Skip to content
Notifications
Clear all

What is the key

14 Posts
8 Users
0 Likes
1,828 Views
deanobeano
(@deanobeano)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 127
Topic starter  

if a song is in the key of C does this just mean that the first note/chord is c ?


   
Quote
Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Well it means a bunch of things, but in general the main chords will be

C, F, G

with maybe a Dm and Em or Am thrown in.

The place where the tune rests or returns will most likely be C.

...and the first chord will often be C. The first note could be anything in the scale.


   
ReplyQuote
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

The Key a song is written in means that unless noted (accidentals) all the notes in the song are from that scale.
Lets take the key of C as you have asked. ALL notes are natural (no sharps or flats unless marked that way) There are no rules on what the 1st note or chord should be as long as they fit the Key.
Look at the chords that Nick posted, every one of them are built on natural notes.(no sharps or flats) ie.. they are built on notes in the C major scale.
C=C,E,G
F=F,A,C
G=G,B,D
Dm=D,F,A
Em=E,G,B
Am=A,C,E


   
ReplyQuote
tim shull
(@tim-shull)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 82
 

i have learned the song "ramblin fever" by merle haggard, was told it is in the key of G chords are G-C-D so would that still be considered key of G? :?:

Cash is cool


   
ReplyQuote
Alan Green
(@alangreen)
Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

Yep - if you split out the individual notes from the chords you find you've got

G - G, B, D
C - C, E, G
D - D, F#, A

and if you put them in order gives you G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G - the scale of G Major.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
ReplyQuote
deanobeano
(@deanobeano)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 127
Topic starter  

i understand now but how do u no what chords go with it


   
ReplyQuote
Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

What follows is just a quick reference, rule of thumb thing. It isn't exact, but a generalization that usually holds true.

What I'm about to explain I teach to my absolute beginning students as soon as they can play open position chords, or right about at the end of the first month. It takes about 5 minutes to teach.

***************

If you are writing a song in any key, just count up the next 7 musical alphabet notes. The musical alphabet only goes to G and starts again. If you want to think of the Key as the chord where the song seems to rest or return to, that's fine.

For instance in D

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
D, E, F, G, A, B, C

or starting with A

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
A, B, C, D, E, F, G

Now the letters are going to represent chords.

There is a pattern that you can use to figure out what is going to sound good.

The 1, 4, and 5 will be major. The 2, 3, and 6 will be minor. The 7 is diminished but it doesn't happen all that much so don't worry about it.

So in the first example you get:

D, Em, Fm, G, A, Bm, Cdim

in the second you get

A, Bm, Cm, D, E, Fm, Gdim

Each set of chords above are going to work together.

Take the chords from the first example. Try the 1, 4 and 5 together or D, G and A. Now go and substitute in the Em in and see what you think. Heck add in the Bm and the Fm.

For Bm try this fingering

2
3
4
0
x
x

If you want to try C- try:

2
4
5
x
x
x

So there you go, that didn't hurt did it? Now you can find the related chords for just about any Major key.

Wait you want minor keys?

Apply this pattern instead:

1,4, and 5 are minor
3, 6 and 7 are major
2 is diminished

so try starting with A

A, B, C, D, E, F, G

So your Key of Am chord family is:

Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G

The 1, 4 and 5 are Am, Dm and Em.


   
ReplyQuote
mushin
(@mushin)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 30
 

Hi Nick,

I have a question,

do accidentals come into the scale?

My limited understanding was that we would use the Major scale as the starting point so would expect to see some sharps and flats as we write out the scale. Is this me totally misundertanding (yet again)?

cheers

Mick


   
ReplyQuote
Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

Yes they do. The triads will contain sharps or flats.

As a matter of fact the example above of D is a lousy choice because the III is actually F#m. But it's a rule of thumb.

So if you just build your triads with the sharps and flats of the particular key you are working with you will get the actual chords. A much better way to do it.

Key of D is D E F# G A B C#

To figure it out write out the chromatic notes of the scale:

D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D

Apply the whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half step pattern as a filter. If you'd like to think of it as skip one, skip one, don't skip, skip one, skip one, skip:

I-----II ---III-IV-- -V----VI--VII--VIII
D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D

Now switching to chord construction, and it's important to realize we are, you can see the major triad, 1,3,5 is

D, F#, A


   
ReplyQuote
mushin
(@mushin)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 30
 

Thanks Nick.

Clear and concise..

cheers

Mick


   
ReplyQuote
Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

You know, now that I think about it my rule of thumb is pretty weak.

It will work for the major keys for the 1, 4 and 5 for C, A,G, E and D.

Better to just figure it out.


   
ReplyQuote
Anonymous
(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

Hi Nick,

I have a question,

do accidentals come into the scale?

Mick
Notes in a scale such as F# in the G major scale is by definition not an accidental.
Accidentals are (from the New Heritage Dictionary)
a).Any of various signs that indicate the alteration of a note by one or two semitones or the cancellation of a previous sign.
b.)A note that has been marked with such a sign.

When you are playing in a key an accidental is a note or notes that are marked as Sharp, flat or natural that normally don't occur in that key.
Example: in the key of G , all Fs are sharp, if you at some point want an F to be played natural you can mark it that way (that would be an accidental) or say you want a C# (which normaly doesn't occur in the key of G) you can mark that C as sharp and that is an accidental.But F# in the key of G is not itself an accidental because it is normally played that way in that key.
There are a couple more rules but you get the picture.


   
ReplyQuote
NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

It depends on the scale.

You've got five symbols that affect the pitch of notes: sharps, flats, naturals, double sharps, and double flats. Every key except C major/A natural minor has at least one of these placed in the 'key signature' at the beginning of the piece. When you put them in the key signature, they're just sharps or flats, not accidentals.

When you need to change a note in the music by using one of the pitch symbols, then it's an accidental. Minor key music usually includes a lot of accidentals - you're often raising the seventh, and sometimes the sixth, note in the scale.

So all accidentals are sharps, flats, or naturals... but not all sharps and flats are accidentals.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
ReplyQuote
undercat
(@undercat)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 959
 

Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life...


   
ReplyQuote