#1
Hello everyone on the forums and thankyou so much for helping me out with this in advance! i've been working to understand how to figure out what key the chord progressions i've been writing are in. It seems like certain chord progressions such as Emaj, Gmaj, Dmaj, and Amaj sound good when played on guitar but there are no keys that fit 4 major scales in. I already figured out that i could change the Emaj to emin and it would fit into both the keys Gmaj and Dmaj, so would the melody that i chose determine which key it was in? and if i wanted to leave the E as a major chord could i just assume that it was in either G or D and play it incorrectly (according to the harmonized major scale it wouldn't fit anywhere.)

In another example i play D maj, E min, C Maj, G maj and this song is in the key of G that's what key i've always solo'd over it in, does it matter that i'm starting on the V chord? sometimes i play this progression starting on the E minor, would that change the key of the song?

thank you for helping!!
#2
just switch keys of the scale on the change.
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#3
You shouldn't worry to much about which key you're in. If you take your example of E, G, D and A: These are also chords that you see in blues a lot, but in blues this would be in the E minor scale, with doesn't actually fit in music theory but that doesn't matter because it still sounds good

In you're example of D, Em, C and G you can still choose the key of the song. Usually, the key of the song is based on which note the song ends on and not on which note the song starts on, so you can always start at te V chord or on Em. But like I said: As long as it sounds good, it's good.
#4
Quote by goldstrat1212


In another example i play D maj, E min, C Maj, G maj and this song is in the key of G that's what key i've always solo'd over it in, does it matter that i'm starting on the V chord? sometimes i play this progression starting on the E minor, would that change the key of the song?


it's a V, VI, IV, I progression in G Major I'd say, not uncommon at all really.

If you started the progression on the Em chord it wouldn't change anything, because the G major would still sound like a tonic.
It doesn't matter where a progression starts, the only thing that matters is where it ends, where it resolves its tension.
You're progression is doesn't have a strong pull to G major though, because you just have a IV infront of the tonic.

You could another D maj chord (so it's D-Em-C-D-G), that would make the tonality stronger.


If you want to make the progression to resolve to E minor you could go like Em-C-G-Bm because then you'd have added the dominant chord of E minor.

Just try it out, if you play a G Major chord after the progression it doesn't sound like an end, while a Em chord does, that way you can figure out what tonality you are in.
Just ask yourself "could the song end here" and if it could you know the last chord you played it the I chord.
#6
Quote by goldstrat1212
Hello everyone on the forums and thankyou so much for helping me out with this in advance! i've been working to understand how to figure out what key the chord progressions i've been writing are in. It seems like certain chord progressions such as Emaj, Gmaj, Dmaj, and Amaj sound good when played on guitar but there are no keys that fit 4 major scales in.


Sometimes a little bit of a theory is a dangerous thing. This could work easily in E major (where G is borrowed from the parallel minor).

When soloing, E major or E minor pentatonic will work well. If you pick E major you'll nee to be a little careful with notes over the G major chord (eg, the G# may clash) but there's absolutely no need to modulate here.

Instead, you need to understand what you're playing. eg, you don't just noodle away in a key because that's your key. You use your ears and your understanding of theory to guide you.

In another example i play D maj, E min, C Maj, G maj and this song is in the key of G that's what key i've always solo'd over it in, does it matter that i'm starting on the V chord?


Doesn't matter at all that you're starting on the V. That's pretty common, in fact.
#8
The chord where it starts isn't important, it is where it resolves that will determine the key

And did this Emaj, Gmaj, Dmaj and Amaj progression come from the chorus of Pearl Jam's Alive? lol
#9
To know what Key you are in you need to know where the song/progression resolves to. Everything is only there to support the Key...NOT the scale.

While a Key points to a scale, it more importantly points to a tonic.

The notes in the scale are to keep the chart clean, the notes in the song are to maximize and strengthen the tonic.

So whether things are diatonically correct or not does not mean they aren't in Key.

Most songs use borrowed chords from both the Major and Minor Keys from the tonic. The Tonic is the Key you are in.

Example:

Emaj, Gmaj, Dmaj, and Amaj if this resolves on E, then it's "in E"...

E is the I/tonic chord (from E Major), G is the bIII chord (from E Minor), D is the bVII chord (from E Minor) and A is the IV chord (from E Major).

See, ALL of that progression is "in E", comprised of chords from E Major and E Minor.


Take D maj, E min, C Maj, G maj, if this resolves to D, then it's "in D"...

D is the I/tonic chord (from D Major), Em is the IIm chord (from D Major), C is the bVII chord (from D Minor), and G is the VI chord (from D Major).

See, ALL of that progression is "in D", comprised of chords from D Major and D Minor.

Once you understand this, as a player/improviser, you can narrow down almost any tune to a Major and Minor (or vice versa) change in the notes you use to solo. Some of the most complicated tunes are nothing but Maj and Min moves from the tonic...THAT is how music works.

Yes, there are times when you'll get a chord that isn't in either Major or Minor from the tonic, but it can usually be related back to a substitution, or even a Dominant "Key" if you will...

IOW, you can find tunes using all kind of scales and stuff but the one thing that's common across pretty much every tune is...it has a tonic.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Jan 26, 2012,
#10
thank you mikedodge and 5050 you guys completely answered my question and helped me realize a huge block in my playing.