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How do find the key of a song

Music Theory
joshuag94  
3 Nov 2007 22:12 | Quote
United States
Posts: 4
im starting to play songs for church. im only gonna use just chords wen i play. so i want to kno how do i kno wat key a song is in. i kno that if a song is in a certain key, it uses certain chords. so wat would tell u wat key a song is in? by the way, i'd prefer if it didnt have to, but if it does please tell me that way by explaining everything. EVERYTHING. thx
michaelferris  
4 Nov 2007 07:53 | Quote
Italy
Posts: 8
A basic major scale for example in the Key of C consists of the notes C D E F G A B C. If you look at the intervals between the notes(the number of frets) it is as follows:
C to D = 2 frets (a whole tone)
D - E = 2 frets (a whole tone)
E - F = 1 Fret ( a half tone)*
F- G = two frets (a whole tone)
G- A = two frets (a whole tone)
A - B = two frets (a whole tone
B - C = 1 fret (a half tone)*
Every key in a major key uses the same intervals, so if you start on G you have G A B C D E F-sharp G
2 2 1* 2 2 2 1* ---indicating the frets between the two notes written above each number. You will notice, in this scale you have 1 sharp in order to keep the same interval structure. The same theory works at every note. So if you are in the key of D, you start on D and with those intervals, you will arrive at having 2 sharps in the ending scale.
When you form these notes into chords, which general consist of a combination of 3 notes of these scales, all written in the same key, that is how you determine the key of the song. It is quite a big topic to discuss with one post. But, I can suggest the book, Progressive Rhythm Guitar. You can find it at any music store. It discusses this quite well and is not too expensive. Good luck!
joshuag94  
4 Nov 2007 18:31 | Quote
United States
Posts: 4
this only partially answers my question.how would i kno which song needs which scales?
Guitarslinger124  
4 Nov 2007 22:17 | Quote
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chords are built from scales...so as far as needing scales...every song needs and uses scales whether you know it or not...as far as using the scales...if you are just playing chords then you dont have to worry about that...if you are going to solo or use scales (other than choosing your chords), you need to first figure out what key your song is in...you can do that several ways...i usually do it either by finding key that uses that ssame notes which make up the chords im playing...or by figuring out which chord is 'home base' for my song...after you know what key youre in, you just gotta know w few scales and youll be shreddin' in no time...
joshuag94  
6 Nov 2007 19:18 | Quote
United States
Posts: 4
I kinda understand what ur sayin. i know how like all songs needs scales and use scales. well maybe not NEED scales, but do u mean that i can find the scale by listening to the first chord that goes to the song?
Guitarslinger124  
6 Nov 2007 21:16 | Quote
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that sometimes works..try to find the chord that is the root of the song or that the song resonates off of...in most rock or basic rock songs, that is usually the first chord played in full. for example if you slide up from chord 1 to chord 2 and you focus on chord 2 then chord 2 is more likely to be your key:


E:x-x---x--
B:x-x---x--
G:4/5---5--
D:6/7---7--
A:6/7---7--
E:4/5-5-5--

that progression is G#m to Am. you are starting with G#m but you are really focusing on the Am chord.
JustJeff  
7 Nov 2007 10:28 | Quote
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Most rock progressions are 3-4 chords that work in some progression focusing on a primary chord. For the most part, the first chord that is played is your primary chord.

For example, if you take the song "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, the power chords are

F5, Bb5, G5, C5
(The G is minor, but in power chord form, you are only playing the 1-3 and not the 5.... and the 5th determines if it's minor or major)

This song is in the key of F, as it starts on an F power chord. And what do you know, the progression is a basic 1 4 5, with a 2(G5) that prolongs it a little longer. See, the 5th degree of a key (In this case, the C) will create tension that will want to resolve to the tonic of the key (Which is F in this case).

So, you can analyze songs this way if you want. Then, what you can do is play around with the notes that are in an F major scale (F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E) and play them over that progression and it should sond pretty good.
Guitarslinger124  
7 Nov 2007 11:07 | Quote
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JustJeff says:
(The G is minor, but in power chord form, you are only playing the 1-3 and not the 5.... and the 5th determines if it's minor or major)


the fifth does NOT determine major or minor...it is the third which determines major or minor...and if you are playing a G5 chord then there is no third being played...just the root and the fifth (and possibly the octave). for example:

G5 chord


E:-x-
B:-x-
G:-x-
D:-x-
A:-5-(fifth [D])
E:-3-(root [G])

G major (barred):
E:-3-(root [G])
B:-3-(5th [D])
G:-4-(maj3rd [B])
D:-5-(octave [G])
A:-5-(5th [D])
E:-3-(root [G])

G minor (barred):
E:-3-(root [G])
B:-3-(5th [D])
G:-3-(minor3rd [A#])
D:-5-(octave [G])
A:-5-(5th [D])
E:-3-(root [G])
blackholesun  
7 Nov 2007 14:24 | Quote
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and also, the chords in Teen Spirit are F5, Bb5, G#5 and C#5.
bodom  
7 Nov 2007 16:38 | Quote
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Canada
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@joshuag94 Why are you trying to find out the Key of the song? Do you want to play scales over it or do you just want to know what chords go with what Key? If you are just playing chords then you really dont need to know about the scales. See my lesson called KEYS then check out CHORDS.
joshuag94  
7 Nov 2007 17:18 | Quote
United States
Posts: 4
bodom says:
@joshuag94 Why are you trying to find out the Key of the song? Do you want to play scales over it or do you just want to know what chords go with what Key? If you are just playing chords then you really dont need to know about the scales. See my lesson called KEYS then check out CHORDS.


Well i have a friend who told me that to kno the chords to a song, i gotta know wat key the song is in. and i kno how only certain chords go in a certain key. i saw ur chart thingy. it was very useful.

ps. keep the tips comin guys, i need the help
JustJeff  
7 Nov 2007 17:29 | Quote
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United States
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blackholesun says:
the fifth does NOT determine major or minor...it is the third which determines major or minor...and if you are playing a G5 chord then there is no third being played...just the root and the fifth (and possibly the octave). for example:

and also, the chords in Teen Spirit are F5, Bb5, G#5 and C#5.


My bad. That's what happens when you post in the middle of a CpE class and try to talk about a song you hate and have never played ^.^

In the case of F, Bb5, G#5, and C#5, I'm pretty sure it's in C# (probably a mode of C#... Aeolian or Mixolydian since those are used the most)

Yeah, maybe I should actually check my information instead of blindly rushing. Thank you for correcting me.
Guitarslinger124  
7 Nov 2007 20:58 | Quote
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JustJeff says:
blackholesun says:
the fifth does NOT determine major or minor...it is the third which determines major or minor...and if you are playing a G5 chord then there is no third being played...just the root and the fifth (and possibly the octave). for example:

and also, the chords in Teen Spirit are F5, Bb5, G#5 and C#5.


hehe that was me....and you're welcome...

@joshuag94- you dont really have to know what key a song is in to know the chords...but it does help a bit...
reckzilla  
30 Nov 2010 16:23 | Quote
Joined: 30 Nov 2010
United States
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Yeah, I have a very similar question say the chords are B G#m7 F#m7 E I believe thats correct bu how ould that work or maybe F C G as the main parts with an added Am for chorus, I'm just curious if the notes that make up the scalehave any relevence to the notes that make up the chords?


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