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Old 04-11-2012, 12:00 PM   #1
nrl87
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songs in the key of ?

when someone says a song is in a key of say e does that mean the entire song including intro, verse, chorus and breakdown conists of chords in the e major scale (E, F#, G#, A, B,C#, D# E as well if the song is in the key of E does that mean the notes of the solo all fit in into to the 2 octave span of 32 notes, sorry for the newb question.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:08 PM   #2
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If a song is in the key of E then that means that the chord progression resolves more strongly to E than any other chord. Generally, most of the note will be from the E major scale, but chromatic notes are not unusual. Solos will generally use mostly notes from the E major scale, but again, other notes can be used
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:20 PM   #3
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I agree with Pat And songs can change keys :p It doesn't mean the verse and chorus both have to be in the key of E
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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Some songs may stay in E all the way through... and some songs have key changes... for example if it's in E minor it may go to the relative major which is G.. so the song is still in E minor as the notes are the same, but the tonality has changed to Major
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Old 04-11-2012, 06:28 PM   #5
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Try a random jazz song and you will find the song will never stay in one key :P
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Old 04-11-2012, 06:43 PM   #6
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Yeah pretty much what everybody else said. One cool thing to know if you play lead is that if a song is in E, you could play any type or combination of E scales and it will still sound good. I often mix pentatonic and classical scales and I like to do little triad arpeggios and slides to blend them together.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:00 PM   #7
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If it's in the key of E, i.e. E major, it means that most of the notes and chords fit in the E major scale pretty well. But it also means that the tonal center of the song (or at least part of the song) is E.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:41 PM   #8
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major keys are happy and minor keys are sombre however the pixies "where is my mind" is in e major and rythm and lead both play nothing but notes and chords from within the major scale. is it just cause of the hunting background vocals or the fact it was in fight club that it seems so sombre. also i havent figured out the progression or notes for it but i have a book that says "i believe in a thing called love" by the darkness is in a minor key when it feels so upbeat and happy. am i missing something here or ar there exceptions to the rulles.

my next question involves two linkin park songs (say what you will i like them and there actually a pretty good band and have moved with the times unlike fred durst who still thinks its 2001)
in "a place for my head" the lead riff goes

Eb Eb Bb Bb B Bb Ab F# E Eb

if you took out the E it would be a a riff based around the Eb minor scale, but the E doesnt fit in the Eb minor scale, would this be an example of a dissonant note. i always hought dissonant notes where unpleasant. or this riff in the key of something else entirely which leads me to my next question

in the song "nobodys listening" which is probably one of the simplest songs anyone could play right up there with smoke on the water, the (power) chord progression goes

D D# D C D#

this could be an example of a C minor scale except it starts on the D or the second note of the Cminor scale. im not sure of any scales that have the second a note a semitone above the first one. in cases like this whats going on and what would that song be in the key of

Last edited by nrl87 : 09-21-2012 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:55 PM   #9
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First, learn to use proper punctuation. Question marks are your friend.

Now, on to some answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
major keys are happy and minor keys are sombre however the pixies "where is my mind" is in e major and rythm and lead both play nothing but notes and chords from within the major scale. is it just cause of the hunting background vocals or the fact it was in fight club that it seems so sombre. also i havent figured out the progression or notes for it but i have a book that says "i believe in a thing called love" by the darkness is in a minor key when it feels so upbeat and happy. am i missing something here or ar there exceptions to the rulles.

It's true that major usually sounds more happy and minor sounds more sad, but that's not always true. It's not just the key of a song that influences how it makes you feel. There's phrasing, the lyrics, the sound of the singer's voice, the beat, the tempo, etc. as well as various effects.

Quote:
my next question involves two linkin park songs (say what you will i like them and there actually a pretty good band and have moved with the times unlike fred durst who still thinks its 2001)
in "a place for my head" the lead riff goes

Eb Eb Bb Bb B Bb Ab F# E Eb

if you took out the E it would be a a riff based around the Eb minor scale, but the E doesnt fit in the Eb minor scale, would this be an example of a dissonant note. i always hought dissonant notes where unpleasant. or this riff in the key of something else entirely which leads me to my next question

Or if you left the E in, it could be based around B major or G# minor or A# locrian or F# dominant 7, among many others. Or if you keep the E and remove the Eb and replace it with C you get C enigmatic.

