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Old 03-16-2013, 06:49 PM   #1
Knackworst1
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What grades define your key?

First of all I'm sorry if terms used are not correct, I just translate the dutch terms.

So I was wondering, which grades must be in your progression to define your key?
E.g progression: G C Em C, well this is obviously G major, however these chords are not specific for G major, all of these chords occur in C major aswell...
So in G major these are the following grades: 1, 4, 6, 4.
Relative to C major it's: 5, 1, 3, 1.
So what numbers do we need in a progression to define our key?

Sorry for any English mistakes...

Thanks in advance
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:32 PM   #2
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It can also be in E minor. The definitive way of finding the key is to use your ears and listen for the resolution.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:37 PM   #3
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dutch Grad = "scale degree"

The short answer is the 3rd scale degree. Your keys are always either major or minor.

The long answer is that your Key is only defined by the root of the tonic, and doesn't necessarily have to be held strictly to major/minor. There are a lot of pieces that are in a minor key, but borrow heavily from the major, and even end on the major (Picardy Third). See: Villa Lobos Prelude #1.

You also can't define a key by a chord that is never resolved to. Your example contains all notes from A minor, but unless that chord is resolved to at a very obvious point, it can't define the key.

Last edited by cdgraves : 03-16-2013 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:43 PM   #4
Knackworst1
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Yes but I mean what numbers must be involved in a progression in order to let it resolve into a specific chord?

I always find key by ear but sometimes I wanna write a progression in a specific key, so i was wondering what intervals must be ik te progression to resolve to a given key?
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:52 PM   #5
mdc
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You must use roman numerals and look for cadence points.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knackworst1
I always find key by ear but sometimes I wanna write a progression in a specific key, so i was wondering what intervals must be ik te progression to resolve to a given key?
I, IV, V, I, will get you there a good 75% of the time....
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
You must use roman numerals and look for cadence points.


I dunno, this would mean that the proposed chord progression G C Em C would have to be in C major due to the V-I. This could be the case, but it may not be.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by AlanHB
I dunno, this would mean that the proposed chord progression G C Em C would have to be in C major due to the V-I. This could be the case, but it may not be.
Don't you mean vi-IV? With, as they say in the sports world, an option on an "I" chord to be named later.....
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Old 03-17-2013, 01:34 AM   #9
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^^^^ I don't think it really matters if a V - I occurs at the start of the progression than the end. I'd have to listen to the song to see where it resolves rather than make a call on where it resolves on the basis of some ambiguous chords.

However given this progession, Id say its most likely in C than G, as that's where the V - I leads to.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by AlanHB
^^^^ I don't think it really matters if a V - I occurs at the start of the progression than the end. I'd have to listen to the song to see where it resolves rather than make a call on where it resolves on the basis of some ambiguous chords.

However given this progession, Id say its most likely in C than G, as that's where the V - I leads to.
Well, I can't hear any four bars of music containing an Em and a G major chord ending up in the key of C major.

However, I should have prefaced that with; "keep in mind that this is the opinion of someone who only knows 6 chords, of which D major is is favorite, and has very little actual musical ability".

Maybe I should sig myself with that.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 03-17-2013 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:19 AM   #11
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Wait I guess I get it, it doesn't mather which grades you add in your progession, what matters is the order in which you place the grades in? Because v is quite a strong grade, so it should resolve to i?
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:41 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Captaincranky
Well, I can't hear any four bars of music containing an Em and a G major chord ending up in the key of C major.

However, I should have prefaced that with; "keep in mind that this is the opinion of someone who only knows 6 chords, of which D major is is favorite, and has very little actual musical ability".

Maybe I should sig myself with that.


| C | Em | F G |
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:52 AM   #13
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The key depends on the song. You can play exactly the same chords but in a different song they will sound different. For example a chord progression G-F-C can be in G major (I-bVII-IV) or C major (V-IV-I). It just depends on the context. You can't just show us a random chord progression and ask for the key. Post a video to the song.

But when I tried playing that progression, it felt more like G major than C major. But I could also make it sound like it was in C major after playing some basic C major progressions before it.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:33 AM   #14
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It's G. The C's are in weak positions within the form - 2nd and 4th measures are the usually the consequent phrases. The G and Em are in strong positions in the form.

The C acts as almost a pedal harmony. If you put it in 6/8 and strummed it it'd sound like an Irish folk song.

Now if you displaced those harmonies (G)|C Em C G|, it would be unambiguously in C.

Key isn't determined by putting notes into a formula, you have to consider rhythm and form, as well.

Last edited by cdgraves : 03-17-2013 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knackworst1
Wait I guess I get it, it doesn't mather which grades you add in your progession, what matters is the order in which you place the grades in? Because v is quite a strong grade, so it should resolve to i?

Not really. Below is the right answer. But if your ears are underdeveloped then you might find it difficult to do.
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The definitive way of finding the key is to use your ears and listen for the resolution.
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:37 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by cdgraves
...[ ]....The C acts as almost a pedal harmony. If you put it in 6/8 and strummed it it'd sound like an Irish folk song.
How about we call it 9/8 and make it a slip jig....
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