#1
Okay quick question:

Since relative majors/minors have the same notes as each other, if I'm trying to find the key of a song, how do I tell whether its major or minor? For example, how would i tell the difference between C major and A minor?

Also if I'm soloing in one of these keys, how do i make sure I don't go into it's relative?
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#2
For example, how would i tell the difference between C major and A minor?


You look at the tonic chord.

Also if I'm soloing in one of these keys, how do i make sure I don't go into it's relative?


You won't, because you can't. The key is determined by the underlying harmony.
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#3
So its more about the way I use the notes rather than which ones I'm using as far as determining whether its major or minor?
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#4
basically, you tell whether its minor or major by its tone. does it revolve more around the 6th of the major key or the 3rd of the minor key? eitehr way you cant be wrong technically since they have the same notes.

as for soloing, you cant. once again, they have the same notes and it all depends on how you voice your solo.
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#5
Quote by JWD32792
So its more about the way I use the notes rather than which ones I'm using as far as determining whether its major or minor?

exactly.
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#6
since the major and relative minor are the same you cant change between them
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#7
Hmm, well knowing that helps a lot, thanks guys!
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#8
To add (because i'm a bastard that has to chime in on everything):

If a song is in C major, it will want to resolve to a C major chord. If a song is in A minor, it will want to resolve there.
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#9
If you are looking at a music sheet, the safest way would be looking if there are accidentals, since accidentals are present most of the time. IF you find in Cmaj a G#, it would be Aminor instead, but if you find a F# it would be mostly major, etc...
Well, apart from looking at chord progressions or cadences, but at times that won't tell you much...
#10
Assume there are no key changes:

If the song sounds finished (resolved) when you play a C major chord, it is C major.
If the song sounds finished (resolved) when you play an A minor chord, it is A minor.

With those two points in mind, you can play chromatic tones while not leaving the general tonality of a major or minor key.
#11
Quote by gonzaw
If you are looking at a music sheet, the safest way would be looking if there are accidentals, since accidentals are present most of the time. IF you find in Cmaj a G#, it would be Aminor instead, but if you find a F# it would be mostly major, etc...
Well, apart from looking at chord progressions or cadences, but at times that won't tell you much...


Not sure I follow you here.

C major and A minor have the same exact notes. There's no G# in A minor.

If I write something in A minor, I'm going to use the same key signature as C major. So they can't be distinguished that way.

Grep.
#12
Quote by Grep
Not sure I follow you here.

C major and A minor have the same exact notes. There's no G# in A minor.
There is no G# in the A natural minor scale, but it is such a common chromatic tone that the chords in the A minor scale are often considered Am Bdim C Dm E7 F G.
#13
Ah, ok, I get the point then, carry on

Grep.

EDIT: Harmonic minor, of course.
Last edited by Grep at Oct 9, 2008,
#14
I take it that the F# would be implying Lydian?
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#15
Quote by Grep
EDIT: Harmonic minor, of course.
You're borrowing from the harmonic minor to get the V7 chord that resolves better to the i than the v7 chord, not using the whole scale.

Quote by Page&HammettFan
I take it that the F# would be implying Lydian?
Implying, yes. It does not mean that a couple of F#s makes the song C Lydian.
#16
^
What would a typical Lydian-type progression be? Something like Cmaj7 - Bm7 - Am7?
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#17
Quote by bangoodcharlote
You're borrowing from the harmonic minor to get the V7 chord that resolves better to the i than the v7 chord, not using the whole scale.

Yep, that's what I meant. i.e. The semi-tone between the G# and the A making the chord want to resolve to the i.

Thanks for the clarifications, folks

Grep.
#18
for reference, in a minor key, the harmonic minor scale is used to build harmony (makes sense, eh?), leaving the chords as

i iidim III iv V VI viidim

The III is normally played major, not augmented (If its fifth isn't functioning as a leading tone it shouldn't be raised) but it is infrequently used in the minor key anyway.

Melodically, you normally use the melodic minor, although the natural minor can carry an older, more modal sound, and is often necessary to avoid sounding to chromatic (If you have lots of up and down around the tonic it can sound out of place to constantly switch your leading tone's pitch)

You can tell a minor key by the presence of minor harmony. It should be noted though that in lots of popular music this harmony (the raised leading tone) isn't always used ... so use your ears. Does it sound minor or major?