Quote:
in the song "nobodys listening" which is probably one of the simplest songs anyone could play right up there with smoke on the water, the (power) chord progression goes

D D# D C D#

this could be an example of a C minor scale except it starts on the D or the second note of the Cminor scale. im not sure of any scales that have the second a note a semitone above the first one. in cases like this whats going on and what would that song be in the key of

What note something starts with doesn't always determine it's tonal center. That progression could still be in the key of C minor, but that little information isn't enough to determine its key. There are other keys that it would fit in as well.
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Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87

this could be an example of a C minor scale except it starts on the D or the second note of the Cminor scale. im not sure of any scales that have the second a note a semitone above the first one. in cases like this whats going on and what would that song be in the key of

A flat 2nd is the signature of the Phrygian mode or scale. The "Phrygian Dominant scale", is usually considered the "Spanish Gypsy scale", and the b2nd is pivotal in producing its signature sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

I don't think it exactly applies to the phenomenon you're describing in the Linkin Park song.

In any event in this progression:
Quote:
in "a place for my head" the lead riff goes

Eb Eb Bb Bb B Bb Ab F# E Eb
You're probably going to want to think of the "F#" as a "Gb".

The E major chord is out of context true, but you can change any lead notes to the chord tones of the E major, along with the E major scale, just for the duration of the change. I'm thinking that Em pentatonic would also work at this point, as the G and D naturals of that scale, would blend with the key of Eb.

You do change key, albeit only in a very temporary way, but the experts around would say that you don't change key, it's just a small modulation.......(insert winky)....

Po-tat-toe.......Poh-tah toe...like that.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 09-21-2012 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captaincranky
A flat 2nd is the signature of the Phrygian mode or scale. The "Phrygian Dominant scale", is usually considered the "Spanish Gypsy scale", and the b2nd is pivotal in producing its signature sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale

I don't think it exactly applies to the phenomenon you're describing in the Linkin Park song.

In any event in this progression:You're probably going to want to think of the "F#" as a "Gb".

The E major chord is out of context true, but you can change any lead notes to the chord tones of the E major, along with the E major scale, just for the duration of the change. I'm thinking that Em pentatonic would also work at this point, as the G and D naturals of that scale, would blend with the key of Eb.

You do change key, albeit only in a very temporary way, but the experts around would say that you don't change key, it's just a small modulation.......(insert winky)....

The experts would also say that modes have no place in this thread.
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Originally Posted by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Junior#1
The experts would also say that modes have no place in this thread.
I didn't insert the issue of modes, so... "Phrygian" is also a scale, and the TS said he wasn't aware of a scale with a flat 2nd. Phrygian Dominant fits that description, and its mere mention doesn't necessitate a divergent, cataclysmic descent, into the modal miasma, thank you very much.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 09-21-2012 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captaincranky

The E major chord is out of context true, but you can change any lead notes to the chord tones of the E major, along with the E major scale, just for the duration of the change. I'm thinking that Em pentatonic would also work at this point, as the G and D naturals of that scale, would blend with the key of Eb.
.



its not chords its just notes, and im not aska ny questions about modes if you guys arent keen on it, but m understanding of modes is each mode reresents a different starting oint in a scale, like say the G# in the major scale

another question is in regards to the pixies song is the chord progression goes Emaj C#min G#maj Amaj

what determines wheter a chord is minor or major as in why was it a C#min instead of a C#maj or C# sus 2, is it what sounds good, or is there a rule
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
its not chords its just notes, and im not aska ny questions about modes if you guys arent keen on it, but m understanding of modes is each mode reresents a different starting oint in a scale, like say the G# in the major scale
. I didn't actually answer a question about modes, or attempt to interject them into this discussion. You said you didn't know of a SCALE with a flat 2nd, Phrygian Dominant is such a scale. Forget about modes altogether, at least for now. Just because there's a Phrygian scale, you don't automatically play in the phrygian mode, simply by virtue of using that scale.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
another question is in regards to the pixies song is the chord progression goes Emaj C#min G#maj Amaj

what determines whether a chord is minor or major as in why was it a C#min instead of a C#maj or C# sus 2, is it what sounds good, or is there a rule


A triad chord is formed from every note, (degree) in a major scale, in order to harmonize it. The structure of the scale itself, will determine if that chord is major or minor. A triad is formed simply by picking any note in the scale, calling that note the "root" or "1st" note of the chord, then counting up the scale, completing the triad using the 3rd and 5th notes up from the root.

What it boils down to is this. Using C major as an example the chords formed from that scale at each degree would be:
(1st) C major,
(2nd) D minor,
(3rd), E minor,
(4th) F major,
(5th) G major,
(6th) A minor (relative minor key also),
and (7th) B diminished,
then (1 or 8) back to C major again.

