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Posted: 21 May 07, 01:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hi, im just starting to write some music but the idea of the key is bugging me. Does the key of a song just happen naturally or do you sit down and say im going to write a song in G major. Or does it mean that G is just the predominant chord.

And lets say that you do write a song in G major does that mean you can only use certain chords. I know in the key of C, all major chords can be used but in the key of G major for instance can some not be used. Sorry, but could someone give me in lamens terms a brief explanation of keys and key signatures.


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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well, there's no chords that "can't be used", they just don't sound the same way as they would in another key, so I mean, there's no "correct" chords in a key.

And if you're planning to sing whatever you're writing or have it sung you should probably try to compose it in a key that suits the singer.

But it really doesn't matter. Very few people can actually automatically hear the key of a song. Some people associate some keys with certain emotions or colours, but I don't really know about that...

I suppose it also depends on your technical skill, as some keys on the piano (for example) might be harder for beginners to play in. I'd suggest C if that's the case.

Good luck!


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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.

And also, if you wan to stay in key you just have to stay within the scale. but then you can use flat chords.

for example, the song i am writing at the minute( on guitar) is in the key of A. the main chords are A, D and E the root 4th and 5th, quite common in a rock song. ( used in Hammer to fall)
Howerver, i also add a G, which is the Flat 7th of the A scale. this is just an unexpectd surprise and adds character.

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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.


That depends on the quality of your musical hearing.

And also, if you wan to stay in key you just have to stay within the scale. but then you can use flat chords.


"key" and "scale" are synonyms. And I haven't a clue what you mean by 'flat' chords, but it's obviously bullshit. Any major key offers you I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viidim, and any minor key i-iidim-III-iv-iv-VI-VII.

for example, the song i am writing at the minute( on guitar) is in the key of A. the main chords are A, D and E the root 4th and 5th, quite common in a rock song. ( used in Hammer to fall)
Howerver, i also add a G, which is the Flat 7th of the A scale. this is just an unexpectd surprise and adds character.


You are confusing matters, either because you aren't quite sure what you are talking about, or because you can't explain it very well. Your 'G' chord is an 'accidental', meaning that it is a non-diatonic (not from the scale the song is in) chord, creating musical tension in much the same way a chromatic note would. In other words: your G-chord is completely irrelevant when discussing keys/scales.




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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:26 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

liam wrote:

Hi, im just starting to write some music but the idea of the key is bugging me. Does the key of a song just happen naturally or do you sit down and say im going to write a song in G major. Or does it mean that G is just the predominant chord.


The first and the second scenarios you present are correct. As you know, there are twelve notes in western music. A scale, or key, is made up of seven of these, with the first one played an octave higher added to it. That means there are 12 major keys and 12 minor keys, as each can start on each of these notes. Depending on what notes you use in a composition (and, relatedly, what chords) you are playing in a certain key. This can happen naturally (for instance, when you pick out a riff and expand on it, notes from one key will usually sound better than those from a foreign key), or one can start with the idea of composing from a chord (the root, usually) or scale, also placing one in a specific key, though this time consciously.

And lets say that you do write a song in G major does that mean you can only use certain chords. I know in the key of C, all major chords can be used but in the key of G major for instance can some not be used. Sorry, but could someone give me in lamens terms a brief explanation of keys and key signatures.


Every major key is equal to every other major key. Therefore, comparing C with G, the C chord is exactly the same as the G chord, the F to the D, the G to the E. That is why chords are usually represented as roman numerals in either upper case letters (major chords, I IV V in the major key) or lower case (ii, iii, vi). The key you play in is a very subtle thing, influencing the sound of your song. The more flats a key has, the more melancholic a tune in it can sound, while sharps lead to a more upbeat feel.

As for what you 'can use': everything. If you use notes and chords from the key you are in, these are called 'diatonic', and are the easiest to use: they will always sound natural in your song, especially if you do not use the 4th and 7th notes (F and B in the key of C major). However, you are free to include any other notes you like to create musical tension, as a song without any musical tension quickly becomes boring.


