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Multiple Keys?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TheListPunk, Nov 24, 2002.


  1. TheListPunk

    TheListPunk Guest

    Feb 2, 2002
    Topeka, Kansas
    Say if a progession goes |C|G|C|D|, could that be in the key of C, F, and D?
    So if I wanted to solo or something I could do it in any of those keys?

    josh
     
  2. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I'm not entirely sure I understand the question. What do you mean "could that be in the key of C, F, and D". It can't be in all three keys (well, pieces can be in multiple keys at once, but we'll assume this isn't, as it isn't likely). Looking at those chords, it is most likely in the key of G or possibly C.

    If you wanted to solo, you'd probably solo in whatever key the piece is in. If it's in G, solo in G, as a simple guide. But, seeing as you've only given four chords, and I've really got no idea what style you're playing in, or what sound you're looking for, it's sorta difficult to give any solid advice.
     
  3. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Assuming those chords are C major, G major and D major, I'd agree with Moley that G major is the most likely key.

    Start with a G major scale:

    G A B C D E F# G

    From that we can pick out notes to build all three chords:

    C major
    G A B C D E F#

    G major
    G A B C D E F#

    D major
    G A B C D E F#

    Note that those are the only three major chords you can build from a single major scale, based on the root, fourth and fifth notes of the scale.

    You can play over the top of all three chords with notes from G major and it will sound alright - the best way to emphasise the chords is to concentrate on the highlighted notes for each chord, although freely using the others to move between them.

    Note that you could build chords starting on C, G and D from a C major scale as well. However, the absence of an F# would force you to use D F A for the D chord... in other words D minor. There the chords are built on the root, second and fifth notes of the scale - a lot of jazz music features progressions that go II V I - in the key of C, with appropriate sevenths added, that would give you:

    Dm7 G7 Cmaj7.

    In that case, notes from the C major scale would be your first choice, although again concentrating on the notes used in each particular chord.

    It's less likely your chords would be in the key of F - the chords built using notes in that key would become C, Gm and Dm, based on the fifth, second and sixth notes of the scale.

    Does that help or do you want to explain a bit more about the background to your question?

    Wulf
     
  4. TheListPunk

    TheListPunk Guest

    Feb 2, 2002
    Topeka, Kansas
    That clears it up pretty good. Thanks.

    josh
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would add that basing solos on a key is only one approach. A lot of Jazz musicians will take each chord and depending on its function in the chord sequence will find any number of scales that are appropriate. Of course if you are a beginner, it makes it easier to use one scale - but taking each chord on its merits can give you more options.

    You could very easily imply shifting key centres, by the scale you choose over each chord - you don't have to stay in one key - but of course you have to know how to resolve harmonies and while choosing different scales makes the choices wider it also makes it harder work and you could end up just sounding "wrong" rather than "interesting"! ;)
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    And, of course, don't forget the role of just 'making it up' (otherwise known as 'playing by ear'). Your full vocabulary consists of countless rhythmic variations, 12 notes (not to mention the microtones in between), rests, and all manner of ornaments and effects (eg. hammering on or percussive thumps). A lot of that is way beyond the scope of playing a scale but may work in a particular context.

    Scales and keys provide a simple model to help understand what's going on. However, the full picture is vastly more varied (and complex). Above all, listen to what the rest of the group are playing, what you are playing and how it all fits together.

    Wulf