I've seem to have lost my keys...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Osama_Spears, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. How do you determines keys and find them and all that stuff?

    Please...explain it to me like I'm...I dunno,Fieldy:p

  2. Mm.. finding all the notes of a song, and putting them in a scale.. then.. you check what scale they're forming.. and that's the key of the song..:meh: I guess.. :p

    Is that what you meant??
  3. Desdenova


    Feb 18, 2003
    Hampton, VA
    Picking them out of a given song is pretty confusing to me, although they're usually the same with a given artist as far as I know.

    But if you mean the key itself, it depends what it starts in. i.e. a major key starts with, for example, C (or Roman numeral I, and a lower-case numeral denotes a minor key). The second chord would begin on the second note of the first's scale, and so forth like so: I ii iii IV V vi vii(diminished). So C, Dmin, Emin, F, G, Amin, Bmin0. And you have to have a first (I) and fifth (V) to define a key.

    For minor keys you'd have to...ask someone else =P
  4. :confused: *blank stare*

    Fieldy...Not Jaco:rolleyes: :)
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I'm not sure what the best way to help you learn to find the key of a song is.

    For me, it's just a matter of hearing the root - hearing the tonal centre. I don't know how to describe it in any more tangible way than that! You just hear the root.

    Dare I suggest maybe... a teacher?

    Regardless, I suggest listening and transcribing. Perhaps it would be helpful if you listened to songs with your instrument (or even better, a piano ;) ) there, and see if you can find what you think the tonal centre is - and then looking up (somehow) what key it's in.

    You might like to start with some relatively simple songs. Ones that don't modulate too much. Beatles songs would be a good resource ;)

    Starting with Jaco tunes would perhaps not be a good idea :)

    I could give you the standard line - "just find out what the last note is". That might be helpful to you, but ultimately you can't rely on this, IMO. You need to be able to hear tonal centres, without having to wait until the end of the song and bank on it ending on the root.

    Sometimes that method will completely screw you, because songs don't always end on the root. An example that pops into my head is "Lately" by Stevie Wonder. The song starts in Db, changes key to Gb, and ends on an Ebmaj9 chord - a chord doesn't relate to either Db major or Gb major, and hasn't even appeared in the song until that point...
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Huh? You mean songs by one artist are all in the same key?!? :confused:

    They ain't...
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Yeah, man - why do you think they call him Kenny G?

  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    LMFAO! :D
  9. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001

    Here are a few quotes with their associated links on how to find the key of a song. I hope they are helpful!


    What Key am I in?
    Here's a good test to tell what key a song is in:
    1. What is the first chord/note in the song?
    2. What is the last chord/note in the song?
    3. What is the song's most common chord/note?
    If the first chord of the song and the last chord are both C major chords, then it is safe to assume that you are playing a song in the key of C major, which is based on the C major scale. If the first and last chord of the song are two different chords, then try to count which chord is played more often.


    Nearly always, use I as the first and last chord.

    Key: The tonal "center" of a piece of music. Can be thought of as "home base" in a song, the harmonic "resting point". In written music, the key is denoted by the "key signature," just to the right of the treble clef. Often, but certainly not always, the first chord of a piece of music--and even more often the last chord of the piece--tells you the key of the piece.

    Listen to the first note and the last chord of the song. This root note of this chord will almost invariably be key of the song. Thus, if the first chord is A major, then the song is very probably in the key of A major.

    Figure out what key you are in. Sometimes this is simple but other times can be quite a challenge. Figure out if the tune is in a major or minor key. Listen carefully to the first and last chord of each chorus and see if they are the same.

    From Jamey Aebersold’s Points to Remember, taken from his “Anyone Can Improvise!” Seminars


    Look at the last chord in a tune, (or the next to the last measure) if it is major and lasts for a full bar, that is probably the key the tune is in. Especially if the first chord is similar.
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    But if it's minor, it's not... :confused:

    What if the tune is in a minor key? :confused:
  11. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    We are going to have to ask Mr. Aebersold about that. I don't understand why minor keys should be different. They haven't been in my experience.
  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Nor have they in mine.
  13. Desdenova


    Feb 18, 2003
    Hampton, VA
    It was my understanding artists typically wrote songs to compliment their vocals or whatever else they decide on. Not written in stone, but...again, that's the way I heard it. Don't take anything I say as absolute fact.
  14. jkritchey


    Jul 23, 2002
    Northern Va.

    I have found this to be the case, except when it isn't....:D
  15. I think this is more common in the heavier genres, especially with singers with a lower than normal comfort range.

    Plus, a good percentage of metal music in general is in E minor when using standard tuning.
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    But it depends absolutely on the melody, what register it's in, and what range it uses. And that is different for every song, even if it is the same singer/songwriter.

    Just because Hey Jude fitted McCartney's voice in the key of F, it doesn't mean all his songs are in F! If Let It Be had been in F, it would've been either way too high, or too low to be comfortable/sound good.

    It just depends on the range of the melody, and and which part of your vocal range suits it best. And, it also depends to an extent on what key the composer was messing around in when they came up with it!

    IME, if you look at songs by one songwriter, except for example Stevie Wonder, there isn't a particularly great tendency to stick to the same keys. Even if they stick to the same vocal register, that doesn't mean sticking to the same keys.
  17. Desdenova


    Feb 18, 2003
    Hampton, VA
    Fine, fine, it more relies on the vocals but isn't necessarily the same. Offhand I know Nick Cave works in at least B, G#, and...F I think. Working on learning a few of his songs right now. "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?" has to be one of my favorites. Too bad I can't find the changes =\