View Full Version : Keys?

06-25-2005, 11:46 AM
Ok, now don't kill or shun me for being a noob / almost complete beginner. I know i dunno a damn thing about anything but that is why i am here, to change that.

Now i have a question that i have been unable to find a good answer to, "what is a key?" I have heard talk of "the key of E" and "the Key of C" but i don't have a clue what that means. I would appreciate if someone who knows could help a beginner out and explain what a key is. Thanks.

06-25-2005, 11:58 AM

06-25-2005, 12:03 PM
Chill out, no bumping your thread :no:

A key is a set of notes that supposedly sound "good" together. Each key has 7 different notes (excluding octaves). A good way to learn about keys is to learn the Circle of 5ths.

Circle of 5ths

The Circle of 5ths (Co5) is generally used for determining what notes are in what key. Some people find it extremely useful, while others never use it. I think it's a very effective tool in constructing the diatonic major scales.

Now, there are 12 keys, one for each note in the western chromatic scale. In each key there are 7 different notes, A through G. What makes all these keys different, you ask? Well, in each key there are different variations of those 7 notes. Some have sharps (#) while some have flats (b). A sharp (#) indicates that the pitch is raised one semitone, while a flat (b) indicates lowering one semitone. When writing scales you must have one of each letter A through G. In other words, you cannot have A A# C C# E E# G A, or something like that! You must have A B C D E F G A. One of each letter.

Now, on to the actual circle! This is what it looks like:

The top key is C. It is the simplest key, and has no sharps or flats. As you progress clockwise (flatwise) around the Co5, you add flats, 1 per key you progress. The same is true for sharps - as you progress counterclockwise, you add sharps, 1 per key. Therefore, using this rule, you can figure out how many flats/sharps each key has. Here's a quick list:
C - 0 sharps
G - 1 sharp
D - 2 sharps
A - 3 sharps
E - 4 sharps
B - 5 sharps
F# - 6 sharps
C# - 7 sharps (often written as Db, they are enharmonic)
C - 0 flats
F - 1 flat
Bb - 2 flats
Eb - 3 flats
Ab - 4 flats
Db - 5 flats
Gb - 6 flats
Cb - 7 flats (often written as B, they are enharmonic)

Now, how do you add these sharps and flats? There is a specific order to do it in! The order for sharps is F# C# G# D# A# E# B#, while the order for flats is roughly the opposite, Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb.

Combining all of this knowledge, you can determine the notes of any key!
C - C D E F G A B C
F - F G A Bb C D E F
Bb - Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
Eb - Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
Ab - Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab
Db - Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db
Gb - Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb
Cb - Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb Cb
C - C D E F G A B C
G - G A B C D E F# G
D - D E F# G A B C# D
A - A B C# D E F# G# A
E - E F# G# A B C# D# E
B - B C# D# E F# G# A# B
F# - F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#
C# - C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#

-SD :dance:

06-25-2005, 12:05 PM
Well, the key is what notes the song has in it. The key of E uses notes from the scale of E - E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#.

At least, that's the way I understand it works, I may be wrong.

This site's useful for scales and that kinda stuff :cheers:

06-25-2005, 12:08 PM
thanks guys, that does help although im a little lost and will have to re-read that about a thousand times.

And sorry for bumping..... i am ashamed....

06-25-2005, 12:10 PM
For example, in the song Patience by Guns N' Roses, the song is in the key of G.

The chords that make up the key of G would be:

G Am Bm C D Em F#dim

The song consists of C, G, Em, and D. Then Slash plays the solos in the G scale.

At least, this is what I've come to think of music theory, and this is what I figured about this song. Correct me if I'm wrong.

06-25-2005, 12:12 PM
You're slightly wrong, the key of G would have F#dim or F# in it, not F natural.

-SD :dance:

06-25-2005, 12:19 PM
Dang you people....I wanted to show him.

but nicely done Silent Deftone :down: nicely done


06-25-2005, 12:25 PM
i still don't fully get it... how do you know when to use a sharp or flat? - i know i = noob

06-25-2005, 01:01 PM
One side of the circle is sharps, and the other is flats.

This ( may also help you with intervals and the major scale (that's what all those major keys are - major scales!).

-SD :dance:

06-25-2005, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by SilentDeftone
You're slightly wrong, the key of G would have F#dim or F# in it, not F natural.

-SD :dance:

Ooops, haha, I didn't even notice that.

Yeah better change that, don't want him tryin' to play G scale with an F natural in there, thanks for pointin' it out, dude.