is there a formula to determine what key a chord progression is?


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Punk as atticus
07-05-2005, 05:01 PM
also is there a way i can with like a riff or solo? and could you give examples w/scales too? sry i'm trying to get oriented w/all of this theory to actually get better. other words, tell me everything on tht.

NowTheWorld
07-05-2005, 05:14 PM
take the notes of each chord (in most cases it'll be a triad of root, 3rd and 5th) and see what scale all the notes fit into

Corwinoid
07-05-2005, 05:19 PM
^ How tedius.

Generally whatever the progression resolves to (finishes on) is the key. It's that simple 99.9% of the time.

slash_pwns
07-05-2005, 05:20 PM
Don't forget to look for a V7.

low_slinger
07-07-2005, 01:50 PM
how bout your ear?

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by Corwinoid
^ How tedius.

Generally whatever the progression resolves to (finishes on) is the key. It's that simple 99.9% of the time.

it doesnt take that long...

i do it that way... the more you get used to it the faster it goes... i generally dont trust your method...

it works... but i think about that .1%

UnderTheGroove
07-07-2005, 07:01 PM
Look at the chords in the progression and plug them into the harmonized major scale. Here are the chord types and distances between the root notes:

1 chord = Maj
(w)
2 chord = min
(w)
3 chord = min
(h)
4 chord = Maj
(w)
5 chord = Maj (dom7)
(w)
6 chord = min
(w)
7 chord = dim
(h)
1 chord

The major scale formula (Whole steps and Half steps):

1 (w) 2 (w) 3 (h) 4 (w) 5 (w) 6 (w) 7 (h) 1

Look at the intervals between the root notes of the chords and the chord types. Using the two patterns above you can figure out the key of the music.

Also realize that some songs use chords from outside of the key, or switch to different keys.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by low_slinger
how bout your ear?
How 'bout that's the fucking cheap way out. How 'bout you try and learn something and better yourself instead of relying of guessing and checking.

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 07:38 PM
^mmm no, its actually good exercise... its in no way a cheap way out.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 07:41 PM
^ Of course it is. I don't consider guessing at what sounds good to be a good way of doing things.

That's like saying: Oh, I'm going to build this bridge the way I think it looks good, and if it falls, hey, it looked good!

It'll catch up with you soon if you don't know why certain things sound good together.

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 07:43 PM
yes ok... lets just stick to the textbook then...

seriously music is more about you ear, and what sounds good than it is theory...

and anyone who has trained in theory will attest to that.

honestly, would you rather write something thats theoretically sound... or something that kicks absolute ****ing ass...

IMHO a musical ear > all the music theory in the world.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 07:47 PM
Yes, music is about your ear. But what you don't realize is that your ear picks certain things up BECAUSE of theory. The theory behind music explains why it sounds good.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 07:48 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
honestly, would you rather right something thats theoretically sound... or something that kicks absolute ****ing ass...
Oh. My. God.

The REASON it would kick ass, is BECAUSE it is theoretically sound. Holy christ, is that such a hard concept?

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 07:51 PM
wrong.

the reason it would kick ass is because it sounds good...

i know John Petrucci for example likes to throw alot of chromatic runs over top of his ****... now a chromatic run is not theoretically sound over top of a progression that is not chromatic correct? but it sounds ****ing awesome....

someone help me out here, and explain to this kid, that you dont have to follow theory... in fact you should strive to be able to break the rules youve learned after you have learned them.

EDIT: Alot of players are baffled by composers like paganini and Petrucci, who use alot of chromatics in their work... the truth is that all they are doing is using their ears... you gotta experiment to be able to do it.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
wrong.

the reason it would kick ass is because it sounds good...

i know John Petrucci for example likes to throw alot of chromatic runs over top of his ****... now a chromatic run is not theoretically sound over top of a progression that is not chromatic correct? but it sounds ****ing awesome....

someone help me out here, and explain to this kid, that you dont have to follow theory... in fact you should strive to be able to break the rules youve learned after you have learned them.

EDIT: Alot of players are baffled by composers like paganini and Petrucci, who use alot of chromatics in their work... the truth is that all they are doing is using their ears... you gotta experiment to be able to do it.

I'm not even going to argue with you anymore. You're obviously too ignorant to realize that writing with theory doesn't necessarily mean: OK, I have a Cm7b5 chord, I MUST solo to it in Locrian.

