Originally Posted by Red_Label
Regarding major/minor tonality... major keys/modes generally sound "happy", "joyous", or "elated"... while minor keys/modes generally sound "sad", "melancholy" or "ticked-off". Working Man definitely fits into the latter category.
While this is certainly true, I don't think we can use this as a way of determining key with accuracy. We need cold, hard facts.
Quickly listening to the song I hear in the main riff:
- Obviously something in E.
So we look at the next notes: we have D - A - C and D again.
Let's match all those notes against the root major (E major).
- D is flat 7 - this puts us in either E7 or E minor territory.
- A is natural 4 - no help there
- C is flat 6 - that rules out Major and 7th - which gives me enough info to deduce that we are in E minor.
So, here's what we learned. Figure out what notes are being used in a riff. Match them up against the major tonic. Find out what is different from the major (if anything) and see what's left.
As another example let's take Tom Sawyer. When we play the lick we can be pretty sure we're in some sort of E. We have an F#, G, A, B, C and a D in the riff.
F# = natural 2nd - no help
G = flat 3rd - bingo!
A = natural 4th - no help
B = natural 5th - no help
C = flat 6th - bingo bingo!
D = flat 7th - FTW
Tom Sawyer = E minor
Make sense? Probably not....
edit: I probably should have explained the whole tone, tone, semi-tone thing first for the new guys.... This stuff is really simple folks, keep commin' - it gets easier! Keep asking questions until you understand it!