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Old 01-04-2013, 05:04 PM   #1
rockitup85
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What key is a lead line in? Help please

Hi Everyone,

I've been trying to figure something out and I feel like I'll end up /facepalm-ing when I get it, but it doesn't seem to be clicking for me.

I've figured out a lead line for a song I'm learning, but I want to make sure its in the right key. I know the lead line is right because I can hear the intervals, but I'm not sure where I start it to make sure I start playing the line in the right place so it works with the key the song is played in.

I guess I'm just confused about the whole thing.. if anyone can shed some light on this and how I can approach it or you need more info about what I'm asking then don't hesitate to ask.

Thank you!!
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:36 PM   #2
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What song? or at least what chords are in the song? If you're asking in general I don't know there is a good answer other than use your ear and experience to figure it out. If your ear is good enough to get the intervals surely you can monkey around with the song until you find the key.
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:53 PM   #3
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Play the lead and figure out where it wants to "stop," and not pull towards another note.

Play along with the recording and move it around until it matches.

Look at the chord progression and figure out the key of the song (by far the easiest option).
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:55 PM   #4
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Just use your ear man.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbarnes
Just use your ear man.

why do people keep saying this? it is not helpful advice to most people who are asking a question like this, nor to lots of people in general I wouldn't think! (no offence, just a general vent here)
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by theknuckster
why do people keep saying this? it is not helpful advice to most people who are asking a question like this, nor to lots of people in general I wouldn't think! (no offence, just a general vent here)
Because you have to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes to deduce what "key" the scale" is in.

First, a "scale" is not the same as a "key". There are scales that are named after keys and are the pattern for the harmonic structure of the key.

However, you do not have to be using am A minor scale to be playing a song that is in A minor.

So, as you were told above, you need to figure out what key the song is in first, then figure out what note are being played in the lead line.

Let's take a simple 2 chord song, "Oh, That Smell", by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

This is a bit hard to nail down the key, but it's most likely A minor. (It could be in F also), So, between the 2 chords, there are only 4 notes, A, C, E, F. You can bet those notes are played often in the lead part. I'm going to say that most of the lead work is done in the "A minor pentatonic scale", the the F note added on the chord change to F, and the E subtracted. (mostly).

There are bends, pinches, taps, hammer-ons and pull-offs in modern lead guitar, which complicates matters quite a bit.

Why not see if a tab is available on the song you want to learn, and compare it with the song, which should give you a better overview. You can see the patterns, play the patterns, and "use your ear", as a error checking device.

If you're not up for that, you could always put in a tab request for a song UG doesn't yet have a tab.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-04-2013 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by theknuckster
why do people keep saying this? it is not helpful advice to most people who are asking a question like this, nor to lots of people in general I wouldn't think! (no offence, just a general vent here)

People keep saying that because that's one of the ways you become good at guitar. You use your ear. OP is capable enough to distinguish intervals so he should be able to listen to the riff and nail down where he should start. Also, if he's done the interval stuff by ear and isn't sure how to figure out keys and stuff, then I have to assume he doesn't know much about theory. Like in the post above me, you can get into Am vs Fmaj key debates and whether you should use the Am or Fmaj pentatonic or some modal jazz scale or whatever. Or. You can use your ****ing ear.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:11 AM   #8
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The lead line is in the same key as the song is. Listen to the chords behind the solo, don't just listen to the melody. Chords have a lot more to do with the key than the melody.

And if you are talking about scale positions, it doesn't matter what position you are using. The scale is the same all over the fretboard. If you are using the right notes, it doesn't matter what position you are using. And you have figured out the melody so what's the problem? Just play it. Again, you can play it with any part of the neck, you don't need to play it in "major position" or "minor position".

For example:

e|-------
B|-------
G|-------
D|-2-4-5-
A|-------
E|-------

e|--------
B|--------
G|--------
D|--------
A|-7-9-10-
E|--------


These are the same melody played in different position, they are the same notes. You can play it in different position and it will sound the same and it doesn't change the key or the scale you are using.

I'm sorry if you already know this (and this makes you look I expect you to be a beginner) but I though this was worth pointing out in case of you didn't know it.

If the problem is that you aren't sure if the lead line starts with an A note or what ever, then just listen to the song and compare what you are playing to the song. If it doesn't sound the same, you are playing it wrong.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:17 AM   #9
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What you could do is to hum the lead line over some chords in any key. If it sounds right, you have it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theknuckster
why do people keep saying this? it is not helpful advice to most people who are asking a question like this, nor to lots of people in general I wouldn't think! (no offence, just a general vent here)


Well, it is, but it's a little simplified.

The first important thing is to understand that you don't find a key by listing notes and chords then finding the key signature that matches. That's how a lot of beginners identify the key (G major, C major, and D major ... but be the key of G!) but the simple truth is that music is too complex or that to work. The only way to really know the key is to listen for the resolution.

BUT hearing the resolution is hard if you haven't learned how to do it yet. You can speed the process along by using the functional ear trainer (a free download from miles.be).

If you can't hear the resolution, trying to make music is like trying to paint a sunset while being colorblind. Developing your ear is really, really important.

