#1
hey,

someone asked in a comment on my tab what key this song is played in. i have a very basic understanding of how to determine that but here i'm completely lost. can someone please tell me the key(s) and how i could find out for myself? even jguitar's chord2scale harmonizer didn't get me very far ..

here's the song if you wanna listen to it:

thanks!
#2
You can find the key by finding the "home chord" (tonic). Just listen to the song and figure out which of the chords sounds like home. That is your key. When you play a progression and don't end it with the tonic, it will not sound complete, it sounds like it still wants to go somewhere. But ending with the tonic will make the progression sound complete.

For example try playing A-D-E7. The E7 doesn't really sound like a good chord to end the progression with. The progression doesn't sound complete. Now play A major and you are back home. That is your key.


The song uses some chord borrowing/secondary dominants, so not all of the chords fit the key. But you can still pretty clearly hear which of the chords is the tonic.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#3
good advice, thanks! i prefer going by sound / feeling anyway ^.^

A-major was my best guess but since quite a lot of chords don't fit (Dm, A7, B, C#) i wasn't sure anymore if one still can say it's written in A-major or if it's some exotic key maybe. had a quick look at the concept of secondary dominants and it's starting to make sense. cool stuff.

but let's test if i understood correctly. that would mean:
A7 = V/IV (dominant seventh)
B = V/V
C# = V/vi
(?)

... what about D minor then? how does that fit in?
also, secondary dominants are always major (or seventh) chords, is that right?
#4
Quote by Czily
good advice, thanks! i prefer going by sound / feeling anyway ^.^

A-major was my best guess but since quite a lot of chords don't fit (Dm, A7, B, C#) i wasn't sure anymore if one still can say it's written in A-major or if it's some exotic key maybe. had a quick look at the concept of secondary dominants and it's starting to make sense. cool stuff.

but let's test if i understood correctly. that would mean:
A7 = V/IV (dominant seventh)
B = V/V
C# = V/vi
(?)

... what about D minor then? how does that fit in?
also, secondary dominants are always major (or seventh) chords, is that right?

Yes, A major is the key. And yes, you understood secondary dominants correctly.

Dm is a borrowed chord. It's pretty common to borrow chords from the parallel key (if the song is in A major, you would borrow from A minor and vice versa). So the Dm is borrowed from A minor. It's also about chromatic voice leading. Notice the chromatic melody that you get form the chord tones. Progression: A7-D-Dm-A, chromatic melody from chord tones: G-F#-F-E. It's quite a common progression.







Other common borrowed chords in the key of A major would be G major, F major, C major and E minor (bVII, bVI, bIII, v) - all borrowed from A minor.


And yeah, many songs use many chords outside the key but that doesn't necessarily mean that there are key changes. As long as A major is your tonic chord, you are in A major, and if A minor is your tonic chord, you are in A minor. You can use all of the 12 notes in any key - key is defined by the tonic.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Sep 4, 2016,
#5
thanks very much! i'll certainly play around with these concepts more to really get the hang of it.

/thread i guess
#6
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. Secondary dominants can also be diminished 7th chords (they are a bit less common in pop music, but pretty common in classical and jazz). For example a secondary dominant for D could be either A7 or C#dim7. You could see C#dim7 as a rootless A7b9 (with third in bass) - A7b9 = A C# E G Bb, C#dim7 = C# E G Bb.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#7
Main thing with dominant chords is that there are two types with the same dominant function: The V chord and the viio chord (and extensions of these). This is because the two have notes in common, of which the third in the dominant chords (B in C major) serves as leading tone back up to tonic and the minor 7 (F for G dominant 7) resolves in the opposite direction down to the tonic's third.
#8
i was aware of the dominant seventh chord usage (it pops up so much everywhere at some point even i had to look what it's about ) but the secondary dominants - especially played as dim7 - are an amazing new concept for me. that opens things up a lot.

seeing the possibilities now i will certainly put more emphasis on learning and using scales for chord construction. so glad i made this thread ^.^
thanks again!