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General question about keys

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by aabassist, Nov 7, 2002.


  1. When finding out what key a song is what do u do if its not perfectly in key? how do u determine what key it is?
     
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    One simple trick - that has a zillion exceptions - is to look at what chord a song ends on. It is very often the key of the song in popular music.

    Your mileage WILL vary, on this one...
     
  3. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    ...and I'm sorry if that was way below the intended level... :(
     
  4. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    You don't wanna fall into that trap. There are plenty of songs (as Ed has pointed out before) that don't end on the key chord. And, what about songs that fade out on the original recording? ;) Seriously though, that trick may work a fair bit of the time, but if you rely on it, you will be caught out. One song that springs to mind is Lately by Stevie wonder. The song is in Db, then for the last chorus changes key to Gb (allowing Stevie to do his really high soulful ballad voice :)), then ends on Ebmaj9. The last chord really has nothing to do with what key it's in (it's a great ending chord though, if you listen to the song).

    There are also plenty of songs that don't resolve at the end. One that springs to mind is For No-One by The Beatles (ends on an unresolved dominant) - but there are loads of 'em. And then there are songs in a minor key that end on the major (e.g. in A minor, ending with A major. In Bach chorales, for example, this was standard for anything in a minor key - ending on a minor chord was frowned upon). And likewise, major songs that end on the relative minor.

    Don't rely on the last chord, sooner or later you'll be caught out - it's better to have a true understanding of the song's tonal centre than to blindly rely on the last chord.