#1
I've ignored minor scales ever since I learned theory but now since I'm more advanced in I it's starting to bite me in the ass

soo how do u tell if a songs in a minor key or major key? And why?
#2
you tell by what it Pulls to. If you play chords with the notes C D E F G A B C, and the progression wants you to hear A minor, your in the key of A minor, not C major
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#3
i found this online and its a good explanation compared to the thousands of replies u'll get from every one on here

"I'm hoping to be find a song that might meet the generic definition of major or minor, but is actually subtly the opposite.

I believe there's a small misconception in this sentence which just might be the thing that's throwing you off--although people tend to find major songs "happy" and minor songs "sad", happy and sad aren't actually part of the definition of major and minor. A song can meet the generic definition of "happy" and be minor, but it can't sound "major" and actually be minor--sounding "major" is what makes something major in the first place.

I think chrismear's explanation is great; I'll try to continue from where he left off, kind of. As he says, when a song is "in a key", that just means that some notes are more common than others. Also, there's one note that sounds more important than all the others, which he calls the "home note".

The difference between major and minor has to do with which other notes are common, besides the home note. If you have a piano or keyboard handy, go play an A and the C above it at the same time, and note that the C is three piano keys above the A (including the black key A#/Bb). Now play an A and a C#, and note that the C# is four piano keys above the A. (The actual name for this is "semitones". Each piano key is one semitone higher than the previous one, regardless of black/white color.)

This is the main difference between a minor and a major key. In a minor key, you can expect the note that's three semitones higher than the home note to be really common. In a major key, the note that's four semitones above the home note will be really common.

So a song is in A major, for example, if A is the home note, C# is really common, and C is uncommon. If A is the home note, C is common, and C# is uncommon, then you have A minor. (note to pedants: yes, yes, this is simplified)

In order to determine whether a song is major or minor, you'll have to recognize the difference between these two situations. You can train yourself by playing along with your music on a piano or keyboard (if there's none handy, try walking into a Radio Shack with your iPod and playing one of theirs). First, find the home note on the keyboard. Then count up three piano keys (remember to count black keys, too) and play that note. If it sounds like it fits in with the song, you've got a minor key. If not, try the next piano key up, which is four above the home note--if that fits, then you've got a major key.

I recommend "Lovefool", by the Cardigans, for this exercise, for two reasons:
1. The verses are in A minor, but the choruses are in A major, which hopefully should help make the difference stand out.
2. It's a good example of the subtlety you wanted: the music is pretty happy-sounding, but the lyrics are terribly depressing.

Some other good ones:
"Happy Together" (Turtles): F# minor in verse, F# major in chorus (well, not quite, but close enough)
"Eleanor" (Turtles): E minor in verse, E major in chorus, happy throughout
"Somebody to Love" (Queen): Ab major, but sad
"We Are the Champions" (Queen): sharp transition from C minor to Eb major halfway through verse, F major in chorus
"Free Bird" (Skynyrd): C major, sad
"The Love Cats" (Cure): A minor in verse, C major in chorus, happy throughout"
#4
Freebird is in G major.
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#5
Quote by Zinnie
you tell by what it Pulls to. If you play chords with the notes C D E F G A B C, and the progression wants you to hear A minor, your in the key of A minor, not C major


This is an interesting topic for me.
How do you tell or feel which pitch it pulls to? So how can you decide what the key-note is.
Every major scale has its minor pair (relative minor), like C major - A minor, G major - E minor and so on. So basically C major and A minor (let's skip on melodic and harmonic minor scales) share the same pitches. How do you know, whether A or C the key-note is?
#6
Quote by atira
This is an interesting topic for me.
How do you tell or feel which pitch it pulls to? So how can you decide what the key-note is.
Every major scale has its minor pair (relative minor), like C major - A minor, G major - E minor and so on. So basically C major and A minor (let's skip on melodic and harmonic minor scales) share the same pitches. How do you know, whether A or C the key-note is?
What chord does it feel 'finished' on?
#8
Quote by atira
This is an interesting topic for me.
How do you tell or feel which pitch it pulls to? So how can you decide what the key-note is.
Every major scale has its minor pair (relative minor), like C major - A minor, G major - E minor and so on. So basically C major and A minor (let's skip on melodic and harmonic minor scales) share the same pitches. How do you know, whether A or C the key-note is?

