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> What Keys Do You Prefer?
Marcus Lavendell
post Apr 17 2009, 08:19 AM
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When composing I find that I often only use a few keys. For example: E, D, Db/C#, C, B, A, Gb/F#...

But I seem to have a mental block for composing in some other keys, like: F, Bb/A#, Ab/G#, Eb/D#.... I have no problem learning songs in those keys, and I know how to play/improvise in them. But I’d probably never chose those keys when composing, which I find a bit fascinating smile.gif

I just thought it would be interesting to see what keys you guys like (and don’t like) when composing, and also why you like/don’t like them?


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audiopaal
post Apr 17 2009, 08:23 AM
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Interesting topic Marcus smile.gif

I'm not really sure what I prefer and not, but I'll look into it during the weekend!
Then I'll get back to you smile.gif
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Kristofer Dahl
post Apr 17 2009, 08:24 AM
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Well I'm probably pretty boring here - but usually I end up writing metal stuff in E (or D if I use drop D tuning).

I guess I will come to the stage when everything I do sounds identical - then I will have to start writing in other keys.


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Sentenced
post Apr 17 2009, 08:25 AM
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I always tend to end up with E-minor, A-minor or simply the lowest chord Minor when the guitar is droped down biggrin.gif , but then i try to use other keys because it helps me to create a different atmosphere.
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Canis
post Apr 17 2009, 08:34 AM
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"D moinah.. The saddest of all keys" tongue.gif


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Marcus Lavendell
post Apr 17 2009, 09:01 AM
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QUOTE (Canis @ Apr 17 2009, 09:34 AM) *
"D moinah.. The saddest of all keys" tongue.gif

laugh.gif
must try that key sometime tongue.gif


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stevie ray hey h...
post Apr 17 2009, 09:08 AM
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G and F or Em and Dm, sometimes Am and of course C, but my guitar is tuned a half step down most of the time, so I play F# and E, Dbm and Ebm and somtimes Abm and of course B, but when I play I like to keep thinking In terms of G, F, like the first one, is this wrong to do?


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Marcus Lavendell
post Apr 17 2009, 09:47 AM
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QUOTE (stevie ray hey hey hey @ Apr 17 2009, 10:08 AM) *
when I play I like to keep thinking In terms of G, F, like the first one, is this wrong to do?

Do you mean that you think in G major, even if the solo is in E minor?


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djohnneay
post Apr 17 2009, 10:02 AM
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I only improvise play in G major and E minor, as those are the only keys I know by heart.

It's not impossible for me to improvise in other keys, but I most of the time when I do that I stay in the same 3 boxes, while with G major and E minor I can play all over the fretboard without thinking alot about it, and I think my playing sounds better that way.

I'm gonna try other keys soon, but I figured I'd first learn this key by heart (seeing as how G major has exactly the same notes as E minor). Also, being able to play G major also allows me to play in A dorian, B phrygian, C lydian, D mixolydian, of course E aeolian and F# Locrian, although the notes have other functions in that keys so its not gonna sound very good tongue.gif


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ZakkWylde
post Apr 17 2009, 10:12 AM
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I love Em, Am, Dm and F# minor


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Canis
post Apr 17 2009, 10:16 AM
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A little theory question about keys: Say I know the key of E, (which I should, really...) would the key of F be exactly the same pattern, just a half step up? One fret higher?


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Marcus Lavendell
post Apr 17 2009, 10:36 AM
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QUOTE (Canis @ Apr 17 2009, 11:16 AM) *
Say I know the key of E, (which I should, really...) would the key of F be exactly the same pattern, just a half step up? One fret higher?

