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Back In Black - what key  

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(@patrick)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 138
19/11/2007 3:41 pm  

Does anyone know what key AC/DC's Back In Black is in? The first three chords are E, D, and A5...could this be V-IV-I? ...so does/could this suggest that it's in A? I don't 'need' to know, but since I'm learning this song, I'd like to know a bit about how it has been put together rather than just purely memorizing this song. Thanks in advance.


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(@noteboat)
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19/11/2007 5:23 pm  

It's not really a clear-cut thing. Most of BIB is power chords, and one of the reasons so many bands use power chords is that they're ambiguous - they can be either major or minor. That lets a band modulate between keys pretty easily.

If you go through the whole tune and just look at the chord roots, you get: A-B-D-E-G. Looking at the fifths played with those to make the power chords, you have E-F#-A-B-D. So all together, that's A-B-D-E-F#-G, which suggests a key signature of one sharp (G/Em) or maybe two sharps (D/Bm) for the tune as a whole.

A lot of the tune is organized around A, but some parts can be seen as being organized around E and D.

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(@321barf)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 133
21/11/2007 4:13 am  

It's in the key of Rock & Roll.


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 7850
21/11/2007 2:38 pm  

It's in the key of Gee! :D

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@redstrat)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 21
18/01/2008 5:05 am  

I SHARP-G 2 SHARPS-D 3 SHARPS-A 4 SHARPS-E OH THATS RIGHT EVERY THINGS IN TAB NOW.REGULAR SHEET MUSIC TELLS YOU BY THE SHARPS FLATS OR NEITHER FOR KEY OF C.SO IT WILL PROBALY BE IN THE KEY THE FIRST CHORD IS.


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 4931
18/01/2008 10:22 am  

No, it probably won't.

A few years ago I surveyed a lot of music in different genres, and found that rule isn't workable. As I recall, only about half of the tunes I looked at actually started on the tonic chord.

A more reliable guide is the LAST chord in a song - over 90% of the songs I looked at ended on the tonic chord... which means it still isn't a sure bet.

As far as key signatures go, they do NOT tell you what key a song is in! They tell you what notes are sharp or flat. 4 sharps could just as easily be the key of C minor; if you look at sheet music for Miles Davis' "So What" you'll see a key signature of C - but the tune is in D Dorian.

There also seems to be something wrong with your caps lock key....

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(@viper)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 38
20/01/2008 10:08 am  

There also seems to be something wrong with your caps lock key....
I was too afraid to say anything..
Also, what's the difference between D Dorian and C ionian? I've never undestood how the modes are different from each other. To me they always seemed like the same thing, with different tonics

Ibanez RG3EXFM1


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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 974
20/01/2008 10:57 am  

Also, what's the difference between D Dorian and C ionian? I've never undestood how the modes are different from each other. To me they always seemed like the same thing, with different tonics

Having different tonics makes all the difference in the world, Viper. All of the notes in modes/scales relate to their tonics in their own distinct way due to the different interval relationships they have with the tonic. This creates a different flavour for each mode.
For example, compare the song, Happy Birthday in C major with Scarborough Fair (or Greensleeves) in D Dorian.
Despite being composed from the same set of notes, Happy Birthday definitely has the strong, bright major (Ionian) feel and Scarborough Fair has a darker, wistful, minor quality, which is one of the characteristics of the Dorian mode. The main reason for the marked difference in this case is the same reason that major and minor songs sound different, i.e., that the important third note of the scale/mode is a major third from the tonic in the first case (C- E) and a minor third (D- F) in the second.


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(@viper)
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Joined: 12 years ago
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20/01/2008 4:58 pm  

Oh , alright. You just answered a question plaguing me for at least 6 months. Thank you.

Ibanez RG3EXFM1


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(@artcore)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1
17/06/2009 10:54 pm  

Back in Black is in the key of Em, Angus plays the song in an Em pentatonic


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(@jbiafra)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 10
24/06/2009 7:38 am  

btw angus plays open chords, not power chords, not barre chords. this according to his guitar world lessons and interviews.


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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 4485
24/06/2009 1:59 pm  

Maybe a slightly more accurate way of putting it would be that Angus plays power chords in open position by being (relatively) careful about which strings he strums. For instance, when he plays an A5, he's usually hitting (x022xx), not catching the C# (second fret of the B string) that would turn his A5 power chord into a regular open position A. Likewise with G, he'll normally go for 3x0033, which totally takes out any B notes from the G chord, turning it into G5 (or the G power chord, if you prefer).

His use of these open position power chords is a big part of his sound.

Peace


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(@jbiafra)
Active Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 10
27/06/2009 6:33 pm  

oh, yeah, i do remember reading that, but i didn't understand any theory back then, so forgot. thanks. been playing open majors all these years.


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(@f-maniche)
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Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 1
25/07/2011 6:31 pm  

The Song is in the key of E Mixolydian (Barring some chromatic passing tones). It is the same as an A Major scale with E as the root (tonic).
The solos have been played in E Mixolydian too. As all the notes of a E minor pentatonic scale are present in the E mixolydian mode it seems as though its played in an E Minor pentatonic.


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(@spiritboy)
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Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 17
27/09/2012 11:50 am  

I think it's in E minor, certainly sounds that way anyways.


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