When this is analyzed, whether a chord is major or minor in any scale, is the "distance" between the 1st and the 3rd notes of the chord. If the distance is 3 semitones, that's a "minor third", and you get a minor chord.

If the distance is 4 semitones, that's a "major 3rd", and you get a major chord.

The scale degree determines whether the chord will be major, minor, or diminished, and it holds true for every major key. In other words, the 6th scale degree of every major key will always be a minor chord, and will always be the name of the relative minor key.

Chord progressions can be represented in Roman Numerals, capital numbers are major chords, lower case minor chords.

So, your Pixies progression would be: I, vi, III, IV, in E major. If they were being totally true to the key of E major, the G# major, would be the iii chord, or G# minor.

However, if the Pixies song is actually in C# minor, then G# major would provide the leading tone back to C# minor, (Now the "i" chord), when using the C# harmonic minor scale. (In G# major, there is a C natural, which is a major 7th, in relation to the root of C# minor). The C to C#, creates the "resolution" back to the tonic.

Keep in mind that a major key, and its relative minor, always share the same key signature. So the difference between E major and C#minor, has to be determined by where the progression resolves

This is the point in this basic theory discussion where you must learn, the chromatic scale, and the intervals used to form a major scale, (2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, (in semitones)), in order to make full sense of what has been presented.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 09-22-2012 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:32 AM   #15
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Old 09-22-2012, 04:00 AM   #16
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If the key is said to be E major, it means that the progression resolves to an E major chord. Tonal center at E.

If the tonal center shifts, this is called modulation (or key change). To do this, you have to do more (generally) than just throwing in a non-diatonic chord. In fact sometimes a borrowed chord (non-diatonic but derived from parallel key) can further enforce the key. For example, a G major chord in the key of E major can have the effect of solidifying the tonal center (think a progression which goes E - G - A in the key of E major).

For this reason, you can use any chord, any note you wish in any key. If it doesn't change the tonal center, it's not a key change and you are still in the same key.

As for major = happy, minor = sad, that's wrong. We've had this thread many times here, and in fact some of the saddest songs are in major keys.
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Old 09-22-2012, 04:04 AM   #17
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TS, it seems you have a spotty grasp of music theory. Rather than trying to rework, rearrange and correct what you know and don't know, I suggest you start from the bottom up. I suggest going to musictheory.net (link in my sig) for a good start.

But some basics to start you off:

When a song is in a key, it means that the harmony of the song wants to "pull" towards a certain chord. (major in a major key, minor in a minor key). This is the key. It's root note is the "tonal center." If you play the chords C, F and G, you will feel a strong pull towards a different chord. Play C again, and you will feel the tension release. That's the key, with the note C being the tonal center.

Scales are a collection of notes. The most important ones are the major and minor scale. They will get you through 99% of music out there. But the notes outside the scale are fair game to use as your ears see fit, since they don't dictate the key, the harmony (chords) does. In any key, you can play any of the 12 notes in any octave and you will still be in that key (whether or not it sounds good depends on context and your ears. Same goes with chords too).

Now, alterations to the major and minor scales can have names, such as Phrygian, which is a minor scale with a b2. This is just a shorthand way of naming the order of pitches used, but it doesn't mean you are actually playing the Phrygian mode (this has caused a lot of confusion and misinformation among guitarists). In order to do that, you'd have to have a very specific harmony. Don't worry about modes at all, they're aren't all that they are made out to be anyway.

As for major=happy, minor=sad, that's a vast simplification. There is much more variety to them than that duality.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phayzze
Yeah pretty much what everybody else said. One cool thing to know if you play lead is that if a song is in E, you could play any type or combination of E scales and it will still sound good.


Unfortunately, this is not true.

It depends a lot on what everyone else is doing.

Always let the melody be your guide as to what sorts of scales are appropriate. Yes, sometimes you can switch - but scales are not interchangeable. Some will work when others don't. As always, it's about knowing the sound you want and knowing how to create it.

To the OP:

The reason why people often just say something like "this song is in E" is because most good musicians will assume that other good musicians can figure out the basics of what's going on on the fly if they have the tonic, by using their ears.

So even if the songs starts in E but moves to C for a little while, if all I know is that it starts in E, I should be able to figure out roughly what's going on without playing any notes that sound terrible. By developing my ear, I should learn how to hear the transposition to C, major/minor changes, etc.

