#1
Ok. Some noobish theory questions here. WHAT THE CRAP DOES "IN THE KEY OF" MEAN!?!?!?!?!? Im so confused. I've been searching around trying to find answers for awhile, and i just don't get it. What good does it do me to know what key something is in? I just really don't get it.

I found a chord progression that i like, and it sounds good, but i just played chords to figure out what sounds good, not knowing what im doing.

Im wanting to write the lead parts over it, and don't know where to start. What scale? stuff like that.

The chord progression i have so far is

Am, C, G,F, then G. again.

I don't know what key im in or what. I don't know hardly any scales, just minor penatonic.

Where would i start writing lead over it, and what other chords would go with those?

Once you figure out what key your in, do most chords in that key sound good with the others, or how does it work?

What chords are in what key?

Sorry i have so many questions. Im just a lost little man haha
#2
The Music Theory FAQ could answer A LOT of your questions that you just asked.

As far as writing over your chord progression you should should move around the minor pentatonic scale till you find where it sounds right. I believe your chord progression is in the key of C. If you wanted to right a lead to it, try using your minor pentatonic scale on A (5th fret, low E string).
#3
Oh Boy

Get a music book, theory for beginners.

And fierce^^ Do you understand him?

He doesn't know what a key is; telling him to solo in minor pentatonic compared the the former in my sentence would be rocket science.

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#5
Quote by nave890
many times the first chord of the progression will be your key


This is so Vague. "Many times" implies he should know when it does. People he doesn't know what a Key is. He won't understand any theory then.

TS get a beginners music book

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#6
Quote by fierce1289
The Music Theory FAQ could answer A LOT of your questions that you just asked.

As far as writing over your chord progression you should should move around the minor pentatonic scale till you find where it sounds right. I believe your chord progression is in the key of C. If you wanted to right a lead to it, try using your minor pentatonic scale on A (5th fret, low E string).


If its in key of c, why am i using a minor penatonic? haha
#7
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Oh Boy

Get a music book, theory for beginners.

And fierce^^ Do you understand him?

He doesn't know what a key is; telling him to solo in minor pentatonic compared the the former in my sentence would be rocket science.


He knew his minor pentatonic scale so I'd thought to give him atleast a spot to start writing a lead to.
#8
Quote by fierce1289
He knew his minor pentatonic scale so I'd thought to give him atleast a spot to start writing a lead to.


But he doesn't know key.

How can u know a car if u dont' even know it has tires. lol.

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#9
Quote by nathanlamb
Ok. Some noobish theory questions here. WHAT THE CRAP DOES "IN THE KEY OF" MEAN!?!?!?!?!? Im so confused. I've been searching around trying to find answers for awhile, and i just don't get it. What good does it do me to know what key something is in? I just really don't get it.

I found a chord progression that i like, and it sounds good, but i just played chords to figure out what sounds good, not knowing what im doing.

Im wanting to write the lead parts over it, and don't know where to start. What scale? stuff like that.

The chord progression i have so far is

Am, C, G,F, then G. again.

I don't know what key im in or what. I don't know hardly any scales, just minor penatonic.

Where would i start writing lead over it, and what other chords would go with those?

Once you figure out what key your in, do most chords in that key sound good with the others, or how does it work?

What chords are in what key?

Sorry i have so many questions. Im just a lost little man haha
Looks to me like Am possibly C major. Other triads (triads = basic chords) that would be in key would be Em Dm and Bdim.

As for the rest sorry I don't have too much time to go into it right now but there are lots of links. Look for posts by users bangoodcharlotte and freepower. I know both of them have links to theory basics in their signatures at the bottom of their posts. Also do a search in ultimate guitar for "the crusades" or something by Josh Urban.

I haven't read any of these articles or lessons so don't know which is the best but am sure they all will be able to help you.

Good Luck and sorry I couldn't be more help.
Si
#10
to nathan,

to understand why the minor pentatonic on A would work with a progession in C ya need to read up on Circle of Fifths.

Basically A is the relative minor to C (they share the same scale notes) which means if you use the minor pentatonic over your chords on A (5th Fret, Low E) it will sound good.

Try it out
#11
Quote by fierce1289
to nathan,

to understand why the minor pentatonic on A would work with a progession in C ya need to read up on Circle of Fifths.

Basically A is the relative minor to C (they share the same scale notes) which means if you use the minor pentatonic over your chords on A (5th Fret, Low E) it will sound good.

Try it out
Learning circle of fifths is a good idea +1.

