#1
i have been tring to learn music theory on my own for awhile and one thing i just dont seem to get is how to tell what key a song is in.so if someone doesnt mind can they explain it to me like i am a complete idot?
#2
a common way is to hear where the song resolves, or "pulls" to. Try playing Cmaj Fmaj G7. That G7 will make you want to hear Cmaj. That tension helps resolve to the key of the song.
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#3
Well, you can do it two ways.

1) You hit notes on your guitar untill you hit the note that is the root of the key

or

2) Write down what the chords are and figure out the key according to the chords that are played.

You can find instructions, lists of the chords in each key and other useful information in the lessons section.
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#4
the most reliable way is to see which note it resolves to
usually the last or first chord played will the which key its in
if that doesnt help look at the chord progression and see all the notes in the chords and try to match it to a scale
for more complicated songs which key changes it would just take practice
#5
There's 12 different notes, a key is made up of 7 of those notes. Which 7 will determine which key.

C major is C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
A major is A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#.

www.musictheory.net will lead you in the right direction.
#6
ok i think i get it.i have another question now.going off the example of the chord progression Cmaj,Fmaj,G7.If i wanted to play a lead over that how would i determine what scale to use?
#7
Quote by brender
ok i think i get it.i have another question now.going off the example of the chord progression Cmaj,Fmaj,G7.If i wanted to play a lead over that how would i determine what scale to use?

Look at your chords, and pick their notes apart. If you do this

Cmaj = C E G
Fmaj = F A C
G7 = G B D F

the notes form a scale C D E F G A B, these notes fit into the common C major scale.
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#8
Since C major is the first chord, assume the key is C Major. Harmonise the notes in the C Major scale and check to see if the other chords in the progression are in it (yes).

C D E F G A B C

C major - C E G
F major - F A C
G7 - G B D F

Also, just because you're consciously pulling notes from a certain scale doesn't mean it's always gonna sound good...gotta use your ears :p
#10
I can't disagree with those guys, but i have a somewhat different method of going about it.

You can't just look at notes, and say "hey, this looks like the ___ scale!" I mean it works sometimes, but other times it'll throw you off. A chord progression in G might actually use the notes of the C major scale (which includes an F natural instead of an F#). Does this mean you use the C major scale? No.

So, what I do is first determine the key. C F G7 is in C. The first thing I think is the C major scale. This should be your starting point every single time. Does this mean you'll use the notes C D E F G A B the whole time? Maybe not, but it's the scale that corresponds with the key.

In this C F G7 progression, you're done. None of the chord tones are outside of the scale. But what if you have a chord (like Bb) that uses accidentals? Well then you have to alter your scale to suit the accidentals. Change that B to a Bb over that chord and you should be fine.

Now of course there are other times where you can add accidentals, but this should give you a solid set of notes that you can play.
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#11
I agree with food. It's best just to look at where it resolves. You're brain hears everything in relation to the tonic, so you should generally analyze things in relation to the tonic.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#12
I disagree with food's advice wholeheartedly. Not that I disagree with looking at how the note resolves. But I disagree with making that suggestion to a beginner before he first understands Diatonic Theory and Harmony and things like V7 I.

I maintain that the first and only steps should be teaching them how to construct major and minor scales and the triads derived from them. I wouldn't even set foot on tonal harmony until they have a foundation.

Sean
#13
Quote by Sean0913
I disagree with food's advice wholeheartedly. Not that I disagree with looking at how the note resolves. But I disagree with making that suggestion to a beginner before he first understands Diatonic Theory and Harmony and things like V7 I.

I maintain that the first and only steps should be teaching them how to construct major and minor scales and the triads derived from them. I wouldn't even set foot on tonal harmony until they have a foundation.

Sean
You're completely right. Actually it seems like TS is trying to jump into tonal harmony as quickly as possible. He's not asking us how to harmonize a major or minor scale, he's asking us how to determine the key of a song and the scale appropriate for the song.

TS, do you know how to determine the triads in a key?
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea