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how do i know what key my riffs are in?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by happyhourman, Mar 25, 2005.


  1. im in a band and weve just started out but ive got all these funky riffs goin about,but i dont know what there in,i meani know like if i use the notes from say an A scale then its in A
    but what about just riffs everywhee on the fingerboard.
    thanks
    happyhourman
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    YOu probably want to check out jazzbo's little tutorial, which you can do hear.
     
  3. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Assuming your songs are tonal in nature (which they probably are) look for a I-V-I relationship, I being the first chord in the scale, V being the fifth. This is the most common and obvious way to find the key center of a song, as probably 90% of western music, regardless of style, uses V-I as the basis for cadences.

    So if a song is in say, A minor, you'll have an A minor chord (ACE), moving to an E (either minor major, usually major) made up of EG or G# and B, and then ending on A minor again.

    If you can't find a solid V-I look at the notes that make up the riff and try to figure out what key most of them belong to (you often borrow notes from outside the key for variety). Then look at what chords you are playing, particularly what ones you use at your riff endings and turnarounds. Usually these will be some kind of cadence (like the aforementioned V-I, or sometimes a IV-I or more rareley a V-vi).
     
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Moved to General Instruction.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hey at least it wasn't in the Luthier forum.
     
  6. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Ed, I like the double entendre of the typo in your first post to this thread.