What's that key?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bassman2020, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. bassman2020


    Dec 8, 2010
    When listening to a song, what are some techniques and practice methods to figure out with bass in hand, what key a song is in?
  2. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    I just dive around for the root note on the mainline riff.

    Can figure out the key in almost nothing flat usually if I have to do that.....
  3. E-At


    Mar 1, 2010
    Pay attention to each chord change and try to find the root note to each of those chords on your fretboard, then try to determine if those chords are minor or major chords by playing their major and minor thirds and seeing which sounds correct. Later you may spot some 7ths and other stuff.
    Once you have the chords figured out, try to find which scale do all of them (or most of them) belong to.
  4. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    You need to listen for the tonal center. That is the key the song is written in, 9 times out of 10.

    Listen to the song and walk your G string up the neck, when what you are doing and what is happening in the song sound good together, you've found the tonal center. Look down at what note this happened on. That is your key.

    Sheet music. Look for the chord and or note each verse ends on. If all the verses end on the same chord/note that's your key.

    Look for the dominant seven chord, i.e. G7, if that is the only dominant seven chord in the song, you can be safe in assuming the song is in the key of C major, I-IV-V7 or C, F, G7.

    You could list all the chords and then see what key they all fit into. Not some all. That is a last straw way of doing it, normally one of the above will get you there before you have to revert to this.

    I'm sure there are other ways, perhaps others will chime in.