Keys

Guitar Tricks Forum > Music Theory > Keys

Member

Joined: 08/02/00

Posts: 40

Can anyone explain to me how I would go about figuring out what key a song is?

#1

Can anyone explain to me how I would go about figuring out what key a song is?

Member

Joined: 07/25/00

Posts: 77

It depends what style it's in.

Have you ever looked at a classical peice name? For instance Presto in C minor.

"Presto" is the speed at which it is played, and when it says C minor, that means the song is made within the scale(s) of C minor.

But to figure out a key just by hearing a song is something that comes with age and experience.

#2

It depends what style it's in.

Have you ever looked at a classical peice name? For instance Presto in C minor.

"Presto" is the speed at which it is played, and when it says C minor, that means the song is made within the scale(s) of C minor.

But to figure out a key just by hearing a song is something that comes with age and experience.

Grizzled Spellchecker

Joined: 05/09/00

Posts: 2233

you need to see the piece's sheet music, and count up the sharps and the flats noted beside the clef.

my pianist friend gave the following mnemonic devices for sharps Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle, and Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father for flats. i may have reversed the two.

the key of C has no sharps or flats. then there is some other rule which by now i have completely forgotten which uses the above mnemonic device.

anyways, this is just to let you know that there is a very precise way of determining the key a piece is in. music is very mathematical and formulaic from a theoretical perspective, and there is a defined answer for almost everything in music, including how to determine what key a piece is in.

ask someone with experience in theory and he or she will be able to help you understand the rules for finding out the key.

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ok, i'm not really the eggman

#3

you need to see the piece's sheet music, and count up the sharps and the flats noted beside the clef.

my pianist friend gave the following mnemonic devices for sharps Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle, and Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father for flats. i may have reversed the two.

the key of C has no sharps or flats. then there is some other rule which by now i have completely forgotten which uses the above mnemonic device.

anyways, this is just to let you know that there is a very precise way of determining the key a piece is in. music is very mathematical and formulaic from a theoretical perspective, and there is a defined answer for almost everything in music, including how to determine what key a piece is in.

ask someone with experience in theory and he or she will be able to help you understand the rules for finding out the key.

------------------
ok, i'm not really the eggman

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

I make sure I'm in the right tuning, play whatever it is on guitar or piano and figure it out from there. Of course, you have to know the keys on the guitar.

#4

I make sure I'm in the right tuning, play whatever it is on guitar or piano and figure it out from there. Of course, you have to know the keys on the guitar.

Member

Joined: 08/02/00

Posts: 40

So basically there's no easy way to figure out what key a song is in? You have to have sheet music and a good understanding of theory to figure it out?

#5

So basically there's no easy way to figure out what key a song is in? You have to have sheet music and a good understanding of theory to figure it out?

Registered User

Joined: 04/03/00

Posts: 527

Actually, that's not true...There's a much simpler way than getting the sheet music and that's to simply look. That a look at the chords within a song. Quite often (not always, but quite often) the first chord is the the key...So, to test this, let's say you had a chord prgression of G C Em D (just the first thing which came to mind).
Now, write out all the notes in G,
i.e. G A B C D E F#, now because all of the chords can be found in this scale, G is the key...if the key doesn't come from the first note, then look again....after awhile you begin to see the chords within the scale, relationships on paper (e.g. the I IV V stuff)...
There's one way...keep reading through and just ask any questions if I've lost you...Good luck!

BTW - Failing all else, just ask! There's bound to be someone near by who knows!...(Show 'em the chords first though...)

[This message has been edited by Willdridge (edited 08-12-2000).]

#6

Actually, that's not true...There's a much simpler way than getting the sheet music and that's to simply look. That a look at the chords within a song. Quite often (not always, but quite often) the first chord is the the key...So, to test this, let's say you had a chord prgression of G C Em D (just the first thing which came to mind).
Now, write out all the notes in G,
i.e. G A B C D E F#, now because all of the chords can be found in this scale, G is the key...if the key doesn't come from the first note, then look again....after awhile you begin to see the chords within the scale, relationships on paper (e.g. the I IV V stuff)...
There's one way...keep reading through and just ask any questions if I've lost you...Good luck!

BTW - Failing all else, just ask! There's bound to be someone near by who knows!...(Show 'em the chords first though...)

[This message has been edited by Willdridge (edited 08-12-2000).]

Member

Joined: 08/02/00

Posts: 40

Thanks for the help!

Now, let me see if I have this right... if a certain chord progression is D Am C G, would it be in the key of D?

#7

Thanks for the help!

Now, let me see if I have this right... if a certain chord progression is D Am C G, would it be in the key of D?

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 04/29/00

Posts: 267

It kind of depends on what your ear hears when you play it. That example is in D Mixolydian because D sounds like the root, and the Am (the V of D) makes it mixolydian because it holds the minor seven of D, so it can't be straight D major. You could still say to someone that it's in D, and hopefully they would recognize the Am and know it's D Mixolydian.

#8

It kind of depends on what your ear hears when you play it. That example is in D Mixolydian because D sounds like the root, and the Am (the V of D) makes it mixolydian because it holds the minor seven of D, so it can't be straight D major. You could still say to someone that it's in D, and hopefully they would recognize the Am and know it's D Mixolydian.

Member

Joined: 08/02/00

Posts: 40

Interesting... I really need to start learning some theory so I'm not so confused all the time.

When you say that Am is the V chord of D, what does that mean?

Sorry to keep bothering you, but thanks for the help.

#9

Interesting... I really need to start learning some theory so I'm not so confused all the time.

When you say that Am is the V chord of D, what does that mean?

Sorry to keep bothering you, but thanks for the help.

Senior Member

Joined: 07/19/00

Posts: 166

To My Understanding But It Probally is Wrong But What Note Starts The Song Or Riff Is What Key Its In But Sometimes Thats Not True. See If You Have A Riff That Goes

A------------7--8--9----------------
E--3--4---5-------------------------

(Which is G Gb A E F Fb) Then The Key Would Be In G Right? If So Could You Do An Exsample Of When The Key Is Not The Note That It Begins With.

#10

To My Understanding But It Probally is Wrong But What Note Starts The Song Or Riff Is What Key Its In But Sometimes Thats Not True. See If You Have A Riff That Goes

A------------7--8--9----------------
E--3--4---5-------------------------

(Which is G Gb A E F Fb) Then The Key Would Be In G Right? If So Could You Do An Exsample Of When The Key Is Not The Note That It Begins With.