Another "what key is this song" thread

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Powderfinger, May 6, 2015.

  1. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    My band plays "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms. Pretty much the whole song is D-E-F#m, except for a little part (bridge? pre-chorus?) that goes A-D-F#-E-D. My stupid rock bar-band brain normally says "D is the first chord, probably the key." My slightly more advanced knows a tiny bit of theory brain says "but E major is not diatonic to D." My practical, knows enough to get by, brain, says "hmmm, soloing in D doesn't sound good, but F# minor pentatonic (with added 2d) sounds right." Tiny bit of theory brain says "so that would mean key of A, since F#m is relative minor of A." Then stupid rock bar-band brain says "but A isn't in verse at all and only appears briefly in bridge/pre-chorus thingy, that's odd." Then tiny bit of theory guys says: "yes, but all the chords in the song are diatonic to A." So is it in key of A?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  2. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    yep, it's in A. it just starts on the IV chord
     
  3. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    They play it on the radio still so much I sort of never really think about it, so I had to take a re-listen.



    But yeah.... ^ A

    It's fascinating really. The Verses sort of just hang there without resolution. IV, V VI, around and around in circles, and it only resolves to I on the first chord of the chorus.

    That's pretty cool actually.

    And frightening that that song is 23 years old.
     
  4. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    Whatever the TONAL CENTER of the song is, that's the key. I can't listen to it now, but if it never resolves on A then it really isn't in the key of A. But if the tonal center pulls to A then it is in A.

    Even if the chords aren't diatonic with the major scale of the actual key, that doesn't mean it isn't in that key. Just means it's got some modal element.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  5. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    Three sharps in the key signature, how about that?
     
  6. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that's what threw me. Pretty unusual for a straightforward rock/pop song.
     
  7. guitarz1972

    guitarz1972 Member

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    Quit confounding the issue with your fancy-dancy way of reading sharps and stuff, 27sauce! ;)
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    There is a HUGE difference in figuring out a Key verses a Scale. To understand a Key you need to know the Major and Minor Keys from the tonic and the variations and similarities each give as far as application can give you.

    Let's look at the chords you listed...

    D-E-F#m-A-D-F#-E-D

    Rule out the duplicates:

    D-E-F#m-A

    Are all the keys tonic to D Major or D Minor? No.

    They are to A Major though...so...

    this songs "Key Signature" should (without a doubt) be written as A Major, 3 #'s. But, as history has it, you are always at the mercy of the transcriber. But the Key Signature is A Major.

    Now getting to the "scale". If someone wants to think of it from D major, then they would mostly be playing a D Lydian scale, or a subset of it.

    So your rock bar band brain is on the right track, play A Major Pentatonic or F# Minor Pentatonic, the name is your call and add in the G# when you are over the E chord.

    Look at the notes of the chords:

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

    Line 'em up: A B C# D E F# G#

    Those chords tell you exactly why the A Major Pent/F# Minor Pent works...because they contain every note in that scale, six of the notes from a full A Major scale, and more added note for flavor, the G#. This gives you a full A Major scale.

    Are you bound by just those 7 notes, of course not. There are TONs of chromatic lines, half step moves, and the leading tones (M7) for each chord, etc, etc...that you can spice things up with...but you'll always be "headed" for one of those seven notes.
     
  9. gtrdave

    gtrdave Member

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    D - E - F#m and an A in the chorus

    IV - V - vi and I

    Key of A. This is simple diatonic chord progression theory 101. Not every song follows diatonic structure, though, so...listener beware.
     
  10. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    I'd say the chorus more clearly tonicizes A, but I'd say that the verses and guitar solo progression is ambiguous - i.e., could be F#m or A, and it's only when the chorus hits can we say the A is tonicized more than the F#. Try improvising a solo in F#m over the progression, and you can convince the listener that F# is the tonic. As a songwriter/composer it's not unheard of to play modally through a progression, purposely leaving the issue ambiguous until, for example, a chorus or coda - or leaving it unresolved entirely. It (intentionally) creates a sense of 'uneasiness' or 'ungroundedness' for the listener.

    In any event, if I was transcribing it, I'd certainly write it with a key signature of 3 #s.
     
  11. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    I'd hesitate to say F# without an E# in there somewhere. Especially in such a "diatonic" song.
     
  12. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

    The starting chord, key center, anything else doesn't matter, the key signature by definition is the key.
     
  13. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    So what's the key sig for Sweet Home Alabama? :hide2:hide2
     
  14. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    I disagree. The key signature shows only the applicable sharps and flats for the key. The key, however, denotes a tonic (which a key signature does not).
     
  15. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    An F#. :hide
     
  16. gtrdave

    gtrdave Member

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    The musical word for the day: resolution.
     
  17. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    The same key as Oye Como Va

    :)
     
  18. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Yes, the Key Signature keeps the paper clean, but it also shows you the underlining Major/Minor or Minor/Major movements within a song based on a Tonic.

    In the case of this song it's a no brainer for anyone who understands diatonic theory that it's written in A Major.

    Once you take a tune that doesn't always stay diatonic is when the fun starts, and usually where you lose the diatonic understanding unless you go to the next step of find a Tonic in the tune that shifts Major and Minor sounds back and forth.

    Some of my favorite "difficult" tunes to play over become simple once you find the Major and Minor shift off a Tonic. I always use Pat Metheny's Bright Size Life and Phase Dance as an example as well as Stanley Clarke's Song for John and Cole Porters Night and Day as examples. But it's a concept or tool I use constantly for playing over difficult tunes as well as simple tunes from Neil Young, Rolling Stones, etc...
     
  19. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree with the consensus that the song is in A, but if I use the "resolution" test, it seems to me to resolve to D.
     
  20. gtrdave

    gtrdave Member

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    I have no idea how you're hearing that. In the verses it "resolves" a bit to F# and this is not surprising seeing as how that is the relative minor to A. When the chorus kick in, though, and the A chord hits is when true resolution occurs in the song.

    D is right out.
     

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