#1
I am working through an original song and came up with this.

It is a mix of power chords and open chord. It is simple but working through it.

Verses are:

E5 G5 for each line (not counting some sort of "turnaround")

Chorus is:

E Am C G

E = I Am = IV C = VI G = iii. So I IV VI iii ????

I am not sure if fifths (power chords) relate to a progression?

I am trying to grasp some music theory and am curious if I am close or just a long ways away? Thanks.
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#2
Hey, so based on the chords you're using, the song is actually in G, not E. Using G as the root, the progression would be III, ii, IV, I. Although in standard diatonic music iii is minor, using a major III is very common. Try a progression of iv, III, IV, I vs iv, iii, IV, I to hear the difference. Power chords are useful and malleable because they're not major or minor (missing the 3).

You can tell it's not in E because neither Am, C, or G are in the key of E.
#3
III ii IV I
E Am C G

I am not sure how I understand how E is III? Maybe I have a misunderstanding of progressions. I can see Am being ii and C being IV.
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#4
Maybe he modulates to Am in the chorus? Then the E major would be the dominant V of Am, borrowing that G# on the chord from the harmonic minor. I'm probably overthinking this


Edit: What the f*ck I'm talking about... Em is not the III, it's the VI
Last edited by Lersch at Feb 17, 2014,
#5
In the key of G, E is not the III chord. It's the VI chord. Normally it'd be E minor.

It could be a VI - ii - IV - I progression.
Last edited by macashmack at Feb 17, 2014,
#6
OK. I thought that was weird.

I was just messing around and the progression sounds good to my untrained ear but I it is not a common chord progression.

Thanks everyone. You all know more than me and I think I have a little handle on progressions but need to learn how to identify the key of a progression.
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#7
The II - V - I is a very common progression, the only thing that's strange is that instead of Em you play E major. You probably did this unintentionally since, as I said, that E can also be the dominant V of Am and it just "calls" for it to resolve in the Am.
#8
i wouldn't consider it a VI - that's denying its function. it's better analyzed as a V/ii. it isn't really a modulation, though, the A minor harmony is just being tonicized.

it sounds pretty solid G major to me, too.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#9
Quote by Killsocket
OK. I thought that was weird.

I was just messing around and the progression sounds good to my untrained ear but I it is not a common chord progression.

Thanks everyone. You all know more than me and I think I have a little handle on progressions but need to learn how to identify the key of a progression.


There's actually nothing uncommon about it at all.

It's just not "diatonic." Lots of chord progressions are non-diatonic. This is actually non-diatonic in a really obvious way.

I'm away from my guitar right now, so I can't play it, but I strongly disagree that this must necessarily be in G, not E, and I strenuously object to the claim that the E major chord must be some sort of error.

In major keys, the iv, bIII, and bVI are all VERY common - that's your Am, G, and C in this progression.

Of course, this could also be in Am pretty easily - with a clear V-I cadence. (Again, I can't play it right now and there are probably pretty easy ways to make it feel like any of these chords is the tonic).

It all has to flow from your ear. What sounds resolved?
#10
Quote by Killsocket
I am not sure if fifths (power chords) relate to a progression

When you play a power chord, it will usually be heard as a major or minor chord (the most obvious one of the two, in context).

Quote by Killsocket
Verses are:

E5 G5 for each line (not counting some sort of "turnaround")

Looks like a simple diatonic i - III in E minor, (the actual chords being Em - G) or a vi - I in G major. Doesn't really matter that much since they're relative keys.

It could also be E - G (this will probably be the case if the melody you're playing/singing over it has a G#) and it's a I - bIII in E major. As you can see, this is not diatonic. The G chord is the bIII because it's built on the flattened third degree of E major (G# is the 3 so G is the b3).

This would be something called modal interchange, which is when you borrow a chord from a parallel key. In this case, you'd be using the G chord found in E minor in a progression in E major.

Quote by Killsocket
Chorus is:

E Am C G

E = I Am = IV C = VI G = iii. So I IV VI iii ????

Several possibilities as well.

Possibility #1: You've modulated (changed keys) to A minor and you've got a straightforward V - i - III - VII.

Possibility #2: You're in G major and the E is acting as something called a secondary dominant. This progression would be V/ii - ii - IV - I.

Possibility #3: You're in E major and the other chords are modal interchange (see above); this would be I - iv - bVI - bIII.

There's probably stuff I've just said that you might not understand at your level. That's ok, it takes time and practice to know these concepts well. You'll often find stuff that you can't seem to find an explanation for, and that's perfectly fine. As you can see, even we disagree on what it might be (and just be glad that smc818 is banned).
#11
Quote by HotspurJr

It all has to flow from your ear. What sounds resolved?


Ironically, when I go through E Am C G my ear is telling me to go back to E once more. That sounds resolved to me. G is just almost like a bridge to get back to E while still sounding great.
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#12
Quote by Killsocket
Ironically, when I go through E Am C G my ear is telling me to go back to E once more. That sounds resolved to me. G is just almost like a bridge to get back to E while still sounding great.

HotspurJr was right then. As well as my possibility #3.
#13
Quote by Killsocket
Ironically, when I go through E Am C G my ear is telling me to go back to E once more. That sounds resolved to me. G is just almost like a bridge to get back to E while still sounding great.


