm of The Republic.

Click Here To See What We Found →

Part 2: I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found.

This article is Part 2 of a multipart series looking at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to some interesting questions about how popular music is structured. Click here to read Part 1.

In Part 1, we used the database to learn what the most frequently occurring chords are in popular music and also started looking at the likelihood that different chords would come after one another in chord progressions.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll continue this exploration into the patterns evident in the chords and melody of popular music. First we’ll look at how popular music ends musical ideas and discuss a surprising difference between popular music and classical music. Then we’ll talk about the most popular chord progression used by songs in the database and discuss the ubiquity of this progression. Finally we will revisit the question of “which chords occur most frequently in popular music” and look at the reasons for why this is the case.

Click Here To Read About Our Findings →

I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found.

For many people, listening to music elicits such an emotional response that the idea of dredging it for statistics and structure can seem odd or even misguided. But knowing these patterns can give one a deeper more fundamental sense for how music works; for me this makes listening to music a lot more interesting. Of course, if you play an instrument or want to write songs, being aware of these things is obviously of great practical importance.

In this article, we’ll look at the statistics gathered from 1300 choruses, verses, etc. of popular songs to discover the answer to a few basic questions. First we’ll look at the relative popularity of different chords based on the frequency that they appear in the chord progressions of popular music. Then we’ll begin to look at the relationship that different chords have with one another. For example, if a chord is found in a song, what can we say about the probability for what the next chord will be that comes after it?

Click Here To Read About Our Findings