#1
hey guys,
im not sure if this has been posted before nut is there a site that shows you the keys of songs? Im starting to improvise on stuff , like Grateful Dead, but i dont know the keys or what scales to use. Is there a way to figure them out if not?
Thx
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#2
Sure.

You need an understanding diatonic harmony so when you map out the chords, you can figure out which ones are most likely to share the same key. I will assume for the moment that you know and are strong with this. If so, you will follow this a lot easier. If you don't, then you may find this just went over your head, and my reccomendation is look into learning this knowledge.

Many times in a Major key you can identify the key by sighting the 4-5 chords, they will be next to one another in the alphabet, and will be major. This is not always the case, as with Free Bird for example:

G D/F# Em F C D

Here, we have two sets of consecutive pairs that can throw this hypothesis off, F and G and C and D are all major.

So what key? Well lets not assume G at the moment and let's say we test a C. When we check, we see C is the I and F and G are the IV and V.

Well if this is the case than D is the odd man out since it should be minor and not major.

So lets assume that we are not talking the C major Key, though if we were then D would have to avoid playing the F natural note when soloing over that chord, but the rest of the progression could be played with a C major scale.

Lets check out G

With G the C and D are the IV and V chords so the F would be seen as a bVII in the key of G because F is not diatonic to the key of G

What this means is we need a special way to play over this "odd chord". Assuming by improvise, you want to sound in line with the progression, then over the F, we could avoid playing the F# note in a G Major scale and play the scale as normal over the rest of the chords.

So, knowing how to create a major scale and understanding what chords fit over that scale, and also what notes make up any chord, would help greatly in improvising over any situation even the Grateful Dead. This is the kind of thing we teach students to master at our Academy every day.
#3
All you have to do is find where the song resolves. The above method works and if you use it enough it becomes second nature (most of us MT regulars can look at the chords of a song and know exactly what key it is) but by looking at where the song resolves there is absolutely no question.
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#4
what do you mean by "resolves"?
and thx for the 1rst one, kinda hard to understand though... ^^'
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#5
Quote by Takeshi24
what do you mean by "resolves"?


Play a D7 and then a G Major. It sounds very... I dunno, final, that's resolvement.
...I like metal.
#6
Quote by Takeshi24
what do you mean by "resolves"?
and thx for the 1rst one, kinda hard to understand though... ^^'


Resolved means that the song (or part of the song, if there are key changes) resolves around a specific major or minor chord. The chords used in the song are chosen so that lead to that chord, and that is where it resolves. The key is where the song resolves to.
#7
OK , im starting to understand, so lets say for the Dead's "The Golden Road", chords are D, C6 and G and F, so would the key be G ?
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#8
It might be G Minor but it wouldn't be G Major.
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#9
Quote by Takeshi24
OK , im starting to understand, so lets say for the Dead's "The Golden Road", chords are D, C6 and G and F, so would the key be G ?


If it sounds final on the G chord, then yes. The chords look like they're in the key of G.

Quote by RockGuitar92
It might be G Minor but it wouldn't be G Major.


It's probably G major. There are four major chords which, means its not completely diatonic. It could be analyzed as a V - IV - I - ♭VII in G major. The F is just borrowed from the parallel minor.
#10
Quote by isaac_bandits
It's probably G major. There are four major chords which, means its not completely diatonic. It could be analyzed as a V - IV - I - ♭VII in G major. The F is just borrowed from the parallel minor.



So i can either improvise in GM or Em, right?
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#11
Quote by Takeshi24
So i can either improvise in GM or Em, right?


Yep and make sure that you understand that if you play an F# from the G major scale over F you're going to hear it sounding "off"

As for not getting my explanation, I understand, its like me asking you to tell me how to do a calculus problem, without me knowing how to do basic arithmetic.

See how hard it becomes?

We "threw you a fish" This means we gave you the answer. This is not the same as "learning to fish" which means you learn how to do it for yourself as a musician.

