#1
Hey guys my theory isn't real solid yet but I wasn't wondering how you figure out the key or mode of a song? One thing I've been wanting to do for awhile is to improvise over songs that I like but I don't know how to figure out the key and the mode.
#2
look at what notes are being used, then look at what a the main riff/lick resolves to apply your scale theory and that will give you the key. i find it easier to apply scale theory to chord progressions to get the key.

for the modes, each mode as a flavour/emotion attached to it.

ionian (major scale) is happy sounding, aeolian (minor scale) is sad, phrygian sounds like spanish/ moorish, lydian has a arabic/middle eastern sound, mixoloydian and dorian also have a happy sound and locrian just sounds weird sort of unnatural.
Last edited by ibanezgod1973 at Aug 4, 2010,
#3
Thanks for the input. I'm still not getting it. Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Say for example you have a chord progression that goes D-G-A(or any order of those chords) I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was in the key or D, G, or A. I understand the mode thing somewhat you pick the mode based on the scale degree of what key you're in or something. I don't fully understand it so more clarification on this would be awesome. ;-)
Last edited by hairmetal90 at Aug 5, 2010,
#4
Quote by hairmetal90
Thanks for the input. I'm still not getting it. Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Say for example you have a chord progression that goes D-G-A(or any order of those chords) I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was in the key or D, G, or A. I understand the mode thing somewhat you pick the mode based on the scale degree of what key you're in or something. I don't fully understand it so more clarification on this would be awesome. ;-)


Easiest way to do this is to break down the chords into notes, and see what scale fits. D-G-A is pretty easy, so let's do that.

Dmaj: D, F#, A
Gmaj: G, B, D
Amaj: A, C#, E

Put those in order:
A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G

This is a great example because the three chords together give you each letter of the musical alphabet in some form. Here, you have 2 sharps: F#, and C#. This is the key signature for D major. Therefore, assuming this progression resolves to Dmaj, you would solo in Dmaj.To double check, write these notes out starting from D, and look at the intervals between the notes:

D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D
OR
W, W, H, W, W, W, H. Intervals in this order make up a major scale.

Most people would have just recognized D - G - A as a I - IV - V progression in D. I just expanded the chords to their respective notes as an exercise. Try this out with any progression. You'll get the hang of it, and you'll be able to do this all in your head eventually.

At this point, you don't seem to have a solid theory background, or a solid grasp of the major scale (not an insult, just an observation ). If I were you, I'd stay far away from modes until you understand the major scale. I'd start with memorizing all the intervals. Learn what they are, how they sound, how to form them on the fretboard, how to go up in any interval from any note, etc. Then I'd move on to learning to construct major/minor scales from intervals in ANY KEY, and what chords fit in each key, etc.. This should keep you busy for a while.
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Last edited by Jimmy_Page_Zep at Aug 5, 2010,
#5
Well what kind of chords are those D G and A? Minor? Major?

Assuming those are major chords, you would be in the Key of D Major. If that A was a minor chord youd be in the key of G major (and if it always resolved to D then youd be playing in D mixolydian [5th mode of G major] if I am not mistaken..)

You MUST know your interval theory and chord construction. It is absolutely key! (har har)

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Last edited by glenthemann at Aug 5, 2010,
#6
I'm sure someone will chime in and help, but I highly recommend this book. It teaches you methods of determining the key of a song and which scale to use for it. It also has a CD with some backing tracks for you to practice with. Really a great buy.
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#7
Here's a quick tip, alot of the time in a progression, the I chord is used first, so if you have a progression beginning with a C major chord, then your key is highly likely to be in C major. Not all of the time though.
#8
Quote by Dregen
if you have a progression beginning with a C major chord, then your key is highly likely to be in C major.


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Quote by Jackal58
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#9
At this point, you don't seem to have a solid theory background, or a solid grasp of the major scale (not an insult, just an observation ).

No it's true. My theory isn't solid at all haha. But anyway thanks for all of the great help guys. I'm a beginner anyway (even though I've been playing for awhile...) and I'm starting from scratch now. I want to fix all of my bad habits and do everything right now.