It means, that you KNOW how to write music that sounds good, because you KNOW what sounds good together. You KNOW that: OK, here, in this part of the song, I will change key quickly and go back into key, and just slightly adjust my solo by adding a flat 3rd, etc. etc.

Theory doesn't mean sticking to the rules, it means knowing when you can break the rules effectively and efficiently to make a good song.

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 08:04 PM
you dont need theory to write a good song...


take DIMEBAG ****ING DARRELL for instance... he knew no theory, yet owned his guitar... why? because he spent years training his ear... not studying scales.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 08:06 PM
^ That doesn't mean he was worth shit as a musician. Any fucking monkey can pick up a guitar and practice picking a scale fast, but it takes a MUSICIAN to realize what and why he does things.

And yes, theory does assist in writing good songs.

`NeXxuS`
07-07-2005, 08:08 PM
ugh, your missing the point entirely...

im not saying that theory doesnt assist you... it sure as **** does if you learn it...

but if you dont learn it... its not a big deal... you can write just as good songs using your ear...

and insulting dimebag darrell's musicianship? you ARE ignorant...

and btw... dime didnt know he was picking a scale fast... all he knew was he was hitting some good notes fast... he didnt have any clue about scales.

donnie_darko14
07-07-2005, 08:24 PM
both are equally needed to write a song

-DD :cheers:

Corwinoid
07-07-2005, 08:26 PM
NeXxus, you wouldn't know that .1% if it kicked you in the nuts while eating out your sister.

Chromatic runs are indeed theoretically sound. *yawn* Indeed... paganini was using his ear when writing chromatic runs for an entire orchestra. Real ****ing bright. And Rachmoninoff wasn't thinking about how each note was acting when he wrote 5 minutes of music based mostly on halfsteps, I'm sure.

You are the epitamy of the little kids who know a few scales and think they understand theory. LOLZ OMGZ STAY IN KEYZ DEWD, AND BREK TEH ROOLZ!! Right?

Yes... let's take DIMEBAG FUCKING DARREL for instance. The man was a great guitarist. Absolutely **** song writer.

If I asked 99.9 of the guitarists in the world when C# was in the key of C (and indeed, it sometimes is), I'll get a wrong answer in response. Or even better, what's a Neopolitan 6th, and when do you want to use it?

Most guitarists have **** clue about sound construction; and it shows in the complete lack of depth in the music they write. LOLZ, y wud u evr want a clarnut in a song? Uhh, wut hpnz if my bass is higher than my gutars?

DUD F IT DUSNT HAV 6 STRINGS AND A TUNIN PEG TEN IT DUSNT MAK MUSCI!!!!!!!

Right?

And I'll bet you're one of those people that bitch about pop music sucking also.

VomitalXX
07-07-2005, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Zamboni
The REASON it would kick ass, is BECAUSE it is theoretically sound. Holy christ, is that such a hard concept?



*shakes head*

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 09:11 PM
^ What does that mean.

Zamboni
07-07-2005, 09:14 PM
And to Corwinoid, is a Neapolitian 6th not a variation of a Phrygian II with a lowered second degree?

zaccy
07-07-2005, 11:19 PM
though i am learning it now because 1 day in a band i may need it. its always good to know extra :)

`NeXxuS`
07-08-2005, 01:08 AM
Originally posted by Corwinoid
NeXxus, you wouldn't know that .1% if it kicked you in the nuts while eating out your sister.

Chromatic runs are indeed theoretically sound. *yawn* Indeed... paganini was using his ear when writing chromatic runs for an entire orchestra. Real ****ing bright. And Rachmoninoff wasn't thinking about how each note was acting when he wrote 5 minutes of music based mostly on halfsteps, I'm sure.

You are the epitamy of the little kids who know a few scales and think they understand theory.

Yes... let's take DIMEBAG FUCKING DARREL for instance. The man was a great guitarist. Absolutely **** song writer.

Most guitarists have **** clue about sound construction; and it shows in the complete lack of depth in the music they write. LOLZ, y wud u evr want a clarnut in a song? Uhh, wut hpnz if my bass is higher than my gutars?

And I'll bet you're one of those people that bitch about pop music sucking also.

correct i wouldnt know that .1%... i indeed have not ran into music that fell into that .1%... but that DOESNT MEAN I dont worry about it.

