Ok so I'm a bit of a beginner and I really have no idea what keys are. I've looked for guides and I cant find anything. All I know about is people talking about how if you know the key of a song then you can learn a certain part of the song that you want to learn or something like that? (i.e. 'the song "Song X" is in the key of C')

So if anyone could break it down for me or give me a link to a guide I'd really appreciate it.


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Imagine if you had C to C on a music stave. Some of those would be sharp/flat making the notes in to a scale. So if none of them are flat then it is the C Major scale. If just the F is sharpened then the key is G Major.

So now you can take any triad from the notes on the stave to get chords in that key.

EDIT: Note also that songs rarely stick to 1 key. They will often modulate into a new key(s).
Last edited by grantjames at Dec 29, 2008,
It's the scale the song is based around. So if the song is in C Major, it's based around
a C major scale. If it's in C minor, its based around a C minor scale.

There are other types of keys but I don't want to confuse you.
A key is a collection of seven chords, each one starting on a note in a scale. So in C major you have C, D, E, F, G, A and B. If you take the root, third and fifth notes in the scale (starting on each of the notes separately), you get C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and Bdim (or Bm5b to be specific). And that's a key. But the theory bit is far from over there. But that's the essentials of it.