You originally came wanting to know if there is a way to figure out the key of a song or not. Yes there is.

Learn your alphabet with music.
Learn how to construct a major scale
Learn how to figure out the chords from that scale

Apply it and you'll know whats different in a key and, if you know triads and the notes on any chord, then you can also play the right-sounding notes when "improvising" over a chord progression that doesn't entirely "fit" one scale.
#12
Quote by Takeshi24
hey guys,
im not sure if this has been posted before nut is there a site that shows you the keys of songs? Im starting to improvise on stuff , like Grateful Dead, but i dont know the keys or what scales to use. Is there a way to figure them out if not?
Thx


If you want to learn to improvise it helps to
1. know the entire chord progression
2. be able to start at a slower tempo and work up to speed.
3. Not have the real solo collide with you

Band in a Box software works pretty good for these items. Yeah the sounds are not very thrilling. The songs are extensive, Rock, Jazz, Pop and more. It shows the measure, the chords for each measure and there's even a tutor that shows a fretboard animation of what to play and where.

You can download a demo version for free to try out. You will likely learn a lot by using ti. When I was learning to solo, I practiced with it all the time.


http://www.pgmusic.com/
#13
Quote by Takeshi24
So i can either improvise in GM or Em, right?
No.

G major and E natural minor are not the same thing. Sure they have the same key signature, but G major has 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 whereas E natural minor has 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7. Big difference in sound and feel. They have a different feel, because they have different intervals from the tonic.

So, you're going to want to use the G major scale, but as the guy below me said, you need to account for the fact that there's an F major in there, which will sound terrible if you play an F# over.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#14
Quote by Takeshi24
So i can either improvise in GM or Em, right?


You can use any shapes you've learned as G major, or any you've learned as E minor. Here's the thing: G major and E (natural) minor have the same notes, so any pattern for G major is also a pattern for E (natural) minor and vice versa. However, you are only in one of the two keys (either G major or E minor, but never both), so whichever patterns your using is in the key of G major, when over a G major backing (even though you might have learned that pattern as E minor), and vice versa. So you can't actually play E minor over a progression in G major, as those notes over those chords are just called those chords. The notes that you think of as E major will sound good though.

In this progression, there's the F chord that doesn't really fit. If you look at it you'll notice that the A and C in an F chord fit into the key of G major, but the F♮ does not. So you can play any notes from G major except the F♯, with an F♮ and it will sound 'right'.
#15
Quote by Eastwinn
All you have to do is find where the song resolves. The above method works and if you use it enough it becomes second nature (most of us MT regulars can look at the chords of a song and know exactly what key it is) but by looking at where the song resolves there is absolutely no question.

Um I know nothing about music theory, but this is USUALLY right, if you know what to look for, but songs sometimes change keys, and most of the time they don't follow a set "F major" or "F minor".

There was a word for this in indian music called "ragas" not sure if there's a word for it in american music theory, but its basically the "scale" of the song (and this scale doesn't have to be a straight up and down, if the song calls for it, you, for example, dance around before going back to the home note) and the best way to find it out, is to just play the notes of the song to see repeating patterns.
#16
Quote by GiveItAll
Um I know nothing about music theory, but this is USUALLY right, if you know what to look for, but songs sometimes change keys, and most of the time they don't follow a set "F major" or "F minor".


So, before the modulation, the song will be in one key, after it will be in another. You can still find the keys, by finding where it resolves before the modulation, and then finding the new place it resolves to after the resolution. Aside from Atonal music, all songs will be in one or several defined keys. Alot of songs just have the modulation, so there's multiple keys.
#17
Quote by isaac_bandits
If it sounds final on the G chord, then yes. The chords look like they're in the key of G.


It's probably G major. There are four major chords which, means its not completely diatonic. It could be analyzed as a V - IV - I - ♭VII in G major. The F is just borrowed from the parallel minor.


True.
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