Ok, play this Progression
C major, A minor, F Major, G7, then tell me what chord you wanna hear. Play an A minor, it wont sound 'right'. Then try C major, itll fit perfectly, your mind will want to here it, because the G7 resolves to C major

Now, try this progression. A minor, F major, G major, E7 *Using E7, because normally in minor, you make the v chord major by raising the 7th of the scale, cept I like it just turning v into V, and not altering the scale any other way* Try ending with C major, wont sound right. Try A minor, itll 'resolve' to A minor
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#9
Quote by Zinnie
Ok, play this Progression
C major, A minor, F Major, G7, then tell me what chord you wanna hear. Play an A minor, it wont sound 'right'. Then try C major, itll fit perfectly, your mind will want to here it, because the G7 resolves to C major

Now, try this progression. A minor, F major, G major, E7 *Using E7, because normally in minor, you make the v chord major by raising the 7th of the scale, cept I like it just turning v into V, and not altering the scale any other way* Try ending with C major, wont sound right. Try A minor, itll 'resolve' to A minor


You can also have a minor progression that doesn't use the raised leading tone, and then you must rely more on your ear, since the notes will all be diatonic just like they would be in the relative major.
#10
Quote by isaac_bandits
You can also have a minor progression that doesn't use the raised leading tone, and then you must rely more on your ear, since the notes will all be diatonic just like they would be in the relative major.

that is true, im just saying, in most classical pieces, its a major V, not minor. I actually like using the minor v, its just not as much of a pull
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#11
so if a song starts in a minor chord its in a minor key and if it starts with a major chord its a major key? soo basically if its a minor scale you could make the V a major chord?
#12
Quote by GibsonSG25
so if a song starts in a minor chord its in a minor key and if it starts with a major chord its a major key? soo basically if its a minor scale you could make the V a major chord?

Not what it starts with, what it ends with i guess you can figurativly say. And yes, with the V as a Major in the minor scale, itd be harmonic minor. The Major V *in the previous case, E* contains a leading tone, which draws it to the tonic *the keys root* Say you have C major -> F Major ->E7, it started on C, but it resolves to A minor. does that clear it up? Its not about what it starts on, its about how it resolves.
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#13
Would this be right? As a short cut is ur in the key of C and the E is major it would be in the key of Aminor?
#14
That makes no sense.

You'll either be in the key of C major or the key of A minor, depending on where the music resolves to....the E will be a minor chord either way.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 16, 2009,
#15
exeactly as Steven Seagull said, you can have chromatic chords like E major is C major, it just appears in A minor more likely. But its all about resolving, it sounds wierd if you dont know about it yet, but once you understand, itll be as clear as a bell. understanding resolving is the problem i believe, that, and im not a very good explainer xD
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#17
Quote by funwith6strings
c maj is cdefgabc
but a minor is abcdefga
if u see a chord progression that starts and ends on a minor is probably minor
if it starts or ends on c maj its probably major.

do the same with other scales and the relative minors

If you have a song end on the Diminished chord, its more than likely not going to be resolved, therefore, its not a diminished key. if you start on a minor chord, and end on a diminished chord, it will likely resolve to major
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#18
I don't get how E is major in the key of C becuase G# is in the chord and that is not in the key of C? Sry if I'm being a pain but you hve no idea how much I wanna learn theory n get this write then I could write songs

and how could I find out what chord a song revolved on and hb if the whole song is jus a riff based on a scale with no chords?
#19
E major is not in the key of C, you had that right. In A minor, you typically raise the 7th a halfstep, its called Harmonic minor. the 7th of a minor is g, which gives you g#
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#20
That's my bad, I meant minor....I'll fix my post.

I was referring to the question as to whether you could differentiate between Am and C major by looking at the E chord, which you can't as it'll be the same in both keys.

Quote by GibsonSG25
I don't get how E is major in the key of C becuase G# is in the chord and that is not in the key of C? Sry if I'm being a pain but you hve no idea how much I wanna learn theory n get this write then I could write songs

and how could I find out what chord a song revolved on and hb if the whole song is jus a riff based on a scale with no chords?

the thing you need to understand is that scales, chords and even riffs are all exactly the same thing...they're just a bunch of notes strung together chosen because they sound nice together. Chords are EVERYWHERE, even if you don't immediately recognise them as chords - if you study the notes a riff contains most of the time you'll find the individual notes from chords in there, just mixed up a bit.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Aug 16, 2009,