But if you don't understand what a key is or why you need one you need to start at the absolute beginnning.

Also to the post above if you're in C major and play the Am pentatonic you're not actually using the Am pentatonic. You're using the C major pentatonic.

EDITh I see, he only knows the minor pentatonic hence calling it the minor pentatonic.

Dude start with the basics - chromatic tones, constructing the major scale, basic chord construction etc.
Si
#12
Quote by fierce1289
to nathan,

to understand why the minor pentatonic on A would work with a progession in C ya need to read up on Circle of Fifths.

Basically A is the relative minor to C (they share the same scale notes) which means if you use the minor pentatonic over your chords on A (5th Fret, Low E) it will sound good.

Try it out

Thanks. What is the circle of fifths.

Idk if it has anything to do, or could be helpful, but my friend was showing me different chords that sound good together, and how like if you have a b chord (7th fret, barre, e shape) you can move it all a half step down (a# major) it will sound good, or moving the b major down 3 half steps, and having a minor chord shape, so its g#minor all sound good together. I wasn't really listening so i didn't get all that much.

Does it have anything to do with Co5 moving 3 half steps down to have a minor that sounds good with it?
#13
Quote by 20Tigers
Learning circle of fifths is a good idea +1.

But if you don't understand what a key is or why you need one you need to start at the absolute beginnning.

Also to the post above if you're in C major and play the Am pentatonic you're not actually using the Am pentatonic. You're using the C major pentatonic.

EDITh I see, he only knows the minor pentatonic hence calling it the minor pentatonic.

Dude start with the basics - chromatic tones, constructing the major scale, basic chord construction etc.


Thanks for the correction
#14
I don't know what key im in or what. I don't know hardly any scales, just minor penatonic.

You're going to need to go learn some more, certainly the major and minor scales. And not just the positions on the guitar neck, the actual underlying theory and whatnot.

Chords that contain notes in a certain scale are in that key (hence why you need to know how to construct scales).

Taking your progression as an example, you've got the following notes (found by "taking apart" the chords into their individual notes):
From C you get C, E and G (a chord is the root, 3rd and 5th from a scale).
From Am you get A, C and E.
From G you get G, B and D.
From F you get F, A and C.

Now (just so I can see more clearly what's going on) I write down all the notes I've got in my chords in order (I like to get it starting from C and going up, so I can then see easily what intervals are in there- C major has no sharps or flats), for this one it's just C D E F G A B, which gives you the key of C (major) since those notes form the C major scale. It could also be named as A natural minor, since A natural minor contains the same notes as C major but starts from A instead- it can be said that A minor is the relative minor of C major since this is the case.

If you've not got enough notes to nail down a single key, it's down to you to pick as you like between the keys that contain all the notes you've got.

Also, there are some common chord progressions here if you've written the lead/set the key and want to derive a chord progression from that. Also describes the basics of a chord progression quite nicely, with a little clicking about.

*edit* This post was hella late. =P

responses to previous posts:

many times the first chord of the progression will be your key

Wrong, it's not inherently going to be the case. That assumes you're playing a major progression from that note, which is a silly assumption to make.
What if you end up doing the whole chord deconstruction thing and realising that if you name your key using the first chord you name it as C harmonic minor or something crazy like that?

It's a hell of a lot easier to just move it around according to context and end up with either a major or (natural)minor key.

What is the circle of fifths.

This is the circle of fifths. If you start with C (because C major has no sharps or flats) and move around the circle moving up a 5th (interval of 7 semitones, AKA 7 frets up) for each step round the circle you go, you will get one more sharp in the major scale with that root note. Same applies starting with A natural minor with no sharps and going round, that's a good way to find relative majors/minors.

The link does a much better job that me explaining it though, so check it out.

ALSO, edits in the middle of the wall of text are in bold, so they can be found easily. they are there... honest.
Last edited by MopMaster at Nov 18, 2008,
#15
Quote by nathanlamb
Thanks. What is the circle of fifths.

Idk if it has anything to do, or could be helpful, but my friend was showing me different chords that sound good together, and how like if you have a b chord (7th fret, barre, e shape) you can move it all a half step down (a# major) it will sound good, or moving the b major down 3 half steps, and having a minor chord shape, so its g#minor all sound good together. I wasn't really listening so i didn't get all that much.

Does it have anything to do with Co5 moving 3 half steps down to have a minor that sounds good with it?


Yeah your getting close, A minor is the relative minor of C major. The relative minor is 3 half steps down from the major. Just like E minor is the relative minor to G major. Thats a start and if you read up on Circle of Fifths it will help ya understand it even more.

