#1
Let me use Pearl Jam's awesome song BLACK as an example. I understand it to be in the key of A. But yet it uses a C major chord and D Major chord. Generally if scales follow the whole Maj-min-min-major, etc pattern, then why did they use C major in stead of C#m and it still sounds good?

If someone doesn't want to explain, can they kindly direct me to a link to where I can get information? I'm really trying to get some of this theory down on my own as i'm self taught so sorry for the newb level of this question. lol.
#2
Those would be the chords in an A minor scale, so maybe its in A minor?
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
#3
Quote by FlexEXP
[...] why did they use C major in stead of C#m and it still sounds good?


C major comes from the parallel minor (A minor). Borrowing from the parallel minor (or major in minor keys) is very common. Notice that the C#m and C both have the note 'E' in them, which is also in A. Chromatic chords sound better when there is some common ground, rather than just a bunch of out-of-key notes. Try D# in the key of A, for example.

On the other hand, are you sure the key isn't D? Assuming these are the only three chords in one particular section (unfamiliar with the song), both C -> D and A -> D provide a more convincing cadence than D -> A (or C -> A, for that matter.) Just some food for thought.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#4
Quote by soviet_ska
C major comes from the parallel minor (A minor). Borrowing from the parallel minor (or major in minor keys) is very common. Notice that the C#m and C both have the note 'E' in them, which is also in A. Chromatic chords sound better when there is some common ground, rather than just a bunch of out-of-key notes. Try D# in the key of A, for example.

On the other hand, are you sure the key isn't D? Assuming these are the only three chords in one particular section (unfamiliar with the song), both C -> D and A -> D provide a more convincing cadence than D -> A (or C -> A, for that matter.) Just some food for thought.


http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdVPE.asp?ppn=mn0045516 according to the sheet music, its in A Major. Just another source.

May I ask why D# in the key of A? how did you come up with that? its parallel minor normally has a D minor.
#5
Quote by FlexEXP
May I ask why D# in the key of A? how did you come up with that? its parallel minor normally has a D minor.


It's not in the key of A, I was using it as an example of what a completely foreign chord would sound like when used in a progression that is in the key of A. Notice that D# consists of D#, Fx (double-sharp, sounds like G), and A#. None of these notes are in the key of A, meaning it would be much harder to squeeze in to your A major progression.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#6
that song is all about how you want to describe it. i'd say it starts out in e major and switches over to e minor with some borrowed chords.
Last edited by z4twenny at Jun 16, 2011,
#7
Quote by z4twenny
that song is all about how you want to describe it. i'd say it starts out in e major and switches over to e minor with some borrowed chords.


Maybe this helps?

Verse: E, A

Pre-Chorus: C, Em

Chorus: D, C, Em
#8
Quote by FlexEXP
Maybe this helps?

Verse: E, A

Pre-Chorus: C, Em

Chorus: D, C, Em


Well, the only way to tell what the actual key is is by listening for where the song feels resolved. However, with non-ambiguous, functional chords, we can take an educated guess.

z4twenny is on to something: judging entirely by chords/cadences, it's very likely the song is in Em for the pre-chorus/chorus and either A or E for the verse.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#9
Quote by soviet_ska
Well, the only way to tell what the actual key is is by listening for where the song feels resolved. However, with non-ambiguous, functional chords, we can take an educated guess.

z4twenny is on to something: judging entirely by chords/cadences, it's very likely the song is in Em for the pre-chorus/chorus and either A or E for the verse.


Now when you say resolve, do you mean the chord that the bar ends on at the end of a chorus? I looked at the sticky thread for figuirng out chord progressions at the top of this forum but its 3 pages of guys arguing what way is right lol.
#10
Quote by FlexEXP
Now when you say resolve, do you mean the chord that the bar ends on at the end of a chorus? I looked at the sticky thread for figuirng out chord progressions at the top of this forum but its 3 pages of guys arguing what way is right lol.


No, when the chord occurs has nothing to do with it. True, it often is either the first chord of a phrase or the last, but that's not how to determine resolution. Resolution is a listening thing.

Western harmony is all about building tension, then releasing. Dominant chords lead back to the tonic so well due to the dominant's high degree of tension--where the return to the tonic resolves it, wrapping it up in a neat little package. Listen for the chord changes in a song (it's easy to hear when the chord changes, just not necessarily what it changes from and to,) then figure out which one sounds the most stable. This is hard to explain, maybe someone else can do a better job. It's one of those things where having a teacher/mentor really helps.

