What are the correct chords for Louie Louie, and what key does that make it?

What are the Chords & Key for Louie Louie

  • Chords are A, D, E7, D - so key of A

  • Chords are A, D, E, D - key of A-Dominant7

  • Chords are A, D, Em, A - so key of A-Dominant7

  • Chords are A, D, Em, D - so key of D


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RLD

Silver Supporting Member
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8,674
I wonder how many people have really looked into this one and have an opinion...


I know one person who hasn't/doesn't. :aok

I should say, I haven't felt the need to look into it cause it's obvious what the chords are.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,969
Strictly speaking it's none of the above. The chords are A-D-Em-D, but the key - pretty obviously - is A.

That is, the "scale" is the set of notes normally known as D major, but the "key" (tonic, tonal centre, etc) is quite clearly A. Call it "A mixolydian" if you want a fancy jargon term. (I don't think the Kingsmen needed to know that.)

That's probably what you're trying to get at with "A dominant 7" (which is a chord, not a key or a mode), but the chords you give for option 2 are all pure A major. As for option 3, do you really think the 4th chord sounds like A?

BTW, you're probably right that most people assumed it's 1 or 2 - like Wild Thing - and didn't really listen. (I actually thought the 3rd chord was A7/E, once upon a time, but Em it is.)
 
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Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
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13,681
JonR - I agree with you that it is A Mixolydian (which is basically the same mode as A-dominant7). And I was one of the people who played it wrong for many years. A minor V7 chord is pretty unusual.

I could easily make the argument that the key signature is D however; two sharps:
D E F# G A B C# D.

I don't really agree that the key is A. The G# does not work as well as a G-natural at all. Play the melody, the F#, C# and G natural seem to be the notes you hear him singing.
 

JonR

Member
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15,969
JonR - I agree with you that it is A Mixolydian (which is basically the same mode as A-dominant7). And I was one of the people who played it wrong for many years. A minor V7 chord is pretty unusual.

I could easily make the argument that the key signature is D however; two sharps:
D E F# G A B C# D.

I don't really agree that the key is A. The G# does not work as well as a G-natural at all. Play the melody, the F#, C# and G natural seem to be the notes you hear him singing.
But you're defining "key" the same as "scale". They are two different things - which is why we have two words! ;)

The "scale" (collection of notes) is the one most commonly known as "D major", true, but that doesn't mean the "key" is D.

"Key" means "the note (and chord) that sounds like the tonal centre". In this case (I'm sure you agree) that note is A and the chord is A major.

So we can correctly say the "key is A" - although (I agree) it would be misleading to say "the key is A major", because of the common assumption that that must include G#. not G.

So "A mixolydian" is a suitable academic (or pseudo-academic) term. The average rocker, meanwhile, could just say it's "in A" - which we all know (don't we?) means a major tonic chord, with the free use of chords from both the A major and A minor scales.

Only a rock musician who has (foolishly) read some theory books and taken them too seriously would raise an eyebrow at a song "in A" which included G, C, F or Dm chords (or Em), along with A, D and E major, F#m and so on. I mean, lots of rock songs do that, don't they? They sound right, so they can't all be wrong!
 

Rnbacademy

Member
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3
We basically use musical terms to communicate something with hopefully some degree of clarity. But sometimes, our use might look at the same term slightly differently. Like calling something the key of A major, isn't necessarily saying that it works with a pure A major scale.

If I am looking at it from a Key Center, and in terms of where it resolves, it's in A. I tend to look at it like JonR said, " the key of A major, means a major tonic chord, with the free use of chords from both the major and minor scales" what some term as "modal interchange".

Many people understand Diatonic Harmony, pretty well and if something falls outside, they are prone to substitute the closest available scale that fits the blanks. Hence those that see the D major scale as fitting all the spaces. They are not wrong about the notes of the scale. Nor are those who call the scale A Mixolydian. It's all in how you sew the pieces together.

I look at it as the Key of A and I'll use accidentals, in notation because of what feels like "home" or resolution, and that is the A.

Best,

rnbacademy
 

trap

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,916
What about the words? It’s: “Every night at ten I lay her again” right? :rotflmao
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,683
It's in A Mixolydian.

Chords are A, D and Em.
I find it interesting that you as well as Motterpaul think of it as Mixolydian, i mean as soon as something has functional harmony i don't think of it as Modal, heck So What, Cantaloupe Island, Maiden Voyage, etc...
What key? D, F, D...if i have to be more specific Dm, Fm, D...respectively.
 

jaxjaxon

Member
Messages
915
What is the Tonic note. Not the Root note. That will tell you what Key to look at. But because of the chord pattern of 1,4,5 It is most likely in A minor. I dont play the song myself.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,493
JonR - I agree with you that it is A Mixolydian (which is basically the same mode as A-dominant7).

Well, there's really no such "mode" as A-Dominant7. That's a chord, or a misuse of the name for A Mixolydian.

And I was one of the people who played it wrong for many years.

No offense, but, is it possible if you made mistakes in the past, you could not also still be making other mistakes? :) .


