#1
Say I'm messin' around with some chords and I find that Dm-Bb-F-C sounds good, how would I go about tryin' to find what key it is? Later I would eventually discover that it's in the key of F, but what's the process of going through that? I know a lot about scales and degrees and how minor/major chords relates to them but when I'm given some chords I'm pretty much clueless. Only way I can figure them is writting possible scales down and seeing if they match minor/major chords in the scale and proper sharp/flat notes and all that jazz.

Today I was messin' with the piano and came up with a familiar ending tune to a song. It went from F-Fm-C. This is even more confusing to me because it has a major/minor of the same chord? However in the key of C, which I can hear pretty much it's resolved to, has no sharps or flats. Fm has a Ab note in it, what's up with that? I guess it could be a random chromatic note but I'm thinkin' more than likely it's part of a scale, and when the 3rd of the F chord is flattened to make it minor, that's part of the scale- such as when it goes W-W-H-W-W-W-H. Then I don't remember what I did but I made the scale for eb and ab like:

eb f g ab bb c d
M m m M M m d

ab bb c db eb f g
M m m M M m d

From this that familiar ending tune I found used the 4th degree of the scale, then flattened, then resolved to the tonic. I think I came with eb and ab because when the 4th is flattened, it'll take place during the half step parts of the W-W-H-W-W-W-H scale, making it have the notes in the key. But what about other scales- you can do the same thing by transposing the intervals but in a different key but will it match the notes of the scale? Eh, I dunno not sure if tha made much sense.

So anyways I'm just confused- how do you find the key of a lick?
#2
licks? or chord progression?

those two somewhat different things.

whatever the chord prog. resolves to, that is it's 1 (I) chord and it's key.

if it resolves to Fmajor then Fmaj is it's 1(I) chord and the key is Fmaj.
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#3
Quote by allislost
licks? or chord progression?

those two somewhat different things.

whatever the chord prog. resolves to, that is it's 1 (I) chord and it's key.

if it resolves to Fmajor then Fmaj is it's 1(I) chord and the key is Fmaj.


Licks I guess. For chord progressions you're talking about I-IV-V and similar? Yeh.

If you're messin' with some chords and you find Dm-Bb-F-C groovy, how do you find the progression? You'll have to find the key of it first- how do you find the key? 'unno.
#4
Quote by Zvahl
Licks I guess. For chord progressions you're talking about I-IV-V and similar? Yeh.

If you're messin' with some chords and you find Dm-Bb-F-C groovy, how do you find the progression? You'll have to find the key of it first- how do you find the key? 'unno.


if Dm-Bb-F-C are the chords you play and in that order, then that's ur progression. To find the key, just listen to where it resolves to...

///

or find out which key best fits those chords. I did it in my head, but maybe you should try doing it on paper 1st and start with the 1st chord.

so Dm... goes to key of Dminor... then see how the rest fit and if it resolves to Dminor.
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Last edited by allislost at Jun 26, 2009,
#6
Quote by blueriver
It looks like F major.

Yeh yeh I know. I already mentioned that lol.
Later I would eventually discover that it's in the key of F,

How do you find what's it in, the thought process in it?
#7
The F-Fm-C progression you mentioned is actually not just a random chromatic note, in a post not too long ago 20Tigers mentioned that the IV-iv-I is an extended plagal cadence.

Anyways if you want to know what key a progression is in, it all depends on where it resolves. If you want to be able to identify key signatures quickly, then your best bet is to probably just memorize what chords are in what key.

Also if you see a chord that doesn't fit, don't forget to check the possibilities of borrowed chords from the parallel minor scale (bIII , bVI, bVII).
#8
IV-iv-I is an extended plagal cadence. A regular plagal cadence is just IV-I. Honestly, there are many conventions that will pull you out of diatonic progressions that relying on matching the scale it seems to use with a major scale is a lost cause. I could easily write a chord progression that uses all 12 notes! I wrote a short post about how to find the key of a song a day or two ago... there are so many of these "What key?" questions coming up that I might just post something longer about it and link everyone of these threads to it. (Who supports this endeavor?)
#10
Quote by Eastwinn
I wrote a short post about how to find the key of a song a day or two ago... there are so many of these "What key?" questions coming up that I might just post something longer about it and link everyone of these threads to it. (Who supports this endeavor?)
Do it! There's at least one or two 'what key' posts every day.

In the meantime:
Quote by Zvahl
Say I'm messin' around with some chords and I find that Dm-Bb-F-C sounds good, how would I go about tryin' to find what key it is?
If you've got 2 major chords next to each other - like you have Bb and C - they are likely to be the IV and V chords of the major scale if its diatonic - so as Bb and C are the IV V chords of F Major, you then just need to find what the chord progression resolves to, to find out if its F Major or its relative minor (which would be D minor).

Quote by Zvahl
Today I was messin' with the piano and came up with a familiar ending tune to a song. It went from F-Fm-C. This is even more confusing to me because it has a major/minor of the same chord?
I'd guess the Ab in the Fm is just acting as a passing tone if its the only bit that doesn't fit into C Maj.
Last edited by zhilla at Jul 6, 2009,
#11
Quote by Eastwinn
I wrote a short post about how to find the key of a song a day or two ago... there are so many of these "What key?" questions coming up that I might just post something longer about it and link everyone of these threads to it. (Who supports this endeavor?)

