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Key Center?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by stephanie, Mar 11, 2001.


  1. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    What exactly is a 'key center'?

    I'm reading a book right now ("Fingerboard Harmony For Bass" by Gary Willis) and there is a section titled "Choosing A Key Center". It's a bit confusing to me. And what is it's importance?

    Cheers,

    ~stephanie
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Stephanie,
    A key center or tonal center is kind of a fancy way of saying the key of the song. Sincy many songs change keys throughout you can say that they have different "key" or "tonal" centers.

    Probably the easiest way to say it - is that the tonal center is the note where one feels that resolution has occured. A place where the song feels as if it is "home". Where all tension is gone. It is like playing a major scale and holding "ti" for a while until you need to play "do" again. That feeling of resolution is the tonal or key center.

    Hope this makes sense

    Mike
     
  3. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    LOL. Still a teeny bit confused. I think it's the book! (Don't think I should be reading it. heh.)

    I mostly understood what you wrote but the BOOK is driving me nuts! Ok...there's this part it says "Choose a key center for the following progressions": Here is one progression given:

    Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

    And the answer is Eb. It says "The dominant 7th is always a dead giveaway." Huh? But this is the Key of Ab, right? You said the key center is basically the key of the song...perhaps this is a trick, since it's just a progression in a non-existant song. LOL. But I'm taking it as the Key.

    Maybe I should put this book away for awhile, cuz I really understand you better! LOL :)

    Thanks,

    ~Stephanie
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've got this book and the example question you give is the first one on page 40.

    In the answers it says "1. Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7 = Key of Ab".

    This is followed by a little explanation, which is based on the theory given on the preceding page. So it explains that the Eb7 is the giveaway as the V chord of any major key is the only dominant seventh chord - so Willis is explaining that this chord is what tells you that the key must be Ab, as Ab is the key which has Eb7 as the V chord. But the first thing it says is that the key is Ab.

    Read through page 39 again and it is all pretty clear.
     
  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Stephanie,
    Bruce is absoltuely correct. The Bb-7 to Eb7 to Ab maj7 is a 2-5 progression in the key of Ab. It is a very popular jazz progrssion. Any chord will have 1 of 3 functions in realtionship to the following chord(s). These functions can be 1. Tonic, 2, Subdominant or 3. Dominant.

    The Tonic chord feels like "home" where the song might begin of end.

    The dominant chord is a chord of great tension and needs to resolve somwhere. It ususally resolves to a chord that functions as the tonic

    Finally, The subdominant chord is a chord that "transitions" between other chords. usually it goes subdominat to dominant to tonic as in the above example. In the blues it might be the 4 chord followed by the 5 chord and resolving to the 1.

    Hope this helps

    Mike
     
  6. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks Bruce (and as always, Mike!).


    It's nice to get help from someone who has that book as well. I thnk later on I will read that section over. I think I'm beginning to understand. :)


    Thanks again,


    ~Stephanie

    PS: I definately understand that fist example now, about the Eb7 being the V and the 'dead giveaway' :D