Because some people (particularly those who picked up music seriously as children) don't really need to work on ear training specifically (although it still often pays dividends) it's often under-emphasized and a lot of people don't understand it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:11 PM   #11
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Ts, sing the first note of the lead line in the song. If you can't sing that high/low than sing it in a different octave. The point is, find the first note with your voice.
Then singing that note, find the same note on guitar.
Since you say that you figured it out, you already have the intervals and how to play them. So just play the intervals off of that note. You now have (at least that riff/lick/melody line or whatever) in the correct key.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbarnes
People keep saying that because that's one of the ways you become good at guitar. You use your ear. OP is capable enough to distinguish intervals so he should be able to listen to the riff and nail down where he should start. Also, if he's done the interval stuff by ear and isn't sure how to figure out keys and stuff, then I have to assume he doesn't know much about theory. Like in the post above me, you can get into Am vs Fmaj key debates and whether you should use the Am or Fmaj pentatonic or some modal jazz scale or whatever. Or. You can use your ****ing ear.
This. At some point you have to stop thinking about improving your ear and actually diving in and doing it.

Honestly it's something I'm struggling with at the moment, so it's not a spiteful criticism. I mean, I would say I have a pretty good ear, but I can safely say the stuff I want to be transcribing isn't even distinguishable to my ear just by listening to it. That's when the trial and error comes in (playing along, maybe randomly, until notes start to match up) and you start to actually learn shit. Honestly, that's all there is to it. Sometimes you just have to match up notes one by one.

And yes, being able to sing a note or part of the line is one of the biggest steps. Once you can sing something relatively in tune (even if it's not in time), you have it internalized.

In fact, it's more helpful to be able to sing it note by note, just make sure you have the rhythm internalized as well.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:18 PM   #13
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Wow, this post brought on a lot more than I had thought. I guess I did a horrible job at explaining. I'm playing a small lead line for a song in the key of D. As far as my knowledge goes, I do know some basic theory, but not a lot. Since I posted this I actually figured out what I was trying to play by.. *drumroll*.. using my ear! I guess I was just wanting to know the mechanics of it.

For instance... with a lead line or solo... do the notes in them have to be in the scale of what key the song is in? D major, D minor etc.. or are the notes typically in the scale of what chord is being played.. or are they created just because they. "Sound good" in the mix? I wasn't sure if there was some concrete way to say "The song is in this key/chord so therefore, only these notes will work in your solo" Or is it's just in the ear of the beholder.

Thanks
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:39 PM   #14
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The notes in the given scale* for a key are considered "diatonic notes." The notes outside of the key signature are "chromatic notes," or more commonly, "accidentals." Diatonic notes are generally considered "safe" notes and chromatic notes are generally considered dissonant, however sometimes it's opposite in certain contexts.

If your progression is diatonic, then usually diatonic notes (notes from the "right" scale) will work over the progression. This is an oversimplification, but it's a good starting point anyway. Then once you develop your ear and learn some more theory you can start adding accidentals.

*In standard notation, these notes are labeled in a key signature (http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/24). The key signature just tells you which notes are sharp/flat in the key of the song. So, if we were in Ab major, that would be 4 sharps (Bb Eb Ab and Db). Every other note is a natural, so Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab is your scale. You should learn to read standard notation if you don't already know it, because it'll help you understand and memorize key signatures.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:31 AM   #15
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Yeah, it depends on sound and what not. I mean, if you wanted to get into it you should only use minor pentatonic over a minor progression, but that's one of the ways BB King gets his sound, minor pent over major progression. There are certain rules, but it's also ok to break those rules sometimes and just use your ear.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockitup85
For instance... with a lead line or solo... do the notes in them have to be in the scale of what key the song is in?

Thanks

No.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:53 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jjbarnes
Yeah, it depends on sound and what not. I mean, if you wanted to get into it you should only use minor pentatonic over a minor progression, but that's one of the ways BB King gets his sound, minor pent over major progression. There are certain rules, but it's also ok to break those rules sometimes and just use your ear.

There are no rules to break in music. The only rule is: Play what sounds good. Also a good rule would be: Use your ears. If a minor third over a major chord sounds good to your ears, you can use it. Using accidentals is not breaking the rules. Accidentals are used in almost every song.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:01 AM   #18
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TS, I think if you learned and analyzed more music you wouldn't have to ask these questions.

Honestly, I feel like most issues with theory are due to lack of application. It can't be emphasized enough that theory is descriptive, not prescriptive. First, you need to have the sound in your head by listening to and learning a song, then you need to use theory to rationalize and categorize the sounds that you are hearing.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:56 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
There are no rules to break in music. The only rule is: Play what sounds good. Also a good rule would be: Use your ears. If a minor third over a major chord sounds good to your ears, you can use it. Using accidentals is not breaking the rules. Accidentals are used in almost every song.

Fair enough. I don't know enough theory to get accidentals and what not yet. But the rule thing is something I've heard passed around. You know, music has rules, but there are times when the rules can be broken sort of deal. It probably pertains more to dissonance than anything.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:40 PM   #20
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Fair enough. I don't know enough theory to get accidentals and what not yet. But the rule thing is something I've heard passed around. You know, music has rules, but there are times when the rules can be broken sort of deal. It probably pertains more to dissonance than anything.


Well, ultimately this is a semantic discussion about what the word "rules" means.

There are guidelines and principles. They are ignored sometimes, but they're what most people start with.

The trick is to constantly study their application, rather than learn them academically, because in studying them in application you see both the "rule" and the exceptions.
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