1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Keys and Chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by willwonka, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. I have a quick question for you guys, to see if I understand what key a song would be in.

    For example the key of G would be G A B C D E F# G....?

    Now if I wanted to write a song in the key of G (using guitar), I would have to find chords that had those notes in them...for example i couldnt use "A chord" (A E C#) but I could use "Am chord" (A E C) because it uses a C rather than C#..... is this correct or am I off..?

  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yer kind of off. You should compose based on what you want to hear. Theory "describes" what you are hearing, it's not a bunch of rules that tell you what to do.

    The thing that's confusing you is this: songs don't have to be in one key. If the MELODY you are writing is best put into notation by using the key signature of G, then use it. That is to say, the majority of notes on the staff can be written with a MINIMUM usage of accidentals to raise or lower their pitch by writing an F# at the beginning of the staff. It may be that there is NO WAY to get through the melody without it having a bunch of accidentals and you don't put ANY sharps of flats at the beginning of the staff. That DOESN'T MEAN you are in C major/A minor.

    If you are coming up with the melody first, then you can use whatever harmony you are hearing that goes in the direction you want to. If you are writing the harmony first, you can use whatever chords you are hearing and will have to adapt the melody to those chords.

    For example you choose the melody notes Eb Eb D Eb G G

    You can choose ANY chord that supports the note you are harmonising. You can play one chord under all notes or a different one under each. What I am thinking of is the opening phrase of HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN and the underlying harmony is generally C-7/ D-7b5 G7/, but you can go pretty much anywhere you want.

    Likewise if you're first chord is Gmaj and you want your second chord to be some kind of A. It can be ANYTHING your ear imagines - A maj Amin Amin/maj7 A half diminished A aug. It can even be Ab whatever.

    It ain't as hard as your trying to make it.
  3. I think I know what you mean regarding that you can change keys in a song (I think if you use a trasition chord or note that applies to both keys, but I could be way off....) the reason I was asking about keys and which chord would work in the key of "G" is that I have a Harmonica that is in the key of "G" and I dont have to much of a grasp on theory (and new to harmonica) and I wanted to go through some of the songs we wrote and see which songs I could play along with. We wrote songs that sounded good to our ears but have no idea what key they are in or not to sure yet how to change the key of a song yet. Slowly I am working and trying to learn a bit fundamentals.

    I hope that explains my situation a bit better. thanks for the reply and do you have some more suggestions, your reply was a little german to me since I still have a lot to learn yet but I think I caught some of it, I just need to take little steps sometimes and make sure I grasp one thing before I move on to another.

  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Be sure to look at this and that.

    But, my best recollection, is that a G harmonica isn't "really" in the key of G major, it's more like the notes are a G pentatonic scale.

    Any harmonica buffs out there?
  5. clouddead


    Jan 15, 2003
    Those two threads ed posted helped me a ton and cleared a lot of stuff up. Check em out!
  6. No, it's got a full G scale. The notes are arranged so that you'll always get a chord of stacked thirds when you play on more than one hole at a time, which is probably what threw you off. It's possible to arrange them so and include a full scale because inhaling and exhaling will give you different notes.
  7. One more quick question, so if we have some songs in the key of "G" and my harmonica is in the key of "G" I should be able to jam along and it should sound in tune almost anywhere I blow or inhale on the harmonica...?

    One more question, we tune down 1/2 a step (fits our songs better, easier to sing)....so can you buy harmonicas 1/2 steps as well or how would you go about it....or do you have to tune standard or go up or down a full step?

    Thanks guys, for all the help so far, THIS and THAT articals were good, took a couple of reads, but is starting to sink in.

  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sort of. In any other kind of music except blues, you would be right. But for blues, harmonica players use a C harp when they are in G. The reason is because in G blues, you will use an F instead of the F# to make it sound bluesy.

    Blues harmonica players always use a harmonica a 5th down from the key they're in. If you're in C, they use an F harp. If you're in D they'll use a G harp. Etc.

    As for tuning down, nope, they sell harps in the actual key, not tuned down. You have to buy a harp in the tuned down key if you want to play like that, and they do sell them but you may have to special order them.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Calling a blues in a key is just a common practice thang, a blues in G isn't really in G major, it's got several tonal centers.

    The other thing is shared scale and chord tones - besides the major and its related minor
    Gmaj = G A B C D E F# G
    Emin = E F# G A B C D E

    you have notes from

    Cmaj - C D E G A B so you got the I, ii, iii, V and vii7b5
    Amin - A B C D E G
    Dmaj - D E F# G A B
    Bmin - B D E F# G A

    It's STILL more about what you hear than picking notes from a pile that are "supposed" to work...

Share This Page