Here's an example: The song "Good Lovin' Gone Bad" by Bad Company

The chords to the main riff are A - D - G - D. At first glance, this appears to be in D. V - I - IV - I, right? But, if you actually listen to the song, the tension feels like it resolves on the A. So, your progression would actually look like I - IV - bVII - IV. (Remember how we talked about borrowing from parallel minor? That's where the bVII comes from; it is a common dominant substitution for major keys.) Other people may argue the key with me on this one, but I definitely hear key of A.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#11
Quote by soviet_ska
No, when the chord occurs has nothing to do with it. True, it often is either the first chord of a phrase or the last, but that's not how to determine resolution. Resolution is a listening thing.

Western harmony is all about building tension, then releasing. Dominant chords lead back to the tonic so well due to the dominant's high degree of tension--where the return to the tonic resolves it, wrapping it up in a neat little package. Listen for the chord changes in a song (it's easy to hear when the chord changes, just not necessarily what it changes from and to,) then figure out which one sounds the most stable. This is hard to explain, maybe someone else can do a better job. It's one of those things where having a teacher/mentor really helps.

Here's an example: The song "Good Lovin' Gone Bad" by Bad Company

The chords to the main riff are A - D - G - D. At first glance, this appears to be in D. V - I - IV - I, right? But, if you actually listen to the song, the tension feels like it resolves on the A. So, your progression would actually look like I - IV - bVII - IV. (Remember how we talked about borrowing from parallel minor? That's where the bVII comes from; it is a common dominant substitution for major keys.) Other people may argue the key with me on this one, but I definitely hear key of A.


It's starting to make sense but wow, with my novice knowledge, it would have taken me a minute to really gather that G is from the parallel minor, that does make sense since A major has ta G#. Do you think you could hear the tension in this song and tell me where its at? it would really make more sense since I listen to his stuff all the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VBex8zbDRs Its in G, btw
#12
Sounds like he's alternating between two chords for most of the song, then a couple of different ones in the chorus. I hear the resolution on the first chord of the intro/verse ("gravity!") Notice how tense it gets during the chorus. It's fairly grounded during the verse, but gets shakier in the chorus, you just want it to resolve. If you know the chords to the song, it'll probably be telling of why it sounds the way it does. But, yeah, I think whatever that first chord is, that's the key of the song.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#13
Quote by soviet_ska
Sounds like he's alternating between two chords for most of the song, then a couple of different ones in the chorus. I hear the resolution on the first chord of the intro/verse ("gravity!") Notice how tense it gets during the chorus. It's fairly grounded during the verse, but gets shakier in the chorus, you just want it to resolve. If you know the chords to the song, it'll probably be telling of why it sounds the way it does. But, yeah, I think whatever that first chord is, that's the key of the song.


Would it be too much to ask for more examples? Ok, take this song which is one of my all time favorite songs to personally play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugBuiMQazrE Would the resolution be right after the chorus ends? He building it up pretty nice going up chromatically to the first chord of the song.
#14
Quote by soviet_ska
C major comes from the parallel minor (A minor). Borrowing from the parallel minor (or major in minor keys) is very common. Notice that the C#m and C both have the note 'E' in them, which is also in A. Chromatic chords sound better when there is some common ground, rather than just a bunch of out-of-key notes. Try D# in the key of A, for example.

On the other hand, are you sure the key isn't D? Assuming these are the only three chords in one particular section (unfamiliar with the song), both C -> D and A -> D provide a more convincing cadence than D -> A (or C -> A, for that matter.) Just some food for thought.

Don't you mean relative?
#15
Quote by liampje
Don't you mean relative?


No, I was referring to using a C major chord in the key of A major. Normally, in A, the C#m chord is used, but the C was borrowed from A major's parallel minor, which of course, is A minor.

Flex: I'll take a look this evening after work (when I can actually see videos), but I'll just offer you a quick exercise. Listen to some of your songs--the simpler the better--and try to pick out where the chord of resolution is in each song. Then, look up the tab and see if the progression fits functionally--within your realm of understanding, of course. Remember that the song may not always resolve in every section: the "Gravity" song we looked at didn't appear to resolve during the chorus, until it returned to the verse/main part.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
Last edited by soviet_ska at Jun 17, 2011,
#16
Quote by FlexEXP
Ok, take this song which is one of my all time favorite songs to personally play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugBuiMQazrE Would the resolution be right after the chorus ends? He building it up pretty nice going up chromatically to the first chord of the song.


Yeah, definitely sounds like that first chord of the main section. There's a lot of different sounds going on there. I felt like it resolved at the beginning of the chorus, too. Is that the same chord?
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#17
Quote by soviet_ska
Yeah, definitely sounds like that first chord of the main section. There's a lot of different sounds going on there. I felt like it resolved at the beginning of the chorus, too. Is that the same chord?


The chorus kicks off with an Em, the beginning of the main section is a D5.

PS: I sent you a PM.