Your right i was speculating on what Paganini was doing... but John certainly does not use theory(for those chromatic runs... i have read the interviews where he says its all his ear.)... and the reason most guitarist get confused is because all the theory they learn does not involve these chromatic tones... the just cant comprehend why they can be used in such instances... and in fact i do not either... im able to use them occasionally but... ONLY BECAUSE OF MY EAR!

dimebag was great at guitar... and he wrote music that was indeed great... explain why he was a **** songwriter and maybe ill argue this.

agreed most guitarist dont understand what timbre is... but why the **** are you telling me this? i didnt even mention timbre...

check my posts... i dont bitch about pop music... i bitch about ****ty music...

and why cant u fellows accept that your ear is more important... its like your a scientist if your just putting in the notes that fit...your filling in a variable to an equation...

and formulaic music is for lacklustre musicians...

Zamboni
07-08-2005, 04:33 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
and why cant u fellows accept that your ear is more important...
Because it's not. Sure, it's a blessing to have a great ear for music, but if you know theory, it is completely unnecessary.

:eek: ! Shocked?! It's true.

For example: In math, I may not insinctively know exactly why tn=a+(n-1)d, as some math whizzes might, but because I know that formula, I can answer any question I want that involves a sequence/series, because I know how to use it.

The same principle applies to music. I happen to have a musical ear. I have since I was very young. But for some people who aren't gifted with that ability, studying theory will allow them to understand how music works, and they will be able to write better than some little fuck who picks up a guitar and shreds his brains out in blissful ignorance.

redwing_suck
07-08-2005, 06:13 PM
^Uh, the ear is what makes everything work. You don't know if your theory-in-action is working unless you have a good ear.

Your analogy is flawed, methinks.

`NeXxuS`
07-08-2005, 06:40 PM
hurrah! i've found my saviour in Redwing.

RockNNotToRoll
07-08-2005, 06:40 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
its like your a scientist if your just putting in the notes that fit...your filling in a variable to an equation...

and formulaic music is for lacklustre musicians...

Nice point.

I think each part of theory is a new tool at your disposal and obviously the more tools you have in your arsenal the more firepower you have. And so the more possibilities are open to you. Also if you want to improv live then I'd say it's really quite important to know your scales, modes and such like.

However, the most powerful tool at your disposal is deffinitely your ear and that can be better than following a predetermined plan or formula because you're doing something more unpredictable. Your open to more suggestion as it were. And unpredictability often means more originality. Originality is surely something ever songwriter strives for.

Corwinoid
07-08-2005, 06:51 PM
^ It's actually a horrible point.... I have no idea where Nex got the idea that theory is formulaic, especially when you apply it to your music.

Look, if you just write based on what you think sounds good, then there's no way around the basic truth that your music will lack any real depth, and you'll never produce sounds and qualities in your music that you possibly could if you actually understood what it was you were doing. Period.

It's really that simple, and I don't see how so many people can fail to get this.

There are times when what 'sounds good' is the _wrong_ thing to write, but people don't seem to understand that. They just fiddle with what sounds good, and eventually get lucky.

I've seen so many half truths, guesses, and flat out misunderstandings in this thread that it's absurd.

`NeXxuS`
07-08-2005, 06:54 PM
hold on here... i never said that using theory to write is formulaic...

but if thats ALL you rely on then definetely you are going to be repeating ALOT of old ideas...

AND if your just putting notes in that you KNOW will fit, then your not experimenting with music at all... your making generic music... trying new things, and using your ear to decide whether you like them or not is an important part of music...

originally posted by Corwinoid
There are times when what 'sounds good' is the _wrong_ thing to write, but people don't seem to understand that. They just fiddle with what sounds good, and eventually get lucky.

you want to talk about half truths and absurdities? theres one for you... you can never write the wrong thing in music...

Zamboni
07-08-2005, 07:37 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
you can never write the wrong thing in music...
Oh please. Don't try to be all holier-than-thou. Of course you can write the wrong things in music. You and your generalizations. "ooh all metal is in E or A minor dudes". Sound familiar?

`NeXxuS`
07-08-2005, 07:55 PM
i said just about all metal.. and i didnt say dudes... dont even try to make me sound like that... its pretty obvious from the way you two imitate people on this forum that your extremely immature... even in old age.

find a metal song that isnt in E or A... and wtf? you cant write the wrong thing in music... you two are so narrow-minded about music...

god... progressive... whatever... your more like UG's Conservative one.

kabbalites
07-08-2005, 08:31 PM
Zamboni wins the pretentious asshat award.

Zamboni
07-08-2005, 08:39 PM
Thanks fuckcake. That means alot coming from some little shit hick from North Carolina.