But if I join a group of musicians and don't know what key they're in, I have to guess. And sometimes that means hitting a wrong note or two while trying to lock in on what they're doing.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
when someone says a song is in a key of say e does that mean the entire song including intro, verse, chorus and breakdown conists of chords in the e major scale (E, F#, G#, A, B,C#, D# E as well if the song is in the key of E


The best answer I can give you is 'sometimes'. Sometimes a song will start in E and change to a different key. Sometimes it'll come back to E, sometimes not. Sometimes it'll start and remain in E.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
does that mean the notes of the solo all fit in into to the 2 octave span of 32 notes, sorry for the newb question.


No - it just means it'll stay in that key (bearing in mind what I said above). The solo can be whereever the guitarist wrote it. If they had a guitar with a ridiculous number of frets and they use them all then that's the range of the solo.

Also - don't be apologising for yourself. Everyone here started off knowing naff-all about music (although I have my suspicions Xiaoxi was born knowing everything Bach ever wrote) and learned by asking questions they thought were dumb. Even the people who know lots about music don't know everything because there's just too much to know to fit in one human brain.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:42 AM   #20
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Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
its not chords its just notes, and im not aska ny questions about modes if you guys arent keen on it, but m understanding of modes is each mode reresents a different starting oint in a scale, like say the G# in the major scale

. I didn't actually answer a question about modes, or attempt to interject them into this discussion. You said you didn't know of a SCALE with a flat 2nd, Phrygian Dominant is such a scale. Forget about modes altogether, at least for now. Just because there's a Phrygian scale, you don't automatically play in the phrygian mode, simply by virtue of using that scale.
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrl87
another question is in regards to the pixies song is the chord progression goes Emaj C#min G#maj Amaj


what determines whether a chord is minor or major as in why was it a C#min instead of a C#maj or C# sus 2, is it what sounds good, or is there a rule


A triad chord is formed from every note, (degree) in a major scale, in order to harmonize it. The structure of the scale itself, will determine if that chord is major or minor. A triad is formed simply by picking any note in the scale, calling that note the "root" or "1st" note of the chord, then counting up the scale, completing the triad using the 3rd and 5th notes up from the root.

What it boils down to is this. Using C major as an example the chords formed from that scale at each degree would be:
(1st) C major,
(2nd) D minor,
(3rd), E minor,
(4th) F major,
(5th) G major,
(6th) A minor (relative minor key also),
and (7th) B diminished,
then (1 or 8) back to C major again.

When this is analyzed, whether a chord is major or minor in any scale, is the "distance" between the 1st and the 3rd notes of the chord. If the distance is 3 semitones, that's a "minor third", and you get a minor chord.

If the distance is 4 semitones, that's a "major 3rd", and you get a major chord.

The scale degree determines whether the chord will be major, minor, or diminished, and it holds true for every major key. In other words, the 6th scale degree of every major key will always be a minor chord, and will always be the name of the relative minor key.

Chord progressions can be represented in Roman Numerals, capital numbers are major chords, lower case minor chords.

So, your Pixies progression would be: I, vi, III, IV, in E major. If they were being totally true to the key of E major, the G# major, would be the iii chord, or G# minor.

However, if the Pixies song is actually in C# minor, then G# major would provide the leading tone back to C# minor, (Now the "i" chord), when using the C# harmonic minor scale. (In G# major, there is a C natural, which is a major 7th, in relation to the root of C# minor). The C to C#, creates the "resolution" back to the tonic.

Keep in mind that a major key, and its relative minor, always share the same key signature. So the difference between E major and C#minor, has to be determined by where the progression resolves

This is the point in this basic theory discussion where you must learn, the chromatic scale, and the intervals used to form a major scale, (2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, (in semitones)), in order to make full sense of what has been presented.


i think my head just exploded

i know all about the major and minor scales (flattening the third and what not) and pentatonic being five notes not 7

im getting to develop a good musical ear i think anyway, ive worked a few songs from ear and am trying to do it on a more regular basis than look at tabs. ive worked out a couple of foo fighters songs, androids, regurgitator, udioslave and john butler songs and when i figured out run to you by bryan adams i (being told by someone who was obviusly wrong that the first chord of a song is usally what the key of the song is) figued out it was F# minor and all the chords (i played them in fifths only and it sounded good) sat within the F# minor scale and at the end i just mucked around with the f# minor scale and i got a decent improvised solo out of it.

and now i found out im doing it wrong its kinda hard to take
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