I do.
#12
Quote by Zvahl
Dm-B♭-F-C sounds good, how would I go about tryin' to find what key it is? Later I would eventually discover that it's in the key of F, but what's the process of going through that?
It depends on where it resolves. That's a nice sounding progression. When I play it I resolve it to C. ii -♭VII - IV - I (suggests C Mixolydian). (mind you one of my fretting fingers is still tender so I'm playing rather gingerly).

Viewing it as in C you would see the basic structure as Dm F C. ii IV I with the IV I plagal cadence.
What about the B♭?

The B♭ is what makes the sequence interesting in my opinion and functions in two ways.

First it is a common tone chord substitution for the Dm chord. The Dm is made up of the tones D F A and the B♭ shares the D and F in it's make up making it a safe substitution.

Second that B♭ serves to extend the F C plagal cadence back a step to give a chain of fourths leading into the C. B♭ to F is a movement down a perfect fourth and F to C is a movement down a perfect fourth.

In this way one can conceive the progression as being in C which, when I play it on my guitar at least, it sounds like.

The chords (notes) can be seen as being diatonic to F major but that doesn't necessarily mean it is in F. On it's own, to me at least, it suggests a C tonic. However, depending on how it is played and as part of a larger whole in which the F is unequivacally established as the tonic chord it could very well be considered in F.


Quote by Zvahl
Today I was messin' with the piano and came up with a familiar ending tune to a song. It went from F-Fm-C. This is even more confusing to me because it has a major/minor of the same chord? However in the key of C, which I can hear pretty much it's resolved to, has no sharps or flats. Fm has a A♭ note in it, what's up with that?
F Fm C does sound good. Why? That's the question you need to ask yourself. What makes the chord sequence work. There is no key with a major chord and minor chord off the same root. So why does it sound so good here?

Well what's going on? The ONLY change in the F to Fm is that A to A♭ movement. As it is the only change it is the only thing our ears are following. We hear it very clearly jumping out at us. And where does it go when we move to the C? It goes to the G (the fifth) of the C chord. It is this falling 3 note semitone movement that makes the progression work. We also hear the other changes (the C becomes the root and the F moves down a semitone to an E in the C chord) but it's that A -A♭- G movement that is most pronounced due to the initial solitary A to Ab that catches our attention.

So how does one determine the key of a progression? - Listen. It all depends where it resolves to. There are clues one can pick up such as the chords used and where the chords fall and knowing common progression and cadences to understand how chords function together. But there are also exceptions that make some of these clues red herrings such as the use of non diatonic chord subsitution or borrowing chords from parallel scales or chain of fifths/fourth progressions.

So really it comes down to listening and deciding which chord is providing the "grounding" in the song. Most of the time the chords will fit that key nicely. Sometimes there will be an odd note or chord that doesn't seem to fit the key perfectly but still sounds right for one reason or another.

Sometimes it could be one of two different chords or a progression could lack that solid grounding of a definitive tonic and float around with a tonic ambiguity, or even seem to continuously move in on a tonic but never seem to get there such as in a full cycle of fifths progression. All you can do is use your ear and sound judgement. (haha unintentional pun there)

Not sure if this will help or just frustrate you. Hope it's the former.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jul 6, 2009,
#13
I don't the key is where it always resolves... I wrote a song that is in the key of B but resolves on F#. Though I'm not nearly that great at theory I do know enough that my song that is in the key of B with 0 accidentals it starts on and resolves on the F# chord and ends on F# note.
Last edited by RockThisCity at Jul 6, 2009,
#14
I guess it depends on what you mean by being in a certain key.

For example Am and C share the same key signature but are different keys.

So the song you wrote uses a B key signature (i.e. 6 ♯s) but the song itself resolves to F♯.

It would be correct then to say the song is in F♯ Mixolydian. But is it in the key of B??

The B key sig in your piece denotes F♯ mixolydian. Personally I wouldn't say it's in B. But I don't know what the theoretically correct way to say what key it is in would be. What would Bach say? What would Mozart say? - I don't know.

I have seen plenty of sheet music with the note "key signature denotes F♯ mixolydian" or some such thing.

But whether you would say it's "in the key of F♯ mixolydian" or "in the key of B" - I don't know?
Si
#15
Maybe you just leave the concept of keys out and say "in F# mixolydian." It would be correct to say that it's in the key of F# but it would be extremely misleading. IDK.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#17
Quote by RockThisCity
I don't the key is where it always resolves... I wrote a song that is in the key of B but resolves on F#. Though I'm not nearly that great at theory I do know enough that my song that is in the key of B with 0 accidentals it starts on and resolves on the F# chord and ends on F# note.

wouldnt B have 5 sharps?
and it might sound nice resolving to F# because it is the fifth of B, which is generally a safe way to end a song
#18
I have no idea what anyone's talking about. I obviously need to hit some tutorials. Hopefully, there's some good ones that are dumbed down for us laymen.

I usually go with the first chord in the progression as being the key that it's in, but I only play simplistic blues rock type stuff.
Obnoxious signature here
Last edited by corpus calosum at Jul 8, 2009,
#19
The progression of Dm-Bb-F-C is the verse progression of the song "21 Guns". and as for your question mabye you could learn the chords or the basic underlying chords of the song and find what key signature they belong in. there might be some chromatic notes but you could still find the key that way.