Yes smile.gif


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audiopaal
post Apr 17 2009, 10:39 AM
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QUOTE (Marcus Lavendell @ Apr 17 2009, 11:36 AM) *
Yes smile.gif


Thanks, now I learned something new today as well biggrin.gif
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Muris Varajic
post Apr 17 2009, 10:45 AM
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Nice topic Marcus!
Indeed, for composing instrument songs
we probably stick to more familiar keys without any real reason I guess.
But for songs with vocals we have to adapt lead range
with singer's voice range and that's when we really have to
think of other keys, tho even then we often "compose" in common
keys with transposing later on.
Dunno, me believe is that people with perfect pitch
hear all those keys differently and they like to compose
in the key that has specific sound or mood for them,
in relative pitch world it's more like transposing when needed. smile.gif


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Marcus Lavendell
post Apr 17 2009, 10:50 AM
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Good points Muris. Thanks!


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Matt23
post Apr 17 2009, 10:50 AM
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Well I'm most familiar with Eminor/Gmajor and Aminor/Cmajor. I think different keys have different sounds and atmospheres though, even if they are the same scale, so I compose in lots of different keys.
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Jesse
post Apr 17 2009, 11:06 AM
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A and E minor for the win.


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Tolek
post Apr 17 2009, 11:17 AM
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Before composing, I take my guitar and play somehthing until I´m pleased with it. Then I find out the key. Sometimes, it´s Dm, Em, Am, but sometimes it changes to C#m, F#m,... . It has just to sound good for me. I once read this about keys:

QUOTE
Affective key characteristics from Christian Schubart's Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806), Translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. UMI Research Press (1983).
C major- Completely Pure. Its character is: innocence, simplicity, naïvety, children's talk.
C minor- Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.
Db major- A leering key, degenerating into grief and rapture. It cannot laugh, but it can smile; it cannot howl, but it can at least grimace its crying.--Consequently only unusual characters and feelings can be brought out in this key.
D major- The key of triumph, of Hallejuahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing. Thus, the inviting symphonies, the marches, holiday songs and heaven-rejoicing choruses are set in this key.
D minor- Melancholy womanliness, the spleen and humours brood.
D# minor- Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depresssion, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.
Eb major- The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.
E major- Noisy shouts of joy, laughing pleasure and not yet complete, full delight lies in E Major.
F major- Complaisance & calm.
F minor- Deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.
F# major- Triumph over difficulty, free sigh of relief utered when hurdles are surmounted; echo of a soul which has fiercely struggled and finally conquered lies in all uses of this key.
F# minor- A gloomy key: it tugs at passion as a dog biting a dress. Resentment and discontent are its language.
G major- Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.
G minor- Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.
Ab major- Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.
Ab minor- Grumbler, heart squeezed until it suffocates; wailing lament, difficult struggle; in a word, the color of this key is everything struggling with difficulty.
A major- This key includes declarations of innocent love, satisfaction with one's state of affairs; hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God.
A minor- Pious womanliness and tenderness of character.
Bb major- Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.
Bb minor- A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key.
B major- Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere.
B minor- This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting ones's fate and of submission to divine dispensation.
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Pedja Simovic
post Apr 17 2009, 11:31 AM
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I hear all keys and tonalities differently. I discovered this a while back when I started transposing chord progressions and melodies. My ear would literally give me yes or no for specific melody.
For example, some line in A minor doesn't have same feeling as in C# minor or F# minor ! The same goes for chord progressions. In some keys they sound brighter and happier, in other they sound darker and sad.
My approach is rarely connected to one key. When I write lessons for GMC surely its much easier to just pick one key and do soloing in one key. I usually pick C or A minor as almost all members here know it or learn it as their first key. That way its easier for them to relate to lessons.
When I compose and improvise I always go with modal approach rather then Key center approach, and that way I end up with lot of modulations and key changes (even modal interchange). It took me a while to get to that level but now my ear clearly gives me hint in terms of interval jumps for harmony as well as chord quality (major minor dominant or slash hibrid chords etc).
So my final answer is I don't have a favorite key when composing and improvising but for GMC lessons thats C major and related A minor smile.gif


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Canis
post Apr 17 2009, 11:34 AM
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Awesome list, Tolek! Maybe I'll use that one as a guideline tongue.gif


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