Understanding chords in Deftones - Knife Party

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by njones89, Mar 6, 2018.


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  1. njones89

    njones89

    Mar 27, 2015
    Sioux Falls
    Please correct my mistakes and help me to understand. I believe the song is in the Eb Major key, and the main chord progression is Ebm7 to Gm/sus2 while the bass plays mostly roots and 5ths. The interesting part is that when the guitar is playing Gm, the bass goes from a G to a G#. It's not technically out of key, but why does it work? Is there a name for this chord voicing or am I missing something on the theory side of things?
     
  2. EarnestTBass

    EarnestTBass

    Feb 3, 2015
    This might help... if it doesn't make sense, then please ignore me.

    The key signature for of Eb major has three flats, Bb Eb and Ab. The key signature of Eb has no sharps. (except for accidentals, ignore that for now) do re mi fa... Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb. A letter gets assigned to each scale tone. And each scale tone gets one letter.

    repeat- A letter gets assigned to each scale tone. And each scale tone gets one letter.

    The bass does not go from a G to G#, but rather G to Ab. Yes, G# and Ab are the same note and played on the same fret. However, it is different to think about whether you are raising the tonic (G to G#), or flatting the second (A to Ab). How you think about it will lead you to different spellings for a chord.

    I believe that the guitar is not playing G sus9. It's a G sus flat 9. The guitar briefly raises one note a half step, the G, to Ab, not an A.

    Assuming that I am correct about the G sus flat 9, I would think of it that phrase as starting with the tonic, G, as the root. Then slipping into the Ab, as an inversion under the G briefly, then resolves back to the root. Whether you think this works is a matter of how tolerant you are to the dissonance. I like it. My grandfather would not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  3. It’s in G minor, start there
     
  4. EarnestTBass

    EarnestTBass

    Feb 3, 2015
    I disagree for these reasons:

    The key of G minor (relative minor of Bb major) has two (2) flats, Bb and Eb.

    There are three (3) flats in this tune: Bb, Eb, and Ab. That gives us the key of Eb major or the relative minor of C minor, not G minor.

    In the key of Eb major, G is the third degree, or Phyrgian mode. Chords based on the third degree will give us Root, minor third, fifth, minor 7, flat 9, eleventh, flat thirteenth. Phyrgian gives us that very dark sound.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
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  5. njones89

    njones89

    Mar 27, 2015
    Sioux Falls
    There is an Ab chord in the song, how can it be G minor key?
     
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I finally gave the song a listen, and I'm just not hearing the chord progression as Eb minor 7 (Eb - Gb - Bb - Db) to G sus 2 (G - A - D) as your guitarist claims. So if he's not playing the right chords, that might explain why your bass line sounds a bit "off" with the guitar.

    Playing Ab in the key of G minor is part of our shared musical vocabulary, an especially familiar sound in metal. :)
     
  7. njones89

    njones89

    Mar 27, 2015
    Sioux Falls
    I was also going back to re-listen, and now I'm not thinking it's Eb minor 7, but rather just an Eb power chord on 4 strings. G minor is definitely there and the passing tone is the flat 9 to the minor third. I am still learning theory, so I am not completely certain that my wording is correct. I am not understanding where the idea of the G minor key is coming from. I came up with Eb major key based on the guitar chords in the song.
     
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't disagree with your analysis; the song also totally "fits" with Eb Major. My earlier comment was in response to your "how can it be in G minor if it has an Ab?" question. In practice, the flat 2nd (or flat 9th) is pretty common in metal songs, so you shouldn't rule out @Jrussblues' suggestion of G minor just based on the presence of Ab. @EarnestTBass calls it the "Phrygian" sound; very popular in certain rock genres.

    Whenever I try to answer "what is the key of this song?" I ask myself, what is the tonal center that gives the song its mood? When you listen to "Knife Party" do you hear Eb as the tonal center with a bright, major-key sound? Do you hear G as the tonal center with a dark, Spanish-minor sound? What about Ab, Bb, C, D, or F; could any of them be the tonal center of the song?
     
    njones89 likes this.
  9. EarnestTBass

    EarnestTBass

    Feb 3, 2015
    I agree that Ebm7 is not played.

    I think that the guitar plays these voicings (chords are vertical) for the first section:

    Bb....Bb....D....D Eb
    Eb....Eb....G....G
    Bb....Bb....D....D


    The guitar's voicings for second section is:

    Bb....Bb....D....D
    Eb....Eb....G....G Ab
    Bb....Bb....D....D
    Eb....Eb....G....G

    I find no thirds in these voicings.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  10. njones89

    njones89

    Mar 27, 2015
    Sioux Falls
    I actually heard a new note because I am reading through the comments and going back through to listen. Now I'm thinking it's not just power chords. It's a barred Eb minor, to a G minor with a Bb passing tone. On the end of the G minor chord, he lets the G string ring open.

    So, there are two ways of interpreting the key of this song, apparently... Eb major key, phrygian mode vs. G minor key. The G minor chord is being interpreted as the tonal center of the latter interpretation, and for the former, the fact that there are three flats in the song as well as an Ab chord are the argument for it being in Eb major. I am still thinking it's Eb major, especially with how the vocal melody is phrased around Eb, especially over the G minor chord.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  11. The vocal melody is all g minor, that is how I figured out the song is in g minor.
    Sometimes I’m wrong and the song is in some strange key that I didn’t mathematically deduce but most of the time I find that you can center a scale to a whole piece of music.

    Let’s look a the verse chords
    Chord #1 is a eb 5 with the 5th in the root
    (6th of g minor)
    Chord #2 is a g9
    (1st of g minor)
    Chord #3 is a g minor
    (1st of g minor)
    Then back to g9
    (1st of g minor)

    Bass part
    E major
    G
    G#
    G
    - which could be Phrygian or as I like to call it “friggin”

    So why use g friggin over g Aeolian... it’s the deftones and I could almost guarantee they had no idea what they were doing.

    Sounds cool though and sometimes you gotta throw theory out the window for what sounds right
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  12. EarnestTBass

    EarnestTBass

    Feb 3, 2015
    "So why use g friggin over g Aeolian... it’s the deftones and I could almost guarantee they had no idea what they were doing."

    On the former- I would use G Phrygian (iii) over G Aeolian (vi) because G Aeolian implies the key signature of two flats/Bb major. G Phrygian, however, is consistent with the key signature of three flats/Eb major.

    On the latter- I agree.
     
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