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What key is this song in?


(@rum-runner)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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I'm working on the song "Morning Dew". It's a song the Grateful Dead covered and made part of their regular concert repertiore. I am trying to understand wht key it is in and wanted to check and see if I am on the right track. The verses have four lines. The chords for the first two lines are D C G D and the last two lines are F C Em D.

At first I thought this was in D because it starts on D (the intro actually starts with a D chord strummed one time). However, after thinking about it now I believe the key my actually be G or Em (Em being the relative minor of G). The reason is twofold. One, the F chord is not part of the D major scale, since it contains a C note, and C is not in the D scale. Also, all of the notes on the signature riffs fall in the scale of G (G A B C C E F# G). Now I realize the F major chord does not exactly fit in the G/Em scales (no F), but I do know of some songs in other keys that make use of the flatted seventh major chord.

So, is my thinking on this right?

Regards,

Mike

"Growing Older But Not UP!"


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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Without hearing it, it looks like it's in D major from that chord layout and borrowing the chords F and C from the parallel minor key, D minor. It doesn't look like it's in the keys of G or Em given the positions those chords occupy in the phrases, especially Em key, with that F chord. Yes, the key of G major can have the chord F major (e.g., from the parallel minor or the Mixolydian mode) - but E minor key with F major chord? Less likely.
If the riff in G, you mentioned dominates the song, then G may sound more like the tonal centre than its position in the chord sequence suggests.

That's why you should always listen for the tonal centre, i.e the home chord. By looking at the chords you can only deduce the key but by listening, you can usually hear the key directly (If not, that's when you go looking at the chords/melody, etc for further clues). Does it sound rested and final when it comes to D major at the end of each of those two sections? If it does, then that's the key. If not, then whichever one does sound the most 'stable, 'homelike' - that's the key.


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(@rum-runner)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

Yes, Fretsource, D definitely sounds like the home chord for the song. All of the lines and the riffs pretty much end on the D and it sounds resolved. I did not consider the possibility of the song going between D major and D minor, but now it makes sense. So, if I were to improvise leads I ought to be able to use both the D major and minor scales, it would seem, eh?

Regards,

Mike

"Growing Older But Not UP!"


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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 974
 

Yes, Fretsource, D definitely sounds like the home chord for the song. All of the lines and the riffs pretty much end on the D and it sounds resolved. I did not consider the possibility of the song going between D major and D minor, but now it makes sense. So, if I were to improvise leads I ought to be able to use both the D major and minor scales, it would seem, eh?

Well, normally yes, but notice that none of your chords contains the note C#, the 7th degree of the D major scale. So you might want to avoid it, especially over the C and F chords, which both contain C natural. And only the D chord itself contains the note F#. So apart from the actual I chord (D major), this song is more minor than major. (I'm reluctant to say modal - it's a sensitive subject )


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