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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.





Now I'm intrigued.

You're saying you can recognize a random note played on a piano, with no known reference? From what I've heard, very few people possess this ability. I believe this is called absolute pitch, and is not very common.

Something very common though, is relative pitch.




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Posted: 21 May 07, 09:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

LOL @ Thomas

In English, please... XD


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Posted: 21 May 07, 11:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

by the way a flat chord is not bullshit, for example a Db chord is real and not bullshit.

and the G wasn't accidental, i added it in on purpose because, like i explained, it is unexpected and adds character, i was merely using this as an example of how one doesn't have to stick to a scale.



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Posted: 21 May 07, 11:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.





Now I'm intrigued.

You're saying you can recognize a random note played on a piano, with no known reference? From what I've heard, very few people possess this ability. I believe this is called absolute pitch, and is not very common.

Something very common though, is relative pitch.



no i am not saying i have absolute pitch, although funnily enough i think Bill Bailey does.

although i can recognise an A chord a mile a way.

but with an instument in hand it shouldn't take more than a few seconds so work out the key of a song.

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Posted: 21 May 07, 12:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.





Now I'm intrigued.

You're saying you can recognize a random note played on a piano, with no known reference? From what I've heard, very few people possess this ability. I believe this is called absolute pitch, and is not very common.

Something very common though, is relative pitch.



no i am not saying i have absolute pitch, although funnily enough i think Bill Bailey does.

although i can recognise an A chord a mile a way.

but with an instument in hand it shouldn't take more than a few seconds so work out the key of a song.


Right... so you have absolute pitch when it comes to A chords.

Way to go.


[QUOTE][QUOTENAME]Jake? wrote: I want him to shove it down my throat and shoot. Shoot! Shoot! C'mon! SHOOT! SHOOT!

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Posted: 21 May 07, 12:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.





Now I'm intrigued.

You're saying you can recognize a random note played on a piano, with no known reference? From what I've heard, very few people possess this ability. I believe this is called absolute pitch, and is not very common.

Something very common though, is relative pitch.



no i am not saying i have absolute pitch, although funnily enough i think Bill Bailey does.

although i can recognise an A chord a mile a way.

but with an instument in hand it shouldn't take more than a few seconds so work out the key of a song.


Right... so you have absolute pitch when it comes to A chords.

Way to go.


i never said that.

Man you dont know what you are talking about


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Posted: 21 May 07, 12:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

<font color=pink>Account Deleted wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

actually it isn't too difficult to hear the key of a song.





Now I'm intrigued.

You're saying you can recognize a random note played on a piano, with no known reference? From what I've heard, very few people possess this ability. I believe this is called absolute pitch, and is not very common.

Something very common though, is relative pitch.



no i am not saying i have absolute pitch, although funnily enough i think Bill Bailey does.

although i can recognise an A chord a mile a way.

but with an instument in hand it shouldn't take more than a few seconds so work out the key of a song.


Right... so you have absolute pitch when it comes to A chords.

Way to go.


i never said that.

Man you dont know what you are talking about


omg ur lyk so stoopid


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Posted: 21 May 07, 14:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ok from that i can tell you are obviously about 12, so i do not want to trade immature statements across the board.

and, and if you want to talk about stUpid, it is LIKE.

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Posted: 21 May 07, 14:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

by the way a flat chord is not bullshit, for example a Db chord is real and not bullshit.

and the G wasn't accidental, i added it in on purpose because, like i explained, it is unexpected and adds character, i was merely using this as an example of how one doesn't have to stick to a scale.



An accidental is a note that does not belong in the key. It is either sharp or flat. You guys are talking about the same thing, with different vocabulary. But I have to say, TQ says it a lot better.


