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How does one find the key for a song like this?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by trowaclown, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. trowaclown


    Feb 26, 2008
    Hello there collective wisdom of talkbass:

    I'm jamming with a couple of strangers in a few days' time, and one of the songs that has come up is Your Touch by The Black Keys, as linked below

    The Black Keys - Your Touch - Glastonbury 2010 - YouTube

    Now, this song only has an electric guitar and drums, so I figured I'll try my best to add in some tasteful, understated lines.

    The problem now is figuring out the key of the song to anchor my line. I figured that it should be A-something, since the guitarist constantly starts and returns to the A note.

    Since he plays only riffs and broken chords, how then, does one determine the key of the song?

    Many thanks in advance for any advice that you can give! :hyper:
  2. I listen for the tonal center and what chord ends the verses and the song. If all verses and the song end on the same chord - that's your key.

    I'd go with A major.
  3. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    I play a few black keys songs and usually I mimic the guitar parts if they are straight forward. Then stuff that power chords stick with the roots and try to follow the drums. Usually goes over well.
  4. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Seeing as how he's using the minor pentatonic scale, A minor is more accurate. Stick with the Am pentatonic and you'll be fine.
  5. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    The riff is based on a 2 chords vamp that imply a Amin7 to D7 but the F# is not really played. You can construct your bass line around the A minor pentatonic or Blues scale as long as you emphasize the roots motion of A to D to A etc.
  6. I know this may sound sacriligious or dumb, but when I heard minor pentatonic (actually minor blues, I think) I played the notes (not the same timing) of Sunshine of Your Love in Amin blues. Shifted up to D and break/transition as required. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    It actually works OK if you are in a hurry.
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Yup. Pretty much. With a little sniff of A Dorian thrown in there to taste. ;)

    The tune is just riffing around on Am and D in alternate bars.

    (The guitar may not be making the F# explicit, but that doesn't mean the bass line has to stay away from it, of course.)

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