EDIT: Circle of fifths is an organized way to look at and understand exactly what your relative minor or major is, the number of sharps and flats in each of the scales.
#16
Quote by MopMaster
It could also be named as A minor, since A minor contains the same notes as C major but starts from A instead- it can be said that A minor is the relative minor of C major since this is the case.
Carefull man, A minor has a G#. The 7th note in a minor scale is alway raised by a half tone.

But I guess you meant with the same signature. Otherwise I like the way you explained that.
#17
Quote by Withakay
Carefull man, A minor has a G#. The 7th note in a minor scale is alway raised by a half tone.

But I guess you meant with the same signature. Otherwise I like the way you explained that.

FAIL

the 7th in a HARMONIC minor scale is raised by a half step. melodic minor is with the 6th and 7th raised on the way up, and natural minor is just the key signature as is.
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#18
Quote by Withakay
Carefull man, A minor has a G#. The 7th note in a minor scale is alway raised by a half tone.

But I guess you meant with the same signature. Otherwise I like the way you explained that.


withakay, isnt that considered the diminished scale (maybe there is another name for it)? wouldnt the minor scale be different from that?
#19
FAIL

the 7th in a HARMONIC minor scale is raised by a half step. melodic minor is with the 6th and 7th raised on the way up, and natural minor is just the key signature as is

My bad, I should really specify natural/harmonic/melodic when being specific with scales. It shall be edited...

withakay, isnt that considered the diminished scale (maybe there is another name for it)? wouldnt the minor scale be different from that?

It depends which minor scale you consider "the" minor scale. I'm talking about natural minor when I say "the" minor scale, but my mum (plays piano) talks about the melodic minor as "the" minor scale.
#20
Quote by thomaserak
FAIL
I don't like that term. Is it like scoring a point by pointing out mistakes? Grow up, kid.
Quote by MopMaster
It depends which minor scale you consider "the" minor scale. I'm talking about natural minor when I say "the" minor scale, but my mum (plays piano) talks about the melodic minor as "the" minor scale.
Well, I have a very classic music education (violin, piano, ...) and for us the minor scale is the harmonic. The melodic, indeed with an extra sixth note raised half a tone, is also called the ancient scale, and is only occasionally used.

I'm not sure about the natural scale. I'm thinking, what purpose would there be to assign two names to the same scale with only different starting notes. Would it serve a modulation need? I'd have to check that... Any input about it?
#21
I think you're more of a minor noob. It's just one half step away from being major.
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#22
Quote by King Of Suede
I think you're more of a minor noob. It's just one half step away from being major.

haha wow.
#23
For starters, look at a key like a family. What a family describes are its members and
their relationship to each other. The members of the key can be considered notes
and/or chords. The immediate family, those with the closest relationship to each
other like the father, mother, siblings -- are always 7 notes that are in a certain
configuration to each other or 7 chords which are always in a certain configuration and
always a certain type (maj, min, etc...). All other notes (there's only 5 more) and chords
are still related, but just have a more distant relationship (uncles, aunts, cousins,
inlaws, etc...).

So, if you say as song is in a certain key you'd expect to see a LOT of those notes and
chords from the immediate family and they'd be in certain roles.

Music theory is a description of the relationships and roles of the family - that's where you'll
need to do some reading.
#24
^ finally, a post that genuinely answers the question.

A key is based around a home note - in B minor B is the "tonic" - the note that the piece revolves around and will resolve to unless it changes key.

A key contains 6 notes apart from the tonic - the arrangement of these notes compared to the tonic defines whether the piece is minor or major.

The chords in a key are made from the notes of the key in different arrangements.

Key/Scale relationship - the notes in the key of X major are the same as the notes of the X major scale. The same follows for the minor scale although there are notes that are commonly changed for harmonic and melodic purposes and I won't go into that now.
#25
Quote by Withakay
I'm not sure about the natural scale. I'm thinking, what purpose would there be to assign two names to the same scale with only different starting notes. Would it serve a modulation need? I'd have to check that... Any input about it?


Theres more than just two names given to a major scale. Theres all the modes that go with it. E phrygian has the same notes as C major but sounds a lot different.
#27
Quote by melton100
Theres more than just two names given to a major scale. Theres all the modes that go with it. E phrygian has the same notes as C major but sounds a lot different.


E phrygian is not C major, nor is it even remotely similar to C major. Modal music is something different entirely.
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