#1
I have been playing a couple of months and still dont know what this is. What does it mean when a song is played in "the key of E" or a solo is in "e minor" or any of that?
epiphone les paul standard
peavey bandit 112
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trueguitarhero
-You don't seem to realize that heaven and hell are just delusions created to control the masses through fear and false promises.
#2
if it is in the key of E, it means that the scale of E major is used as a basis of the song. The chords used in the song are built from the E major scale (E F# G# A B C# D#):

E  G# B  -  E
F# A  C# -  F#m
G# B  D# -  G#m
A  C# E  -  A
B  D# F# -  B
C# E  G# -  C#m
D# F# A  -  D#dim

The chords are numbered with roman numerals, I ii iii IV V vi vii. The major chords are capitalised (I IV V), and the others in lower case. I IV V are the chords most used in popular music, so in E major that would be E, A and B. ii V and I are used a lot in jazz (F#m, B and E in E major).

If a solo is in E minor, it mainly uses the E minor scale: E F# G A B C D.

edit: have a look at www.musictheory.net
Last edited by blue_strat at Jun 15, 2007,
#3
thanks alot man, that helped. I was wondering though, i was looking at the intro to the cowboys from hell solo, im not sure if you are familiar with it or not, but DIME said it was in the key of e minor but i really dont see how that works.
epiphone les paul standard
peavey bandit 112
peavey rage 158
squier stagemaster fr

trueguitarhero
-You don't seem to realize that heaven and hell are just delusions created to control the masses through fear and false promises.
#4
94 views no other advice? sheesh
epiphone les paul standard
peavey bandit 112
peavey rage 158
squier stagemaster fr

trueguitarhero
-You don't seem to realize that heaven and hell are just delusions created to control the masses through fear and false promises.
#5
Use your ear, and while the song is going slowly play up the fretboard to find the note which sounds the same as the song, use that key for solos and such
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#7
if a solo is in Em scale you know you should play the Em scale:
E F# G A B C D E , in intervals: 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1

Gm for example would be:
G A A# C D D# F G

Major scales use the following intervals: 1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2

In this case Emaj would sound like this:
E F# G# A B C# D# E

or Gmaj:
G A B C D E F# G

Sometimes minor scale is referred to as Aeolian mode, so what does that mean?

Well take for example the C major scale: C D E F G A B C (1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2) In this case there are no sharps and flats.
If we now play the same C major scale but start with an A we get: A B C D E F G A

what do we see? the intervals are now: 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1, or the minor scale.

In other words, the A aeolian mode is C major scale starting on A

Other modes are:

Ionian mode or major scale: C D E F G A B C = 1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2
Dorian mode : D E F G A B C D = 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2 1 (D dorian = C major)
Phrygian mode : E F G A B C D E = 1/2 1 1 1 1/2 1 1 (E phrygian = C major)
Lydian mode : F G A B C D E F = 1 1 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 (F lydian = C major)
Myxolydian mode : G A B C D E F G = 1 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 (G myxolydian = C major)
Aeolian mode, see above
Locrian mode : B C D E F G A B = 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1 1 (B locrian = C major)

How can we tell in which harmony a tune is?
Use the roman notation as mentioned earlier...Imaj7 IIm7 IIIm7 IVmaj7 V7 VIm7 VIIdim

These chords exactly make up the major scale if song is in major (C major in this example)

Imaj7 = C E G B
IIm7 = D F A C
IIIm7 = E G B D
IVmaj7 = F A C E
V7 = G B D F
VIm7 = A C E G
VIIdim = B D F

you see? no flats and sharps at all. That's interesting...then you can play the C major scale over all these chords. This is where the modes come in again. C major played over IIm7 is called the D dorian mode. See above for all the others.

Remember the minor scale is 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1 1, applied to C gives:

C D D# F G G# A# C, the chords in minor scale would be as follows:

Im7 = C D# G A#
IIdim = D F G#
IIImaj7 = D# G A# D
IVm7 = F G# C D#
Vm7 = G A# D F
VImaj7 = G# C D# G
VII7 = A# D F G#

Keep in mind that you don't have to use the 7th's all the time, this is just to make it more jazzy and often used in jazz.

So in which key is a song with chords: C Am D G

D consists of: D F# A
C consists of: C E G
G consists of: G B D
Am consists of: A C E

put them together: A B C D E F# G A , intervals are: 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2 1
Hey! I recognise a dorian mode (2nd mode) starting on A, that means song has to be in Gmaj. Gmaj = G A B C D E F# G, that's correct!

But wait a sec....Em scale is also composed of these same notes (see first example)
Thats what we call a relative key. The same scale but different tonics. You can find the minor relative key by going down 3 steps from the tonic of the major key. Cmaj becomes then Am. In our example Gmaj becomes Em.

Then how do we know in which key it is? Well, there's no Em in our chord progression and it ends on G so you can tell it's probably in Gmaj instead of Em.
Also try to play with songs and find the note the melody keeps resolving to, this is then the rootnote.

Also look for leading tones or 'subtonics', those are notes a semitone below the tonic. If in the above example a melody would play D# a couple of times you know the tune is in Em instead of Gmaj cause D# is one semitone below the tonic and normally not in the Em or Gmajscale.


If you have the score of a song it's very easy to find out in which key it is.
You only have to memorize this:

C0 D2 E4 F-1 G1 A3 B5

with 0,2,4,1,3,5 standing for number of sharps
and-1 number of flats (1 flat)

only thing you have to do now is add (for sharps) or subtract (for flats) 7

Example:
Number of sharps or flats in a score:

1 sharp = G 1 flat = F

2 sharps = D 2 flats = 5-7 = Bb

3 sharps = A 3 flats = 4-7 = Eb

4 sharps = E 4 flats = 3-7 = Ab

5 sharps = B 5 flats = 2-7 = Db

6 sharps = -1+7 = F# 6 flats = 1-7 = Gb

7 sharps = 0+7 = C# 7 flats = 0-7 = Cb

0 sharps or flats is C ofcourse

Dont forget the above keys are in major, the relative minor keys have the same number of flats and sharps.
Last edited by deHufter at Jun 17, 2007,