A minor V7 chord is pretty unusual.

True, but it is what it is.

I could easily make the argument that the key signature is D however; two sharps:
D E F# G A B C# D.

Well, two different things here. You can argue anything of course. That doesn't mean it's right.

But, you could absolutely say that, in notation, one could use the Key Signature that ordinarily represents D Major AND B Minor to represent A Mixolydian, in which case it could be called a "Mode Signature".
I don't really agree that the key is A.

Well, this is actually the whole issue with all of this.

It is "in A". A SOMETHING.

What it is in is A Mixolydian.

Or we could say, "it's in A, Mixolydian Mode".

Or it's "the Mixolydian Mode on A" or "A Mixolydian Mode" or similar constructions.

It's simply not in a Key, at all.

It's in a mode, and that's the cold hard truth.

How people mis-define key and mode, or opinions, etc. don't matter. It's actually Tremolo, even though Leo Fender called it Vibrato.

But, how much of a battle do you want to put up against common use (or mis-use as it were).

Lest ye be called a "Theory Nazi", our culture is content with lack of knowledge. They'll even attack it and deny it using other things as justification to do so.

So, basically, many people use "Key" to mean "in X" - the thing that is the "Center" (the actual academic term for it).

So to make this easy:

Key of A = A Minor or A Major and that's it. "In A" is assumed to mean A Major, and "in A Minor" A minor obviously.

But, another way to think about it is "in A" designates the Key Center, and "major or minor" designates the "type" of scale:

In the Key of A, Major version.
In the Key of A, Minor version.

Now, academics actually say "Major Mode" and "Minor Mode" and that has led to a ton of confusion for those with passing awareness of it seeking further justification.

So what we end up, both through common misuse and some attempts at justification is the "Key" of A means "in A, any mode" where mode hear means major and minor too (which also get justified by saying Ionian and Aeolian).

So to the layperson, anything with a "Center" of A is assumed to be a "Tonal Center" and thus "Key", and thus "in A", be it A Major, A Minor, A Dorian, and so on.

Now, all this is not to say there isn't merit in that; most modern popular music intermixes chords enough that we could say "in A" now means "in A, any mode".

And they will even use the word "Key" for this.

So we're now getting into the specific definitions of Key, Tonality, and Tonal Center.

Many people are OK with calling A Dorian "a Key". Most through not knowing the difference, but many with some justifications.

But "officially" A Mixolydian is a Mode. It's not a Key. It doesn't have a Tonal Center, and music made with it is not Tonal nor examples of Tonality.

It has a "Center" (or a Modal Center if we want to continue the analogy) and music made with it is Modal and examples of Modality.

The G# does not work as well as a G-natural at all.

Yes, but that's not what people mean when they say "Key" this way. They simply mean "in the center of A" - it's in A SOMETHING and that's good enough for most people to call it a "key".

But it's also absolutely not in the Key of D. Because a Key requires a tonal center to be established. For it to be "in D", D needs to be the tonal center. And it's not.

So being "in A" but using the notes of Mixolydian Mode, it's one of two things:

In A Mixoydian (which is what it is)

"In the Key of A" with Mixolydian Mode implied, or something of that nature (which is the misunderstood version of it, but in such common use it's like fighting city hall).

This is the same issue that comes up with Sweet Home Alabama or Hey Joe.

People who aren't, let's call it "well versed" in theory, only have learned that to identify the Key, you look for I IV and V - or that you use the chord content or note content to determine the key.

Most of those never even understand that it could be one of TWO possible things Major OR MINOR.

To many, SHA MUST BE in the Key of G, because that's the only way G, C, and D, can fit into any (major) key.

They don't even understand modes.

That's why they might look at LL and go "it's in D". Well, yes, but those chords are in Bm too. But you didn't pick that one?

Because most of the time their experience is limited to finding I IV V of a Major key, or a few other diatonic chords, and then "fitting" the chords into that scheme - and reverse engineering on paper (not by sound!) what the I chord must be.

But that's not at all how music works.

What makes something "in" something is not the chords or whether they fit only the Major pattern or not, but what SOUNDS like it's in, or what is musically emphasized.

Louie Louie clearly emphasizes the A.

So it needs to be "in A" - something.

It seems very difficult for people to make the conceptual leap from a song "in A" with I IV and V in A, versus a song "in A" with chords that just happen to be I IV and V in some other key, but are different numbers here.

But it works exactly the same as minor!

Then the next conceptual leap seems exponentially more difficult to understand - that "in A" no longer means just the Key of A, but it could be a Mode of A, or something else altogether.

As I often say, not all music is in a Key.

A lot of people just simply don't know that, and haven't learned by example how and why that is, and what the alternatives are.

But Louie Louie, it's in A Mixolydian. Call that a key if you like, but what it is is A Mixolydian and that's pretty much that :)

Best
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,681
Yes, I do make mistakes. I actually messed up the poll and the edit function wouldn't let me change that.

I really just wondered how many people knew it was Em. Is Wild Thing also a V-minor song?
 




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