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Posted: 21 May 07, 14:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

liam wrote:


Hi, im just starting to write some music but the idea of the key is bugging me. Does the key of a song just happen naturally or do you sit down and say im going to write a song in G major. Or does it mean that G is just the predominant chord.


You can do either. Most melodies you will naturally construct will fall into a certain key, often with no accidentals at all. Remember, music is not derived from scales - scales are derived from music. Scales were created because they were found to be the most naturally pleasant to the human ear. Writing music is like poetry. You can go without a set structure, creating one as you go along; you can also sit down and say, "I want to write a sonnet/song in G major," and therefore stick to the restrictions you have set, thus giving you a structure to work with.

liam wrote:


And lets say that you do write a song in G major does that mean you can only use certain chords. I know in the key of C, all major chords can be used but in the key of G major for instance can some not be used. Sorry, but could someone give me in lamens terms a brief explanation of keys and key signatures.


In the key of C, all major chords are not included within the key. Only C, F, and G are major chords.

Consider the notes of the scale:

C D E F G A B

When you construct a major or minor chord, you pick three of these notes. You pick the root note, skip the next note, pick the third note, skip the next note, and pick the fifth note.

For instance, the C chord will be:

C E G

which results in a major chord. However, the E chord will be:

E G B

which results in a minor chord.

===

Essentially, any note available in the chromatic scale can be used. However, if you want to stick to your key, only seven notes can be used, but in any combination you wish.


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Posted: 21 May 07, 15:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<b><font color=666600>Music Man wrote:

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

by the way a flat chord is not bullshit, for example a Db chord is real and not bullshit.

and the G wasn't accidental, i added it in on purpose because, like i explained, it is unexpected and adds character, i was merely using this as an example of how one doesn't have to stick to a scale.



An accidental is a note that does not belong in the key. It is either sharp or flat. You guys are talking about the same thing, with different vocabulary. But I have to say, TQ says it a lot better.


OK, TQ obviously knows more about music theory than myself and i will admit that. I was just trying to explain as simply as i could as i didn't/don't know the level of the poster and he asked for a brief explanation in Lemans terms. i thought what i said made sense.

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Posted: 22 May 07, 04:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

thanks everyone. that made more sense than the music books ive been reading.


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Posted: 22 May 07, 06:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Brian-Harold-May wrote:

by the way a flat chord is not bullshit, for example a Db chord is real and not bullshit.

and the G wasn't accidental, i added it in on purpose because, like i explained, it is unexpected and adds character, i was merely using this as an example of how one doesn't have to stick to a scale.



You have again proven that you are totally unaware of what you are talking about.

Your "Db", while a real chord, is totally irrelevant to a G major scale, so there's no use in mentioning it.

An ACCIDENTAL is the name given to a chord or note that is used in a composition, but isn't part of the scale (i.e. is not diatonic).

So I wasn't saying that a Db chord doesn't exist, or that you put in a G-chord by mistake; please, if you are trying to explain music theory, make sure you at least know the jargon.


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Posted: 22 May 07, 08:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've got near absolute pitch. I blindfold tested myself on a guitar tuner once. I was usually dead on pitch, or about 2 cent off. So - if you were to use me as a tuner in a studio environment, it'd be a baaad idea.

But otherwise, my hearing is pretty good! The people at my music college all seem amazed by it. I think they're just used to hanging around tone-deaf metal kids.


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Posted: 23 May 07, 16:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Any major key offers you I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viidim, and any minor key i-iidim-III-iv-iv-VI-VII.


this is your best explanation of chords.^^^
In the key of C:
I= CM
ii=dm
iii=em
IV=FM
V=GM
vi=am
vii dim=b dim
(major is indicated by capital letters, minor and diminished in lower case letters.)

so, if you want a G chord in the key of C, it is major because every note found in this G chord (V) naturally exists in a C major scale.

this is the best way I can explain it. i'm a college music major and have studied this junk since high school. i hope this can clear things up for you somewhat.