# 5-4-1 What key is it?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bizzaro, Nov 22, 2003.

Not open for further replies.
1. ### bizzaro

Aug 21, 2000
Vermont
I couldn't find this, though I am sure it has been talked about. What key is a song in with the classic rock twist on a 1-4-5 chord progression in reverse. Say "Taking Care of Business, by B T O." chords are C-Bb-F in that order. It is like a 1-4-5 backwards, so is the key of the song in C or F?

2. ### Plus

It can be in any key you want. Thats why the put it in the numeric system. This is the way it works

1. Tonic
2. Subtonic
3. Mediant
4. Subdominant
5. Dominant
6. Submediant
8. Tonic

Each number corresponds to one of the notes in a major scale. Take C Major scale for example. It would be laid out like this

1. C
2. D
3. E
4. F
5. G
6. A
7. B
8. C

So what your 1-4-5 pattern means is the chord progession goes from the 1st degree of the scale(C in our case) to the 4th degree (F) to the 5th degree (G).

And is a really easy way to communicate how a song is going to run its course.

good luck!

Mar 8, 2000
Gaithersburg, Md

Where's the Bb?

Wouldn't this be a 1-m7-4? The root is C.

4. ### bizzaro

Aug 21, 2000
Vermont
Thanks plus, but you really didn't answer my question. If you are telling me the song I used as an example,(Taking Care of Buisness) is in the key of C, then it would be a 1-7b-4. I think if you reread my inquiry you will get what I am driving at. It is an inverted 1-4-5, does that make it in the key of F. Or is it in the key of C which would make it 1-7b-4? And I believe the true key lies in the melodie of the song, but I was curious as to the common and general consensus on this standard rock progression of a 1-4-5 in reverse.

5. ### Jazz AdMi la ré solSupporting Member

It's a blues in F.
Since structure starts on a C, 5th degree is emphasized so any solo/melodic will probably sound better in myxolydian mode.

I have to admit that I don't understand a thing to what Plus posted. A root and a tonic are the same thing to me.
It looks like a complicated way to take care of modes.
Enlightements are welcome.

6. ### ChenNuts44

Nov 18, 2001
Davenport, IA
Root refers to the lowest note of a chord. Example: if you plat a C root - fifth - octave power chord but add the G below C to it, you're no longer playing a C chord.

The "numeric system" that Plus described doesn't really complicate things. It's just a different way to look at it than you're probably used to.

Progression begins on the dominant, moves to the subdominant, then returns to tonic. The key is F, C is the dominant, Bb is the subdominant. In your notation, you would say that it begins on the 5th degree, then moves to 4th, then 1st. No more or less complicated, just musical semantics.

7. ### TurockSupporting Member

Apr 30, 2000
Melnibone
Sorry, but the root does not always refer to the lowest note of a chord.

8. ### fivestringdanSupporting Member

Dec 4, 2001
Little Rock, AR
The root does not always refer the "lowest" note of a chord. You can spell a "C" chord however you wish and it will still be a "C". A Cmaj can be played C,E,G, or E,G,C or G,C,E or and combination of those notes and it will still be a Cmaj. It's just inverted. These are called inversions. Now you are talking about two note chords. Which some think are not chords at all but double stops. Anyway if you only have a C and a G being played it can be interpreted a couple of ways. One as a C chord. Or like you stated if the G is in the bass it could be heard as a Gsus of sorts. Depending on what was going on with the other instruments will determine the chord. I don't look at two notes played together as chords. That's just me. The root of a chord is just the tonal center of the chord. Gmaj7 chord even though it can be played F,B,G,D, G is still the root or tonic.

9. ### bizzaro

Aug 21, 2000
Vermont
While this makes sense and sounds correct, the progression ends on the dominant(5th) and begins on the dominant(5th)and that seems contrary to me. So is the key C mixolydian or is it F major?

Come on Heraldo Chrisgerald, where the hell are ya?

10. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
It's not a blues in F. Blues indicates a specific form, and this tune doesn't nearly follow it.

As to the key, you can look at it either way - the key of C (1 b7 4) or the key of F (5 4 1). I look at in F from an analytical standpoint, but would call it C on the bandstand.

11. ### Jazz AdMi la ré solSupporting Member

Pacman, are you saying that a blues has to stick with the typical 12 measure 1-4-5 progression ?

I know many famous blues that don't follow it.
Some tunes like Long Train Running don't even fit a 1-4-5 and they still are called blues.
What defines a blues for you ?

12. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
You can't analyse a tune based on just a few chords. It could be a blues (there's certainly more to that genre than a couple of twelve bar forms - for example eight and sixteen bar versions) but I'd expect a bit of a turn around somewhere (even if it was just V IV I I V IV I V) - I don't know the song so can't comment more on that.

However, if you know that the song is based on a V IV I progression, then its key is indicated by the I (F in this case). The question is how you've come to that knowledge

Wulf

13. ### bizzaro

Aug 21, 2000
Vermont
Ok now,follow me here. Those that know the song it is by B T O , Taking care of buisness. It follows the familiar chord progression in rock, but it is inverted. I miss stated the form before cause it is actually goes back to the C, "C-Bb-F-C", and then it starts all over again. The movement is very familiar, many rock songs do this, but it is sort of an inverted 1-4-5. So what key is the song in?? That is the question I have raised. I am sure there is a simple answer. I think Packman is probably correct that the song is in F Major, and the progresion is simply inverted. But again a song that starts its progresion in C, and ends the progresion in C, but is in F seems contrary. The song could be in C Mixolydian. Someone must know for sure here

14. ### PacmanLayin' Down TimeStaff MemberGold Supporting Member

Apr 1, 2000
Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

Well, I've never heard of a 4 bar blues before, and that song has the same 4 bars over and over again. "Blues" infers 8,12 or 16 bar form, with variations on the I IV V progression. Yes there are exceptions, but the presence of I IV and V doesn't automaticly mean it's a blues, either.

15. ### ChenNuts44

Nov 18, 2001
Davenport, IA
Had the same argument with a room full of music profs etc. I lost.

16. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
If it repeats round and round C Bb F C then there's much more chance that the song is based on the C mxyolydian mode - I'd assumed it was C Bb F F.

One idea that might work is to first of all try playing over it using just the notes of an F major triad (F A C) and then C major (C E G). Which sounds more anchored to the character of the song?

Also, for what purpose do you want to know the key?

Wulf

17. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

That's the question - why does it matter? Lots of rock-type songs are ambiguous as to what key they are in at any particular time, they have no functional harmony at that point - but so what?

Who cares what key it's in? The guitarist is going to shred on a blues scale and everyone will keep plodding along, so it doesn't matter!!

18. ### fivestringdanSupporting Member

Dec 4, 2001
Little Rock, AR
Word up Bruce. It's just Rock n Roll man.

19. ### geshel

Oct 2, 2001
Seattle
fixed it for you.

Subtonic = flat 7th

20. ### bizzaro

Aug 21, 2000
Vermont
Inquiring minds want to know

Just because