#1
Okay, so i started to learn how to play Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World. I'm also going through JoshUrban's "The Crusade" series of columns. I just finished up 8: Key Signatures and The Circle of Fifths. All of these lessons are very good, and i've understood all of them up to this point. Here comes where i hit a wall:

The Man Who Sold The World is played by tuning everything down half a step. According to the key signature we're in the key of F (one flat in the key signature). I get to measure 15 in the tab, and I see this chord:

|-1-|
|-1-|
|-2-|
|-3-|
|-3-|
|-1-|

"Oh, an F major chord!" I say to myself, "We're back to the I chord of the F major scale! Yay, I'm learning!". Then i realize that i'm dropped half a step on all my strings and the notes that i'm actually playing are:

|-E-|
|-B-|
|-G#-|
|-E-|
|-B-|
|-E-|

which looks suspiciously like an E major chord. But E major doesn't fit into the F key at all! then i realized that all the chords in this song were off by half a step relative to the key of F.

SO, can someone please explain to me how we're allowed to get away with this and still have the chords sound good together? Also, wouldn't that chord i have above be an E major chord, not an F major chord?
#2
This probably isn't right, but I think its cause the chord is in unison with itself.
For example if your guitar is in eadgbe, it can still be in tune with itself.
#4
its nirvana, people dont always understand the lyrics.
people dont always understand the guitar.

just go with it
the game
#5
The key signature represents what is written, which is in F. It does not account for the downtuning.

So, you are playing in F, but then tuning down a half step, so the song sounds like it's in E.
#6
It would be an E Major. Are you sure you're supposed to be tuned down half a step? And if you are, are you sure the key signature is F? I haven't heard or played the song in a while, and don't feel like looking up a tab, so I can't say for sure, but it sounds like you just have one of those two mixed up.
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#7
Quote by bangoodcharlote
The key signature represents what is written, which is in F. It does not account for the downtuning.

So, you are playing in F, but then tuning down a half step, so the song sounds like it's in E.

so, this song's actually in the key of E?
#8
Quote by bangoodcharlote
The key signature represents what is written, which is in F. It does not account for the downtuning.

So, you are playing in F, but then tuning down a half step, so the song sounds like it's in E.


Key signatures have no correlation with the frets. It's just the notes being played. So if it stays within the E Major scale, it won't be notated as F Major tuned down half a step, it would be written as E Major.
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#9
Quote by Calgone
It would be an E Major. Are you sure you're supposed to be tuned down half a step? And if you are, are you sure the key signature is F? I haven't heard or played the song in a while, and don't feel like looking up a tab, so I can't say for sure, but it sounds like you just have one of those two mixed up.

i have a tablature book for this song-it explicitly says to tune down half a step.
From what i read on the circle of fifths, one flat in the key signature = key of F. i was working the numbers (letters?) and it does seem to work out like this.
#10
Well remember this is a David Bowie song. I would say if it would make sense in the key of Fmin natural and not harmonic so you would have an EMaj as a major VII
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#11
hm, hold on. lemme grab a piece of paper and do some math here. i think that i'm beginning to understand what's going on here.
#12
Quote by Calgone
Key signatures have no correlation with the frets. It's just the notes being played. So if it stays within the E Major scale, it won't be notated as F Major tuned down half a step, it would be written as E Major.
If you write something in TAB, the standard notation above should correspond with the note when fretted in standard tuning (this only applies when you tune each string down equally, not something like open E). So, it would be acceptable to write something with a key signature of F, even if it sounds like E due to the downtuning.
#13
the math isn't working for me here. i'm beginning to understand how things will work with the dropped tuning, but now i'm getting confused on something entirely different! aaarrrgh! someone please correct me if i mess up here.

let's ignore the drop tuning for a sec. the chord progression in this song goes:
A | Dm | A | F | C | A | Dm

If indeed we are in the key of F, the chords that can be constructed from the key of F are:
F | Gm | Am | Bb | C | Dm | Edim
I | II | III| IV | V | VI | VII

what's confusing me is where these three A chords are coming from. they should be Am. if they were Am, the chord progression in the key of F would go:

Am | Dm | Am | F | C | Am | Dm
III| VI | III| I | V | III| VI

did the writer of this song neglect to make his III chord minor, or am i doing something wrong?
Last edited by hisjap2003 at Mar 22, 2008,
#14
He played A rather than Am because he prefered the sound. It doesn't fit into the F major scale, but most songs deviate from the primary scale at least a little bit.
#15
Quote by bangoodcharlote
He played A rather than Am because he prefered the sound. It doesn't fit into the F major scale, but most songs deviate from the primary scale at least a little bit.

haha, oh no. are you serious? everything would make lots more sense if this was the case.
#16
I'm completely serious. In real music, songs rarely fit into one scale. Chromatic tones, notes that do not fit in the key, are used because they sound good.


FYI, drop tunings are when you drop down 1-5 strings. Drop-D is an example of this. Tuning down 1/2 step is called downtuning.
#17
Quote by bangoodcharlote
I'm completely serious. In real music, songs rarely fit into one scale. Chromatic tones, notes that do not fit in the key, are used because they sound good.


FYI, drop tunings are when you drop down 1-5 strings. Drop-D is an example of this. Tuning down 1/2 step is called downtuning.

well, it's good to know that i wasn't going crazy trying to figure out where "out-of-key" chord was coming from. thanks for the help guys! i think i know what's going on in this song now.
#18
wait wouldn't this song make sense in Dmin? of course not considering the drop tuning.
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#19
OK. You need to understand transposing instruments.

A transposing instrument is an instrument, which when it plays its "C", the note sounded is not C in concert pitch. Concert pitch is when a note is relative to A440. Transposing instruments are made this way to ease notation.

When the guitar is down-tuned (or up-tuned / capoed), it becomes a transposing instrument. In the case of being tuned down a step, it becomes a "B" instrument. This means that when it plays its "C", it will sound the concert pitch B (as in the pitch B on a piano). Likewise, tuning down any more steps will make it a transposing instrument that number of semitones down (D standard = Bb transposing instrument; C# standard = A transposing instrument etc...).

When playing a transposing instrument, you must think like you are playing in concert pitch. The other musicians (if playing concert pitch or different transpositions) will use different key signatures, while still playing at the same concert pitch. If there are no other instruments (or only one's that transpose the same) think of it as if you are NOT transposing, as then it really does not matter, and it is much easier to think of the notes on the fretboard the same as they would be in standard notation.