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What key is this in?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Jared Lash, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    So, this is a bit of an odd question to ask, but there are substantial holes in my knowledge of music theory and I could use some help.

    Here's a little idea I recorded while I was practicing tonight and I can't figure out what key it's in or what scale it's built from. I believe the chords are an inverted F#maj7 (C# as the lowest note) to a Dmaj7. But the fill I throw in at the end of every four repetitions seems to be outlining a G#min7 to an Amaj.

    Any thoughts?
  2. JMaris


    Mar 24, 2009
    Andrews, Tx
    I don't know what it is, but it sounds sweet!!!
  3. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Thanks, I really appreciate that. It's been years since I really played fretless so I'm still a little insecure about my playing and intonation. I'm hoping to do a fretless and acoustic guitar project with a friend of mine and am working on ideas.

    I like it, but I'm having trouble writing the next part because I don't know what key or scale the first part is in. ;)
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    It does sound good. Don't sweat the key. Just go with what you think sounds best. From listening, I don't get a real strong sense of key center... in other words the options for the next part are really open. Try something and see what you think.

    There's really only two kinds of music, one you like and the other kind. Make the sounds you like. If you need to deal with theory, do it afterwards (after you're done composing).

    FWIW, with this style of music, I'm thinking the groove is far more important than the choice of notes.
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    You're absolutely right BassChuck, but even if it isn't really important it's still bothering me that I can't figure out what key/scale/mode I'm using.
  6. I was all for key centers and moving diatonically (inside the key) until I sort of just had an epiphany, realising that it really doesn't matter what key your in, they're just a basic direction. If you were trying to solo over that, use chord tones and passing notes, not playing the passing notes on strong beats.

    That playing is really good man, couldn't hear any issues :D
  7. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Since it is mainly F#, I would say F# and be done with it.

    But I am sure tomorrow the theory nerds are going to say no, no, no, it is obviously E## bogomilian mode as used by Jaco in "fly me to the rock previously know as the planet pluto"!
  8. Obviously not the case.

    It is in Hb##

  9. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Ditto to SeanM
  10. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    this isn't really in any mode or diatonic key that i can recognize, but trying to pick out your riff on my own it occurs to me that it almost feels like a spanish phrygian (2nd mode with a raised 3rd) centered on the C#minor, however if we were thinking of it this way there are both major and minor 6ths of the C# (A and A#) present in the main riff. still this is the closest i can get.

    the main notes of this mode would be C# D E# F# G# A B. yes the E# is the enharmonic equivalent of an F but since we are talking about a major third of a C# we will spell it as an E#. the notes that bookend your F# arpeggio are C# and E# which are part of the C# major chord and the D major 7 in the second arpeggio is entirely part of this mode as well. the A# would fall outside this scale but otherwise it fits.

    the G# and A in the fill would actually be G#dim7 and A aug in this scale but since it's just a fill it wouldn't be that crazy or unusual to just call it a secondary tonic.

    you could try using this scale over the riff, staying away from A / A#, and see how it sounds.

    has a cool feel to it. you could also basically think of it as alternating between F# major and F# minor since the D major 7 would be part of an F# minor scale. but there aren't many common tones between those two scales obviously so for soloing purposes that would be a little weird. however if you were composing an arrangement or something around this you could think along those lines.

    yeah, don't do this.
  11. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Thanks for all the responses.

    It was interesting to fiddle with last night since it seems I really do have the freedom to go in any number of directions chord wise.

    Basically I figured I'd work on vocals over the small part I have and let that dictate where I go next.
  12. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    The root is definitely C# so I guess that would make the key C#maj.

    I'm thinking that the scale is diminished (octatonic). But as usual, I could be wrong.
  13. E2daGGurl


    May 26, 2008
    Since you describe it as having 3 accidentals already (C, F and G), I'm guessing it could be in the key of E.

    Here's a handy chart just to fool with. Note that the key of E has roots for chords like the ones you're playing.

    And E is much-loved and easily communicated. People tend to find themselves in it. Easily.

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