I'm not going to say it's definitely not in the key of E, but I'm going to say it's far more likely to be in the key of A minor.

Firstly there's the V - i cadence, the strongest cadence there is in music.

Secondly it sounds great if it ends on E. Quite often a song can sound fine if it ends on the V even if it isn't the resolution. I'd say that is what's happening here.

As for the E5 G5 that makes up the verses, 5th chords will always have an implied 3rd. The 3rd is generally derived from other instruments that are playing. For example if there is a melody that goes over the chords that use the E minor scale, it's likely that the E5 G5 are simply voicings of E minor and G major.

However, if there is absolutely nothing else with the chords, I'll suggest that the first verse (if there has been no chorus yet) will probably be heard as an Em - G progression as that is diatonic and the listener is more likely to assume that's what's happening. However after the chorus (again assuming that there's no other instruments) you've established that the E is in fact an E major chord, so that E5 will function as an E major chord.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#14
After playing it on my piano it clearly sounds to be in A minor. V-i-III-VII. At least to my ears. Pretty much standard minor progression with a V chord from the harmonic minor to get the strong pull of the leading tone.
#15
Quote by AlanHB
I'm not going to say it's definitely not in the key of E, but I'm going to say it's far more likely to be in the key of A minor.

Firstly there's the V - i cadence, the strongest cadence there is in music.

Secondly it sounds great if it ends on E. Quite often a song can sound fine if it ends on the V even if it isn't the resolution. I'd say that is what's happening here.
True.

In addition Am > E major is also a Phrygian movement, pretty much the same as F > E would be.

I think "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", has a vaguely similar modified take on the Andalusian Cadence, which also confuses the E with the "I". (Or the A harmonic minor, scale, it sort of depends if you read from right to left, or left to right). You can sort of stop at either end. Heart's, "Crazy on You", might be another example.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Feb 18, 2014,
#16
It depends on the melody at this point, since in the verse he's only playing power chords, that E5 can be either an Em or E major and the G5 can be Gm or G major (much more likely it's major). If it's major then it would explain that TS feels it resolves on the E rather than in the Am.
#17
Wow. Thanks to everyone! I honestly didn't know that this could be so confusing. While I am still new to this sort of thinking, I had no idea there could be such a discussion on this. I just sort of thought someone would say "key of X" and move on.

I have learned so much from this! It is really nice to have information on a specific question and then so much more! Really do appreciate it guys! I still have to figure out and expand my knowledge base on how to identify keys of songs/progressions, but this helps alot.

Real quick question: If I play something from a scale for this, if it is Am key, would it be in the key of A for minor (blues) pentatonic scale? (I might not be asking this right).
Epi G400 '66 Reissue
w/ Airline Vintage Voiced Single Coil Pickups
#18
Quote by Killsocket
Wow. Thanks to everyone! I honestly didn't know that this could be so confusing. While I am still new to this sort of thinking, I had no idea there could be such a discussion on this. I just sort of thought someone would say "key of X" and move on.

I have learned so much from this! It is really nice to have information on a specific question and then so much more! Really do appreciate it guys! I still have to figure out and expand my knowledge base on how to identify keys of songs/progressions, but this helps alot.

Real quick question: If I play something from a scale for this, if it is Am key, would it be in the key of A for minor (blues) pentatonic scale? (I might not be asking this right).

Over the E chord don't hit the G as the third in E is G# (the leading tone of A) so over the E chord bump the G of the A minor scale up to a G# (This isn't a rule you can play the G natural over it if you want or whatever).
#19
Quote by Killsocket
Real quick question: If I play something from a scale for this, if it is Am key, would it be in the key of A for minor (blues) pentatonic scale? (I might not be asking this right).


If you play a melody over a song in the key of A minor, you will always be playing some form of the A minor scale. The A minor penatonic scale has the same notes as A minor. The blues scale has the same notes as A minor with a b5 accidental.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#20
Quote by Killsocket
III ii IV I
E Am C G

I am not sure how I understand how E is III? Maybe I have a misunderstanding of progressions. I can see Am being ii and C being IV.

Because, in a normal major progression, it goes:
I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii* (last chord is diminished).

But it's fairly common to use a non-diatonic chord (a chord that isn't any of the standard chords I listed above), such as III. So, because our key is G major, the Emajor chord is a III (which, would be non-diatonic). Substituting chords that are normally minor for either suspended chords (which have no 3rd), power chords (which also have no 3rd), or for major chords are all fairly common practices. Likewise, people often substitute a chord that would normally be major for a minor chord. Make sense?

Edit:
I'm in class, so I'm not going to really sit down and figure out the key. But my example should work in any key. Just adjust things for the correct key.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Feb 18, 2014,
#21
Quote by macashmack
Over the E chord don't hit the G as the third in E is G# (the leading tone of A) so over the E chord bump the G of the A minor scale up to a G# (This isn't a rule you can play the G natural over it if you want or whatever).
So, here is where you have to specify, "to maintain the melodic / scale integrity within the E major chord.

We both know that blues is sort of a bunch of nasty dissonance that uses a major and minor 3rd, (G & G#), plus a b7, (D), to give it that heart sick, soul weary, vibe of hopelessness....
Last edited by Captaincranky at Feb 18, 2014,