Finding the Key!

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Bertotti, May 28, 2019.

  1. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Out of curiosity how do you figure out what key you are playing in? How do you know the difference between the key and or a different mode of a different key? I have not had success at trying to figure out keys.
     
  2. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    The modes have a certain sound to them, just like minor and major do, but just like minor and major. they can be ephemeral or elusive, sometimes they coexist or are equally valid.

    The more you play them, the easier they are to recognize. Or so I’ve read.

    The definition for a key or mode is that there is a tone center, a root tone, some note that the music wants to end on. If you can find that you can say, “I’m in D something.”

    You can puzzle out what major key you are in. Play any note, decide if the note is in the key, if it isn’t in the key, the notes half a step above and half a step below are in the key. If you can find two adjacent half steps that are in the key, you know you are one of two keys, like B and C are only together in C and G.
     
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  3. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    If you know what the chords are, you can figure it out pretty easily,

    The diatonic scale, key of C.

    C Major, D minor, E minor, F Major, G Major 7th, A minor, B diminished.

    Sometimes you might have an E Major.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  4. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Well that says it all, I still need to learn a lot more. Thanks! @Hammerhands
     
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  5. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    I have a few more thoughts on the subject, but they are not really solid like the above, maybe less factual or useful.

    If I find a way to state them clearly I will post them.

    Maybe short posts are better.
     
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  6. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Short or long I save threads with a lot of info. If I don't grasp it all now it will make sense eventually.
     
  7. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    In rock, blues & pop it's usually the first chord.
    In jazz it's often the last chord :)
     
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  8. MrClint

    MrClint Electromatic

    92
    Nov 27, 2017
    Lake Balboa, CA
    Knowing the key to a song is a very good thing, but it isn't always necessary. At least to play some lead lines. Sometimes it's cool to just spin some music (TV, radio, whatever) and jump in with your guitar like a paratrooper. Find your way, use your intuition, use your ears. You won't have the time or inclination to think of scales, modes, keys and such. Develop your ear to finger to fretboard coordination (while you learn enough theory to tie it all together).
     
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  9. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Age:
    71
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    When I'm trying to find the key I always look under the mat first, and then in the flowerpot next to the door. :p
     
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  10. T Bone

    T Bone Country Gent

    Ha! Well I've got you fooled. I keep mine under the flower pot. :D
     
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  11. MrAstro

    MrAstro Gretschie

    402
    Mar 5, 2015
    Sydney, NSW
    Basically the main chords will be a I, IV or V chord eg. C, F, G(7) in the key of C. So look for patterns in the chords. If you see two adjacent chords a tone apart that is often the IV and V chord then look for the I - often the first or last chord. Often also the second last chord will be a V chord (but not always) - but you add up all the clues.
     
  12. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    If I had to enter a spontanuous jam with a solo and do not know which key we are in I would search for the root-note simply by quickly sliding up (or down) the fretoard on the low E string. Stopping when I reach the root and begin playing.
     
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  13. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    That's what I was going to say. Keeping in mind there are exceptions. And in those cases, it's often the last chord.

    Example: Sister Golden Hair (America). Starts in C#minor. Ends in E. Key of E.
     
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  14. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Age:
    55
    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    Bertotti you should pick up a book on music theory. Lots of them out there that start at the very beginning.

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk
     
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  15. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Any suggestions? You may have heard but I do love books!
     
  16. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Edley’s Music Theory For Practical People.

    I consider you a friend, Bertotti, so it grieves me to cause you pain, but seriously dude, play scales in all 12 Major and minor keys until you can’t forget them. Your question will answer itself when you do that.
     
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  17. Rusty Silver

    Rusty Silver Gretschie

    Age:
    47
    290
    Jun 25, 2017
    Italy (Rome and Genoa)
    I start playng pentatonic or modal scales and I soon recognize the Key.
     
  18. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Age:
    55
    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    I'll get back to you with a few other picks, but Hal Leonard's Music Theory should get you started.

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk
     
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  19. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    It’s easier to hear what the note is in the chord. You can probably tell if you are on the root note of the chord.

    You may know if you are on the root note of the root chord of the key.

    You probably know if you are not.
     
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