Corwinoid
07-25-2005, 10:41 AM
OK First off... kabbalites, don't be giving my ****ing asshat away or I'ma kill your dog, ok?

Second, when was I old or conservative? Please...

redsox193
07-25-2005, 10:46 AM
ok ive decided to actually answere the kids question. The easiest way is to *gasp* just use your ear, while something is being played just run up the low e string until u find a spot that sounds right then jsut play.

i learned something from this thread Zamboni is a ****ing angry angry person. Theory is important so is a well trained ear.

Corwinoid
07-25-2005, 10:50 AM
^ That is absolutely positively 100% THE *WORST* method imaginable. Why?

Because there's more than one note that's going to sound 'good' over any other given set of notes.

VomitalXX
07-25-2005, 11:00 AM
"Learn the changes, and then forgot them" as they say.

`NeXxuS`
07-25-2005, 01:51 PM
Originally posted by Corwinoid
OK First off... kabbalites, don't be giving my ****ing asshat away or I'ma kill your dog, ok?

Second, when was I old or conservative? Please...

if ur talking about what i said.. that was for zamboni... hes the progressive one... and i said he was conservative.

Zamboni
07-25-2005, 02:04 PM
Originally posted by `NeXxuS`
if ur talking about what i said.. that was for zamboni... hes the progressive one... and i said he was conservative.
g0od 1 do0d!!1!

Oh, and by the way, you're only making yourself look like more of a fucking douchebag than you already are by quoting Corwinoid in your sig, thinking that you're making him look stupid. What you quoted by him is exactly right. But nice try...:rolleyes:

Punkarse
07-25-2005, 02:11 PM
Wow, this is a fun thread. And pointless, also. Cor answered the question in the third post: the best way to work out the key is to listen to the cadences. Where the piece resolves to is the home key 99.9% of the time (and that .1% refers to atonal music)

The last chord is the root chord about 95% of the time, which is good odds. All tonal music contains a resolution of some sort somewhere in the piece. That's why it's tonal.

Originally posted by Zamboni
And to Corwinoid, is a Neapolitian 6th not a variation of a Phrygian II with a lowered second degree?

The Neapolitan 6th is the first inversion of the major chord on the b2 (bIIb), an is a common way to modulate down a semitone

Modulating from C major to B major: G7 - C (which is the bII in B major) - F#7 - B. But obviously elaborated on.

How did that relate to this thread, though?

Zamboni
07-25-2005, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by Punkarse
The Neapolitan 6th is the first inversion of the major chord on the b2 (bIIb), an is a common way to modulate down a semitone

Modulating from C major to B major: G7 - C (which is the bII in B major) - F#7 - B. But obviously elaborated on.

How did that relate to this thread, though?
Ahh thank you very much Punkarse. And, I can't really remember how it related, but I think someone was talking about it earlier on in this thread.

Thanks for clearing that up though. :cheers:

-Mike :rasta:

Punkarse
07-25-2005, 02:37 PM
^^It's Ok, it's my fault for not reading the thread thoroughly enough. :bink:

Bink? What's a bink? :bonk:

VomitalXX
07-25-2005, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by Zamboni
exactly right




It is not possible, nor would it ever be possible to prove that statement.

Punk as atticus
07-25-2005, 07:24 PM
^ who cares and stick to the subject

`NeXxuS`
07-25-2005, 07:28 PM
Originally posted by Zamboni
g0od 1 do0d!!1!

Oh, and by the way, you're only making yourself look like more of a fucking douchebag than you already are by quoting Corwinoid in your sig, thinking that you're making him look stupid. What you quoted by him is exactly right. But nice try...:rolleyes:

you... are... a loser.

and im quoting that because its ridiculous to insult his song-writing ability... he wrote some of the greatest thrash songs ever... im speculating here but im guessing Corwinoid isnt a fan of Thrash metal... nor are you, judging by your love of hardcore... but dimebag was un-equalled in writing thrash songs.

and btw, you are being conservative by saying that you cant find the key of a song using your ear.

Corwinoid
07-25-2005, 11:08 PM
^ I didn't say it's something I like or dislike, I didn't say he was a bad guitarist, I didn't say a lot of the things you think I implied with that comment.

Musically, 'good' can be actually quantified. And frankly, it doesn't matter how likable or pleasant something is, that doesn't make it good music.

It doesn't lesson my respect for him as a person, or for his acheivements, or skill on guitar, and yet taken out of context that's exactly what your sig implies. Bah, to hell with this right now, I'm eating.